The Costa News Top Ten Wines of 2016


Always a difficult article, this, the more so as time goes on and the quality of Spanish wine continues to increase.




Always a difficult article, this, the more so as time goes on and the quality of Spanish wine continues to increase. I’m not sure how many Spanish wines I taste each year as research for Cork Talk, but it’s a large number for sure. So, choosing just 10 out of hundreds is difficult, to say the least.

I’m always ambivalent about this article. On the one hand it’s really enjoyable to relive some of those aromas and flavours, as well as occasions – because the why, when and where is also a part of wine appreciation, when I pore though my archived articles. However, I also agonize about those wines that I’ve had to discard, although they too were excellent, as I’m only allowed to choose ten!

It’s tough, but here goes! As with all the beauty pageants (for these wines can surely be called beautiful), tradition states that I do this in reverse order – so in tenth position in the Costa News Top Ten Spanish Wines of the Year is:

  1. Bodegas Atlan and Artisan 8 Vents is made on the island of Mallorca and it really does speak of the 8 salt laden winds that this Balearic island stoically faces through the year. On the nose there are notes of harbour ropes freshly drenched by invigorating cool waves blending so well with the dark blackberry and blackcurrant fruit that soars to the surface of the wine in the glass, as well as a whiff of deck-sealing tar! It’s made with Merlot and Cabernet, which readers will know well, of course, but also in the blend is the Spanish island speciality Manto Negro and the little known Callet.


  1. Clos Cor Ví Versat is an eclectic blend of Riesling, Viognier, Verdil and Moscatel which works like a dream, it is a really lovely nuanced dry white wine. There’s a minerality which must come from the plot in which the Riesling is grown; a superb apricot/peach fruitiness from Viognier; some body and citrus from the often shy Verdil; and a slightly exotic aroma emanating from the old Moscatel vines which really have made their home in this part of Spain.


  1. Bodegas Hispano Suizas Impromtu Rosé is the best rosado I’ve tasted this year and, believe me, I’ve tasted a lot of rosado wine in 2016! Indeed, this choice was one of the most difficult. As I’ve said many times, Spain should be considered the Rosé wine capital of the world – there is such quality and diversity! Impromtu is made with Pinot Noir and fermented in oak – it’s a really super rosé, which is the n ame chosen (not rosado), as there is a definite French spin on this wine!


  1. Bodegas Enrique Mendoza Estrecho is a wonderful example of monovarietal Monastrell! A torch bearer for DOP Alicante this exemplary wine is made from 100% Monastrell 70+ years old vines, with 15 months in french oak following fermentation. Wholly approachable now, and developing even as I write. Dark plum fruit, perhaps damsons, a faint glimpse of dark chocolate liqueur on the finish. Gloriously fruity with a good length.


  1. Clos Cor Ví Riesling is the best Spanish Riesling I’ve tasted. Made, almost unbelievably on the high plateau around the village of Moixent, in the Valencia Community! Riesling’s natural home is Alsace and Germany where, claro, the weather is rather different from Valencia! Quite how the Clos Cor Ví winemaker achieves this in the Moixent area, is his/her very successful secret. Minerality, a touch of lime, subtlety and yet graceful power!


  1. Bodegas Hispano Suizas Bassus Dessert Wine is, I think the highest placed dessert wine ever in the Costa News Top Ten, and deservedly so – it’s a beauty! Provencal rosé in colour, Bassus is made with the two black grape varieties, Bobal and Pinot Noir whose skins are left with the juice for only a short time. The former is indigenous to the Valencia area, and of course Pinot Noir is the basis of the great wines of Burgundy. So, one might ask, how do they grow such good Pinot in Utiel-Requena?


  1. Bodega Lavia Lavia+ Paso Malo 2012 was one of the Gold Medal winning wines that I enjoyed when judging the annual DO Bullas Wine Competition, back in March. A single vineyard organic wine made from 100% old vine Monastrell. Fermented, and subsequently aged for 18 months, in 500 litre French oak barrels. You’ll find wild herbs, some earthiness and lots of rich fruit, clearly harvested at the optimum time. The finish is subtle and lengthy, forcing you to reach again for the bottle!


  1. Bodegas Rompesedas Finca Las Parvas from DO Toro – It’s enjoyed 22 months in French oak following its fermentation in new French 500 litre barrels. The barrel fermentation here seems to have benefited the texture of the wine as well as adding an extra level of flavour and complexity. There’s a noticeable earthy minerality with almost ephemeral whiffs of bay leaf and thyme. More blackberry than black cherry it’s juicy fruity, mellow but with attitude and has a long finish!
  2. Bodegas Castaño Casa Cisca – at about 35€/bottle, Casa Cisca sells out every year, with many cases going to the USA. It’s not flattery at all to say that this wine is one of my favourite Spanish red wines – excellent quality! From the oldest vineyards, over 60 yrs of age, only the best small bunches are selected for this iconic wine. It’s aged in oak for 16 months but, judicially, so as to enhance the depth, the richness, the fragrance, the complexity and the flavour, without at all diminishing the glorious fruit. The epitome of top quality Monastrell wines!



  1. Bodegas Atlan and Artisan Epistem No. 2 – sorry, this is an expensive wine, but it’s wonderful and rightly takes the crown for this year, as the best Spanish Wine I’ve tasted! It received 93 Parker Points though I’d place it at least as 95! I tasted this wine completely blind, in terms of varieties and price and was knocked out by its quality. My guess that I was drinking a wine at around the 50€ a bottle mark was woefully out – this wine retails at 95€! It’s a structured, distinctive and complex wine, made with Garnacha Tintorera and Syrah whose organic vineyards are located at 700m above sea level, resting on limestone slabs where there is very little nutrient for the roots, which have to dig deep between the rocks for succor.


There is minerality along with perfect fruit, damson and blackberry, with a little black cherry too. A disturbed forest floor of fallen leaves complements the fruit-driven long finish as the taster savours the hedonistic pleasure that really fine wine brings! Ok, its price tag makes it a special occasion wine for most of us, but, what an occasion. NB the Epistem No.5, priced at just 85€, sold out! The No.2 will as well, I’m sure!


Try any of these wines and you are sure to have a Merry Christmas!


NB Next Fine Wine & Gourmet Dine Programme on Total FM 91.8 & online Sunday 18th December, the last of the year, when it will be Christmas Party Wine/Dine Time! From 18:00 – 20:00 (Spanish Time)!

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