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viernes, 7 de abril de 2017

The Rapid Rise of Spanish Superplonk ... Comentario de / Comment of Wines Inform Assessors:




The Rapid Rise of Spanish Superplonk


© AurumRed | The ultra-rare AurumRed Gold will set you back $17,000.
 
Spain has always offered value, but a new wave of wine is breaking with old ways, James Lawrence reports.
Posted Friday, 31-Mar-2017

It's hard to believe that there would ever come a time when people complained about Spanish wine being overpriced.
Forty years ago, Spain had, effectively, just Sherry and Rioja to shout about, while the luxury market was confined to one single estate, Vega Sicilia. Its owner, Pablo Alvarez, explains the situation: "Spain was very slow in exploiting its viticultural and human resources: our old Tempranillo vineyards, our unique terroir, and adapting to modern wine-making techniques, to produce what today's consumer wants from a luxury wine.

"Held back by our conservative outlook, we needed pushing outside of our comfort zone."
Or, in other words, the country needed individuals to jolt Spain out of its inertia and traditions, which had endured due to the inherent conservatism prevalent in the nation. "The reason that Spain was a latecomer to the luxury market, I believe, was the enduring effects of Franco's reign," agrees US sommelier Max Kast. "Yes, there was Vega Sicilia and top Rioja houses like La Rioja Alta, López, CVNE and the like, but the vast majority of houses were focused on local consumption as was the diktat of Franco."

Following Franco's death, of course, salvation did come in the form of pioneers like Dane Peter Sisseck, who created Pingus in Ribera Del Duero in 1995, a wine that now commands in excess of $800 a bottle.

Meanwhile, Alvaro Palacios set about exploiting the potential of Priorat and its ancient Garnacha vines, in collaboration with René Barbier from Penedès and Switzerland's Daphne Glorian. The rewards more than justified the initial outlay – L'Ermita is now one of Spain's most expensive wines, emanating from a region that barely existed 20 years ago.
Today, this luxury segment continues to expand its ranks – Valmira, a single-vineyard, 100-percent Grenache Rioja, launched in 2015 with a shocking price of $425.

Yet modern Spanish brands remain unabashed about their unprecedented price tags, swaggering into view with the confidence of a Latin lothario on heat. It's hardly surprising, I suppose, with 100-point scores (2004 Remirez de Ganuza Gran Reserva) doing the rounds.

However, a growing number of voices – certainly in the UK trade – is starting to question whether Spain is, to put it mildly, getting rather ahead of itself. The release of Valmira certainly raised a few eyebrows, with one merchant describing the price as "fucking ridiculous".
But nothing compares to the controversy surrounding the release of AurumRed, a brand that is not even 10 years old. It was founded by Hilario Garcia in La Mancha and first released in 2009, with less than 1000 bottles available. The area had absolutely no association with premium wine whatsoever, in fact it was viewed (and still is) as Spain's bulk-wine capital. Yet the AurumRed Gold fetches prices of more than $17,000 a bottle in the US. Utterly ludicrous, especially when one considers that Vega Sicilia's Unico 2005 is available for around $250 a bottle.

The release of such a wine would have been unthinkable decades ago, adding serious weight to the argument that some brands are asking ridiculously ambitious prices for wines in regions without a lengthy track record for quality.
"Spain is just jumping on the 'I can make icon wines too' bandwagon – always a touch of emperor's new clothes in my view. A clever publicity campaign and one good write-up from a respected journalist and you are half way there," exclaims UK merchant Ted Sandbach.

"These deluxe Riojas/Priorat, etc are simply totally overpriced. I do not get conned into buying these superwines and there is very little market for them. And, whilst I agree that some very good wines come out of Ribera del Duero for example, they are more like £30-40 [$37-40] max in value-for-money terms and are usually available somewhere at sensible prices. Usually from a merchant trying to clear stock."

High-end Spanish wines like Cirsion and Pingus are priced by their rarity – both wines are made in tiny quantities.
© Bodegas Roda/Pingus | High-end Spanish wines like Cirsion and Pingus are priced by their rarity – both wines are made in tiny quantities.

Vagabond wine buyer Mark Flounders is also skeptical about Spain's ascent into super-expensive territory, but he falls short of Sandbach's scathing attack on such wines. "My general impression is that I am less likely as a wine buyer to purchase a Spanish wine unless it offers good value for money," he says.

"I'm not really interested in paying a premium because it's well branded for instance. I'd rather find the wines that haven't been discovered yet and grow the brand that way. I imagine it would get tricky for brands to demand more money just because they think the wine is worth it, but this issue is not limited to Spain."

Hell, even Pingus creator Peter Sisseck has his reservations. "Until recently, a great deal of contemporary Spanish winemaking was defined by concentration and the amount of new oak used in the wines for its own sake, however, in regions like Rioja, I believe consumers are starting to rediscover the joys of the traditional elegant and balanced style," said Sisseck in 2014.

"While some excellent new-wave Riojas have emerged in the last 15 years, there are a sizable amount of boring and expensive wines as well, produced in a very homogenous style."

In addition, Sandbach and others postulate that top Spanish brands, by setting the bar extremely high upon release, are potentially damaging their chances of succeeding in the auction circuit. For the fact remains that despite the critical praise lavished on wines like L'Ermita and Pingus, only Vega Sicilia has any real presence in the secondary market today.

Indeed, collectors continue to show little interest in selling and acquiring Spanish wines at auction, a fact which cannot simply be attributed to the "These wines are released in small quantities" argument. If that is the case, why does Burgundy fare so well? It is far more likely that collectors believe wines like La Faraona, released at more than $600 a bottle, are unlikely to make them any money in the medium or even long term.

Nonetheless, despite the criticisms of the ambitious pricing inherent to this new firmament of deluxe Spanish wines, they are not without their fans, particularly in the US. "As a sommelier, I had a lot of success selling these wines as they were a great introduction to Spanish wines for guests who liked Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. Now that we have entered a new era of wine I think that it will be interesting to see what the success of these wines will be in the future," says Kast.

Back in Spain, Grandes Pagos co-founder Victor de la Serna defends his colleagues. "The UK market has remained an utterly traditional one in the fine wine niche, with 'new' countries generally doomed to competing at the lower end of the price scale, while the United States, Canada, Scandinavia, Switzerland, Japan have been much more willing to spend some serious money on newer names from newer terroirs," he said.

"Now that one of the world's top tasters, Luis Gutiérrez, is in charge of The Wine Advocate's Spanish content, I'd say any wine awarded 98, 99 or 100 points by him is certainly deserving of its price tag. Whether British buyers will follow suit remains to be seen."

London-based wine buyer Christine Parkinson is a passionate fan of the rare and expensive from Spain. "Top Spanish wines are every bit as good as high-end (and expensive) wines from Tuscany, France, Napa or anywhere else. Fine Spanish wine certainly sells at Hakkasan and we are happy to list these wines, as they can be very good with our cuisine."

Of course, it should be emphasized that these wines form a tiny part of the Spanish market, less than 1 percent of overall sales of Spanish wine abroad. To put it into perspective: Pingus releases (and quickly sells) around 4500 bottles each year, Roda produce around 8000 bottles of Cirsion, and Bodegas Contador make fewer than 6000 bottles on average. These deluxe wines are a tiny drop in Spain's vast wine lake, despite the hype and critical praise lavished on them.

But at a time when Spain is desperately trying to rebrand as a terroir-led, serious wine producer, silly prices and gimmicky brands like Aurum red arguably do the country no favors. Instead, the pioneers of modern Spain should be focusing on getting the quality and terroir messages out there, rather than trying to out do each other with absurd release prices that only an oligarch could love.

Comentario de / Comment of Wines Inform Assessors:


En la venta y producción del vino el criterio básico es la buena relación calidad/precio

Son numerosos los vinos excelentes con precios menores a 10 euros y alguno de ellos por menos de 6 euros es el mejor en su categoría


El comprador, el importador, el distribuidor, la tienda , ..al final deben ponerse siempre en el lugar del comprador final , darle un buen producto y a un precio justo  -que puede cubrir una gama de precios amplia-
Al lado de esto uno se encuentra con importadores obsesionados por comprar a precios no rentables. A veces son malos profesionales como un reciente contacto que he tenido de Dinamarca que encontraba caro un cava premiado ofrecido a precios de 3,4 y 3, 9 euros exworks y lo justificaba diciendo que se serviría en locales nocturnos.


Otras veces han sido compradores de grandes superficies que hacen las cuentas partiendo del precio final al consumidor -muy bajo- , descontando los gastos e impuestos y al final ofreciendo al productor un precio ridículo y no rentable.


La ecuanimidad, la colaboración a largo plazo, los precios justos son la base de las relaciones comerciales positivas para todas las partes, incluyendo como gran juez al consumidor final



Wines Inform Assessors, Barcelona


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In the sale and production of wine the basic criterion is the good value for money

There are numerous excellent wines with prices below 10 euros and some of them for less than 6 euros, one of them is the best in its category


The buyer, the importer, the distributor, the shop, ...at the end they must always put himselves in the place of the final buyer, give a good product and at a fair price - which can cover a wide range of prices -


Beside this one encounters importers obsessed with buying at unprofitable prices. Sometimes they are bad professionals like a recent contact I have had from Denmark who found it expensive a prized cava offered at prices of 3.4 and 3, 9 euros exwork and justified it saying that it would be served at nightclubs.


At other times they have been buyers of large supermarkets who make the accounts from the final consumer price - very low - discounting expenses and taxes and ultimately offering the producer a ridiculous and unprofitable price.


Equanimity, long-term collaboration, fair prices are the basis of positive trade relations for all parties, including as great judge the final consumer



Wines Inform Assessors, Barcelona
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Origin information: Wine-Searcher

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