Every great wine region has qualities that set it apart from the rest. In Spain, many regions are known first and foremost for the predominant grape of the area. Rioja, for example, is largely planted to tempranillo. One of the ways the region of Somontano differs is that its producers don’t focus on a specific varietal. In fact, Somontano is planted to such a wide array of grapes that one could say that diversity is one of the primary things that sets it apart. Somontano is located in the northeast region of Spain, south of the Pyrenees.I recently tasted through an array of wines from Somontano over dinner in New York City. The quality and stylistic differences in the wines was readily apparent from my first few sips, all the way through my last gulp of the evening. What I didn’t realize until partway through the meal, when the prices of the wines were revealed, is the stunning values coming from Somontano. Spain has been known for years to provide a lot of bang for your buck. Savvy wine consumers have been buying up well-priced wines from Rioja, Ribera del Duero, and Priorat for years. With that in mind, I was still astonished at some of the values Somontano offers. Thoughts on a few of my favorites follow.
Sommos 2012 Glárima Red ($14)
This offering is a blend of tempranillo (35 percent), merlot (35 percent), syrah (20 percent), and cabernet (10 percent). After fermentation, this wine was aged in French oak for eight months. The bright red color is striking in the glass. Red fruit aromas practically jump out when you stick your nose near it. The palate is simply loaded with dark fruits such as plum and cherry, which are joined by copious amounts of spice. Hints of licorice and toasty oak emerge on the above-average finish.
Viñas Del Vero 2013 La Miranda de Secastilla Garnacha Blanca ($15)
All of the fruit, entirely grenache blanc, comes from a single vineyard in northeast Somontano. It spent four months in French oak prior to filtration and bottling. Yellow melon and toasted hazelnut characteristics are both evident on the hugely aromatic nose. The intensely layered palate is stuffed with yellow fruit flavors. White pepper and hints of lemon curd emerge on the lovely finish.
Batán de Salas 2013 Syrah, 100 Percent ($15)
This offering is 100 percent syrah and it spent four months in oak. Violet aromas fill the nose. A boatload of fresh dark fruit flavors fill the substantial palate. The finish is velvety, with crushed cherries and earth. Mouthwatering acidity will make you want to return back to the glass for sip after sip. This is a lot of wine for the money. Buy a case and drink it all year.
Pirineos 2013 Garnacha ($21)
The fruit for this wine came from vines with a dozen years of age on them. Fermentation took place in stainless steel followed by a short time in a combination of French and American oak. An intense mélange of red and black fruit aromas fill the nose. Tons of appealing, fleshy purple fruit flavors fill the substantial palate. Wet limestone and bits of spice emerge on the finish. This is a super appealing wine that you won’t want to stop drinking, particularly if you’re enjoying it with food.
Enate 2014 Chardonnay 234 ($21)
All of the chardonnay for this wine came from estate fruit. It was fermented in stainless steel and saw no oak treatment. The nose here is loaded with bright yellow fruit aromas. The palate is stuffed with unadulterated fruit flavors that have an intense purity to them. White peach and golden delicious apple flavors stand out. Wisps of mesquite honey emerge on the finish. If you want to know what un-manipulated chardonnay tastes like, this is a fine example.
Viñas Del Vero 2010 Secastilla Old Vine Garnacha Reserva ($36)
The fruit comes from very old vines planted more than 700 meters above sea level. After fermentation, this wine spent 10 months in entirely French oak. Red and black cherry aromas stud the nose, along with bits of black pepper and a tiny wisp of tobacco. Kirsch liqueur informs the deep and slightly brooding palate, which is both intense and intriguing. Minerals, leather, cocoa, and a bit of chicory are evident on the long, somewhat lusty finish. This is a remarkably delicious garnacha.
The bottom line here is that yet another Spanish region is providing wines of tremendous value. The fact that producers in Somontano grow such a varied array of grapes makes things all the more interesting as well. Any of the offerings above would be well worth the money you’d spend on it. Look for these or other wines from Somontano. I have a feeling they’re going to make a strong impression with wine lovers across the United States.