Posts Tagged ‘Spain’

Wine of the week – Bodega Castro Martin 2012 A2O Albariño Sobre Lias

The memory of the sub-freezing temperatures earlier this week was put to rest with today’s unrelenting warmth and the forecast of temperatures in the 80s this weekend.

The Bodegas Castro Martin 2012 Sobre Lias Albaiño

The Bodegas Castro Martin 2012 Sobre Lias Albaiño

Just right for a bit of gardening, maybe a tour on the bike and a chilled white wine on a shady deck.

Thanks to Cornerstone Communications Ltd., which represents the Spanish wine region Rias Baixas DO, I’ve been able to taste a selection of Albariños and this week’s wine comes from that package, the Bodega Castro Martin 2012 A2O Sobre Lias Albariño.

The name is pronounced “A to O,” which happen to be the first and last letters of “Albariño,” and spelled with a tilde over the “2” to make the connection.

The original bodega dates from the 1880s and in 1981 the winery and vineyards were purchased by current owner Domingo Martin Morales who installed stainless steel tanks (quite revolutionary back then but industry standards today) and built a new, multi-level winery.

This top-to-bottom processing helps reduce the need for pumping the juice, must and lees and cuts down on over-handling the wine.

Up to 2002 Bodegas Castro Martin made only one Albariño, the well-known Casal Caiero, but under the thoughtful management of Angela Martin, daughter of Domingo Martin Morales, there now are four wines, all albariños, each blended to take advantage of the different characteristics found throughout the bodega’s various vineyards.

The soils in this cool, maritime climate of northwest Spain are mineral-rich sandy loam overlaying granite and quartz. All of which contribute to the sharp minerality, floral/citrus aromatics and crisp acidity that makes these such great food wines.

Bodega Castro Martin labels the A2O “Sobre Lias,” signifying it ages for six months on its lees, adding complexity and character to the wine.

The website says the eye-catching label is designed for placement in wine bars, restaurants and regular bars, where it’s aimed at the younger wine drinkers looking for a food-friendly, low-alcohol wine.

There is citrus, pears and white flowers on the nose, with lime, ripe pears and that touch of Gallician minerality holding it all together.

Price is around $15.50. Imported by Frederick Wildman and Sons, N.Y.


Day Two at the Classic and a lesson from Spain with Marnie Old


The always entertaining and educative Marnie Old takes her audience on a lively trip through Spain’s best-known wine regions during her presentation Saturday at the 2013 Food & Wine Classic in Aspen.

ASPEN – The second day of the Food & Wine Magazine Classic is a day to catch up with some of the seminars missed on Day One.

Although there never is enough time to see everyone, the weekend schedule is flexible and offers repeat performances of most seminars, allowing me the chance to slip into Marnie Old’s presentation on “Unknown Wines from Spain’s Iconic Regions.”

Marnie Old is very popular, in part because she has a sparkling and engaging personality and also because she’s the best-prepared of the presenters I usually see at the Classic. While some of the presenters may offer difficult-to-see maps and some offer hand-outs listing the wines in their talk and others leave you guessing, Marnie has great maps and visual aids, as we called them in school, and she says it’s because talking to people is how she makes her living.

“A lot of (the speakers) are in the wine business, or own restaurants or aren’t around people a lot,” she said. “I’m the only one who makes her living as an author and speaker, so I know what it takes to capture an audience.”

And communicate she does. Lively, entertaining, not shy about dancing around the stage to make a point, Marnie engages the audience in her topic, which this time was about “breaking the mold” when it come to exploring Spanish wines.

In her quest, she had us tasting Tempranillo Blanco from Rioja; a dry Moscatel from Málaga; barrel-fermented Xarel-lo (one of the three grapes more commonly found in cava): a Caiño dominated red blend from Rías Baixas; “Niti,” a garnache/carineña blend from Priorat; and finally a Gran Reserva tempranillo from Bodegas Protos in Ribera del Duero.

The Tempranillo Blanco, from the five-generation Bodegas Valdemar, was especially interesting because the scarcity of these white-mutation Tempranillo grapes makes this a rarely seen varietal wine.

“Only a few bodegas have enough vines to make an unblended wine,” Marnie said. “But the family behind Valdemar has helped to discover and propagate the grape. We had only two of these wine shipped to us” for the Classic.

Marnie has published two books and is working on her third and also offers an iPad/iPhone app called “Wine Simplified.” She described it as an “interactive crash course for the wine curious.”

It’s available on her web site.

Now, it’s off to the day’s first Grand Tasting, where a world of wine is waiting.

Global wine shortage? Some analysts see less wine, higher prices

March 27, 2012 1 comment

Wine consumers could be paying higher prices as the world-wide glut of wine and wine grapes shows signs of ending.

Reports from several major wine-trade websites are saying a series of low harvests worldwide along with a global rise in wine consumption point toward the possibility of a global wine shortage, something unthinkable a few years ago when the world seemed awash in wine.

Shanken News Daily reported California has suffered two consecutive small harvests, which means wine makers are competing for less fruit, which in turn drives up grape prices and bulk wine prices. “If you’re buying wine on the bulk market, or you’re a négociant, your costs are going to go up,” said Adam Lee of Siduri and Novy Family wines, in an interview from the Shanken report.

Similar shortages are reported elsewhere, according to France’s Languedoc saw grape prices rise to a 10-year high and Spain’s Rioja saw its 2011 yields drop more than 20 percent, resulting in “a serious depletion of stocks matched by price rises.”

The DrinksBusiness website recently said the California wine industry “is entering an extended period of structural supply shortage.” In that same story, Matt Turrentine, of Turrentine Wine Brokerage in Novato, Calif., said California vineyard plantings have not been keeping pace with growing demand, resulting in a doubling of bulk prices in the past 12 months. Wines and Vines reported a similar story.

This report is contradicts the state of California’s grape supply in 2010, when grape growers were knee-deep in grapes and no one to buy them. Back then, according to Wines & Vines, , grape growers were bemoaning the shortage of buyers in a time of plenty.

“What happened to the grape and wine buyers?” asked Nat DioBuduo of Allied Grape Growers in Fresno. “I don’t know where you guys disappeared to. We want you guys back.”

The recent challenge has been compounded by the global recession, during which wine producers sold off existing inventories rather than invest in new plantings or increased production.

A similar move happened here in Colorado after freezes in December 2010 and spring 2011, wiped out the grape crop and forced winemakers to use existing inventory to keep their shelves full. Many winemakers saw their grape supplies curtailed or shut off as there simply weren’t enough Colorado grapes to go around, forcing some producers to go elsewhere for grapes.

Colorado hasn’t the luxury of many new areas suitable for grapes, so winemakers depending on home-grown grapes must wait for vineyards to recover before production can rise to meet demand.

Nationally, it took wine prices a couple of vintages to catch up with the recession, as wine drinkers moved away from wines costing $20 and up and turned to less-expensive brands. Restaurants and stores were unable to move premium-priced wines, and winemakers, their cellars filling up with the unsold higher-priced wines, turned instead to marketing less-expensive bottlings built around the more-affordable bulk wines.

There was plenty to choose from since the ocean of wine included some very good juice, not just from California, but from around the world. And consumers soon got accustomed to driving the prices down and being able to find much better wines in the $10–$15 range.

However, according to Shanken Daily News, with the recession softening, Americans are starting to reach for more expensive wines, which catches wineries unable to meet demands. And the small harvests means there aren’t enough grapes to allow production to ramp up enough to satisfy that demand, the Shanken report says.

Worldwide, wine demand is seen as a bull market. According to VinExpo, the international wine marketing group, the Asian wine market is expected to grow by 5 percent in the next four years, compared to a 1 percent global average. That growth is led by China’s rapidly growing economy. That immense country of more than 1.3 billion people is expected to see a 54 percent increase (to just more than 1 billion bottles annually) in wine consumption in that time.

All this means wine producers may have to deal with seeing consumers with money to spend but without the product to spend it on.

Wine prices may rise as ocean of bulk wine shrinks

February 1, 2012 Leave a comment

Don’t be surprised to see wine prices increase this year, says the always entertaining and informative writer W. Blake Gray on his blog, The Gray Market Report.

Gray lists smaller vintages oin California, Italy and Spain as warning signs that the world’s ocean of wine has shrunk considerably over the past few years, forcing prices up as demand, particularly in the U.S., continues to grow.

Forget arguing over to what degree quality affects wine prices, he says.

“Pricing is all about supply and demand,'” Gray writes in his latest blog entry.

His argument makes sense: As stocks of bulk wines shrink, distributors will be harder pressed to satisfy the demand from consumers accustomed to finding California Cabs for $20.

Bulk wines include not only the lesser-quality juice commonly used for blending but also situations where top wineries have produced more wine than they can sell and market that surplus to small-company labels or to mass-market distributors (think Bronco Wine Company’s popular “Two-Buck Chuck”) for private label bottling.

Bulk-wine volumes in California (those being sold by vintners to other vinteners) reached 15 million to 20 million gallons since 2000, according to a report in the Jan. 19 issue of North Bay Business Journal out of Sacramento, Cal.

The story, citing Brian Clements and Marc Cuneo of Novato (Cal.)-based Turrentine Brokerage at the 21st annual Sonoma County Winegrape Commission Dollars & Sense seminar, said aggressive marketing efforts by wineries to reduce that inventory, along with the three successive smaller harvests, “have siphoned the bulk-wine inventory down to 4 million gallons now.”

The varietal most affected, the grape brokers said, has been cabernet sauvignon.

“This is the first time I’ve been involved in a market flip that was not about sales,” Mr. Clements said. “This flip has been about inventory.”

“If wine sales continue as they have, we can look for a very deep shortage of cab in the North Coast,” he said.

Clements also warned of a potential shortage of chardonnay, which continues to be the favorite white wine of American consumers and, according to Reuters, the No. 1 white wine in the world.