From weird to lovely – cheap Spanish reds from Lidl

Spain is strong when it comes to the budget friendly red category, but it can’t always deliver. From the ones I tried recently I disliked two, but also found one which is unbelievable for its price…

Violet Garnacha-Tempranillo 2022, Navarra

Very unusual aromatics. Extreme levels of bay leaves and mint, it’s a herbal bomb – interesting at first sniff, but then it’s just awkward. And it’s disjointed on the palate, with coarse, drying tannins, the alcohol sticks out as well. Not a pleasant wine. Poor (75 points). 5€.

Cepa Lebrel Rioja Reserva 2017

Big oak monster here. A common issue in Rioja, unfortunately – this is a caricature of a wine, full of sweet oaky notes, coconuts leading the way. Big flavour for little money, yes, but it’s so vulgar and rustic. It went too far on the crowdpleaser road. Its joven brother is a lot nicer wine. Mediocre (79 points). 4,5€.

Laderas de Oncezar Tempranillo 2022, Navarra

Tastes like a new wave tempranillo. Winning purity and freshness here. Pale coloured, too, almost pinot-like. Its structure suggests whole bunches, especially the marked, chewy tannins, which are a bit prominent at this point,  but nevertheless it’s a nice everyday quaffer, recommended. Good (83-84 points). 3,5€.

Tulga Toro Joven 2022

Massively over-delivers. This could be a good entry level red from a famous Toro producer for 7-8€, but it’s under 4€. Surprising primary freshness and great intensity. No (noticeable) oak, which is a great thing. So fruity for a Toro, with purple-black fruits and violets, yet structured and tight. Silky smooth and seamless with lots of flavour, it really tastes more expensive than it is. Purity, precision, I love this.. Very good (87 points), best in class. A steal for 3,5€.