The scale and infrastructure of the Spanish wine industry has always emphasised supply over demand. The annual influx of tourists soak up some of the surplus, but Spain’s most dependable customers has always been the distilleries. Therefore, any grower heeding the international call for improved quality has had to confront both a backward winemaking culture and the widely held prejudice that Rioja was all that Spain was capable of producing.
One criticism levelled at modern winemaking is that it diminished individuality. Yet in Spain the very opposite may be true and after an excess of technological advances, Spain is rediscovering her indigenous strengths and traditional practices. The latest generation of white wines from Rueda, Galicia and Navarra are diverse and distinctive, whist regions such as Priorat have proven that within a region modernised by French grape varieties, Spain’s indigenous varieties produce world class wines. The traditional regions of Rioja and Ribera del Duero are also flourishing and starting to abandon a historical over-dependence on oak, allowing grapes picked at their ripe potential to dominate the wine. Spanish wine is enjoying a surge in international popularity with the growers rarely needing to worry about bringing their grapes to full ripeness due to the warm climate and consequently low cost. Spain offers bargains with individual character.
El Garbi, Terra Alta, Catalonia
El Garbi, the Arab wind that blows through our vineyards, plays a vital role in ventilating the canopy and brings warmth to the high altitude sites of Terra Alta in Catalonia. White Grenache, grown on the wind-hit hills, is picked whilst it still retains some acid, yet it has also been allowed to develop apricot and white stone fruit notes. The wine is barrel fermented in 100% new Boutes Barrels from Bordeaux. Tight, elegant and restrained fruit sits on heavy lees with infrequent stirring to allow the reductive elements in the solids to influence the textural and aromatic elements of the wine. El Garbi’s high quality fruit and investment in quality oak pushes the quality of the region and has established itself as one of the appellations best wines with the ability to age gracefully in bottle. El Garbi responds well to decanting before serving.
El Garbi, Terra Alta, 2017
WINERY €6.50 LONDON £7.72