JWL Issue #001: Spanish Wine Not From Rioja

May 8, 2018

A few weeks ago, I was doing a wine tasting for my colleagues. Questions ranged from "how do you avoid red wine lips?" (I still don't have an answer for that), to "how can I find more wines like this?"

I started my WSET journey this year. WSET is one of the major wine education bodies worldwide. It provides a tightly rigorous approach to wine tasting. It’s a depth I love: it plays on my slightly obsessive and completist nature. But is overkill for those who just want to know how to buy good wine. I want to bridge that gap.

There’s hundreds of millions of wine lovers out there, but only a few dozen thousand with qualifications in it. Hopefully on a weekly basis, this Wine List can be a way to gain a bit more knowledge with practical things to follow. I’m starting off with a few categories.

Taste, Learn and Jargon

I need your feedback. This will only work if you like it. You’re all taking a punt on trying something new, so please let me know what you love and hate about this. It’s the only way it’ll work. If you do love it, then please forward it to a friend so they can sign up too!

Without much further ado, cheers!


Spanish Wine that isn't from Rioja

Of a large number of affordable wines I bought from Lea & Sandeman recently, two Spanish whites and two reds were standouts. Bodegas Nodus is an organic Valencian producer. The award-winning Chaval (£10.99) is made from a red grape I’d not drank before called bobal. This is all about red fruit and savoury notes but importantly, nicely balanced.

Bodegas Nodus is an organic Valencian producer and their chardonnay-moscatel blend En La Parra (£8.50) has an aroma of soft tropical fruits with a long finish. 

Old Hands (£9.50), a monastrell (Spanish name for the French mourvèdre) is from Jumilla in Murcia. I’ve stayed not far from here on holiday before but never found red wine this good: herby and spicy without overbearing and overripe sweetness.

Finally, Macabeo (£7.95) from Bodegas Roqueta in the Castilla y León region. We drank this in the park in the first of the English summer heat this weekend and it was perfect for it. Peach and apricot with a full body that balanced the acidity.


Wine has a number of characteristics that makes it taste the way it does. The big ones here might be grape and environment. I often find in the affordable price range, however, it doesn’t help too much. There’s thousands of Rhone valley grenache-syrah blends under £10, but finding one I like, hasn’t helped me find others. Instead, I’d recommend to follow the producer. If you find a wine you like, search out all the other wines that producer makes. In the above example, those four wines have immediately given me three new wines to try from the rest of their ranges. Takeaway: look at the last wine you loved, research who produced it, and try one of their other wines.



Elegant is often defined by what it’s not. It’s not big, nor brash. It’s not overly fruity or overly sweet. It’s probably not ‘masculine’ or 'muscular’. Instead, it’s going to be subtle, might err on the greener end of wine aromas. It’s likely to age well: I’ve seen chablis described as elegant before. For me, an elegant wine is usually one that’s better to taste than it is just to drink. It’s not obviously winey enough as a go-to quaffing wine, and needs a bit of thought to get the value from it.

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