White revolution for Spanish wines

Julie Sheppard

Julie Sheppard

10 March 2017

The on-trade is at the forefront of a growing trend for white wines from Spain, according to exhibitors at the Wines from Spain Annual Tasting.

‘Spain is performing really well in the on-trade; we've seen 6-7% category growth, in comparison to other categories that have plateaued,’ said Jean Wareing MW, product manager at Boutinot. ‘Lighter, fresher styles of white seem to be selling well. I think Spain is now positioning itself in the on-trade as a source of nice fresh and clean whites, whereas previously it's all been about the reds.’

The Annual Tasting, which showcased wines from over 350 bodegas, included a feature tasting called ‘The White Revolution’ and a masterclass on Uncommon Varieties led by Sarah Jane Evans MW. The trend for Spanish whites is being fuelled by consumer interest in unusual grapes, as well as an increased profile for white Rioja and Albariño.

‘Brand Albariño has really helped – it’s like a Spanish equivalent to Sauvignon Blanc and that's really helped people get into Spain’s whites,’ commented Christine Allen, brand manager for Marqués de Murrieta. ‘But for me the big news is white Rioja. There’s real room for development in that middle ground between aged white Rioja styles and neutral whites at the cheaper end,’ she added.

‘There is an incredible demand for white Rioja,’ agreed Nella Alberti, supplier relationship manager at Enotria&Coe. ‘People are looking for something unusual and interesting; when they seem the name “Rioja” they automatically think “red”, so whites are something new.”

Marianne Rodriguez, assistant director of Food and Wines from Spain, commented: ‘Looking at the statistics, most of the wine Spain sells is still red. I can't imagine that we're making it to the stage where white and red will be equal, but now people do think of Spain doing some lovely fresh whites. At our Eat Spain, Drink Spain events, consumers are definitely getting to grips with white Rioja and people are becoming more aware of lesser known Spanish white wines like Txakoli.’

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