A Dry Winter

By on junio 14, 2012 — Leave a comment

Mid June and the vineyards are looking in Requena and Valencia are a vibrant green.  However, while on the surface things look pretty good the key element effecting this crop was the lack of rainfall during the winter.  Volumes are going down by at least 10%, on current predictions. Curiously, while the Spanish economy teeters on the brink of the abyss, falling into a depression, the price of grapes is somewhere up in the clouds. The key factors for this situation are :

1. High demand for bulk wine outside of Spain (Italy and France).  Classic short term thinking on the part of  the Spanish farmers.  Having said this years price should be kept in context.  According to Jose Miguel Javega, Managing Director of Casa Gualda in Pozomargo, La Mancha, today’s price for grapes has recovered to where it was 10 years ago.  In the intervening years the growers have relied on subsidies to make a living.

2. A lower yield in the previous vintage meant that the distillers were caught short of wine for distillation, normally they mop up the dregs but this year they  had to buy wine which has pushed up base prices.

3. Grubbing up.  EU subsidies to remove vines and in the long term reduce subsidies that artificially keep the price from falling below a set figure, are now having an effect.  This is more evident in France than in Spain so to make up their shortfall the French buy wine in Spain which miraculousy becomes French at a higher price!

Over the next couple of weeks I will be out in the vineyards with Marta Martinez, the winemaker at Cooperativa El Villar de Arzobispo looking at her families vines of Merlot and Merseguera, an indigenous white variety.  The Merlot from this part of Valencia, high in hills  about 60km north west of the city, really offers outstanding quality and hopefully our Marques del Mar Merlot this year will find new routes to market.  Meanwhile over in Requena where I work with Victor Llinares and his team at Torre Oria  it is a similar story for the Macabeo,  from which their award winning Cavas,  and the Tempranillo and Bobal, for Palacio Rojo, are made.    The vineyards area of Requena, approx 80km straight inland from Valencia rising to an altitude of 700m,  have a rich red clay soil but this year with much less rainfall in the first 6 months it looks as dry as it normally does in August.  On a positive note, the bunches of grapes are in general nicely set so what is lost in quantity will hopefully be made up in quality.

View Over El Villar

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