I have recently had the pleasure of getting to try a few new Spanish wines we have been looking at adding to the range and it made me think about how many really good wines we already have available from Spain and the great versatility available throughout.
Although Spain is part of the Old World group of countries when it comes to wine making, as well as being one of the largest, it is only in the last 30 years or so that it has truly begun to shine as a wine making powerhouse. It has shaken off the pervious reputation of cheap Cava and traditional style reds to be one of the leading lights in driving the wine industry as a whole forward into the modern era.
As a wine producing country it suffered terribly in the first half of the 20th century with the end of the Spanish Civil War quickly followed by World War Two meaning the wine industry had been abandoned and left in a state of ruin for a good 10 years. Although the industry started to recover through the 50’s and 60’s it wasn’t until the 1970’s where Spanish wine started to reach a much larger export market.
In the past 30 years Spain has moved from producing a lot of bulk wine, cheaper grapes mainly used to produce generic wines, to a much more premium market. The classification system used in Spain has helped every day wine drinkers to be able to navigate the shelves, this has particularly helped Rioja become renowned for quality as people can buy with confidence a Rioja Reserva or Gran Reserva knowing it has been aged both in barrel and oak and given the time needed to make the Tempranillo grape to it’s full potential. Although not a guaranteed system, most winemakers are not going to keep a wine in barrel and bottle for over 3 or 5 years if they don’t intend on producing a good wine at the end of it.
It is, however, the modern-day winemaker which has piqued my interest in the last few years, the ability of the new breed of winemaker to produce fantastic wines whilst blending modern techniques with traditional methods is amazing. There are quite a few wineries in Spain which have spent millions modernising the wineries and every last detail has been carefully looked into for producing the best juice they can. They are also one of the pioneers of the organic wine movement and in the last ten years organic vines have grown by a staggering 522%.
Despite the modernisation of the wineries and as the younger wine makers look to produce more wines for the modern wine-drinker, they have in the main still stuck to using the indigenous grapes of their homeland. Winemakers such as Dominio de Punctum or the Parra Jimenez family have brought to life varietals that are traditionally used as bulk and made wonderful wines that stand out on their own. The Kabuto wines from the Parra brothers have taken grapes such as Bobal and produced an absolute stellar wine. The way they look into every last detail from how the land is farmed to how they package the wines gives you a good understanding of the care and love they put into the wines, and the results are clear.
For any foodies out there, Spanish wine is made to be drunk with food. No matter what you like to eat their will be a wine to match perfectly, from the Nivarious Tempranillo Blanco for seafood to Marionette Monastrell with a weekend Barbeque.
Overall, I believe Spain offers one of the best value wine markets around, whether you want a beautifully traditional red from the world famous Rioja region or something with a modern twist from the new up and coming breed of wine maker then Spain has it covered. Viva Espana!