DO Utiel-Requena; Training Day – Trends in Winemaking and Market Movements.


VÍ vid in the Symposium

VÍ vid in the Symposium

 

Behind every tasting of wine we undertake is a serious educational element. I have commented before that  VÍ vid  are regularly asked serious questions that are not restricted just to wine-making but include also trading, marketing and cost elements. We consider it important to be aware of the latest trends.

So, when DO Utiel-Requena hold their training days , ( in this case the XVIII Jornada Vitivinicola de la DO Utiel Requena) we make sure we attend and keep abreast of developments!

Last year the theme was the DO´s application for UNESCO World Status for `Territorio Bobal´.

President of the DO, Jose Miguel Medina ,opens the Symposium

President of the DO, Jose Miguel Medina ,opens the Symposium

This year,  in which the DO has concentrated on marketing and communication issues ( there have even been sessions on how to use Twitter better),  there were three themes for the training day.

The first was led by Diego Intrigliolo, an agricultural engineer and investigator  with a doctorate who works for CSIC-CEBAS in Murcia.

Now this session was very much about `climate change.´ We have all seen  that over the last 10-15 years the wine-harvest has advanced by up to three weeks. Growers present at the training day who we spoke to consistently confirmed they were expecting to start picking between two and three weeks earlier than the old norm this year….that is to say half way through August.

First sesion supported by Cajamar

First sesion supported by Cajamar

For us this session was inspirational. We thought, for example that the orientation of vineyards ( North to South or East to West) was long sorted out!  It seems climate change requires a serious re-look at the whole concept, particularly when taken into account with watering during drought……

Serious wine makers don´t want to water their vines.  But there are times when they have to water, to save the vines in times of serious stress, even if it means the crop has to be discarded.

All new plantations of vines are `en espaldera´ by EU regulation. This includes automatic watering systems because new vines do not have roots which can pick up subterranean water sources.

One of the first issues to emerge from the studies they had carried out was that `inclining´( or leaning ) the espaldera could reduce water consumption by up to  10%  without affecting quality) , the over growing vegetation keeping the grapes more shaded than by traditional methods. East to west orientation was considered much better because the afternoon sun in Spain, the hottest time of day, could be mitigated by this overhanging growth on the `leaning´ side.

Studies comparing Tempranillo and Bobal had been carried out. Tempranillo is the workhorse grape of Spain, but , as its name suggests it matures early. This brings huge problems for wine-makers. Bobal on the other hand stands up to the sun and even in unwatered ground will see-off most hot summers!

Symposium3

The effects of watering in both varieties was quite different. Whilst watering Tempranillo ( cautiously and to the minimum necessary) increased the production, it did nothing to improve the sugar levels. In stark contrast unwatered Bobal maintained a higher level of natural sugars.

Inclining the vines and water had an effect on the Tempranillo but did not improve the sugar levels in the Bobal.

And then, the third aspect was delaying the `poda en verde´or green pruning where the vines have a spring pruning of excessive growth and indeed putative bunches. Once again this seemed to have a more beneficial effect in the Tempranillo than the Bobal.

So it seems that there are new concepts to combat climate change, but individual varieties need separate consideration.

After Almuerzo we moved to the second session.

This was on Spanish wines in a globalised market. Led by Roberto Garcia of Grupo Cajamar this was a study into production  and exportation of Spanish wines.

Symposium4

Now we were into a session where statistics and charts were challenging my speed of Spanish comprehension…!

Essentially we were looking at a loss of 40% in vineyards planted but an increase in wine production. Of course there have been several changes or improvements in production already.

Key elements in this session were the reduction per capita of wine consumption in the countries which produce most wine, Spain, Italy etc, as opposed to a rise in consumption in non-producing countries.

This rise in wine consumption overall could easily be put down to the production of lower alcohol sparkling wines to compete with Prosecco from Italy ( the only reason their wine exports are up) and Lambrusco for example. Several Valencian bodegas have already introduced these sparkling wines.

However it would be wrong to ignore other trends…such as a huge increase in sales through on-line sites and wine in other products such as ice-cream. Wine tourism is also playing its part.

Whatever the reasons,  bulk sales of wine are maintaining a lead over bottled wines from Spain, by 54%-37%. In fact Spain effectively exports  double the amount of wine consumed within the country.

However if these sessions had been interesting everything was about to be put into context by the final session, led by Rafael del Rey, Managing Director of the Observatorio Español del Mercado del Vino.

Support from Cajamar

Support from Cajamar

The charts of statistics flowed rapidly but two conclusions were easy to draw from all the information presented.

Two simple concepts, one simple answer.

With high production of wine prices fall in the export market. Wine which is unsold then has to be converted to pure alcohol at Government expense, or at least with a subsidy.

By contrast, low production of wine produces scarcityand  prices rise. Taken together this can mean Spanish wine prices rise and fall by up to 50%  year on year! This is hardly a recipe for succesful international marketing!

Moreover Spanish wine does not enjoy  an International following. Take that together with a fall in home consumption and it could be toxic for the industry as a whole.

 

Symposium8

This was where the two previous sessions  started to be of real value and threads could be pulled together.

It seemed to us the key element is  that Spain needs to even out wine production first and improve quality with it. A reduction in over-production and an increase in quality production should help to even prices out , year on year. With prices swinging  currently by 50% yearly in bulk wine but by only 10% in bottled wine it is the bulk wine area that needs the greater reform whilst the latter needs to improve its sales volumes.

This should mean that bulk wine remains competitive ( selling less but at a better price)  whilst bottled wine improves its market position.

The other key element to emerge came from a question asked by Alvaro Faubel of Dominio de la Vega.

Lunch with many Cosecheros

Lunch with many Cosecheros

Spain currently has a wine exporting agency, ICEX, or Wines from Spain. All the DO´s are members but they all compete against each other for sales. France has its historical reputation, then secondly its regional sub-tiers. Maybe Spain now needs to understand the Wines from Spain challenge, with all the DO´s working together to produce a national brand, with the DO´s taking second place.

The reality is that  France  remains the International benchmark for quality wines and varietal characteristics. French wine  sells on the `French´ overarching title and then by regional varieties.

Selection of DO wines for official occasions

Selection of DO wines for official occasions

But, the rest of the world frankly buys wines by variety, Wines which meet the new demands from the consumer and  which are concentrated, showing  varietal characteristics and fruit!

All of this should help Valencian wines from whichever DO or IGP improve their exports, if taken together with a reduction in production in exchange for better quality.

This was a challenging day, not all the participants `bought the solutions being offered.´ But it was another day when the DO has invited growers, producers and bodegas together in a highly relevant and challenging environment.

symposium10

Lunch as always followed in Garzarán, the local  restaurant serving traditional food.

VÍ vid thoroughly enjoyed  and learned from these sessions as well as participating in the discussions on the concepts over lunch with individual producers and growers.

Thank you to Jose Miguel Medina, President of the D.O., for inviting us. We really value sessions such as this as do the members of the D.O.!

VÍ vid. Happy with the training!

VÍ vid. Happy with the training!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Comments

  • Starte, Richard  On July 14, 2015 at 7:25 pm

    On 13/07, I bought 2014, Toro Loco* Superior Utiel Requena, DOProtegida, comprising 75% Tempranillo & 25% Bobal, 12.5% vol, Comunidad Valenciana from Aldi Cambridge for £3.79 (= €5.19?), produced and bottled by BVC Bodegas S.L., Requena, ES, 018414E/V, ENAC cert label stencil number ST147 R 773883.
    *With bull’s head/horns embossed in glass at neck of bottle. Very smooth & pleasant, excessive sweetness avoided, amazing quality to value ratio. I didn’t really get much Bobal from it, would have believed it was a good tempranillo Rioja crianza. Shall be buying more, thank you for reminding me of this wine/Richard Starte, Newmarket

    • rikiwigley  On July 15, 2015 at 9:48 am

      Thank you, Richard, for your comments. The wine is produced by Coviñas. The wine would cost about 2€ a bottle here. Bobal is a superb variety on its own, ( the Toro Loco Rosado is pure Bobal and has just been recognised by Decanter magazine) . However in blends it adds colour and strength rather than dominating, maybe a little strawberry flavour. Enjoy your bottle!

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