Viñateros! A Spanish wine revolution

On 21 February at Tate Modern, more than 450 trade folk gathered at the iconic Tate Modern for the first nationwide Spanish grower tasting ever held in the UK - Viñateros.

The choice of venue was appropriate enough - this tasting marked a departure from the traditions of how Spanish wine presents itself abroad and how those wines are perceived, as Les Caves’ David Canadas explained:

“It’s in the name - viñateros. The main focus here is vignerons, growers, which has never really been a focus in Spanish tastings before. It’s always been about brand or style of wine, or price,” he says.

“Because so much of Spanish wine is controlled by the administrative body [D.O.], and so much of the funding comes from the big producers, the dialogue has never really been about vineyards, specific vineyard sites and terroir.

“Really what we are doing here is just what the French, and others, have been doing for years - having a grower tasting.”

David cites a younger generation of Spanish growers who have worked in France and around the world and no longer feel inextricably bound to the big-name appellations that wield so much power in the Spanish wine market.

As well as the tasting of fresh and exciting wines, the day featured speakers from producers such as Recaredo and Raventós i Blanc, debating that very subject.

“Part of the debate was - ‘do we stay with the D.O. or do we leave it?’” reports David. “Do producers continue to take advantage of the name of, say, Cava - and 130 years of history - or do they believe the reputation of the wine is suffering because Cava is becoming all about price and volume and they’d rather talk about the producer? It’s a dilemma that lots of medium-sized producers are talking about.”

Vinateros was a collaboration between a number of importers: Indigo Wine, Les Caves , FMV, Alliance, Dynamic Vines,  and David was keen to highlight wines not just from the Les Caves stable but from across the board. “We had some delicious wines from Priorat Familia Nin-Ortiz (Indigo), really elegant expressions of the area” he recalled. “And classy Rioja from Olivier Riviere, a French producer now working in Spain.”

David said many of those attending commented that Les Caves’ Comando G wines from Madrid/Ávila were best in show – stunning, perfumed Grenache wines amongst the best in Spain - while one of the standout newcomers was Dominio de Urogallo from Cangas del Narcea in Asturias.

“It’s cider country and really cool, so you might think not the best conditions for growing grapes,” said David. “But the wines are super-fresh, Atlantic style, with indigenous grape varieties Albarín, Carrasquín, Albarín Tinto even Verdejo Tinto (aka Trousseau) and they went down a treat. Not just within the Les Caves team but generally across the tasting.”

After such a well-attended and well-received debut, we believe Vinateros won’t be a one-off. Stand by for further developments from the new breed in Spain…

For more information on Les Caves’ Spanish wines or to order:

Call 01483 538820 or email [email protected] (trade); or 01483 554750,  (retail) [email protected]

Pics: @BernabeRafa; Ruth @legslonglength