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After some months of bleak winter I am happy to report that Spring is almost here and that I have found some fantastic wines to write about.

Miguel Maduro visited us and we went to La Bomba, one of the best restaurant in Madrid these days. Unpretentious, perfect cooking, with a great story behind it: the French investment banker who decides to quit, become a chef and open his own bistrot. To honor Portuguese-Spanish friendship, we drank El Castro de Valtuille Mencía Joven 2012, a happy red wine, 100% Mencia grape, that sells for 9 euros, hard to top that.

Life without friends is like life in a desert island, said the Spanish writer Baltasar Gracián. To make sure we did not feel like Robison Crusoe, we have organized some gatherings at home lately. In one of them we were introduced to the new Peter Maurer Pinot Noir 2014, a very Southern wine, from Cadiz. So far it is very a small production, an experiment. But it is so well made -smooth, fruity-, that we hope it becomes soon an important name in the blessed Jerez region.

Another friend brought to our soirées dansantes two wines he likes, Xristo Cru, Douro 2013 and Albamar 2015, Albariño.

Well, Xristo Cru turned out to be the ultimate red wine to drink, a creature of Luis Seabra. This Portuguese wiseman quited his job at a revered Porto winery to do his thing, very close to terroir, with minimal intervention. He works in very old vineyards in the Cima Corgo area, circa 80 years. This red with only 12.5 % alcohol content is so outstanding that transports you to wine paradise, a subtle, elegant and long-lasting experience. I have looked around for it afterwards in Madrid shops and sells for 35 euros, in this case a well justified price.

Albamar 2015 is a new-new Albariño, made by the Alba family -not the ones you are thinking. These Albas are based near the Atlantic, at the mouth of river Umia. They own a small vineyard, where the son Luis Alba, known as Xurxo, is starting a revolution. He moved to wine making after losing his job. His secret is the passionate way he looks after the grapes, the vineyards -20 to 30 years old- and the soil,in ways never experimented by his parents, who started the project. Xurso is always as friendly as possible to Nature, almost in a moving way. His wine is pure Atlantic, with the right acidity and fruit tempered by the seaside. Albamar sells for around 10 euros.

I hope you can try some these wines while you welcome Spring. Come, walk beside me.

In every corner of Spain today you can find excellent wines, and this is good and bad news. The downside is that too often you are expected to drink only the local wine and praise it as if it was the soccer team where your seven year old son plays.I have decided to resist this chauvinistic trend and this summer I have tried new wines making sure first that they did not come from the region where I was enjoying my holidays.

In Galicia I drank “El Médico”, a wine from El Bierzo, León, that was a marvelous surprise. This is a top wine made with modest and yet delicate “prieto picudo” grapes (“tight and pointy” grapes?), used for many years to make a simple, non pretentious and almost anonymous wine, sometimes mixed with mencia grapes. “El Médico” lives up to its name (“the doctor”). We drank it during a summer lunch in Monterroso, Lugo, and its healing power accompanied us afterwards during a soothing walk along the Ulla river.

In Mallorca I have tried Joaquín Rebolledo’s Mencia 2010, a young and inexpensive wine from Valdeorras, Orense. This wine is a wonderful example of passion and dedication to the Mencia grape. We tasted it in almost total darkness, sitting under a pomegranate tree in the scented garden planted by my sister Mónica. The wine resisted well competition from other wondrous aromas of the carthusian summer night.

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