Spanish Treasure

What’s the weather like today? Seeing as it’s March in Minnesota, roll the dice: Among the options are happy glimpses of spring and full-on blizzards. Naturally, that makes it a perfect month for Spanish reds—rich enough to pair with the last cassoulets and pot roasts of the deep winter, but also spicy and earthy enough to complement the first burgers of barbecue season. It’s true Spanish reds are no longer the cult and critical darlings they once were, but Spain can still grow wine grapes better than just about anywhere else. For these reasons, reasonable prices abound at both the high and low end of the Spanish-wine spectrum, which means you’ll find delicious options for whatever comes your way as you prepare for April and tax day.

Bodegas San Valero, Tempranillo, Manyana, DO Cariñena, 2009

The melting watch on this label is a winking tribute to Salvador Dali as well as your sure sign to the best cheap wine in town. The 2009 is particularly appealing with notes of cherry fruit, firm tannins, and an echo of earth and spice. Available: Chicago-Lake Liquors, 825 E. Lake St., Mpls., 612-825-4401, ($7)

Bodegas Ramón Bilbao, Rioja Crianza, 2006

Big and burly, masculine and as Spanish as a bullfighter, this oaky, smoky, deliciously fierce wine from the best wine region in Spain cries out for chipotle-rubbed short ribs and a place at your side on a nippy March night. Available: The Cellars, various locations, ($12)

Bodegas Borsao, Garnacha Campo de Borja Tres Picos 2008

Bright raspberry fruit counterbalanced by a lovely toasty weight, Tres Picos has become a favorite of local restaurants for its ability to match foods as light as brown-butter scallops and as big as a well-done steak. This is table wine for a serious table. Available: France 44, 4351 France Ave. S., Mpls., 612-925-3252, ($19)

Bodegas y Viñedos Alion, Ribera del Duero, 2005

Alive and vital, this little-sister wine to Spain’s most prestigious bottling, Vega Sicilia, is snaky and sneaky, threading little serpentine tendrils of aroma out into the air: cedar, smoke, blackberry, currant, and cola. Available: Hennepin Lake Liquors, 1200 W. Lake St., Mpls., 612-825-4411 ($59)