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  • BWW 2022 confirms the vitality of the Spanish wine scene
  • BWW 2022 confirms the vitality of the Spanish wine scene
  • BWW 2022 confirms the vitality of the Spanish wine scene
  • BWW 2022 confirms the vitality of the Spanish wine scene
  • BWW 2022 confirms the vitality of the Spanish wine scene
  • BWW 2022 confirms the vitality of the Spanish wine scene
  • BWW 2022 confirms the vitality of the Spanish wine scene
1. The atmosphere at BWW 2. Cardboard furniture 3. Artisan Wine Attraction 4. Rioja’n’Roll 5. Tasting Mandó 6. Gramona’s anniversary. 6. Fredi Torres and Marc Lecha (Off the Record) 7. A new book about Juli Soler. Photos: A.C., Y.O.A., Gramona, BWW.


BWW 2022 confirms the vitality of the Spanish wine scene

Amaya Cervera and Yolanda Ortiz de Arri | April 12th, 2022

After the enforced hiatus in 2021, more than 650 exhibitors from all of Spain's wine-growing regions —up 20% compared to the previous edition— and 18,000 visitors filled Hall 8 of Fira de Montjuic to attend the second edition of Barcelona Wine Week (BWW).

Although the industry has weathered the challenging situation caused by the pandemic, there was a palpable desire among attendees to reconnect and hold face-to-face meetings and activities at a fair whose aim, according to Javier Pagés, president of BWW and DO Cava, is to be "a true showcase of quality Spanish wine for the world". 

Whilst avoiding competition with other international fairs and with no intention of having foreign exhibitors, BWW is committed to showcasing the potential of Spanish wine to professionals, primarily national, but also international, who made up 20% of the total number of visitors this year. All of them are summoned to the third edition of the Barcelona fair between 6 and 8 February 2023. 

Recycled materials and positive vibes

With sustainability as the underlying principle, many of the stands and furniture were reused from the previous edition and all the materials employed at the fair were recyclable. For their first joint trade fair, the Rioja'n'Roll producers chose original cardboard furniture, while brands with more power and deeper pockets boasted more sophisticated stands, but always with limited maximum floor space. 
As in the first edition, the layout was divided into three large blocks: large brands, region-specific wineries and small producers. The idea, once again, is for all exhibitors to have visibility in the fair regardless of their size. In this sense, one of the most striking displays this year among the large panels hanging from the ceiling was the mention of DO Cava Comtats de Barcelona, the area that encompasses all Catalan cava producers.

The 83 producers grouped together in Artisan Wine Attraction once again set a relaxed and informal touch to the fair, while maintaining their professionalism. With their unflagging energy and black aprons embroidered with pink letters, this motley group are great standard bearers of the enormous diversity of Spanish wine today. Proud of their terroirs and determined to raise their profile, even if it's only with a few bottles, the Artisan producers exhibit a camaraderie that strengthens them as a group. Their desire to enjoy themselves was infectious to anyone who had the opportunity to taste their wines on their space.

The overall positive atmosphere at the fair even enabled us to simultaneously taste with two producers from Penedès whose stands were next to each other: Mireia Torres, director of Jean Leon, and Enric Roca, winemaker at Avgvstvs. Both wineries are part of Qalidès, an association created in 2004 to promote the quality of still wines in an area where grapes destined for Cava drive wine growing standards. The three-way chat was pleasant and enlightening.
This mood was also evident at lunchtime. Although the level of sophistication was not quite as high as in the inaugural year, when the city's renowned chefs cooked up a generous menu for anyone wishing to refuel at the fair's restaurant, the tapas and wines by the glass —different every day— continued the commitment to healthy and appetising food. "Take note, Prowein," wrote Master of Wine Sarah Jane Evans on her Instagram account

Lesser known varieties and bubbles

The fair included a comprehensive programme of tastings and talks centered on two main topics: indigenous grape varieties and sustainability. All these sessions were put together by Enoaula wine school. Led by Xavi Nolla, they also designed a free tasting area focused on lesser known Spanish varieties. 

Wine tasting journey. Hidden grapes featured 53 different wines from an equal number of varieties made by producers at the fair. Albillo Mayor, Bobal, Brujidera, different Caíño clones from Galicia, Valencia’s Embolicaire, Mallorca’s Giró Ros and Gorgollasa, Morenillo from Terra Alta, Rufete grown in Sierra de Salamanca, Tinto Velasco from La Mancha or Catalonia’s Xarel.lo Vermell —this space was paradise for curious wine lovers and an excellent way to show international visitors that Spain has a lot more to offer beyond Tempranillo, Garnacha, Verdejo or Albariño. It was also a practical way to understand the painstaking initiatives to recover the varietal heritage in numerous Spanish wine regions in recent years. 

SWL attended the tasting devoted to Mandó. Conducted by Pedro Ballesteros MW, it showcased the two producers who have fought to recover this variety in two different areas of the Mediterranean: Abadal in Pla de Bages (Barcelona) and Celler del Roure in Valencia. Mandó, which happens to be the Garró variety recovered by Familia Torres in Catalonia, is a good representative of the late-ripening, high-acid varieties that were displaced by others with deeper colour and higher alcohol content. Nowadays, global warming is making them more attractive as they are able to produce fresh, appealing wines. Apart from the obvious soil and climate differences between both regions, the tasting showed the versatility of Mando to make red and rosé wines (Abadal also brought an experimental blanc de noirs), and to perform successfully either on its own or in blends.

There were additional tastings of ancestral, minor or recovered grape varieties from different regions. Other topics included the versatility of Garnacha and Monastrell in the face of climate change, disease-resistant varieties, the evolution of local and international grapes in Spain and the markets for indigenous varieties. In terms of sustainability, tastings and discussions focused on regenerative viticulture, sustainable development, moving to a carbon-free wine industry and organic grapegrowing.

Being in Barcelona, bubbles inevitably played a prominent role. A round table was scheduled with the team of experts who advised on the development of the new DO Cava regulations: Ferran Centelles, coordinator of Bullipedia's Wine Sapiens and Masters of Wine Sarah Jane Evans, Pedro Ballesteros and Fernando Mora. There was also a special tasting conducted by La Vanguardia journalist Ramón Francàs with Cava's Magnificent Seven, featuring a selection of wines aged for at least 10 years. The tasting not only demonstrated the ageing capacity of the DO's finest sparkling wines, but it also revealed the diverse range of styles that reach and transcend the 10-year threshold.

 Fringe activities 

BWW's first day this year had to compete with a high-profile off-site event. The celebration of Gramona's centenary as a sparkling wine producer and its 140th anniversary as a winemaker was initially scheduled for May, but as Prowein changed its dates, it had to be brought forward.

The 43 producers invited to show their wines in Sant Sadurní d'Anoia included many well known names. As Xavier Gramona said, "all of these colleagues have written part of our history": Neighbours such as Llopart and Vins El Cep; Catalan friends such as Torres, Mas Martinet, Enric Soler or Scala Dei; national ones such as Alvear, Rafael Palacios, Puro Rofe, Frontonio or Roda and international ones such as Nieeport and several champagne houses, among them the legendary Krug, whose Clos du Mesnil moved most of the lucky few who tasted it.
The atmosphere was so idyllic that some of the attendees jokingly wondered if 'the props' would be dismantled the next day: an outdoor tasting space in the estate under a spring sun, horses ploughing sloping vineyards, a biodynamic vegetable garden with a pristine scarecrow and neatly planted greens, and bales of straw used as tables and seats for the tastings among the vines with the growers. 

SWL editor Amaya Cervera conducted an interesting tasting with Roda and Artadi (more about this on our social media) featuring a mini vertical of Cirsion, three 2016 single-vineyards by Artadi and two 2001s from both wineries (Roda I and Grandes Añadas, the latter sourced from the El Carretil vineyard). 

During the day-long event, guests enjoyed tastings of some of Spain's top whites, sparkling and Priorat wines. Indeed, the stars —and specially the hard work and generosity of the Gramona family— conspired to ensure that everything went swimmingly.

Fredi Torres and Marc Lecha (Lectores Vini) don't have the means to organise their Off The Record surrounded by vineyards, but they certainly have the ability to find charming urban spaces. At Casa Rius in Barcelona's Eixample, they invited around 40 small independent producers who enliven the national wine scene such as Roberto Oliván (Tentenublo) and his idiosyncratic vision of Rioja, Bibi García with her Petit Verdot adapted to the Sierras de Málaga, Verónica Ortega with her fresh Mencías from Bierzo or Javi Revert and Pepe Mendoza, demonstrating that juicy reds can be made in the Mediterranean. The atmosphere at Off the Record is always buzzing, with many young sommeliers, but we also met established producers such as Ricardo P. Palacios or Marcelo Retamal from Chile (ex De Martino), who told us about his plans to make wines in Salamanca's Sierra de Francia. Both appear below with Jorge Navacués (Mancuso, Contino).

In addition to hosting a couple of activities within BWW, the Terra de Garnatxes association, formed by half a dozen Catalan wineries centred around its star variety, closed Tuesday's off events with the G-Night. Installed at Palau Robert's gardens in Barcelona under a festive atmosphere with live music, we were able to taste some of the interesting wines of Lagravera in the Serra Llarga mountains (Lleida) with Pilar Salillas at the helm. Later in the evening, we headed off to enjoy a delicious dinner at Maitea, where we shared bottles and good vibes with other tables of producers who also chose Nico Montaner's Basque-style restaurant to continue enjoying good wines and old vintages.

Miraculously, Amaya managed to make it to the presentation of the book Juli Soler que estás en la sala, written by Óscar Caballero (more on this soon on social media), but we missed other interesting off-site activities: the natural wine show Vella Terra; Natrus, an event with 15 producers organised by Oriol Artigas in Vilassar de Dalt or the tasting hosted by Las Mujeres del Vino, which was held on the 6th, once BWW was over. Just one gripe: good planning is essential to get the most out of the fair, but the growing number of parallel events makes it frustrating to cover the event in the best possible way.

Some discoveries and favourite wines 

It's really difficult to choose just a handful of wines out of all those we tried over the three days we were in Barcelona. In fact, we will include most of them on upcoming recommendations and articles. Here we feature projects that may be new to our readers and that are representative of the three types of bodegas that converge at BWW: large brands, medium-sized producers generally exhibiting with a DO, and the Artisan Wine Attraction growers.

Bernardo Ortega: new blood in Castilla-La Mancha. A young winemaker with experience in bodegas as diverse as García Carrión and Basilio Izquierdo in Rioja, Bernardo brings fresh air to this region with his fascinating Airén wines. With his tiny number of bottles on release (2,000 per wine), Ortega joins names like Verum, Garage Wine, Recuero or Más Que Vinos in Castilla-La Mancha. To preserve acidity, grapes for Simbiosis Airén de Tinaja 2021 are harvested very early at 10-11% abv. prior to being fermented with skins and the wine is later aged under a veil of yeasts (flor). The Sherry connection is greater with Flor de Airén Bota de Amontillado, a full saca from the 2017 vintage which is left to age for three years under flor plus an additional year of oxidative ageing in a butt provided by Gabriel A. Raya, from Bodegas Yuste y Herederos de Argüeso in Sanlúcar de Barrameda. Bernardo developed this style thanks in part to the advice of Basilio Izquierdo, a native of La Mancha, who makes a fascinating flor-aged white wine in Rioja.

Although born in Zaragoza, Ortega always had fond childhood memories of his father’s family vineyards in Villarrobledo (Albacete). He loves the countryside and feels very much at home there now. As he lives very close to Padilla, a renowned potter, Ortega purchased some tinajas (clay jars) before this artisan retired. "I have land and jars,” Ortega jokes. Another highly recommended wine is Simbiosis Bobal Sincero 2019 (around €12). Grapes are sourced from a vineyard in Quintanar del Rey that was about to be uprooted, but Bernardo managed to change the grower’s mind to produce this wine. 

Anna Espelt wines in Cap de Creus. It was great to try these wines from the eastern end of the Iberian Peninsula, an area with granite soils and steep vineyards by the sea. This is Anna Espelt’s (Celler Espelt) personal project to recover the wine-growing tradition in this coastal area which, unlike in nearby France, was totally lost after phylloxera. The organic wines bottled with evocative labels come from grapes grown on the Mas Marés estate. Pla de Tudela 2019 is a juicy, vibrant and long white Picapoll with light smoke notes made in concrete egg-shaped. The most original wine of the range is probably the 2015 sparkling blanc de noirs, made from Monastrell and aged for 38 months and  packed with honeyed and floral aromas. The red Cala Rostella 2018 is a Lledoner Negre (Garnacha Tinta) with a rustic edge and firmer tannins than those found in Celler Espelt's wines. Production ranges from 1,500 to 3,000 bottles, with all wines retailing around €37 in Spain. You can read  more about this project in this article written (in Spanish) by Anna Espelt for the Vila Viniteca blog in February 2021.

Anónimas Viticultoras: brave women in Galicia. This project is the brainchild of Cristina Yagüe (below), an agronomist and winemaker from Madrid, and María Falcón, a native of Galicia with ample management experience at Don Olegario, her family’s bodega in Rías Baixas. Established in 2015, they make wines in Rías Baixas, Ribeira Sacra and Valdeorras and are among the few Spanish producers to use cocciopesto amphorae. This material, which was used by the Romans, is a mix of ground bricks, sand, concrete and water. Unlike clay jars, it is dried naturally rather than cooked. According to Cristina, these vessels are thicker (eight cm thick) and less porous than clay, so wine losses are minimills. Aged in cocciopesto, Pedra-Mogueira (30 €) is a blend of Albariño and 15% Godello with pleasant texture and lots of acidity. 

Combining delicious citrus and honeyed notes, Tres Inviernos 2018 Albariño (€22) only spends a few months in these vessels before being aged in stainless steel vats. Another favourite was the Rías Baixas Caíño Os Dunares 2020 (about €12). Made with destemmed bunches but without crushing, this finely textured red with well-defined fruit is aged in stainless steel and oak vessels. The wines can be found in Madrid through Reserva y Cata.

The wide range of Perelada Garnachas. In the large brands area we enjoyed a tasting of Garnachas from different areas with Delfí Sanahuja, technical director at Perelada. It started on the Mediterranean with the ripe and evocative (dried herbs, orange zest) Aires de Garbet Garnacha, grown on slate soils in the eponymous property overlooking the sea in DO Empordà. Next we moved onto two new, full-bodied reds set to be released soon. Grapes for RCR are sourced from Finca Espolla whose volcanic soils add ripeness and a meaty, firmer style. The wine is named after RCR architecture studio, which is behind Perelada’s new winery and was awarded the prestigious Pritzker prize. Ex Ex 14 2019 is their first experimental Garnacha. Dark and mineral, it comes from a very specific trial of a double trellising system aimed at distributing vigour on the sand-gravely soils of Finca La Garriga. The affordable and widely available Només 2020 (€8, 50,000 bottles) is a moreish entry-level Garnacha with red fruit notes and very easy to drink. 

Beyond Empordà, we tasted La Freddat 2019 from Priorat. The wine has evolved towards a rounder, gentler profile with plenty of Mediterranean herbs and rich cherry fruit. From Navarra, and following the acquisition of the Chivite family wineries, the single vineyard La Zorrera 2019 offers structure, good acidity and tension. We were a bit shocked though with the new Gran Feudo pale rosé, which will coexist with the classic, darker version. Can we call this market tyranny?  
Pepe Rodríguez de Vera: a man with many projects. The Rodríguez de Vera family has looked after vineyards for several centuries in Villar de Chinchilla (Albacete), now part of DO Almansa, but it is Pepe (34 years old, 7th generation) who has taken the leap to wine production at their Finca Casalta estate and in other regions such as Jumilla, Méntrida, Rueda, Toro, Ribera del Duero and Rioja. With well over 40 wines, it was impossible for us to taste them all, so we focused on his micro-projects Sopla Levante and Sopla Poniente, which he manages with other partners and seek to recover special varieties, terroirs and casks.

Sopla Levante was born in Parque Natural de la Mata in Alicante, where they tend and preserve vineyards to produce fascinating wines like Matanilla, made from the Merseguera variety and aged under a veil of flor in Alvear casks; La Horca, a fresh and sapid blend of Merseguera with 16 local varieties aged for four months in casks previously containing Cantueso, a spirit made in Alicante (2,500 bottles, €16.50) or the pure and fresh Lomas del Polo (300 bottles, €35) made from an old variety called Parrel, aged with chips rescued from the dead vines of the same vineyard.

Meanwhile, Sopla Poniente is a négociant project in the Marco de Jerez and Montilla-Moriles. They release limited sacas and blends of special butts in half-litre bottles, such as the Fino en Rama Cerro de La Gineta (€24.70) or the very old Amontillado San Roque (€39.50). Since 2021, Rodríguez de Vera and his partners have also been making experimental wines in Montilla-Moriles, mainly orange wines and ancestral sparkling wines with traditional varieties, which will be released shortly.


Alimentaria 2018 On and Off: Less Merlot and more diversity
Artisan Wine Attraction or the charm of small vignerons
BWW: a new wine fair for all sorts of Spanish producers
Vinoble 2016 witnesses a change of cycle in Sherry
BWW 2023: Three days to showcase the diversity of Spanish wine
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