I am so fond of Bordeaux with steak, that I forget how wonderful some Spanish reds pair with a nice quality, simply prepared steak. For tonight, I brought out two Spanish wines:
2003 Castano Coleccion (Yecla)
2001 Torremilanos Crianza (Ribera del Duero) (Tempranillo)
This was not a good comparison, given the different grapes, but you have to make do with what is ready to go...
The Castano, a blend dominated by Monastrell (aka. Mourvedre, Mataro) with some Cab. Sauv., was younger and fruitier, with stewed fruit and gamey aromas. Very interesting, but a tad rustic. The nose and palate definitely gave away the higher alcohol. I generally love Castano wines (the "Hecula" and simple "Monastrell" are outstanding, and the Dominio Espinal is a great value), but this one was only "good to very good" in my mind. Probably better on its own, without the steak.
The Torremilanos was more tannic and lighter bodied, with good acidity. A classic tempranillo from the Ribera del Duero, this paired very well with the steak. Very powerful, with heavy oak and cherry aromas, it was slightly unbalanced, but that may soften with age.
Overall, tempranillo is a very good match for steak, but I wouldn't say the same for non-tempranillo Spanish wines. Castano is a great house, but maybe not their Coleccion. I will try some more Torremilanos wines before I make up my mind.