Spanish wines may be some of the more interesting wines on the market today. Never able to break into the elite winemaking category with France, Italy, and the United States, they have long been known to produce some of the best valued, quality wines on the market. As cheaper quality wines begin to become available from different places like Australia, Chile, Argentina, and South Africa, Spanish winemakers continue along their unheralded path.
This new found competition from these new world producers in the “value for quality” market is just one of many obstacles Spanish wineries have had to overcome. The largest problem was the economic crisis currently happening in Spain. Huge unemployment rates and inflation have crippled the country. Spanish winemakers have virtually no domestic market for their product. They must export their goods to larger markets like the United States in order to survive. They’re now having to spend their budgets marketing wines abroad instead of internally. Many wineries even have problems fulfilling existing orders, unable to purchase necessities like bottles and corks. The least of the obstacles is drought. The year 2012 saw the worst Spanish drought in 70 years. Some regions lost nearly half of their crops.
Reduced crops meant a necessary rise in prices for most wine makers. A rise in price for a wine that thrives off of its “quality for cheap” reputation could have meant the end . Many vintners were able to ride out this tough period, however, and survive because much of their land was paid for years ago. Spanish wines also have an advantage that some other countries don’t. Their primary vines are very old and well adapted to their soil, making it easier for some varieties to survive the drought conditions. These old vines also give their wines a character that the other, new world wineries can’t duplicate. Many vineyards in Spain have 30-100-plus-year-old vines that only give the grapes more depth and complexity.
Celler Can Blau is a red blended wine, made from grapes coming from the Montsant region of Spain. The exact blend is different for every vintage depending on the characteristics of the grapes from that harvest. The 2012 vintage is a blend of 50% Carinena, 25% Syrah, and 25% Garnacha, and it is aged in French oak barrels for four months. The average age of the vines used here is 35 years old. Can Blau has been receiving awards and much critical success since 2007, enabling the winery to expand and make this an even more affordable wine.
Arriving a deep ruby red, Celler Can Blau (found online $8.99-$14.99) opens with a number of ripe aromas ranging from red berries and spices, to cedar , licorice, and mocha. Its taste follows the aroma’s lead, starting a bit light with hints of cherries, raspberries and chocolate, but finishing strong and full bodied with earthiness and spice. Ideally served with many items, this blend complements poultry, game, and beef roasts, while also being able to stand up to barbecue and spicy foods, such as Mexican.