Or mortal coils shed off yet another year and with it, la cuesta de enero descends upon us. While literally meaning, “the slope of January” it’s more aptly translated as “an uphill January” because in Spain, January is very much uphill, coming and going.

I think you know what I mean as even if you’re not partaking of Dry January, you’re still feeling the holidays, the excess, and the damnable feeling that while the calendar may say 2024, it still feels a helluva lot like 2023 so far.

The reason this phrase is so popular in Spain is that it’s such a state-driven economy and so many aspects of public goods get a price hike in January. The post office is always a classic, but one that really sums up the general “bullshitocracy” of January is the Barcelona Metro where a one-month pass was discounted 50% to 20€ last year to help people out. That, along with train discounts has been an excellent aspect of having a left wing and not right wing government continuing to be in power.

This is Spain and so come the start of the year, the discount is getting a price hike to 21.35€ because you know, inflation, or something. That something being, la cuesta de enero.

Given this, it’s time to take on the now-annual tradition of rounding up a few wines that are definitely more wallet friendly given the poor thing has seen such a beating in the last month. Thus, I present the new 2024 list of 16 wines with full reviews, scores, and prices for paid subscribers.

All wines listed there are below 15€. Some are even at low as 6€ and others are often discounted to below 5€ when found in supermarkets.

In the past, I tried to keep it below 10€ but I raised the maximum to 13€ last year and now 15€ this year for several reasons. The first is that you just get soooo much more when you spend just a little more for wine, especially in places like the UK where a huge chunk of the price is built-in taxes that are the same for a £6 or a £60 bottle.

But there’s the bigger reason that costs have gone up for winemakers now as well and to flog the cheapest of the cheap really does them little favor and it allows fair prices to be paid to viticulturists who ultimately see the most squeeze when trying to make wine cheap.

I’ve compiled these out of wines tasted during all of 2023 and they’re almost completely Spanish except for one Slovenian and one French wine that seemed like they’ve be fun to add in and mix things up.

While the majority are wines I discover are from tasting for the Reports, there are others I pick up at supermarkets here in Spain just to see how they are and keep in touch with wines that are regularly available, hopefully in all markets. Sometimes these supermarket wines are excellent like the dependable El Coto. Other times they’re like this Mencía which, despite the price… was not “list worthy”.

One surprise in this segment was the Volaverunt 2022. It’s from one of the Vinos de Pago sprinkled across Spain and while the 2020 wasn’t cutting the mustard, the 2022 is definitely worthy of inclusion.

The Sans Culotte was mentioned in a previous article as it’s such a novelty, but at the same time, it’s really well-priced for the wine and hey, it has mighty clever packaging and is from Gaillac, France which I assume many of us don’t drink from often.

But otherwise, it’s a smattering of red, white, rosé, and even some sparkling wines (the Palagó being a real gem of young Cava) to see you through the rest of your January, I hope.

May you recover from the holidays with strength and ultimately embrace, la cuesta de enero.


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