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Costers del Segre has a long history of supplying wine from the town of Lleida. The attitude to wine-making used to be quantity first and hopefully a good taste for Spanish wine. About 30 years ago a small group of innovative bodegas started to try out different varieties of grapes and different methods of vinification.

One name is synonymous with Costers del Segre, that of Raimat. This enormous estate of approx. 3,000 hectares of which 1,000 are vineyards belonged for many years to the Raventós of Codorniu Cava and today it is one of the most high- tech bodegas of all Spain. This bodega was the powerhouse that led to great renovation in Costers del Segre. Increasing numbers of growers have seen the advantage of turning their backs on mediocre wine-making to direct their attention towards a more lucrative future. It is still possible to find old- fashioned white, rosé, and red Spanish wines in the region but these are intended for drinking when young and are mainly found in the bars of Lleida.

The modern style Spanish wines, especially those from Raimat, are of an entirely different calibre. While the traditional wine-makers stick to Macabeo, Parellada, and Xarel-lo for white Spansih wines (the basic grapes for Cava) and Garnacha, supplemented with Ull de Llebre (Tempranillo) for their reds, the modem wine-makers make other choices. The white Spanish wine varieties include Garnacha Blanca and especially Chardonnay with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Monastrell, Trepat, and Mazuela (Cariñena) for the red Spanish wines. The best results are generally achieved by blending Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo, and Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.

The modern-style whites are made mainly wholly of Chardonnay or by blending Chardonnay, Macabeo, and Xarel-lo. The best Chardonnay wines are briefly aged in oak barrels to impart extra body and roundness. Drinking temperature for this Spanish wine 50-53.6°F (10-12°C).

The modern-style rosado Spanish wines are certainly drinkable and even very pleasant but they do not yet achieve the standard of either the whites or reds from Costers del Segre. The best results to date have been achieved with 100% Merlot (Castell del Remei), but it is impossible to tell when drinking this wine if it originates from the south of France, Italy, or Spain. You can drink this Spanish wine at 50-53.6°F (10-12°C).

The red Crianza through to Reserva wines are certainly worthy of consideration, particularly in view of their reasonable prices. The Raimat Abadia Reserva and Raimat Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva are typical examples of an intelligent and caring approach to high-technology wine-making with a respect for tradition. These superb Spanish wines have already achieved such a high quality that even the most pessimistic expectations of ten years ago are likely to be great improved upon. Drink this Spanish wine at 60.8°F (16°C).

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