Why Spanish wines were the toast of this year’s Vinexpo

Spain was the guest country in Bordeaux this week at one of the world’s leading wine fairs

A 'Taste of Spain' underway in Bordeaux.
A 'Taste of Spain' underway in Bordeaux.Joanna Margan

This year’s guest nation at Vinexpo, one of the world’s leading wine fairs, was Spain. In the French city of Bordeaux, around 100 Spanish wineries attended the four-day biannual event – which ended on Wednesday – along with more than 2,300 other producers from 40 countries around the world.

“Being such close neighbors, Spain has always had an important presence here,” says Guillaume Deglise, the trade fair’s general director, adding: “But this year we wanted to focus more in-depth on Spanish wines.”

In Spain the link between wine and gastronomy is even stronger than in France Trade fair director Guillaume Deglise

Deglise highlights the diversity, tradition and contemporary language of Spain’s wineries: “There is a lot of creativity, in terms of wine-making and marketing and labeling. What’s more, in Spain there is an intimate link between wine and gastronomy that is even stronger than in France.”

One of the highlights of Vinexpo was A Taste of Spain, organized on Monday in conjunction with the prestigious Wine Spectator magazine: it was the largest ever tasting of Spanish wines outside Spain.

Spanish chefs José Andrés and Ferran Adrià at 'A taste of Spain.'
Spanish chefs José Andrés and Ferran Adrià at 'A taste of Spain.'Joanna Margan

Along with many of the country’s finest wines, a team of 12 chefs, led by Spanish celebrities Ferran Adriá and José Andrés, was on hand to prepare dishes to accompany the tasting. “In the 1970s, France was the role model to follow, it was an inspiration. Now, after many years of hard work, Spain has improved in all aspects: it has positioned itself as a global gastronomic benchmark. And wines are closely linked to food,” says José Andrés, who owns a restaurant chain in the US.

In the last five years, Spanish wine exports have increased by 43% in terms of volume, and have seen a 21% rise in sales. “Spain exports more than anybody else, but it is third in terms of earnings,” says Rafael Rey, who heads Spain’s Wine Market Observatory. He explains that the country sells huge amounts of wine wholesale. This is one of Spain’s strong points, but at the same time, one of its weak spots: wines are cheap, giving the country an unbeatable price-quality ratio.

“We don’t produce enough wines that sell at good prices,” says Pedro Ballesteros, Spain’s only Master of Wine, belonging to an institute made up of 340 members from 28 countries. At the same time, he says the country should do more to promote the many different types of wines it produces: “Spain has a huge variety that has been overshadowed by the regions of Castilla-La Mancha and Rioja.”

A wine tasting at this year's Vinexpo in Bordeaux.
A wine tasting at this year's Vinexpo in Bordeaux.REGIS DUVIGNAU (REUTERS)

Lafou Celler is a winery from Tarragona, in Spain’s northeastern Catalonia region, that attended Vinexpo this week. This is not the first time the company has come here. “We have returned because we were here in 2015 and we did a lot of business,” says the winery’s manager, Ramón Roquetas. “What’s more, this was a special year,” he adds, noting: “We can’t always rely on the support that being from the guest country provides.”

English version by Nick Lyne.

Wines from the Americas

P. L.

"The markets that are experiencing the greatest growth in wine consumption are Asia and the United States," explains Guillaume Deglise, the head of Vinexpo. The US ranked sixth for number of wineries represented at the Bordeaux event. California is the best-known wine producing region in the US and Spain's Bodegas Torres owns vineyards there, and in Chile as well. The South American country also had a strong representation at the fair with 32 exhibitors, ranking fourth after France, Italy and Spain. Argentina, another Latin American reference on the rise, was there with 40 wineries offering interesting products such as the Familia Zuccardi wines, from the Mendoza region. Uruguay had nine exhibitors, Mexico five, Peru one and Canada one.


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