Under-the-Radar Spanish Reds

Under the radar Spanish red wines
Jumilla Wines – Under-the-Radar Spanish Reds

Spanish wines are one of the best wine values in the entire universe. We all know about red wines from the Rioja wine region. In the Rioja, the most famous and widely-planted grape is Tempranillo. Other Spanish wine regions take a back seat to Rioja, but make terrific and value-driven wines. The Vintage Wine Tasters having been tasting under-the-radar Spanish red wines over the past two weeks. Unlike our tasting of Aussie reds, we found plenty of good Spanish reds, and we are confident you will enjoy these wines.

Under-the-radar Spanish reds we like

We initially set out to taste wines from the D.O. Jumilla in the Murcia region. Some of our club members had difficulty finding wines from Jumilla, so they chose wines from other Spanish wine regions to try.

From Jumilla

Jumilla is in the Southeastern Mediterranean Coast of Spain. The most important grape is Monastrell, also known as Mourvedre in France.

2017 Chopo Monastrell

The Chopo Monastrell is a product of the Bodegas Alceño in Jumilla. I purchased it at Total Wine. It is one of their Winery Direct deals, no middleman. James Suckling rates it at 92 points. I go with 89 points. The wine has a beautiful aroma that pops from the glass. The palate is red and dark red fruit, with elegant spice. Juicy red fruit lingers in the after taste. The Chopo Monastrell is a beautiful wine. I love this wine with chicken dishes. The price is $9.99 for one; the six-pack price is $8.99.

2017 Chopo Monastrell – Syrah

This wine is also at Total Wine. There is no breakdown of the blend, but by Jumilla D.O. regulations, it is mostly Monastrell. It has a small amount of Syrah, which adds a depth of color and flavors. If you get to Total Wine, try both in a side-by-side comparison. You’ll see the difference the Syrah makes in this wine. I rate it at 89 Points.

2017 Juan Gil Silver Label

Juan Gil wines are among the most popular from Jumilla. This one is the Silver label, the entry level and a big seller for Juan Gil. KL Wines, Weimax, and Total Wine carry the Juan Gil. Prices vary from $12 to $15. Vintage Wine Taster Joe F says: “Each sip of this earthy Spanish Monastrell red is a mouthful of complex flavors. At the risk of lapsing into one of those bizarre tasting lists, it reminds me of chocolate and tobacco. The wine is full bodied, with complex flavors and a light but satisfying finish. I would not hesitate to serve this on any informal occasion.”

2017 Bodegas zero “Goru  Gold”

Vintage Taster Mike selected this wine from KL Wines in Redwood City. “The wine is rich and extracted with dark blueberry flavors, including earthy tones and balanced tannins. It’s a medium-to-full body with moderate oak tones. Smooth is the word here, and it’s a surprisingly tasty wine at $13.99. 93 points from the Wine Spectator, I will rate it at 91 points

2017 Casa Castillo Monastrell

Vintage Wine Taster Bruce tapped the Spanish Table store in S.F. for the 2017 Casa Castillo for $14.99. The Spanish Table has three Bay Area stores and takes online orders. Bruce: “I found this wine easy to drink right out of the bottle, slightly spicy, fruity, medium-bodied; I would rebuy this wine. Great value for the price.” There is a small amount of Garnacha along with the Monastrell. 

2017 Casa Castillo, Vino de Finca, Monastrell

Bruce also purchased the Vino de Finca at the Spanish Table for $21.99. Bruce: “I found this wine easy to drink right out of the bottle, slightly spicy, fruity; medium-bodied; smoother, and richer than the $14.99 above. I call this wine worthy of an elegant Sunday dinner. I will repurchase this wine. There is 25% Garnacha in this wine.”

From the Priorat

The Priorat is the only wine region of Spain, other than the Rioja, to have the highest designation of Spanish wine, DOQ. The grapes from Priorat are mostly Garnacha and Carignan. The soil is schist, and contributes to the unique and bold flavors of Priorat wine.

2015 Ferrer Bobet

Vintage wine taster Jerry, our splurge-wine taster, discovered the Ferrer Bobet at a wine shop in Portland. He liked it enough to order himself a case of the wine. That says it all as far as recommendations. The case price is $33 a bottle.

From Cariñena

Cariñena is a very small wine region in the northeastern corner of Spain. The closest big city is Zaragosa. There are only 29 wineries in this region. There are two main grapes, Garnacha and Cariñena. The Cariñena grape is also known as Carignane.

2018 Esteban Martin Garnacha-Syrah

Vintage Taster Ray recommends the 2018 Esteban Martin Garnacha-Syrah  (85/15%). “The wine has a dark ruby color with a nose of blackberry and spice. The palate is red and dark fruit, tinted with a bit of spice. The finish is somewhat thin, which suggests that this young wine can profit from aerating, allowing 30 or so minutes in the glass. The wine received a 92 rating from James Suckling.  At $4.99 a bottle at Grocery Outlet, it is definitely a deal. Elsewhere this wine is selling for $15.

From Ribera Del Duero

Although not really a small or obscure region of Spain, Ribera Del Duero seems to get very little attention compared to the Rioja. Here the main grape is Tempranillo as in Rioja. Tempranillo from the Ribera Del Duero tends to be a little richer and more full-bodied than its nearby neighbor, the Rioja.

2017 Valderiz Ribera del Duero

Vintage Taster Jim found this gem at the San Bruno Airport Costco for $26.95. Jim describes this 100% Tempranillo as a full-bodied, bold, and beautiful wine. “It is more than I like to spend on a bottle of wine, but this wine is a treat.”

That is it for our selection of Spanish red wines that we see as under-the- radar gems. Among the 14 bottles of wine we tried, these are the best.

Do you have any to suggest?


  1. Ted Moorman says

    Spanish wines excel at all price points. Check out the Wine Spectator WOTY. A 2010 Rioja. Two years ago we toured Rias Baixas, Galicia, Ribera del Duero and finally Madrid. I was impressed with the commitment to quality wine there. Even the cheapest jug wine in a modest restaurant or bar was always quite good.

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