Tuesday, 25 September 2012

A modern Spain

By Richard Bailey
Senior Account Manager

With more land under vine than any other country on the planet, it is amazes me that – with the exception of Rioja and Penedes – just about every other wine producing region in the country has remained relatively obscure. But make no mistake – Spain not only produces some of the world’s very finest wines but it also offers the consumer an almost unparalleled level of diversity and choice. Coupled with high quality and traditional production values you will have to look long and hard to match the value found here.

Wine production in Spain is quite unique; wineries and their surrounding acreage tend to be larger than elsewhere, yet, due to the often arid conditions and maturity of the vines, yields tend to be significantly less than in other countries  (Spain’s average is somewhere around 25hl/ha, compared to the classed growth’s of Bordeaux who’s yield tends to hover between 35-40hl/ha.) On top of that, many vineyards tend to be less densely planted so the threats of botrytis, mildew and many other hazards that would harm the fruit quality is minimal and since 1996, irrigation practices have been legal, so we have a real chance of seeing quality products turned out reliably, year after year, after year, after year.

Another huge benefit of buying Spanish wine is that the producers do all the aging for you! Yes, Spain does make incredibly age worthy wines that will benefit from some time in the cellar but whether it be Crianza, Reserva or Gran Reserva, you can buy a mature red wine that is ready to drink straight out of the box. Excellent news if you struggle to leave your cellar untouched for any period!

So, where should you look for these bargains? Take your pick; In the North East you will find one of the most inspiring areas of red production on the planet, Priorat. Here, Garnacha based blends are fused with international varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah; rich, powerful and fleshy. Many examples will drink from release and last a lifetime (Try our Cal Pla 2006 Priorat)

Or head South East to discover what I deem to be the most luscious and hedonistic expressions of Monastrel (Mourvedre) on the planet – Bodegas Castano ‘Hecula’ 2009 or Juan Gil Monstrell 2008 – 90+ Parker Point wines for under £10 anyone?

If you’ve been a lifelong Rioja fan why not sample the wines of its neighbour, Navarra? Expect traditional style with a modern twist, Tempranillo blended with the great varietals of Bordeaux. (Vina Del Portillo 2002 Reserva)

And what about the whites? If you’ve been searching for a change to your Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay then the wines of Galicia are for you; be it a zippy Albarino or my personal favourite the beautiful Godello (Grego y Monaguillo Godello)

I’m barely scratching the surface here. With over 600 indigenous varieties alone it would take ten lifetimes to explore all the hidden jewels Spain has to offer. The Point to this entry is to make sure that you are aware, that over the last 20 years or so there has been a major shake up all over Spain, a vinous revolution! There has been massive investment, both financial and educational alongside a hugely successful integration of modern viticultural and vinification practices. Spain are making some amazing, super high quality products, that is the bottom line!

Why so cheap? That’s a question I cannot answer fully. Suffice to say, I have no doubt the status quo will not remain for much longer…

Happy exploring.


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