A Spanish Wine Revolution
The last few decades of Spanish wine have been as crazy a roller-coaster ride as any thrill seeker could hope to find, according to industry group Wines From Spain. In the early 1980s, Rioja was the only region to garner international critical praise (much of it left-handed), yet by the late 1980s this situation had completely changed, with wines from obscure or dismissed regions such as Priorat on fire and Spanish quality deservedly recognised...
24 September 2015
Ireland’s wine market has decreased in recent years, with 8.2 million cases sold in 2013, down from 8.9m in the previous year*. However, an eventual reverse is expected in the coming years, with a growth of 2% expected by 2018**. Spanish wine accounts for 11.2% of the market, with 920,594 cases sold in 2013; its affordability and range of palates makes it an ideal choice for Irish consumers.
BULLISH ABOUT GOOD WINE
This year has been yet another successful one for Torres, with Ireland’s favourite Spanish wine brand starting 2015 by being named the World’s Most Admired Wine Brand for a second consecutive year by British trade magazine Drinks International, making it both the only Spanish and European winery to take the top spot, let alone do so twice.
This was followed up by a number of prestigious international awards for the company, foremost of which was its double win at the Decanter World Wine Awards: the Torres Reserva Real won the highest distinction in the competition by walking away with the International Trophy for Best Bordeaux Blend Over £15, while Torres Grans Muralles for its part received a gold medal in its category. Supplementing this was news that Torres’s 30-year-old brandy, Jaime I, was selected as the world’s best brandy at the prestigious World Drinks Awards 2015.
Meanwhile, closer to home, Ireland welcomed back Miguel Torres Maczassek – known affectionately here as Miguel Torres Junior – for a long-overdue visit to these shores in May where he spent two busy days conducting masterclasses on the premium wines of the Torres portfolio and giving interviews to the press.
We also saw the continued success of the innovative Torres Wine & Dine in the Dark events, with Torres this year pairing up with SightSavers Ireland as beneficiaries of the proceeds.
To date, Torres has helped raise €1,500 for SightSavers following events in Bijou Rathgar and Darwin’s Restaurant, with other events planned for the remainder of the year.
Finally, two of Ireland’s favourite wines revealed their new guises to us in 2015: the famous Sangre de Toro returned to its roots with a retro 1950s spin on its packaging, while the brand’s Rioja Crianza formerly known as Ibéricos became Altos Ibéricos with an accompanying change to a striking new label.
Torres is distributed in Ireland by Findlater Wine & Spirit Group.
RENOWNED FOR QUALITY
Raimat Abadia – Chardonnay Albarino: Recognised as Spain’s pre-eminent wine estate, Raimat champions innovation, sustainability and precision agriculture from the new and exciting Costers del Segre wine region. The symbol of Raimat is the union of the vine (raïm, in the Catalan language) and the hand (má).
Cultivated on a number of plots, this is one of Raimat’s more exciting wines, pale yellow in colour with greenish hues. It also has intense aromas of citrus, dried flowers and tropical flavours plus sweeter notes of peach and nectarine to give a long finish with lingering freshness.
Codorníu Cava Brut: Codorníu Raventos is one of the oldest family-run companies and the largest Cava-producing company in the world. Codorníu Raventos is renowned for its quality, consistency and innovation.
The grapes used in producing Codorníu Cava Brut (Macabeo, Parellada, Xarel-lo) are sourced primarily from the area in DO Cava with the most Mediterranean climate. The ageing process allows the full array of aromas and flavours from the indigenous Spanish varieties to emerge. The Cava brut is very pale straw yellow in colour with elegant, fine bubbles. On the nose, citrus and almond flowers are prominent.
Terras Do Cigarrón Godello: This Godello is from the Monterrei DO within the Galicia region of Spain. It has a mild Mediterranean climate enhanced by the clear influence of the Atlantic Ocean, perfect for the Godello variety.
The bottle is unique, featuring the drawing of the traditional Cigarron mask of the Entroido of Verin (Carnival in Galicia). At the carnival, Cigarróns run through the streets brandishing whips and making their unmistakable sound caused by the cow-bells tied to their waists. They’re the real protagonist of the region – “Terras do Cigarron”.
The wine is a yellow colour with lemon hints. On the palate, the wine is intense and upfront with a depth and structure that derives from less contact and a long, persistent finish. Perfect with creamy pasta dishes or roast chicken. Raimat Abadia, Codorníu Cava Brut and Terras Do Cigarrón Godello are distributed by C&C Gleeson.
The estate of Bodegas Valdemar in Oyón (Rioja, Alavesa) in Spain is owned by the Bujanda family who first started the winery in 1889. It consists of 400 hectares of vineyards with nine different grape varieties planted in three subregions of the Rioja DOC. Working with grapes from their own vineyards is key to Valdemar’s philosophy and success.
Since the 1980s, Conde de Valdemar has become a reference in Rioja, making wines that stand out because of their quality such as its Gran Reserva and Reserva Wines. Chosen as one of the best five wineries in La Rioja in the last 25 years by Wine and Spirits Magazine, Conde de Valdemar is acknowledged as synonymous with quality and continuity all over the world, its distributor, Febvre & Company, states. Valdemar’s pioneering achievements include:
- Wines that were nurtured as a commitment to innovation and which today are a reference in terms of style in Rioja, such as Valdemar crianza and reserva aged wines.
- In 1987 Valdemar surprised everybody by making the first white wine fermented in barrels in the Rioja appellation. Twenty-five years later Valdemar Finca Alto Cantabria was selected as one of the best 100 wines in the world in 2013 by Wine Spectator.
- At the end of the 1980s, Valdemar made its first Garnacha Reserva with the Rioja appellation and now offers a 100% single variety Garnacha wine, oaked for 10 months, that has a surprisingly fruity palate and deep garnet-red colour.
Valdemar is acknowledged as one of the wineries in La Rioja with the most tradition and history of producing Gran Reserva wines – oenological treasures that are proof of the know-how of a winery.
Valdemar Wines are distributed in Ireland by Febvre & Company. www.febvrewines.ie. Tel: 01 2161400
Q How is Torres currently performing in Ireland?
Torres has been Ireland’s number one Spanish brand for the past five consecutive years according to Nielsen data, and in fact Ireland has the highest per capita consumption of Torres wines of any of its export markets.
Q What are the factors that make the brand a success here?
There are many different factors of course, but the major one I think is that the Irish have always had a very close affinity with Spain and often have their first positive experience of the brand while on holiday there. Also Torres has wines to suit every taste and budget, whether it’s a light white or serious red, priced at €10 or €100, and the Irish like the reliability of the brand but also the choice that Torres provides.
Finally, we at Findlater Wine & Spirit Group have been importing Torres since 1986, and we can’t overestimate how significant this long-term relationship has helped in establishing the brand as an Irish favourite.
Q How important is it for Torres to offer quality across a range of different price points and deliver value for the consumer?
With Torres the ultimate objective is about consistency of quality. The company’s wines will start to retail at around €11 to €12, which we can promote down to around €9 to €10 at key times, but we don’t want to get involved in the race to the bottom as this leads to an inevitable reduction in quality. That’s something Torres is definitely not interested in doing. But that doesn’t mean that Torres wines are priced for the elite – indeed, the Torres general manager Miguel Torres Maczassek recently said that he believes that everyone can drink good wine – in other words you don’t have to be wealthy to drink good wine, and their brand is also based on these values.
So whether it’s Sangre de Toro for a family barbecue or Mas La Plana for a special occasion dinner, Torres aims to over-deliver at each price point.
Q How do you plan to grow the Torres brand further in Ireland?
The Torres brand in general is focusing more on regionality of late, for example in recent years adding a Ribera del Duero (Celeste), a Rioja (Altos Ibércos) and a Rueda (Verdeo) into its portfolio for the first time, and last year it launched Pazo das Bruxas from Rías Baixas in Galacia. In future we’ll see Torres drill down into even more specific sites in these regions and expand on its single vineyard offerings; for example Torres recently purchased a very particular 14 hectare plot in Ribera del Duero from which it will produce a new wine in the coming years, amongst other similar plans.
For Ireland in particular we’re also very excited to see its boutique winery Jean Léon gain traction here since it has a great story and the quality of the wines is superb, and we’ll continue to build on the continued growth and success of Natureo, the dealcoholized wine from Torres. It’s really proven to be the market leader in the burgeoning low alcohol sector, mostly thanks to its taste, which far surpasses anything else available on the Irish market. At only 0.5% ABV, it’s ideal for designated drivers, those watching their health and even pregnant mothers…add in the fact it is low on calories, which makes it popular with the fitness set and it’s no wonder nature is Ireland’s favourite de-alcoholised wine.
Q Can you recommend some scrumptious food and wine pairings for the customer who comes in store looking for advice on a special occasion?
Provided the weather holds we can still expect to have a couple of barbecues left in us, and for them nothing is better than the legendary Sangre de Toro and Viña Sol pairing, Torres brands that are 60 and 50 years old respectively and as popular now as they ever were. For more special occasions the Torres Celeste is a velvety smooth and decadent wine that also goes well with grilled meats and game, while Torres Fransola is a Sauvignon Blanc fermented and aged in oak, giving a very interesting and complex twist to Ireland’s favourite white grape, which would be great with light poultry dishes and lobster.
Conde de Valdemar has been chosen as one of the best five wineries in La Rioja in the last 25 years by Wine and Spirits Magazine
Torres has been named the World’s Most Admired Wine Brand for a second consecutive year by British trade magazine Drinks International
Sangre de Toro has returned to its roots this year with a retro 1950s spin on its packaging