The Tasting Panel magazine

June 2012

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Page 58 of 124

WHAT WE'RE DRINKING WE DISCOVER NEW OFFERINGS AT Sketches by Lana Bortolot THE ANNUAL SPANISH WINE CELLAR IN NYC AND SAN FRANCISCO of Spain I ts star chef may have closed his eponymous restaurant, its economy might be in the doldrums, but seemingly, that's not stopping Spain from staying the course in the wine industry. At the New York edition of the annual Spanish Wine Cellar held in April, thoughts of the economy were definitely in the background as a group of 42 producers put their best bottles forward to the wine trade. The popular event showcases producers looking for entry into the market as well as some of Spain's most exciting new regions. "We are the little bright light for the Spanish economy," said Katrin Naelapaa, Wines from Spain's New York-based director. "The interest in everything Spanish has definitely helped the wines. Most importers feel like they need to have a Spanish portfolio now." The quality-to-price ratio story has the country's strong suit for many years. And happily for Spain, number five by value in imports to the United States, the interest in the wines hasn't stopped at the gateway bottles ($10 and less). Spanish producers have been savvy about watching the market and responding to shifting consumer tastes, and those trends were represented at the trade show. "They all seemed to have caught on to something that dis- tinguishes them—whether they're a small producer or a giant guy," Naelapaa said. Most frequently, that distinction is a wine made from either a reclaimed old vineyard, a single vineyard or grapes recuperated for an old vineyard that might have once been used for blending in generic wines, but are now enjoying new attention on their own, such as Prieto Picudo, a red grape from northwest Spain. Guests Gizelle Hamburg from Del Posto restaurant and Bill Frank from Astor Wines & Spirits sample wines at the NYC event. The show demonstrated that Spain has a wine for everyone. Maria Jose Besada, the U.S. manager for Cuatro Rayas, a 77-year-old cooperative in the Rueda D.O. was also there to sell a new product. The winery produces 12 million bottles per year, representing 20 percent of the D.O.'s production, but Besada closed a deal with a distributor for a limited- production old-vine Verdejo. "Verdejo is the popular [white] grape in Spain" she said, adding that not enough people in the U.S. know about it. Paco & Lola, known for its iconic polka-dot branding, has had no trouble getting recognition for its fashionable line of female-friendly wines, and export manager Alicia Carro Marino said they were there to leverage that recognition for 58 / the tasting panel / june 2012 PHOTO: LANA BORTOLOT

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