The reign in Spain


Photograph: Jason Lowe.

Finca Allende, Rioja. Photograph: Jason Lowe.

Following on the from the success of our ‘Golden Route’ tasting last month, our Spain buyer Simon Field MW reflects on the multifaceted appeal of wines from this great nation, its gathering momentum on the global market, and the regional producers to keep an eye on.

We’re very proud of this year’s offer. In some years Spain makes more wine than France – where we already provide separate offers for Burgundy, Rhône and Bordeaux. We’re almost at the point where we’ll have to create individual offers for Catalan wines, for wines from Rioja, Galicia and so forth. For now, it’s manageable to get all the different Spanish styles under one roof but they are very diverse – it’s a big country, and that of course is part of the appeal.

Most of the producers in Spain make relatively small volumes, but crucially they’ve started to identify with specific plots of land. One of the great pleasures of driving around the vineyards there is you notice how unique each one is different in terms of its soil, altitude and – in the broader picture – the climate; the contrasts are amazing, and the wines benefit greatly from this.

There’s talk of the US market becoming more and more interested in the likes of Gran Reserva Riojas, which have some great price-to-quality ratios. If the US pushes hard on a fairly limited supply base that will push up the prices, and the market will become more competitive. This is why I think now is the time to buy Spanish wines; they really are exceptional value. Some of the Gran Reservas at our event have been matured for four to five years before release – even longer in some cases. So you’re not buying en primeur and feeding into the cash flow of Bordelais négociants, you’re actually purchasing a finished product that’s ready to go, and at a fair price.

Another thing we’re developing through our Spanish offer is its white wine profile, hence the first few tables at our tasting this year were dominated by the Godello and Albariño grapes. A lot of these fantastic wines used to be sold indigenously in regions like Galicia, but now the export markets are opening up this is a whole new area to explore, and one which is doing very well.

We are continually impressed by Hacienda Monasterio in Ribera del Duero, who produce wines of great character and personality. We also like the Riojas from Remelluri. We did a tasting with them recently where we drove up to 1,000 metres in a four-by-four. When we arrived it was a bit like a Pink Floyd album cover: there was an open green field, in the middle of which was a table draped in a white linen cloth with a delicious bottle of wine waiting on top. It was quite surreal.

Explore this year’s offer, Spain 2014: The Golden Route, on