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2 + 1 Survey with Dave Worthington of TinToyBlanco.com.au

Dave Worthington of TinToyBlanco a blog about Spanish wine that hails from down under in Australia. Really some great wine reviews and a neat perspective on Spanish wine from the other side of the globe. What follows are some of his answers to our 2+1 survey! Enjoy!

1. How good would you say your selection of Spanish wines and Portuguese wines are in your local wine market? If you exclude Port/Rioja/ and Sherry how is the selection?

There is a fairly small, but growing selection of wines available in Australia. It falls into two categories really: a) the very top end of the market ( i.e . $40+ wines), mainly from new style producers with a few old favorites thrown in for good measure. b) low cost wines that offer good value. It is difficult to get a good Spanish wine in Australia for less than $20 due to all imported wines being taxed at 50%. There is a wide range of wines from Spain around, mostly Rioja and Ribera del Duero. Rioja would be 50% or more of the market here.

2. What’s the last Spanish or Portuguese wine you had and what did you think of it? Would you buy it again? Got a tasting note?

Marques de Riscal Reserva 2001 – This is clearly the best Marques de Riscal in a long time, it has a great nose of jammy blackberries and dark cherry, and some oak characters like cigar box and mocha coffee. I had decanted it for an hour, but it needs much more time, the wine continually evolved in the glass. The palate shows sour cherry, a bit of liquorice, cinnamon and black pepper on the finish. There is some good structure in the mouth with the tannins making themselves known, but keeping it nice and smooth. Very good now, but I’ll be putting a few away for at least 5 years, maybe 10. 91 Pts.

1. What is one question you have about Iberian wine in general?

The promotion of Spanish wine seems to be left up to a few small importers in Australia, why is there not a “Brand Spain” marketing campaign?

Wow, tough question, or more importantly, a frustrating one to look at. Wines from Spain is run by the department in the government that promotes trade. In my humble opinion, ICEX has made a feeble attempt at aiding to this objective. Their site, while informative, is just not getting the attention it deserves. Each year they host trade shows around the globe to showcase Spanish wines, but from what I understand, the only people who actually attend are Spaniards. I had a friend attend the New York tradeshow a few years ago where it was packed solely with Spaniards. What good is that? I would believe it’s a bit difficult to get Americans to recognize Spanish wines without them actually showing up!

On the other hand, I feel the problem runs much deeper than this. At its root, you need to look at Spain’s history. Fractored by wars and cultural divides, Spain is, in reality, a series of mini countries – each one confident in itself. In Spain, you would never call Cava “a Spanish wine” because generally it is known as a Catalan wine. In fact, in trade shows, Cataluña won’t even join the Spanish tents, choosing to sit on the side basking in their own nationality with their own flag. Now who outside of Spain knows that Cataluña thinks of itself as an independent nation? Almost no one! But in the end, they refuse to lump themselves in with Spanish wines. This mentality is also true with the Basques, Gallegos, and at times wines of Jerez. In the end, until the winemakers here realize that what they see as their image is not the same as what those outside the country see, there will never be a true Spanish wine campaign. Marketing is not about convincing others to see the world your way, it’s about recognizing how your consumers see the world and then making your product fit those needs.

I find it so sad that there isn’t some kind of Iberian wine designation. Extremadura and the Alentejo have a lot in common, and by working together they might become a really powerful force. Additionally, if you removed country titles and stuck to the Peninsula as a whole, you might find a wine force impossible to compete with. Unfortunately, I’m afraid that this is only a pipe dream, never able to fully manifest itself into a real option. Pride is the only thing getting in the way of making Iberian wine the number one wine source in the world, and until people’s egos are placed on the backburner, I assume that it will stay this way.

Thanks for the great question,

Ryan Opaz