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On the Wave of

“Nuevo Spain”

By Ali Nicol


he international popularity of Spanish culture has exploded over the last few years. From art and architecture, to gastronomy and oenology, it seems that hedonists worldwide celebrate the splendour of Spain. One quick and easy way to get your fix of ‘Espana’, without having to get on a plane, is by cracking a bottle of Spanish wine. Spain is fast becoming a world leader in wine making circles, rivalling its illustrious neighbour to the north, France, and is now recognised for producing high quality wines of exceptional value. Grapes have been grown in Spain for wine making since before Roman times, though wines have evolved greatly since these days with the transformation being clearly evident during the last quarter of the 20th century. Recent years have seen the emergence of new, more innovative wine makers that are setting new standards for quality, modern wines. Spain has 63 Denominacion de Origen (D.O. –or Designation of Origin – a symbol of quality and wine making compliance), with several of the well known giants such as Rioja and Ribera del Duero and Navarra being popular for decades. Today there are new, up and coming, and exciting smaller regions such as Priorat, Campo de Borja, Rueda, Toro, Terra Alta, which are enjoying a huge growth in popularity. DOQ Rioja is Spain’s flagship and most famous wine producing region, making classic, Spanish blended wines with a tradition which can place a high emphasis on long aging of wines in oak barrels. This has in part established the classification system Rioja adheres to by denominating their wines by the amount of time they have spent in the barrel. Today, wine makers in Rioja may use a mix of French and American oak for their barrels and take a more innovative and modern approach to achieve the high quality associated with the region’s wines. These attributes can be found in many great wines from wineries such as Bodegas Palacio, Marques de Murrietta, Rioja Vega and Martinez Bujanda. One renowned producer of particular interest in Rioja Alta is Bodegas Muga, where traditional and modern wine making techniques can be found side-by-side. A family-run winery producing wines of pronounced personality, Bodegas Muga is unique in that it 2009 TO HK GOFLER 1 SPECIAL ADVERTISING SUPPLEMENT 64 HK GOLFER・APR/MAY

is one of the only wineries in Spain to have its own cooperage (barrel making facilities) and their own hand crafted barrels are used in the production of all their wines. Decades of family tradition, dedication and skill go into every hand crafted bottle. Bodegas Muga award winning wines receive accolades and high ratings every year, in particular their flagship Aro and Torre Muga. The Reserva 2004 was listed as one of Wine Spectator’s Top 100 wines of 2008. While Rioja DOQ may be Spain’s flagship region, Ribera del Duero DO is notorious for wines of premium quality that command high prices with equal recognition, where Vega Sicilia has in the past been renowned for Spain’s most expensive wine. A region of red grapes, the vast majority of wine produced is from Tempranillo, although quantities of Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec and Merlot can be used in the blend. The famous wine making village of Pesquera del Duero is home to Bodegas Emilio Moro, whose wine making skills and craft produce unblended 100% Tempranillo wines of exceptional quality. The Bodegas vineyard goes back three generations where Emilio Moro started his wine career treading grapes and racking wines at the tender age of fourteen. Bodegas Emilio Moro is proud to use a local variety of the Tempranillo grape called Tinta Fino. This strain has evolved over time, adapting to the local “terroir” to become uniquely distinctive. It is Tinta Fino which makes Emilio Moro wines so exclusive and in particular the Malleolus de Sanchomartin which has been rated by Wine Spectator as not only Spain’s, but one of the world’s best wines, consecutively gaining an outstanding rating of 98 points. Emilio Moro is well known as one of Spain’s most prestigious wineries producing refined, award winning wines that can be found on tables of some of the worlds best restaurants, including top Michelin starred Chef Ferran Adria’s, El Bulli. Situated in the northeast of Spain near Rioja on the Rio Ebro is the Campo de Borja DO and, notably, Bodegas Borsao. In a region regarded for its red wines, fresh white and rosé is also produced. Under the shadow of the Moncayo Mountains, the microclimates at Borsao’s vineyards produce WWW.HKGA.COM

exceptional strains of Garnacha (Grenache). Borsao take this heaven sent product and blend it with Tempranillo and either Cabernet, Syrah or Merlot to create modern fruit forward Spanish wines. Robert Parker recently described Bodegas Borsao as “one of the worlds greatest value priced wines.” Bodegas Borsao, whilst being highly rated, still strive to create great quality wines of exceptional value and affordability, most notably with their Tres Picos, 100% Garnacha coming from over 100-year-old vines. Whilst Borsao has been producing exceptional wines for some time, a recent modernisation, coupled with a highly visible marketing strategy in Europe and North America has put Borsao on the map. Their wines are full bodied and fruit forward making them particularly suitable to pair with various styles of Asian cuisine. One of Spain’s smallest DO’s is Priorat. Consisting of just 4151 acres (about 3% of the size of Rioja), Priorat is having a large impact with the creation of some of Spain’s most unique wines. A once forgotten barren wasteland, it has recently been rediscovered and subsequently Priorat wines reflect the distinctinve ‘licorella’ soils and microclimate of its harsh terrain. A number of prominent wineries from outside of the region discovered the un-tapped potential of abandoned vineyards, and after massive investment from pioneers such as Alvaro Palacios, are now producing amazing, complex wines. One such winery is the Casa Gran Del Siurana where the dominant grape, Garnacha, is blended with typical French varietals such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlot and Cabernet Franc to produce a stunning wine called Cruor. The winery’s Gran Cruor, a blend of Syrah with a little Carinena, which has an emphasis on long maceration and barrel aging in new French oak, is a wine to look out for. The arduous terrain and small production of such esoteric wines means that prices are relatively high in comparison to some Spanish wines, yet still a bargain when held up against other limited wines of similar quality from other countries. Whatever your preferred taste in wine maybe, Spain will no doubt have something new, exciting


and eye opening to offer to those who search out and savour the experience. From light and refreshing whites and roses, through to a myriad of styles of red wines, Spain, while steeped in history, is creating waves in a modern world of wine. With some of the best value wines at almost every level, wine lovers can relish a journey of discovery through the regions of Spain. One notable importer in Hong Kong, who has made it a mission to search out such wines, is Montrose Fine Wines.

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