It has been wonderful to see Spain’s development over the past two decades. No longer just the home of Rioja, Cava and sherry, the country now teems with interesting wines. In whites, Galicia has two-star grapes in the form of the aromatic Albariño, at its best in the wines of Rías Baixas, and Godello, found in the wines of Valdeorras which can resemble some wines from Burgundy. Try shellfish with the former, sturdier fish dishes with the latter. Equally fine is Verdejo grape, which in the district of Rueda produces wines in a fleshy Sauvignon-esque vein.
Next door to Rueda is Ribera del Duero, where Tempranillo is used for intense deeply coloured reds that rival Rioja for the title of Spain’s top reds. Also, in contention are the bold, spicy wines of Priorat west of Barcelona, made with grapes from old plantings of Garnacha and Cariñena combined with newer vineyards of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah. Similarly, wild and fruity are the Mourvèdre-based reds of Jumilla near Alicante. For something, a little fresher, but just as lamb friendly - Spain excels with roast lamb - head back to the northwest, where the Mencia grape produces wines akin to a blend of Cabernet Franc and Syrah in Bierzo and Ribeira Sacra. And do not forget Cava, Spain’s renowned sparkling wine that ranges from a simple, everyday type of wine to something with class and complexity found in good Champagne.