Spanish Wine

Spain may be Old World but it is arguably the least Old World of the major wine producing countries. Christian Davis reports

SPAIN'S WINE POSITION is “not elitist, a fad or muddled,” says Félix Solís Avantis export director Félix Solís Ramos. “In pure volume terms Spain is a major global player and has a strong export tradition from key appellations. Added to this, Spain offers some of the best value-for-money affordable wines to a financially challenged global market,” he adds.

“Spain sits in a unique place offering New World sunshine expressed in the fruit style and supple wine structure, but Spain also offers Old World tradition, diversity and complexity for those who wish to explore,” claims Solís Ramos.

Spain is the third-largest wine-producing country in the world after France and Italy and the country that has most land under vine. Old World can mean ‘old-fashioned’, restricted by rules and regulations – high volume and all quality levels, inflexible to what wine drinkers in other countries want.

An ‘official view’ response to that comes from María José Sevilla (right), director, Foods & Wines from Spain. She states: “I believe the perception of what is called Old World is beginning to change because countries such as Spain, while offering provenance, history and tradition, are also adding reputation to this list, as well as keeping up to date with constant investment in the bodega, the vineyard and in new technology.

“Spain has a plethora of grape varieties and wine styles that have evolved over the centuries, offering breadth and depth of wine choices to the wine drinker. This is an opportunity to be exploited by the Old World as it is something the New World can only aspire to and not easily achieve,” says Sevilla.

Torres is one of the great names and companies of the global wine market. General manager Miguel Torres, tells Drinks International: “I agree with you that Old World can mean ‘restricted by rules and regulations’. I was the general manager of Miguel Torres Chile for three years and now I am back in Spain as general managerof the group. I have to say that Chile is a good example of a well-organised wine country without too many regulations. 

“But, in general, I would say that the difference between ‘New’ and ‘Old World’ in ‘country’ terms has diminished over the years and it is much more a question of style, brand, region, DO and grape variety,” he says. “This is what consumers – especially the younger generation – are looking for and all of this they can find in France, Italy and Spain. What is true is that the wine history, the wine culture, the wine heritage is really older with the Old World wines and that can be an advantage with a certain type of consumer,” says Torres.

A dispassionate, commercial view comes from Beth Willard (right), buyer for Spain at Laithwaite’s, which is part of the global Direct Wines group. She says: “Spain produces some of the best wine in the world in terms of quality for money. However, often Spain also fills the cheapest slots on supermarket and shop shelves. It is important that more wines of higher quality are promoted, at all price points, as Spain offers the best value for money at all levels.”