Lustau Fino Jarana NV Jerez, Spain Light and refreshing with notes of Marmite, the smokehouse, furniture polish and the Gents of your local pub on a Friday night. If you think this means I don't like it, you're wrong. I love it. Wines don't come much more deliciously complex than these magical wines of Jerez. The zing of great Riesling, the depth of great white Burgundy, the power of great Syrah, the sumptuousness of great Champagne and all for the price of a totally crap bottle of Bordeaux. I understand that dry sherry is not everyone's cup of tea, but it really, really ought to be. The Jarana Fino from Lustau is a fine drink for beginning a journey into the world of dry Sherry. December 2016
Alfredo Maestro Lovamor Albillo 2015 Vino de la Tierra de Castilla y Leon, Spain Terrific label. Slightly cloudy appearance, aromas of bread and cooked apples. Scrumpy. Supertexture; Cashmere, layered. Skin contact, surely. Benefits from air to fully come together. October 2016
Gaintza Txacoli 2014 Getariako Txakolina, Spain You wouldn't wish to drink this everyday for your dentistry bills would be through the roof but this is good Txacoli considering it is a 2014. Maybe it is the added beef of the Gros Manseng that lends this weight, or maybe Txacoli does age well? Has anybody done a tasting? Maybe we should, or maybe we shouldn't and preserve our tooth enamel and disdain for light, bright, deliciously made local wines from little known grapes in favour of over-oaked, boozy Ribena with little or no identity. Find yourself a bottle of this and the freshest fish you can lay your hands on. Then shut the curtains. July 2016
Vinos la Zorra 8 Virgenes 201? Sierra de Salamanca, Spain I can't spot the vintage on the label. This is a delectable, leesy and peppery sexmonster of a wine with a richness that defies it moderate alcohol levels. July 2013
Sereno Solera Vi Generos Sec Garnatxa Roja 2009 Emporda, Spain Wow, get this down your trouser. Do you find nutmeg, vanilla and the heady scent of furniture polish totally delectable? I do. And this absolute nostril smasher of a wine delivers it in spades. After my stern assessment of Celler de Roures Vermell this is a wine that highlights everything that the Vermell lacked. Bite, energy, poise. Produced from oxidized Garnacha from a solera begun in 2009 the flavour explosion continues on the palate recalling a fruit bowl that has been left in the sun whilst you went away on your summer hols. Though this may sound totally rank, fill that same fruit bowl with 15.5% alcohol and and 100% sex appeal and you may get some way to being where I am with this wine, which is captivated. May 2016
Celler del Roure Vermell 2012, Valencia, Spain It is not their fault but this is a drink from a winery that I had expected a lot from due to recent reviews. Sadly, it leaves a lot to be desired. Desirability for one and also drinkability. But it's absolutely, most horrific crime is lacking vitality. I couldn't care less if it has been buried underground in earthenware jars, produced from indigenous grapes blessed by Bacchus, for the endgame of these subterranean shenanigans appears to be a flat, dead and pointless drink. March 2016
J M Alquier La maison Jaune Faugeres, France Imagine finding a pebble on a beach and on finding it rather beautiful you decide upon taking it home. You then polish that pebble to rid it of the weed and other detritus that had clung to it. You polish and polish until it is perfect and place it upon your mantelpiece and it is then that you realise it is not the same pebble that you picked from that beach. A delicious and delectable wine. Brimming with fruit, a dusky, earthy nature that adds to its allure. Liquorice. Smooth and uber-juicy. But where is the seaweed and detritus? December 2015
Olivier Rivière Vinasde Sierra El Cadastro Arlanza 2011 Spain Plush, svelte and unctuous. Rich of fruit, very tasty, super smooth and a totally super wine that is almost super interesting. December 2015
Teso la Monja Romanico 2013 Toro, Spain This fine juice stalks the sweet/savoury tightrope that all tasty Tinto de Toro should aspire to conquer. Dusky and earthy with plenty ripe, chewy fruit. Simple, pure and delicious. Super depth of flavour and this lingers like you wouldn't believe. There are very few wines like this in the world. November 2015
Bodegas Estacada Hello World! Prieto Picudo 2014 Vino de la Tierra de Castilla, Spain Weird cork. Wierd packaging. Wierd name. Wierd grape. This is fun stuff. Not only is this a grape that I became most captivated by during my first encounter with it several years ago but it is a wonderfully lively, fruity, expressively juicy version of it. The grape is Prieto Picudo. A small, dark, thick-skinned creature that lurks beneath the canopy of old, gnarled vines in Castilla y Leon. It has piqaunt aromas of balsamic vinegar and vigorous autumnal raspberry which also confronts the palate plus lingering flavours of dark chocolate. Vibrant and extremely tasty. October 2015
Several years ago I was stumbling my way through Ribera del Duero when I ventured upon Bodegas Arzuaga. Despite the rather grandiose nature of the place, added to which I recall some bizarre eccentricities (I was encouraged to hug a lucky tree) it displayed some great potential. Whilst many of the wines were marked by oak, what really impressed was the fellow making the stuff - Jorge Monzon. A young man with an impressive CV; DRC, Vega Sicilia etc... however, that could all be irrelevant. Like one of those pretenders on a vapid reality cooking show who has The Fat Duck on his CV only for it to be discovered that all he did for The Fat Duck was to polish Heston's enormous, shiny, planet-like noggin. I do not know what Jorge did for either of his previous employers, but I do know this. He is a charming chap who made terrific wine and now he is making utterly spellbinding wine, the kind of wine that can lift an entire region and grape to another level. There are some old tricks employed (the adding of white grapes to the ubiquitous Tinto Fino to add acidity) but the wines are vibrant and modern, but not in a big, thick, inky, okay sort of way - does that make them post-modern? Added to which I recently learned that Jorge also operates a microbrewery using only local ingredients. Perhaps he also once hugged a lucky tree.
Dominio del Aguila Picaro del Aguila 2013 Ribera del Duero, Spain This , I suggest, and hope, may well be the benchmark for new-wave Ribera. Classic blackberry fruit, with liquorice but so creamy, so pure, so precise. Impeccably balanced. Almost too perfect, but there is an edge that gives this wine genuine character. If you enjoy the wines of Ribera then I implore you to track this beauty down. September 2015
In case you you were sitting at home this evening wondering what fifteen year old Verdejo tastes like (and I know your were) The Badger is on hand to enlighten you. Belondrade y Lurton were one of the Bodegas to put oaked Rueda Verdejo on the map. What baffles me however is how some of the very best producers still find the balance between oak and fruit such a challenge.
Belondrade y Lurton Verdejo 2000 Rueda, Spain A deep, orange colour, which may well offer a grim premonition of tomorrow morning's trip to the lavatory. Over-ripe apricots, butter, green tea and furniture polish. This is mega-tasty in a way and still kicking at fifteen years of age, but the overwhelming sensation of oak means it could be anything from anywhere. Deliciously pointless. July 2015
Pesquera Reserva 1998 Ribera del Duero, Spain The Pesquera Reserva 98 opens with a dazzling array of aromatics that highlight the magical symbiosis between top notch wood and top notch fruit, when in the right hands. Sandalwood, incense, blackberries, woodsmoke, new leather, roses, coffee beans - if only I could bottle that aroma and spread it liberally upon the hind quarters of Mrs. Badger. Starts to fade a touch with extended time in the glass but very smooth, bright and sumptuous. An utter joy, at the peak of it's powers . What a wine to share with a friend, who, by the time I write this would have already deserted these shores. July 2015