Welcome to another addition of Iberian Links around the web! Despite Labor Day being celebrated yesterday throughout the EU, in addition to family and friends arriving from both London and Madrid, we still found a little space in the day to collect a few news bits that you might be interested in to share your thoughts on in the comments below!
The Ultimate Luxury: You’re Very Own, Vineyard in a Box!
Ever want to purchase a vineyard but were afraid that you’d kill the vines in the first year? Maybe you know a decent amount about winemaking, but have a perfectionist side of you that only wants to craft the ultimate, world-renowned wine? Well, guess what? Now is your chance! Decanter recently covered a story on La Melonera, a 200-hectare ready-made vineyard and residence development near Ronda in southern Spain and headed up by Spanish winemaker, Jose Luis Perez Verdum. Over the past five years, €22 million have been spent on restoring their cork oaks and landscaping the property so that you can purchase your own private estate for a starting cost of €3.5 million, which will buy anywhere between 5.5 hectares and 18 hectares of land. As the owner of your private estate, you can make your wines, aided not only by a technical team residing at la Melonara, but you may also harvest advice from big names like Denis Dubourdieu or Dirk van der Niepoort! Sounds rather extravagant, doesn’t it? But by the end of the day, if you’ve got a few million euros hanging out of your back pocket, why not? There is a really good reason why not. This project was launched at the Wine Creator’s Conference, held a few weeks ago in Ronda. Not a bad gig for La Melonara, who not only wined and dined these wine legends, but who also had the prime opportunity to pitch their project. We fear that this is doing little for the wine world as a whole, and instead, just strokes the egos of a few. Not to mention, it’s disingenuous, especially when the Wine Creator’s website says, “Why Ronda?” and gives the following reason:
After an exhaustive search, the city of Ronda was chosen as representative of the philosophy behind this event.
Located in the province of Malaga in southern Spain, Ronda has a long winemaking tradition. It’s ties with wine go back to Roman times, as evidenced by coins from a nearby city called Acinipo depicting two wheat ears and a bunch of grapes, according to the chronicles of Pliny (fourth century B.C.). Today, Ronda boasts a Wine Route with over fifteen wineries and some of the best red wines in Andalusia.
Rather than point out the simple fact that Ronda is a pain in the ass to get to for a day and half conference, they hyped it up only for La Molenera’s obvious injection of marketing and money. Oh well, what can you expect? Best red wines of Andalusia? Over 15 wineries? Yeah right, name one red wine from Andalusia other than Tebanera 1. The exhaustive search seems to have been conducted with large blinders on.
The EU has Approved Watered-Down Wine Reforms
Decanter also reports that after two years of debate, the EU has finally stepped up the plate and approved a voluntary uprooting of 175,000 hectares of vines over the course of three years, half of what was proposed by the EU Agriculture Minister, Mariann Fischer-Boel. Albeit a drastic cut in the amount of vines to be uprooted, the EU did approve planting restrictions through 2018, rather than only 2013. Although the ideal situation, there clearly was some compromise to be had, and it appears that restrictions are heading in the right direction to avoid the production of more plonk wine! Additionally, subsidies will be slowly phased out for crisis distillation, and instead, funds will be rerouted to member states who want to promote their wines outside the EU.
Personally, I could care less about most of these new regulations. They will cause some trouble for certain regions more than others, and vica versa. What I want to hear is that they are putting much needed funds into new laws on labeling and creative promotional efforts! No consumer gives a rats ass if Chapitalisation is capped, or if poor wines are not allowed to be distilled. What they want are labels that can be read and wines they can afford. When will these idiots realize that wine quality is only one part of the equation and over regulating, or re-regulating, arcane laws will not lead us to run out to our local wine shop and buy more European wine?! Most wine buyers purchase their wines based on whether the wine tastes good and is affordable to their income level.
Comparing Two Alentejo Wines
Jamie Good, author of both Jamie Goode’s Wine Blog and The Wine Anorak, has recently posted a few tasting notes comparing the well-known Spanish writer, Richard Mayson’s, Pedra Basta 2005, made by Rui Reguinga, and Howard’s Folly 2006 made by the Australian winemaker living in Portugal, David Baverstock. From Jamie Goode’s notes, both wines look interesting and worthy of you reading about. Lately, Jamie has been giving us some great value wine reviews from Bordeaux, along with the occasional Iberian treat. But unfortunately for those of you located in the US, they’ll be tough to find, while all of us European folk can definitely benefit!
The Battle for Wine and Love by Alice Feiring
Michael Grisley from PR Grisley Imports sent me the heads up on a book you may want to get your hands on next month. Featured in the online Canadian newspaper, Globe and Mail, Beppi Crosariol covers Alice Feiring’s newest release, citing the book’s bleak picture of the future of wine. The book appears to dive directly into our fast food mentality in making wine, crafting it so as to meet the consumer’s palate quickly and efficiently. Calling artesanal, handmade wines, “preindustrial”, Alice hopes to inform the consumer as to how their current average bottle of wine is now being made: engineered to produce an exact flavor, smell and taste. Although this debate is has been battled in blogs, website and wine mags, I’d be interested to read how Alice introduces this topic to the average wine lover and how objectively she presents the argument. Ryan has also recently presented an interested take on industrial wines, which you may be interested to read!
The Big Wineries just Keep getting Bigger
Finally, John Radford, author of the recently published book, Cook Espana Drink Espana, reports on Decanter that there have been some large mergers happening throughout Spain in the past year. Head over to Decanter to read up on it in more detail. We wonder if this might have something to do with the housing crisis, or Sherry’s constant struggle to remain a Spanish wine leader. We are both loyal sherry drinkers and educators, and we love how hard the group down in Jerez is working to promote sherry wine. On the other hand, we feel that they are doing themselves a world of harm by not embracing the Web. Their latest makeover of the Sherry.org site is a complete disaster, as it is hard to navigate, full of flash, and lacks any social networking tools! We cry a bit in frustration every time we visit their site, wishing they’d step outside the box. As a small producer in Jerez, I would most likely be frightened by investing money into new technology, but the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. So why not see social networking as an opportunity to do something different!
Alright, off we go to grill among friends staying with us from Madrid. Have a great weekend!
Gabriella and Ryan
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