Grandes Pagos de Espana was formed 11 years ago as a marketing umbrella to recognise and sell individual Spanish estates of note – ones that fall outside the recognised appellations.
The driving force behind the ‘single estate’ wine and therefore wines from Grandes Pagos de Espana is quality. Many wineries that have a house style will import grapes from other sources in order to blend a generic style. ‘Single estate’ means working with what you have and doing everything on the estate with ‘the terroir’ to exacting standards, a wine-making philosophy that means you may get exciting differences from year to year.
Eleven years ago Grandes Pagos de Espana was formed to give single estates in Spain a marketing platform to showcase their quality wines and compete against the well-known Rioja, Priorat and Ribera del Duoro regions.
Finca Moncloa, the latest winery to join the association, is a 42-acre estate near Cadiz, the part of Spain that is almost more African than it is European, due to its baking heat and Moorish influences. It is an area most associated with sherry although winemaker Jose Manuel Pinedo decided to bring back red winemaking to the soil.
To give an idea of the heat here, the grapes are all done and dusted by August, a good one to two months before most European harvests. Jose makes big, powerful blended wines Moncloa and a premium label 11 Barricas, and a dessert wine that will make him famous. Being Spain, the association has created some divisions, but for serious wine-lovers it’s a dependable hallmark of quality Spanish wine that might otherwise have slipped off the radar.
Three standout Grandes Pagos de Espana
Albarino, Fillaboa 2013 DO Rias Baixas
A class act from Galicia, this ever-so-slightly spritzy albarino is fresh, unctuous and complex all in one. There are notes of pineapple, citrus and stone fruit here, and a full but refreshing mouth-feel. The acidity is well balanced, in fact all the component parts are here and beautifully integrated. Serve with snow crab meat and mayonnaise, or octopus and potato pintxos.
Secastilla ‘old vine Garnacha 2009 DO Somontano
Given that this is 100% garnacha from a hot Spanish summer (14.5% ABV), the result is amazingly elegant and fresh. The wine comes from 100 year-old vines and is an explosion of intense chocolate and kirsch on the palette. Drink slightly chilled with meat, peppers, oil and spices.
Tintilla de Rota, Finca Moncloa, 2011 Cadiz
An old grape variety native to the Cadiz area, this first appeared on Gonzalez Byass’s books in 1841 when it was sold to the Royal Family. The grapes are left to dry on mats, vinified to 5% then fortified to 15%. Similar to Italian passito in that it is as equally at home with caramelised desserts or blue cheese, this is a complex mix of red fruit, coffee, wood and marmalade.