Spanish Wines Going The Way Of Oz Shiraz???

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Spanish Wines Going The Way Of Oz Shiraz???

Postby TomHill » Mon Jun 05, 2006 12:53 pm

So (stirring the pot a bit more on a Mon morning).... as a follow-on to Sue Courtney's Oz Shiraz and Ric Einstein's comments on the lack of buzz for Oz Shiraz on the wine boards....
I see much the same trend in Spanish wines that I saw 6-8 yrs ago for Oz Shiraz, particularly Priorat Grenache and Carignane (another grape I just don't get). A uniformity of style toward big/black/extracted/loads of intense fruit.... many of them at prices of $100/btl and upwards.
So.... in 6-8 yrs from now... will we be asking the same question here about Spanish reds that we're asking now about Oz Shiraz....Whot happened to the buzz???
Tom
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Re: Spanish Wines Going The Way Of Oz Shiraz???

Postby Isaac » Mon Jun 05, 2006 1:07 pm

The answer is pretty simple for me. I ignore the buzz on anything even remotely approaching triple digits. Heck, it irks me to realize that I now don't flinch paying double figures for a wine I don't consider particularly special.
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Re: Spanish Wines Going The Way Of Oz Shiraz???

Postby Hoke » Mon Jun 05, 2006 1:28 pm

Well, when "buzz" translates as "raise the prices to the stratosphere", it has an effect on me. Like, for instance, not being able to afford buying the wine anymore. :) And the disturbing trend of herding towards more and more oak, and adding more and more cabernet and syrah to the indigenous varieties that got me interested in the first place, further distances me.

But a lot depends on where you go in Spain. I tend to avoid Priorat--unless I know the maker is more traditional in philosophy and the price is right. But I go to places like Bierzo, where you can still get the Bierzo for a decent price, and there's still plenty of it that is not over-oaked---or even oaked at all.

And just as the Priorat is getting too full of itself, there are other areas emerging that still offer good values and interesting wines.

So no, I don't think the bloom is off the rose for Spanish wines. Just for certain Spanish wines.
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Re: Spanish Wines Going The Way Of Oz Shiraz???

Postby wrcstl » Mon Jun 05, 2006 2:02 pm

Easy explanation for two areas that sell monolithic wines

OZ Shiraz = too ripe fruit and too high alcohol

Spanish = too much oak

There I go again, gross generalizations and for that I apologize to Hoke. Actually think some of the higher end Spanish stuff is clinging to oak and some of the more favorable QPRs seem to be backing off. Good wines to be found in both countries but the odds always seem to bite me in the butt.

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Re: Spanish Wines Going The Way Of Oz Shiraz???

Postby Hoke » Mon Jun 05, 2006 2:26 pm

It's okay, Walt: I'm fine with some gross generalizations. LIke these. :D

I would only add to your Shiraz generalization (and by extension a lot of New World stuff, as in CA and even WA), a distressingly low level of acidity, which along with the over-ripe fruit and the oak and the spoofing makes for flabby, boring wines.

With the Spanish, I think the rush to over-oaking is a concomitant to the "revolution" that Spain's winemaking traditions have been going through for the last several years. The folks that are newest to the techonological and philosophical and educational trends are usually the ones that adopt those trends with the most gusto, and I think that's the case for Spain.

I can recall (and I'm pretty sure Tom Hill can to) a time not terribly long ago when the great majority of Spanish wines were dirty, unsanitary, often spoiled, usually heavily oxidizes, and damned near undrinkable. There were a handful of reds around that had legendary status, and a few young upstarts that were trying to do interesting things, but by and large, Spanish wines, especially the whites, were crap. Especially what was exported.

In the 80s, all that changed. Partially because of Spain coming out of it's self-imposed isolation and striving to rejoin the European community, partially because of improved economics, partially because technology started making an impression....for a lot of reasons, really...Spanish wines began to clean up their act, and successfully market themselves at the same time.

But the youthful exuberance that brought us the emergence of Albarino on the international scene, also brought us a bunch of nouveau riche Madrileno yahoos who started tinkering around with what had made Albarino so inviting in the first place. It got to be more about building fancy mansions and having bragging rights about whose wines fetched the most money.

Ditto Priorat: I can remember very well the first time I stumbled on the Rene Barbier wines-----wow, focused, intensely flavored, crisp whites and flavorful reds that were anything but what most people thought of when they tried Spanish wines. Nobody even knew what Priorat was...or where it was...then, just that these wines were amazingly good for the price.

But once Priorat got discovered, and the money started pouring in, it got to be a race to see who could make the most over-the-top, I'm Bigger Than You Are wine. Oak, oak, and more oak. Cabernet, Merlot, Syrah started showing up.

It was inevitable, really. That's what happens when you change a moribund, tradition-bound society into a dynamic, energized society. Some good things, some bad things, but I think you end up, by and large, with better basic wines, and a few absolute standouts, so you're better off than you were before.

All I know is Spanish wines are waaaaaay more interesting than they were before (sometimes the good old days sucked, you know?), and I'm drinking more o f them, and from more different places too.
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Priorat Rancio Wine...

Postby TomHill » Mon Jun 05, 2006 2:39 pm

Hoke,
I go back even further than you on Priorat wines. My first experience with them was a bunch of the de Muller rancios that Darrell Corti brought in in the mid-'70's. These were old wines left in barrel till they took on a slightly oxidized character, a bit like madiera or sherry. They were rather interesting wines. As far as I can tell, the genre is now extinct in the region. At HdR a few yrs ago, I asked Eric Solomon whatever happened to rancios and he seemed rather clueless as to their existence.
But your point is well taken. Back in the '70's, the Spanish wines tended to be rather old & tired and a bit lefeless. That was their style and you learned to live with it. With assertive tapas, they seemed to go just fine, though.
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Re: Spanish Wines Going The Way Of Oz Shiraz???

Postby Sue Courtney » Mon Jun 05, 2006 4:23 pm

TomHill wrote: So.... in 6-8 yrs from now... will we be asking the same question here about Spanish reds that we're asking now about Oz Shiraz....Whot happened to the buzz???
Tom


Quite Possibly, Tom.
There also seems to be a trend towards very low priced Spanish wine (under NZ$15), which are super extracted fruit bombs without any, or with very minimal, oak. These are wines that probably have to be drunk very soon after release, within 2 years of vintage date, I would think. I had one reasonably hyped wine from the 2003 vintage that I though was okay last year, but when tasted last month it was so full of VA it was diabolical.

Anyway, I still like old fashioned Rioja, which I see hardly any of these days. A sentimental favourite, I guess.

Cheers,
Sue
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A Few Additional Thoughts....

Postby TomHill » Mon Jun 05, 2006 6:08 pm

The Spanish market bears quite a lot of difference from the Oz market. Particularly in the lower end. There's lots of tasty/honest/authentic Spanish reds in the $8-$20 range that don't have that manufactured/contrived character of YellowTail
or CutseyCritter. It's in the very high end where I think most of the parallels lie. This came to mind at HdR when we were tasting thru the EricSolomon wines from Priorat. All quite similar in style and all quite big $$'s.
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Re: A Few Additional Thoughts....

Postby JoePerry » Mon Jun 05, 2006 7:48 pm

Yes.

At the middle-higher end anyway.

That's why I've ony got two bottles of Spanish wines post 1996.
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