On the Trail

Value Runs Through Spain

David Driscoll

With the recent arrival of our 2011 Puelles Crianza—simply put, one of the best value wines we carry at K&L year after year—I find myself answering the same question when I recommend it to a customer: "How can it be that good for twelve bucks?" How? Because value is simply the name of the game in Spain. Good things just don't cost as much as they do elsewhere. Bread, cheese, wine, beer, a ticket to a Flamenco concert, you name it—you'll find that you can live pretty well in España without sacrificing quality, complexity, or enjoyment. It's evident from the aforementioned bottle of delicious tempranillo and from our experiences in Barcelona this past year. 

Walk into a typical Spanish bar in the Raval section of Barcelona's gothic quarter and a cold, refreshing beer will likely cost you around two Euros. The bartender will hand you a plate of olives, likely followed by a plate of bread lightly scraped with fresh tomato. A glass of vermouth or local wine will run you a whopping three Euros and either will likely destroy any $10 by-the-glass pour option in your local neighborhood here at home. By the time I finished my second drink I was almost too full to order a third—and I had yet to order any food!

A sampling of local sheep and goat cheeses might run you five Euros and they'll probably be the best cheeses you eat this year.

An espresso and a plate of magically-delicious potatoes covered in crema with fresh herbs? Four Euros for the pair. Might as well make it a double at that price—of both, please.

More tomato bread, more cheese, and a plate of Iberico ham with a another glass of wine? Try ten Euros for the entire combination. 

As you walk through the local markets you start to get a sense for what things cost—really delicious Spanish things that would be triple the price in California and probably half as good. So when you walk through the Spanish wine section at K&L and see Joe Manekin's sixteen year old Rioja selections for less than twenty bucks, or our mouthwatering garnachas for less than ten, remember what we've talked about here. You get a lot of bang for your buck in Spain. It's when you taste the wine, however, that you really understand just how much bang you got—and the fact that we're importing some of these selections directly shaves an extra 35% off the sticker price. 

As I heard my colleague Gary Westby say yesterday: "The only time I don't buy a case of Puelles Crianza is when I buy two cases." Again, you might as well make it a double.

-David Driscoll