Drinks Ireland Wine’s annual report was published recently and shows some interesting trends.
Wine represents 27% of the alcohol market in Ireland (second after beer), and we remain the most taxed country in the EU with â¬ 3.19 excise on each bottle and an additional VAT of 23% added to retail price at checkout. RosÃ© sales increased from 1% to 6% of overall sales, and per capita wine consumption actually declined slightly (as did alcohol consumption in general).
We still drink far less wine than our EU counterparts – just under 3 liters per capita versus double-digit figures everywhere else, even beer-loving Belgium drinks around 25 liters per capita – the average of the EU is around 23 liters and yet we continue to be taxed as we are addicted to it and put it on our cornflakes.
We still buy more than a quarter (27%) of our wine in Chile, but Spain is now in second place with 14%, pushing Australia in third and France in fourth followed by Italy (9 , 8%), New Zealand (7.1%), Argentina. (3.6%) and South Africa (3.6%).
In 2013 Spain was in 6th place so the jump to 2nd is very impressive although I am not at all surprised given the diversity and quality that Spain offers at all price points. I’ve selected six Spanish wines below from regions you wouldn’t normally consider (and may never have heard of) – all are new on this page.
We often think of Spain as a brown desert-like place and yes parts of La Mancha are like that, but La Mancha also has rich green hills and mountains and is full of experimental vineyards growing Bordeaux varieties. Green Spain in the north and Galicia is spectacular with lush forests and steep valleys perfect for extracting the extra flavor from grapes like Godello and MencÃa.
In Rias Baixas grapes are grown practically by the sea, in Ribera del Duero they are found on a high mountain plain at 1000 m altitude, every region of Spain grows grapes and they have all invested in over the past two decades, so you’ll be hard pressed to find anything other than shiny fruit and skilled winemaking. The organic movement is strong thanks to a climate suitable for organic viticulture and you will also find plenty of minimal intervention wines and amphorae from young vintners and graying old guys who have been doing it for decades.
Reseller: Boutique Wines boutiquewines.ie
From Bodegas SeÃ±orio de Iniesta, about 90 minutes drive west of Valencia and one of the many interesting Spanish wines imported by Boutique Wines. This is a white made from the red Bobal grape variety common to this region. Crisp aromas of crunchy, ripe and fruity apple with sweet tropical fruit and a crunchy finish. Also consider their textured fruity Petit Verdot.
Resellers: Marks & Spencer
This is a great value red from M&S, sourced from a winery in northeastern Spain near the Pyrenees – they’re shy about the exact region but I’m guessing Somontona or somewhere nearby. . It’s bright and juicy with sweet red berries and just enough texture to make it work with food – I recommend serving it lightly chilled with a barbecue or maybe pizza.
Resellers: Next Door Ennis, Mortons Galway, Dalys, Foyles, Dicey Rileys, Vintry.
Vino de la Tierra de la Castilla covers a large area of ââcentral Spain and you never know what you’ll find, from Bobal to Petit Verdot to Sauvignon Blanc. The Mureda range is excellent value for money and solidly reliable with sparkling, rosÃ© and sauvignon in the range. This has bright licorice and plum aromas, soft ripe red fruits and darker on the palate and good persistence.
Resellers: Boutique Wines boutiquewines.ie
One of three Boutique wines this week and I’m including it in part so I can mention the grapes it contains, all of which are underrated: Treixadura, AlbariÃ±o, Loureira, Godello and TorrontÃ©s (unrelated to Argentinian TorrontÃ©s ). It’s gorgeous, a layered floral and tropical nose with a little spritz on the palate opening up the layers of pineapple and lime flavors and an unexpected crisp and tangy finish.
Resellers: Boutique Wines boutiquewines.ie
Monterrei sits in southern Galicia, just above the MiÃ±o River from Portugal and an excellent source of bright fruity red MencÃa or textured whites from Treixadura, AlbariÃ±o and Godello. This is a solid example with creamy bitter lemon aromas, layered, mineral and fruity with texture and freshness. Alma de Autor MencÃa from the same importer is also excellent for just â¬ 3 more.
Reseller: Whelehans Wines whelehanswines.ie
This is on offer at the moment and is a nice introduction to the joys of Xarel-lo, the best white grape in Catalonia and the star of most Cava and Corpinnat, giving them body, density and acidity and their allowing to age in a wonderful cookie. This has aromas of white flowers and pear drops with a textured stony herbaceous freshness that few Chablis or Sancerre can handle and certainly not at this price.