Grandes Pagos de España


Photograph: Jason Lowe

Photograph: Jason Lowe

As part of this month’s spotlight on all things Spanish, Simon Field MW – our Spain Buyer – reports on the Grandes Pagos de España, a truly unique and exciting organisation producing quite extraordinary wines.

My relationship with the Grandes Pagos de España, initially at least, was something of an accident. On travels, in restaurants, at tastings, in friends’ houses – you name it, time and time again I encountered marvellous wines which belonged to this most nebulous of organisations. Nebulous in the sense that the wines are not necessarily ‘Grandes’ in terms of  price or provenance or historical reputation, but also in the sense that the organisation bestows no official recognition, rather confusingly in the light of a similar, but , ironically, ‘lesser’ generic grouping (Vino de Pago) which does just that. Very confusing, I will admit: a confusion that is easily assuaged, however, and is, in itself, born out of diversity and complexity.

One of the potential obstacles to the development of the reputation of Spanish wine has been the focus of attention on two or three key areas, Rioja and Ribera del Duero being the most significant. It is finally and increasingly becoming evident, however, that great wine is actually made all over Spain, a fact that even the Spanish have taken a long time to appreciate. In order to demonstrate this and to combat latent recalcitrance, the pioneering Carlos Falcó, Marqués de Griñón, decided to assemble a family of superlative  wineries from all over Spain under an umbrella of vinous excellence. In 2003 the group was christened ‘Les Grandes Pagos de España’.  Each member of the group had to have its own clearly defined vineyard characteristics, setting it apart from its surroundings, be it in the form of soil, aspect, altitude, microclimate or any other demonstrably discernible feature.

In the last 12 years membership of this group has grown, slowly but surely, to 30, and we are very proud to work with at least 10 of them. It is quite telling that our appreciation of the wines has grown almost as organically as the organisation itself; quality rather than generic marketing brought me, over an extended period, to the differing bodegas. Only gradually did I become aware of the subtle but highly significant connection between them all. Quality is key above everything else with this group: the wines run the stylistic gamut and include  arguably  the  greatest names from Cava, Toro, Rueda and Navarra (Gramona, Numanthia, Belondrade and Chivite) not to mention the ancient  vineyard of Cérvoles, the wonderful Galician property at Fillaboa and the greatest advocates of the Bobal grape at Mustiguillo – one could go on, but here are a few examples from our listings which really capture the best, as it were,  of the rest: wines from the greatest vineyards in La España Profunda, and not a single one from Rioja, Ribera del Duero or Priorat. On second thoughts perhaps the name isn’t all that inappropriate after all!

Browse our selection of wines from the Grandes Pagos de España on