2017 Bodegas La Purisima Estio Blanco

Spain has some of the most convivial bars for a delicious crawl but frustratingly for a wine lover, some have a limited wine selection by the glass. Try finding a fresh copa of Manzanilla outside Andalucia or anything elsewhere apart from the ubiquitous Tempranillo or Verdejo, Spain’s answer to Sauvignon Blanc. Or perhaps it’s my prejudice about grapes beginning with a V? Oops, Macabeo’s name in Rioja is Viura, perhaps we can stick to the former to maintain the unreasonableness? This example of Macabeo is from the hills of Yecla, 150kms inland from the beaches around Alicante where it’s probably drunk by the tanker load. An interesting but recently a less loved variety, here it doesn’t shout too much but shows low key but complex smells of chamomile, green apple, olive, and sort of plasticine. Widens out nicely in the mouth and then tails off, leaving a good pithy grip and firm but fair mineral acidity, tinged with a breath of oxidising sun burnt skins like a warm sea breeze. Could be enjoyed without paying too much attention but enough going on for those seeking a taste of an authentic Mediterranean grape.

12% alcohol. Screwcap, yes. $21.

88 points but a decent bonus for a cleverly made, properly authentic to region drink.

2016 Viña Olabarri Rioja Blanco

From the variety Viura which being Spanish is of course a local name for something else, in this case Jancis says Macabeo, the Cava stalwart, and suggests widely underestimated too. This version is firmly modern in its winemaking and a long way from the oxidised, old oaky, traditional blancos. Full and creamy textured with aromas of chamomile, yellow peaches and apricot jam. Odd how often Spanish whites seem to evoke that sleep and wee inducing flower, not necessarily always compatible effects. Terrific balance of full rich fruit and pulpy grape skin acidity. Such a sunny disposition with a firm true handshake. Another fascinating voyage into the amazing territory of Mediterranean varieties or just an easily delicious glass of wine too. Getting on the email list for the wittily named Melbourne importer, The Spanish Acquisition, led to a mystery bin end clearance of six bottles for $60. Happy this turned up as Rioja Blanco wouldn’t usually register on the buying radar.

12.50% alcohol. Looks like a Nomacorc sugarcane polymer cork alternative. $10!

91 points.