Een driedaagse cursus over het grootste wijnland ter wereld: Spanje. Een ontdekkingsreis langs de kwalitatief belangrijkste wijngebieden en druivensoorten aan de hand van Frank Smulders MW, één van Europa’s belangrijkste wijnopleiders en specialist op het gebied van Spanje.
Earlier this week Rioja top producer ARTADI announcedit was going to do what it had threatened to do already a year ago, which is leaving the DOCa Rioja. From what I see at social media many wine lovers seem to applaud this step, knowing however, little about the backgrounds of it.
Like elsewhere in Spain, things at the high end of Rioja got serious by the early nineties. Spain had just joined the EU (1986), and an influx of money and new energy started a revolution in the Spanish wine scene. Looking back at that period, most of the currently high rated modern style producers go back to that time. Think of Artadi (one of the very first, starting in 1985), Remirez de Ganuza, Roda, Marques de Vargas, Finca Valpiedra, Eguren, Benjamin Romeo etc. Actually, looking at the top ranking bodegas of today, I can think of only one, Palacios Remondo, that joined the premier league in more recent times.
Therefor one might jump to the conclusion that Rioja has come to a bit of a standstill. This however is not the case. Though we are not looking at substantial numbers, there are new kids on the block. Bodegas producing really good wines, slowly or rapidly moving through the sub-top, envisaging producing great qualities in a near future.
In the late nineties I assisted in a series of promotional tastings for the Consejo Regulador de Rueda in the Netherlands. I remember a few things. Rueda counted less than 4.000 hectares in those days, now 12.000. Though Verdejo was of course the dominant grape variety, most producers considered their Sauvignon Blanc as their best wine, and it was certainly the most expensive in their portfolio. Also I have a strong memory of how Rueda smelt and tasted. It was a lightly perfumed wine, with medium expressive, floral, grassy and fruity aromas. The wines were fresh, light bodied, easy to drink, pleasant. I remember there was always a hint of anise present, in the nose and on the palate.