Ivan in Lytham St Annes has been investigating the wonderful world of Spanish wine. Join him as he explores the many styles and fascinating culture of one of our favourite wine producing countries…
New Age of Spanish Wine
Many people don’t need to much persuasion to buy a bottle of Spanish wine. Words like Gran Reserva, grapes like Tempranillo, and tastes like Vanilla or Toasted oak are associated with quality. It hasn’t been always like this though. It is not possible to provide the whole picture of how Spanish wine changed over the years as it would require an encyclopaedia! Instead, here’s a quick overview.
Spanish crisis for wine benefit
Export-orientated Spanish wine market was always better organised than to be expected from relaxed and paced down spaniards. Suddenly, an economic downturn struck, quarter of the population lost jobs, business was devastated… This all is not the story of the wine business! There were some bankruptcies, yet market was afflicted maybe by rain at most as, even before that proactive winemakers, started working even harder. It was the downturn to a big extent that helped flooding international markets with new wines, such as for example Ribera del Duero, cheaper in price but not in quality. You can source some Finca Carelio Tempranillo in our stores, which is an example of excellent quality for a cheaper price.
Return of Grenache!
Around 40 years ago La Rioja winemakers decided to replant vineyards with Tempranillo, it seemed like the demise of Garnacha. Only small plots of the vine were left for Rose production and those provincial corners where Tempranillo could not be afforded. However, a new dawn came. In order to match the New World’s offer, deeply coloured, intense yet fruit-forward wines with easy tannic character was required. Sound like something familiar? Get a bottle of El Chaparral Old Vine Garnacha and you will see for yourself!
Is well known around Europe, especially with anglo-saxons, who gave it the name Sherry. There is nothing easy about it, though. Jerez is not just fortified wine, it is gastronomic culture. A culture so strong it lives through wars and the changing tides of fashion. The post-war, baby boom and Rock’n’roll generation’s beloved Cream Sherry style is too strong and sweet for modern, dry style preference; the exports for it dropped significantly in the past years. Today, 20-year-old VOS or 30-year-old VORS Jerez exports grow and becomes more and more important to fans of sherry. More and more Jerez bars open around Europe and they are real Fino and Manzanilla fame creators. Or maybe you are a Pedro Ximinez person? Pop down to the store, we’ll talk you through!
The Rioja Revolution
For a long time Rioja wines were considered to be one of the best in Spain. Rioja export was made only by big companies and people, who sold it where the one to wear suits even in the hottest weather. Not to mention they were the people to buy it as well. Crianza, Reserva, Gran Reserva and White Rioja where the success formula. Since then many people turned their vision towards New World without noticing real changes under their noses. Indeed, carbonic maceration, terroir concepts, blending and even dessert wines are now a part of Rioja as well. You think this is the limit? Have you heard of Vino de Hiedo? That’s Eiswein in Germany, Vin de grace in Luxembourg and Ice Wine as we know it. Ice Wine in Spain, right? I know! Of course, these are not the most common subjects on the store shelves. However, modern winemaking techniques improved traditional wines as well. If you get a bottle of Vina Alarde Gran Reserva, you’ll definitely agree.
Decades worth of improvement
That’s how long the current process is. Is started slowly and becomes faster every year, more unpredictable and yet very pleasant for us to enjoy.