The conference within Madrid Fusión Alimentos de España focused a lot on origins and once again included unforgettable tastings
f there's a growing trend in the Spanish wine world, it's to consider the vineyard before the winery. Highlighting the area where wines are made was a recurring theme in many presentations at The Wine Edition Wines from Spain 2023, an event that revealed the exciting moment that Spanish wine is experiencing, through roundtable discussions and tastings.
On Monday, the first Spanish Master of Wine, Pedro Ballesteros, was surrounded by "terroir explorers" such as Masters of Wine Andreas Kubach (general manager of Península Vinicultores), Pepe Mendoza (owner of Casa Agrícola), Pedro Ruiz Aragoneses (CEO of Alma Carraovejas), Loreto Pancorbo (wine consultant at Támdem SC), and Luis Sande (co-owner of Pagos de Brigante) to address the tensions (and passions) between the land and winemaking.
"People think they know Rioja, but they really don't," Kubach explained. "We realized that the terroir we tasted in Rioja was not reflected in the market, and it is the search for authenticity that has driven Bideona," he added. It's not a coincidence that Bideona received the Tierra de Sabor Award, granted by the Castile-León agrifood sector's promotional brand to recognize the most sustainable winery.
Pedro Ruiz Aragoneses spoke in a similar vein, explaining that the philosophy behind Alma Carraovejas is to "reach different areas so as to feel like a part of its culture and history." The truly interesting projects are those that establish roots and make contact with the area. That's what we're looking for."
The soil was also the focus of the presentation by Master of Wine Fernando Mora, who spoke about wines made from granite soils. He spoke about six wines, from Galicia and the Canary Islands to Madrid: "The minerality responds to a lot of aromas and textures that are very difficult to identify but which define the terroir where we are," said Mora. He went on to define the wines from grapes grown in granite soils as having "austere, somewhat ethereal, and herbaceous aromas; [and] which have a hard, frontal energy, with a mineral sensation and a hard and dry tannin."
This year's The Wine Edition Wines from Spain also sought connections beyond wine and food. Among those who addressed this topic is one of the most knowledgeable sommeliers: Josep "Pitu" Roca from El Celler de Can Roca (3 Michelin stars in Girona), who endeavored to connect wine and music. "Wine, like music, is emotion and allows for interpretation. Harmony, rhythm, and structure are words related to both wine and music," explained Roca in a speech that filled The Wine Edition space with poetry.
The sommelier at Casa Marcial (two Michelin stars in Asturias), Juan Luis García Ruiz, also went beyond wine. In his presentation, he discussed Asturian wines as well as four PDO Cider of Asturias ciders. "Drinking cider allows us to live longer; I hope that 'the wine people' will excuse me," joked García, who was able to demonstrate how pouring natural cider reactivates flavors and aromas.
Tastings to remember
A special portion of The Wine Edition Wines from Spain is the tastings, which provide a privileged overview of wineries, regions, and typologies. Among the most remarkable was the Tenerife (Canary Islands) wine tasting entitled "Heroic and volcanic landscapes, narrated by 6 protagonists," as it brought together half a dozen of the most famous winemakers. An exemplary approach to wines on the rise.
The tasting "Jean Leon, from Hollywood to the Penedès: 60 years of a winemaking dream" was also noteworthy. Mireia Torres, the winery's director, recalled the glamorous history of its founder and his wines. The tasting "Singular whites: from Zamora to Ribera del Duero, Valladolid, and Galicia," which focused on some of the most surprising wines from all over Spain, was also remarkable in its desire to break new ground.
Sherry, always sherry, chefs and the role of professionals
At this year's The Wine Edition Wines from Spain, there was room to return, once again, to the land of albariza soil and fortified wines. The due to represent Spain at the next Copa Jerez was chosen at the conference; the chef-sommelier team from Ambivium restaurant (Peñafiel, Valladolid) was the winner. They will compete for the trophy in Jerez de la Frontera in October.
Chefs who appeared in The Wine Edition space included Fina Puigdevall and Claudia Puigvert (Les Cols, two Michelin stars in Olot, Girona), who linked their style of cooking with DO Empordà wines. Additionally, Begoña Rodrigo, chef at La Salita (Valencia, one Michelin star), offered a stimulating presentation about dishes made with Valencian produce and local wines. The fusion between restaurant and wine was visible in Kristell Monot's presentation. As the sommelier at Mugaritz (two Michelin stars in Rentería, San Sebastián), she spoke about the restaurant's own wine project in collaboration with wineries and winemakers.
Finally, The Wine Edition Wines from Spain continued to ask questions (and tried to answer them), many of them in connection with professionals' own work. On the last day, Almudena Alberca, Master of Wine, sought to explain how someone who holds the most important distinction in the world of winemaking tastes wines. Xavier Rousset, the youngest Master Sommelier in history, together with Ferran Centelles, former sommelier at elBulli, selected the Spanish wines most likely to conquer London in a very interesting presentation for any winery: because good wine, in addition to expressing the land where it's made, can have a business perspective too.