7 reasons for nominating Spain as the most exciting wine country of the moment!
Spain did not have, and to a certain extent still doesn't have, a great image when it comes to wine: a country of bulk production, heavy wines and only one or two really well known regions (Rioja and Ribera del Duero). A country where too much American oak is used for maturation, etc... Well, do we have news for you: Spain is a fascinating wine country indeed! Here are 7 good reasons why.
1. Spain's wine history.
Wine has been made in Spain for over 3000 years. Some of the most renowned international grape varieties are of Spanish origin. Think of garnacha (grenache), monastrell (mourvèdre), cariñena (carignan), ... All the knowledge about those grapes and their 'terroir', acquired over the centuries is brought to the surface again. At the same time, Spain continues to evolve as a wine country, in every possible way.
2. The diversity in terroir is enormous
Spain is a geological and climatic patchwork. From the jagged, rainy northwest in Galicia, through the cool vineyards of the Basque Country (Txakoli), the Mediterranean vineyards of Penedès and the Levant, to the vast plains of the 'meseta' (Spain's high-altitude central plateau). From extreme slopes of more than 80 degrees in Ribeira Sacra and Priorat and vines planted at more than 1200 meters altitude (Soria, Granada,…), to the lava soils on the islands and the unique albariza soil in the Jerez region... Consider an equally wide variety of microclimates and you can imagine miracles happening with the right winemaker on the right place.
3. A new generation of oenologists and investors
Any great achievement or upheaval takes people who stand up against the established order. For instance: Willy Pérez and Ramiro Ibañez and their unfortified sherries and palomino terroir wines. Every Spanish region has young, ambitious winemakers stirring things up.
This also applies to the better known regions mentioned above: in Rioja, for example, more and more French oak barrels are used. And bodega's simply strive for less oaked wines and more natural elegance. The terroir itself also gets the attention it deserves, with 'single vineyard wines', municipal denominations etc... Interesting stuff waiting to happen!
4. Consciously looking for old or lost grape varieties
The rehabilitation of old or lost grape varieties stands high on the Spanish agenda. Tempranillo, garnacha, verdejo and palomino are already widely known and beautiful wines are made of it. Other local grapes as mencía, treixadura, loureira, godello, graciano, hondarrabi zurri, prieto pecudo, sumoll,... are the rising stars. The list is almost endless and provides an unprecedented variety of surprising and challenging wines.
5. Organically Processed, Organically Managed
Spain is the country with the largest acreage of organically cultivated vineyards in the world. About 12% of the gigantic surface of 1000,000 ha is organically managed. Moreover, the country plays a leading role in the Global Climate Change Movement: high-altitude plantations and bodegas that run on solar, biomass or geothermal energy are no exception!
6. Superb value for money
Every disadvantage has its advantage: the majority of Spanish wineries/regions have never been too good at marketing. Which kept most prices at a reasonable level and made the average price-quality ratio very high.
7. 1001 different styles
All this adds up to perhaps the most beautiful asset of all: a delicious wealth of different styles that are a blessing for every true wine lover. Let yourself be surprised!