Published on September 19, 2007
People today hate complication - at least in their wine. Spanish wineries have learned this, and adapt their product to suit the modern palate.
"The world trend is changing to a more fruity flavour," says Maria Antonia Fernandez Daza, a Spanish-wine expert. She spoke recently at the Grand Hyatt Erawan.
As a result of their "straightforward" flavours, drinkers now prefer New World wine, she says.
Spanish wine was once complex, Daza goes on. Most were vino de reserva or vino gran reserva, meaning they required cellaring for four to six years, respectively.
Vino joven, or young wine, can be drunk immediately and vino de crianza is kept in casks for six months and is drinkable after three years. However, long periods in oak take away the fruitiness.
Although Spain's diverse wines are always friendly on the palate, makers are now adapting themselves to the demands of the market with wines that maintain their fruit.
In the past, Daza says, Spain cared little for exporting; everything produced was drunk at home.
This may be one reason Spanish vintages have not made a big name for themselves here. Now, however, wine is being exported in larger quantities and promoting the country overseas.
Spain has a similar classification system to France and Italy, with all wine regions regulated under the Denominación de Origen system. But for simplicity's sake these can be broken down in to "quality" and "table" wines.
But Daza says even the country's table wine is of good quality: "Young wine is just like a young woman who is both complex and elegant."
"Some producers don't want to be categorised by denominación distinctions. They want to make their own rules," she says.
Today, some table wines can be of top quality even if they do not meet the appellation requirements.
From Spain's 1.1 million hectares of vines the country produces more than 60 original denominations.
"Wine drinkers in Thailand are 'stereotypical' drinkers," said one local importer attending the seminar, who asked not to be named. He said locals are "so familiar with the Old World names of France and Italy". Those preferring more affordable wines look for New World wines from Chile or Australia.
But compared for price and taste, Spanish wine is good value for money, says Daza. She suggests affordable wines for different occasions. Whites Pazo Barrantes 2005 and Marques de Riscal 2005 go well at parties serving light snacks, seafood or fish with light sauces. "You can feel confident pairing a good wine with international food, including Asian cuisine."
She adds that reds Pago de los Capellanes 2004 and Casa de la Ermita 2003, crianzas both, are easy to drink, with a lively, fruity flavour.
But, if you want to impress your boss, she recommends Gran Coronas 2001 - a reserva. Its tempranillo grape grown in the Rioja region carries a lot of weight with experienced wine drinkers. Rioja was the first Spanish wine region to obtain denominación status in 1925.
Or, the Bressol 2000 will show you are knowledgeable enough to pick a fashionable bottle. "It's the avant-garde choice."