Fri 29 Nov 2013

A Spanish Tasting: Europe’s Most Exciting Wine-Producing Country?

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What has 640 legs and drinks 256 bottles of wine in 90 minutes?

The answer: Wine Society members at our recent tasting of Spanish wines.

Spain wine tastingIt was clear to see why, after tasting the wines on show at Merchant Taylors’ Hall in London earlier this month, Spain is now one of our most important sources of wines, and why these wines are so popular with members.

34 wines were available to taste, many of which were poured by winemakers and representatives from some of Spain’s finest wineries.

So what makes Spain so outstanding at the moment? For me, the primary reason is that it manages to deliver at whatever price point you care to look at. ‘Diversity’ can be a somewhat overused term in wine circles but it’s certainly true of Spain.

I spent a large part of the recent tasting pouring Cruz de Piedra Macabeo. At £5.75, this was a white that, I have to admit, I was unfamiliar with. When members started coming back not just for a second taste but for a third and fourth try, I quickly started to take notice, particularly when there were many more expensive wines vying for their attention.

My colleagues pouring wines at a similar price point – both reds and whites – reported the same thing. There was no doubt that Spain can certainly hold its own in terms of offering great value for money.

But it is not just at the entry level that Spain shines. I was lucky enough to try a selection of Riojas from £6.95 to £34 and was impressed that all of them delivered a great wine for the price.

The Society’s Rioja Crianza is made by Bodega Palacio, a winery with a history nearly as long and rich as The Society itself. Each year The Society’s Spanish buyer Pierre Mansour travels to Rioja to carefully blend the wine with the expert team at Palacio to provide an end result which is absolutely typical of a traditional Rioja. I struggle to think of another wine made with over 250 years of combined winemaking expertise and hand blended to such exacting specifications for under £7.

At the other end of the pricing spectrum was the Contino Graciano Rioja 2007. This was one of the wines that made me take a step back upon tasting. It is only produced in exceptional years and yes, ok, it is £34 so it should be excellent, but when compared to wines of similar quality from other regions that £34 price tag starts to swim into perspective. With 15 months in French and US oak and with a tiny overall production of 330 cases (the typical production of a left bank chateau of a similar quality might be around 20,000 cases) this might be even be considered by some a bargain.

Pierre recently described Spain as ‘the most exciting, vibrant wine country in the northern hemisphere’ but don’t just take his word for it, it would appear that the several hundred members who enjoyed the recent Spanish tastings would agree with him.

Gareth Park
Campaign Manager

If you weren’t able to attend the tastings then all these wines and more are available as part of our latest featured range of Spanish wines.

Categories : Spain, Wine Tastings

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