Spain continues to offer terrific value in red wines. Here are two ideal for casual family meals: A garnacha (grenache to francophiles) and a graciano, a lesser-known grape that we may see on more labels in years to come.
Bodegas San Valero Cabeza Casa Garnacha 2019
Cariñena, Spain, $14
Spanish garnacha has long been a great value category of inexpensive red wine. While prices have crept up — along with everything else — the quality still shines. This Cabeza Casa is juicy and “crunchy” (a wine geek term) in that it makes you want to chew it to coax all the flavor out. (It ain’t burgundy velvet, in other words). This calls for a boisterous family meal where the food is hearty, the jokes a little off-color, and the laughter flows as freely as the wine. Alcohol by volume: 14.5 percent. Bottle weight: 640 grams (Average).
Imported by Vinaio Imports Ltd., distributed locally by Lanterna.
Agramont Graciano 2021
Navarra, Spain, $17
Graciano was widely planted in Spain in the late 19th century, but after phylloxera devastated the vineyards, growers favored other grapes. Graciano became a minor player in blended wines such as rioja. More recently, the variety has enjoyed a renaissance as growers appreciated its acidity and aromas. It has a small but noteworthy presence in California and Texas. Give this Agramont graciano a few hours of air time and it will reward you with aromas and flavors of Bing cherries and plums, while an earthy quality gives it structure and intensity. Kudos on the light bottle. ABV: 13.5 percent. BW: 415 grams (Light).
Imported by City Moonlight Wine & Liquor, distributed locally by Global Wines MD.
Famille Lauverjat Moulin des Vrillères Menetou-Salon 2021
Loire Valley, France, $26
This is sauvignon blanc at its most mineral. Kevin and Karine Lauverjat have produced this riveting white from a difficult vintage that featured devastating April frosts and hail storms in the Loire as in much of France. Don’t look for the opulence you might find in riper vintages — rather, there’s a tension, an energy the French (and British) like to call “nervosité” that carries through the mid-palate like an electric current powering the wine to a lengthy finish. It expresses the terroir of the Kimmeridgian marl since the vintage was stingy with sunshine and fruit. This wine may calm down with a little more bottle age, but why wait? Unleash its power now. The price relative to other top Loire whites makes it a great value, too. ABV: 12.7 percent. BW: 585 grams (Average).
Imported and distributed locally by Elite Wine Imports.
Prices are approximate. For availability, check Wine.com, Wine-searcher.com and the websites and social media feeds of the wineries, importers or distributors. You can also ask your local retailer to order wines from the distributors listed.