Spain, for those of us who live here, is a veritable viticultural paradise. Wine can be drunk at any time of the day and at seemingly every point of service, from quiet cafes and glitzy restaurants to bookshops and co-working spaces. When we think of Spain, we think of wine.
Having said this, the locals actually drink more beer than wine – an average of 48.5 litres per person per year of cerveza versus a paltry 20 litres of wine. At Madrid & Darracott we do not count ourselves in that average.
The other problem with Spanish wine is the predominance of that old stalwart Rioja. Nothing wrong with Rioja, of course, but it somewhat bulldozes the other regions into a state of unknown perpetuity from which it can be hard to escape.
Some have managed to change that, up their game, and start to gain recognition and fame both nationally and internationally. Priorat, Ribera del Duero, Rías Baixas, Rueda, Toro and a few others. But the majority still remains criminally under-represented.
At Madrid & Darracott – the brain child and alcoholic baby of Murcian film director Roque Madrid and English travel writer and qualified alcoholic Luke Darracott – we offer the classics as well as hoping to shine a light on many of the less famous regions, the smaller producers, the kookier wines. No Campo Viejo, nothing you can find in the local Alimentación.
There is a lot of wine in Spain: more land dedicated to vineyards than any country in the world and we are the third global producer overall. Speaking of regions there are 71 denominaciones de origen, 47 vinos de la tierra, 16 single estate vinos de pago, 5 vinos de calidad regions, and a whole world of vinos de mesa and vinos de autor to discover.
So a correct question, having finally exhaled after explaining all that, is ‘where do I begin?’ Well, why not with our very own D.O. Vinos de Madrid?
Our local Madrid DO has been going since only 1990, so it’s a young pup in the world of regulated winemaking. Historically there was a lot of a granel – take your plastic bottle and fill up with out-of-the-tank – style wine. However these days the region has really stepped up to the plate and is producing some absolutely astonishing wines, and all but an hour and a half max from our doorsteps.
There are 45 wineries signed up to the DO, though there are a handful of others who have yet to do so, or have chosen not to. These bodegas are split up over three sub-zones that radiate southeast to west.
Arganda – our largest region, sporting pretty Aranjuez, Chinchón and Colmenar de Oreja, with 27 wineries. It’s flat, sedimentary limestone soil, and has a continental meseta climate. Extreme heat and extreme cold.
Navalcarnero – named after the adorable main village, is fairly similar in geography and climate to Arganda, and has only 5 wineries.
San Martín – is west by the Sierra de Gredos and is currently the most talked-about of the regions and has become famed for its Garnacha wines. There are 13 wineries over there. This is a very different region due to the hills. It’s rugged and more humid and the soils are harder and more granitic.
The bars in the capital are slowly but surely getting behind the Madrid wine train and are stocking them with more regularity. But the fact is that a lot of them are small, family-run or cooperative ventures without a lot of money to export on a massive scale. But they’re getting there; and my goodness are they friendly and welcoming. Coupled with a recent drive to export to the U.S., you could be seeing bottles of Vino de Madrid on the shelves sooner than you think!
In our humble little shop we have a nice variety of Madrid wines for people to try, so why not highlight a couple here or come along on as part of of the award winning bespoke wine and walking tours in Madrid
One of our top wines is Licinia 2013, whose vineyards lie at the foot of a ruined castle near Morata de Tajuña. The wine retails at 25€, which for Spain is a solid price tag. But this wine featured on the menus of DiverXo, Club Allard and even The Fat Duck in England. This is a Michelin Star wine. It’s a big, meaty blend of Tempranillo, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. Smoky, chocolatey, and chewy.
Another favourite winery of ours is Las Moradas de San Martín. We stock two of their wines, though they are all exquisite. Grown on the the high slopes of the mountains near the town of San Martín de Valdeiglesias, the grapes are Garnacha for reds and Albillo for whites. We have their Senda 2014 (8.80€) and Sabina 2011 (12.60€). The latter is especially extraordinary for the price: cigar box, smoke, stewed fruits, eucalyptus, pepper and spice.
So, don’t forget about our local wines next time you’re off to buy a bottle. And if you’re looking to buy a bottle, don’t forget about Madrid & Darracott!
Madrid & Darracott is a wine shop and tasting space on Calle del Duque de Rivas, 8. Tel: 912191975
Daily tastings at 12:30 and 19:00. Contact us to arrange bespoke tastings and events.