The New Spain

POSTED ON 01/04/2014

Until now, I had taken it for granted that the world’s biggest wine producer was France. Or Italy. One or the other anyway. The two European wine giants have been neck and neck for so long in the numbers game that it never occurred to me for one moment that there might be a third giant on the horizon. Well, there is, its name is Spain, and it’s no longer on the horizon. The Spanish Ministry for Agriculture has announced that last year Spain produced 51 million hectoliters of wine. That’s 7.7 billion bottles to you and me. This 4 per cent surge over 2012 takes Spain beyond Italy’s estimate of 47 million hectolitres and France’s relatively paltry 42 million hectolitres. Olé, as they say in Spain.

Cracking RiberaCracking Ribera

Of course size isn’t everything and in one sense, the massive increase in wine volume in Spain could cause more problems than it solves. Spanish wine consumption at home is on the wane, so most of this wine will have to find a home beyond Spain’s borders. Without established markets for the wine worldwide, it is going to be tough for Spain’s producers to sell these quantities overseas. Looking on the bright side, it represents an opportunity for Spanish wine.

Castilla-La Mancha, the home of Spain’s legendary fictional character, Don Quixote, accounts for around half of this bottomless barrel. According to a report by, the 682-producer Jesús del Perdón Co-operative in the region has increased its exports by 86 per cent from 20 per cent a decade ago. But along with many Spanish producers outside the best-known region of Rioja, it still has the challenge of raising awareness abroad about the changes for the better in Spanish wines over the same period. As Jorge Martinez, the Co-operative’s vineyard manager, says, ‘unfortunately, wine from our region is still not sufficiently appreciated especially in overseas markets’. His region is not alone.

I wonder if I can offer a bit of reassurance. In the UK where worldwide export trends often start because of our insatiable thirst for wine, Spain has been growing in stature, in image and in variety for a few years now. Rioja is still the dominant region and the wine most wine lovers think of as quintessentially Spanish. However cava, Spain’s cheaper alternative to Champagne, is coming up with a growing number of high-quality cuvées. Even sherry is picking up in the mouthwateringly dry styles of fino and manzanilla. Against a background of decline, two major retailers, the Waitrose supermarket chain, and the country’s premier wine club, The Wine Society, showed growth in sales.

It would be wrong to attribute this to any single factor because there are many. Look at the achievement of the Spanish football team in winning the World Cup and European Championship. Spanish movies, led by the brilliant Pedro Almódovar (who is from La Mancha) are in fashion. Stars such as Penélope Cruz, Javier Bardem and Spanish-American Enrique Iglesias bestride the world stage. Closer to home, i.e. wine, the new cutting-edge Spanish cuisine championed by the pioneering chef Ferran Adrià and his disciples has placed Spanish food and wine in the forefront of the world’s most exciting developments in gastronomy.

In the UK, the ‘revolution’ of tapas bar culture and Spanish fine food has become an unstoppable social phenomenon. Hardly a week goes by without the appearance in London of a new tapas, sherry or cava bar. Tapas bars are one of the few restaurant formats capable of providing fine food and wine in a relaxed ambiance. As the revered producer Miguel Torres points out: ‘this fits perfectly with today’s generation of wine consumers whose knowledge is growing day by day and who are keen to experiment in a relaxed setting’. At the same time, it offers wine lovers a new opportunity to try out authentic native grape varieties from a host of emerging regions.

The tempranillo grape is the dominant grape of Rioja and Ribero del Duero and its great advantage lies in the way that it’s capable of being transformed into both everyday and fine wines. Priorat rivals Rioja and Ribera for greatness and here the main grapes are garnacha and cariñena. Now we’re seeing a broader spectrum of native grape varieties rearing their leafy heads in the most positive and interesting of ways. Jumilla is a remarkable source of the monastrell grape, known in France as mourvèdre. Close to Madrid, Manchuela is gaining a reputation for its indigenous bobal, Bierzo for the mencía grape, Arribes in the north-west for its juan Garcia. Even the island of Mallorca is getting in on the act with its callet and manto negro.

Perhaps the most exciting development in Spanish wine is in its white wines. Galicia in Spain’s north-west is the hub of refreshing dry whites, mainly for the deliciously refreshing, seafood-friendly wines of Rias Baixas on the coast made from the albariño grape. Neighbouring Ribeiro and Valdeorras are growing in reputation for whites made from treixadura and godello. Basque country has its crisp and zingy, hard-to-pronounce Txakoli made from hondarribi beltza and hondarribi zuri, while Rueda is home to appetising dry whites made from the verdejo grape. Even Rioja is coming up with more interesting, fresher dry whites. Yes, in its whites, its reds, its fizz, its sweet wines and sherries, Spain has never been more diverse and exciting. Add Spanish food and tapas to the equation and you have a recipe for success not just at the volume level, but in groundbreaking quality too.

Chinese Version

文 /Anthony Rose 译/ 张 然
Anthony Rose
co.uk开设周专栏。也为Decanter、 The World of Fine Wine
等杂志供稿。很多知名葡萄酒大赛的评委和主席。The Wine
Gang 的创办人之一。博客,微
博Anthony _ Rose。
说就是7 7亿瓶。较2 012年4%的增长,让西班
牙超出了意大利的470 0万升和法国的42 0 0万
Cast i l la-La Mancha,是西班牙传奇小说
的葡萄酒。按照 htt p://w w w.t helocal.es的报
道,这个产区的Jesús del Perdón合作社共有
682个酒庄,其出口量已从10年前的2 0 %提升
到如今的8 6 %。但和许多在颇有名气的里奥
哈以外的西班牙酒生产者一样,C a st i l l a - L a
酒的品质。正如合作社经理Jorge Mart inez所
现出越来越多的高品质的佳酿。甚至f i no 和
锁超市Wa it rose和全国最重要的葡萄酒俱乐
部The Wine Society—的数据都显示西班牙
登、西班牙和美国混血的安立奎· 伊格莱希亚
斯等明星风靡世界。西班牙先锋大厨Fe r r a n
Adr ià和他的追随者,让西班牙美食和美酒引
在英国, Tap a s 酒吧文化和西班牙美
伦敦几乎每周都有新的t apas、雪利或卡瓦酒
酒师Miguel Torres指出:“这太适合新生代的
丹魄(Tempran i l lo)是里奥哈和R ibero
d e l D u e r o产区的主要品种,这品种的最大
Pr iorat产区是里奥哈和R ibera最大的对手,
主要的葡萄品种是歌海娜(Garnacha )和佳
丽酿(Car i ñena)。现在我们看到更为广泛的
萄品种,这一品种在法国被称为Mour vèdre。
靠近马德里的M a nchuel a产区以土生土长的
Bobal闻名,Bierzo 则产Mencía葡萄。西北地
Callet 和 Manto Negro。
萄酒。西班牙西北部的G a l icia产区是生产清
新干型白葡萄酒的中心。沿海的R ias Ba i xas
产区以A lba r i ño酿制的酒适合搭配海鲜。附
近的R ibeiro 和Valdeorras产区 以Treixadura
和G o d e l l o 葡萄酿制的白酒声誉鹊起。最
北部的B a sq u e产区用Hond a r r ibi B e lt z a 和
Hondarribi Zuri葡萄酿制出清爽和充满活力
的Txakol i。Rueda产区则是用Verdejo酿制开

Thank you for the FinoThank you for the Fino

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