2016 Difficult Year for Wine Producers

Wine producers across western Europe faced difficult conditions in the 2016 growing season, with hale, heat, drought, and even floods in certain places.  France was particularly hit, and Spain suffered another year of drought.  Yields are expected to be lower this year because of this.  However, most regions are reporting that quality is good.  According to figures put out by the Organization of Vine and Wine, Italy came in first globablly for overall wine production, while France was second and Spain third.

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France dumps 90,000 bottles of Spanish Wine!

french winemakers spill spanish wineLast week French winemakers in the southern French region of Languedoc-Roussillon intercepted and emptied several tanker trucks filled with Spanish wine destined for France in a move of protest over the competition from Spanish winemakers on the French market.  Obviously this violates the rules of free trade under the European Union.  However, French authorities seemed to turn a blind eye to the action, and no arrests were made.  Now, representatives from the two governments are meeting to discuss the spat.  You can read articles and follow developments by checking our “Spanish Wine News from Google” link in the menu to the left.

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Spanish Wines now World’s Most Popular

oct-export-surgeWe here may have already known and sung the charms and merits of Spanish Wine, but it seems that the Spanish are getting their due today in the wine world.  According to several reports, wine exports from Spain have overtaken those from France.  No wonder, given the number of vines Spain has, especially with overall quality increasing.  Congratulations to all the growers of Spain, for continued innovation and success!  You can read several articles on this in our Spanish Wine News section.  Here is a good one:  Link  We think this will be a more common trend in the future.  Cheers!

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2015 Wine Spectator Top 100 Wines

0003D9AE9224E3-1Every year we take a peak at the results of the Wine Spectator Top 100 Wines List for that year to see how wines from Spain and Portugal are  noted.  More publishers are creating these lists these days, and we don’t put that much stock in them.  However it is interesting to see how wines from Spain and Portugal are being appreciated by one of the industry’s most established publications.

Both Spain and Portugal did very well this year, as they did in 2014.  Notable again is the rise of fortified wines (generosos), such as Sherry (Jerez) and Port.  Spain has 10 wines this year in the Top 100, from #6 to #80.  Portugal had 5 wines on the list, with a Port and a Madeira taking top spots at #16 and #24.  Click here to be taken to the Top 100 page.


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Spanish wine Cune Rioja Imperial Gran Reserva 2004 garners No. 1 spot on Wine Spectator’s 2013 Top 100 List, a first for Spain

cune rioja imperial gran reserva bottleThe number one wine on the Wine Spectator Top 100 of 2013 is a red Spanish wine from Rioja:  CVNE / Cune Rioja Imperial Gran Reserva 2004 – 95 points.  This is the first time in the history of the Top 100 that a wine from Spain has been the top wine of the year.  (See the previous post about the 2013 Top 100 list, or click here to be taken there.)

We noted in our previous article that Rioja as a wine producing region did remarkably well on the Top 100 list for 2013.  Five of the nine Spanish wines on the list were from Rioja.

To learn more about Rioja, please visit the links on the right to see a Map of Spanish Wine Regions or D.O.’s and the section on Spanish Wine Regions – D.O. Denominación de Origen.

Firstly, Rioja is the grand, old, red wine king of  Spain.  It produces suave wines of distinction, worthy of long aging.  Rioja grew in the 1800’s as phylloxera (a vine pest) was ravaging the vineyards of Bordeaux to the North.  The French looked abroad for grapes to satisfy demand and came to Rioja, leaving their winemaking techniques behind.

The red wines from Rioja are often blends or monovarietal cuvées.  The noble Spanish grape Tempranillo is the base for most wines in Rioja, with Mazuelo (Cariñena), Garnacha, and Graciano being other principal red grapes here.  Some white Rioja wine of distinction is made, most likely from native Viura.

“Cune” or CVNE is a traditional old winery in Rioja, established in 1879.  The name is actually an accronym of Compañía Vinícola del Norte de España (Vinicultural Company of the North of Spain).  In Latin the letter u was written v, so the modern nickname “Cune” derives from the accronym.

There are two other wineries, making wines from separate vineyards, under the Cune umbrella:  Viña Real and Contino.  Visit Cune’s website here:  www.cvne.com  If the link takes you to the Spanish language version, look for the British flag in the upper right-hand corner to be taken to the English version.

Onto the wine.  Grand Rioja wine is quite unique.  There is a lot of new oak, traditional American oak, not French, which imparts a lot of wood and spice notes.  Traditional Rioja wine would be more like a Pinot Noir in intensity; and indeed even darker more modern version tend to evolve more in that direction with prolonged aging.  More modern Rioja wines are darker, smooth, with oak, tending to be a bit more like Bordeaux wines.  Sometimes it is said that Rioja, especially with some age, is like something between a Bordeaux and an old Burgundy.

Nowhere in the Old World is the debate over Traditonal style versus Modern style more debated than in Rioja.

A Gran Reserva such as the Imperial 2004 can only be made (or rather called a “Gran Reserva” wine) in the best vintages, which is regulated by the Rioja Regulating Council (Consejo Regulador).  The fruit for a Gran Reserva tends to be the best fruit from the vineyards.  Aging must be at least five years before being released.  A minimum of two of those years must be in oak barrels.  Some are enjoyable upon release, while others need years to soften and become less tannic and structured.  Rioja wines have an amazing ability to age.

The Cune Imperial Gran Reserva 2004 is made from 85% Tempranillo, 10% Graciano, and 5% Mazuelo.  It is aged in barrels of both American and French oak and released after the appropriate time in the bottle.  Click here for a technical sheet on the wine from Cune’s website.

Wine Spectator has posted a free link to the page for the Cune Imperial here.  Their short tasting notes are as follows:

Tasting Note: Firm and a bit austere, this red shows depth and drive, with chewy tannins supporting plum, tobacco, licorice and mineral flavors. The structure is solid but the wine remains fresh. Maturing now, this has a long life ahead. Drink now through 2024. –Thomas Matthews

It will surely be hard easily to find bottles of this wine to purchase now.  However, the good news is that there are plenty of 2004 Rioja Gran Reservas (and older ones) in the market.  We encourage you to seek them out and see what a Rioja Gran Reserva can be.  Happy Hunting.


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Spanish & Portuguese Wines on the Wine Spectator Top 100 List 2013

Though we’ve covered these results for a few years now, 2013 is the 25th anniversary of Wine Spectator and their Top 100 Wine List.  It is important to keep the ratings in context, realizing that the wines are all widely-distributed ones.  However, the reviews of the wines are good, and it is fun to see them every year.

Spain did remarkably well in the rankings, with nine wines overall on the list – eight of which are in the top fifty!  The big news is that CVNE or Cune Rioja Imperial Gran Reserva 2004 garnered the Number One spot this year.

Of the nine wines, six were red, two were white, and one was a sherry.

The region of Rioja dominated the Spanish section, with five wines being from this DO.  La Rioja Alta, Bodegas Valdemar, and Viña Herminia each had a Rioja red highly rated this year.  Interestingly a white Rioja was also chosen:  the R. López de Heredia Viña Tondonia Rioja White Viña Gravonia Crianza 2003.

Another top red wine DO or region for Spanish red wines, Ribera del Duero, conspicuously did not appear on the list this year.

Priorat had one red wine: Álvaro Palacios Priorat Les Terrasses Velles Vinyes 2011.

Next, a Sherry or Jerez was on the Top 100 for a second year in a row: the Bodegas Hidalgo Gitana Manzanilla Jerez La Gitana.  We applaud Wine Spectator for recognizing “vinos generosos” or sherries as the unique and wonderful wines that they are.  2012 was the first year that a Sherry was on the Top 100 List.

An interesting choice, a white from Godello grapes in Bierzo shows this year:  Godelia Godello Bierzo Selección 2010.

Last on the list is a wine that has been on it before.  Suave red, old vine Garnacha from Campo de Borja: Bodegas Alto Moncayo Alto Moncayo 2010.

We’ve noted Portugal’s’ acclaim on the Wine Spectator list as well.  Portugal sees four wines in the Top 100 this year, with two red wines and two ports.  The Quinta do Crasto Old Vine Reserva from the Douro has been on the Top 100 before.

To see this year’s Spanish and Portuguese wines in the Wine Spectator Top 100 list, please visit the link to the right under News, Reviews, Articles, or click here.  You can see previous years’ results as well.


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Spain’s Most Expensive Wines

dominio de pingus ribera del duero 2001Spain is considered by many to be one of the top countries for extraordinary value in wine.  We certainly agree.  However, Spain’s wines do not need to be confined to this definition either.  Some absolutely stellar wines, true exemplars, are coming out of Spain now, and the world is responding to them with increased appreciation and demand.

Wine-searcher.com just published a list of the top ten most expensive Spanish wines according to their database.  Here they are with average prices on wine-searcher.com:

1.  Dominio de Pingus – Ribera del Duero – $898

2.  Decendientes de J. Palacios “La Faraona” – Bierzo – $614

3.  Álvaro Palacios “L’Ermita” – Priorato – $587

4.  Vega Sicilia “Único Gran Reserva” – Ribera del Duero – $427

5.  Bodegas Hermanos Sastre “Pesus” – Ribera del Duero – $352

6.  Bodega Contador “Contador” – Rioja – $322

7.  Clos Erasmus – Priorato – $294

8.  Remírez de Ganuza “Gran Reserva” – Rioja – $251

9.  Artadi “Viña El Pisón” – Rioja – $250

10.  Martínez Lacuesta “Reserva Especial” – Rioja – $210

If these prices are out of your budget, take heart in knowing that most of these estates also produce other wines at lower prices.  Also, there are many many other very compelling examples from these regions at much lower prices.  The good news is that there is so much to explore in Spain.

See the original article on wine-seacher.com here.


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Spanish White Wine sales up sharply in Spain in 2012

spain white wineRed wine consumption in Spain has seen a decline a recent years, though the average price of red wine is up along with overall quality.

Spanish white wines are less known but are gaining more of a following in Spain and in overseas markets.  Sales of white wines in Spain were up 9.6% in 2012 according to a recent Neilsen study and an article on The Local, an English language Spanish news blog.

We’ve noted here before that Spain actually has more native white grape varieties than native red ones; though it is the reds that gain the most prestige currently, for still wines anyway.

The article points out an interesting statistic that Rioja red wines still have a huge share of the wine market in Spain, commanding 61% of the sales of Crianza red wines.

The other top red D.O.s for sales in Spain are according to this report: Valdepeñas, Ribera del Duero, La Mancha, Cariñena, and Navarra.  This leaves us with the question of percentage by D.O., in which order by sales?

Also, which white D.O.’s are leading and at what percentages?

Comments and leads to information on this topic are welcome.

Here is a link to the article on The Local.


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Wine Spectator’s Top 100 wines published for 2012 – 8 from Spain

imgresWine Spectator’s annual list of its Top 100 wines has been released for 2012.  Spain has an impressive 8 wines on the list this year.  There are 6 reds from Montsant, Almansa, Bierzo, Ribera del Duero, and two from Rioja.  One white wine on the list this year is a dry white from Rioja.  Also worth noting is that this is the first time in recent years a sherry has been on the list, with a dry Jerez Amontillado gaining number 82.  I applaud Wine Spectactor for finally including a Sherry on their annual selections.  Portugal has one wine on the list, which came in very high at #13 and 95 points with a red from Douro.  Click here or navigate the menu to the right to be taken to our results page.  Again, there are so many great wines that do not get recognized in this short list.  However, to the wineries whose wines are highlighted:  congratulations!


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