May 29, 2022
Karin Rockstad, WSET Educator, SWS, FWS, Albariño Ambassador, Certified Cava Educator
If you're obsessed with Spanish wine the way I am, then attending a trade fair that concentrates only on these wines is the way to go. This year it was held April 4-6 and housed 734 exhibitors. Hmm... tasting multiple wines from 734 producers in three days? Well, not really. You can never do it all, but you sure can taste and learn a lot.
My first day started out in the Speakers Corner, listening to a panel discussion by Juan Manuel Beliver, Manager of the retail store Lavinia in Madrid; Joan Valencia, CEO of Cuvée 3000, a wholesaler and retailer in Barcelona; and Ramón Coalla, CEO of Coalla, also a wholesaler and retailer in Gijón, Oviedo, and Madrid.
The topic was "The Market for 'Autochthonous'." They discussed whether or not there really is a market for native or indigenous grapes. Is that market growing, shrinking, and if so, where and by how much? Should up-and-coming vintners invest their time and money in these grapes or does the world still demand the ubiquitous "international varieties," i.e., Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, etc.? The short answer is, yes. With thousands of varieties throughout the world, why should we be limited to just a few dozen? Of course, the big challenge is educating retailers and consumers to buy them. But that's a topic for another day...
There were 15 talks and tastings similar to this on the first day, 18 on the second, and 8 on the third. There was a board where they were listed, plus a brochure, the website, and a mobile app. Although the app was not very user-friendly (about which I sent my feedback).
Most talks were held in Spanish or Catalán; sometimes interpreted into English, sometimes not, so keep that in mind if decide to attend and don't speak either of these languages. However, when tasting at the producers' booths, there is usually always someone there who speaks English to be able to tell you about the wines. After all, they are there to sell their wines and English is the common language of business.
I love the self-tasting areas at wine fairs, and BWW was no different:
Empty bottles were displayed behind where I took this photo with information on where the wine was from, the grape, how it was made, etc. Basically, any information you may get off a label or a tech sheet online. Then you go over to the case, press a button, and it automatically gives you about a 1.5-oz. pour. Cool, huh?
One of my favorites was the Attis Atalante Caíño Blanco (yes, an autochthonous grape!) from Rías Baixas.
You may be familiar with Cava, which is a sparkling wine that can be made in several designated areas of Spain. Clàssic Penedès differentiates itself by being 100% organic, 100% Reserve (aged a minimum of 15 months), and made only in the Penedès region. Like Cava, they are made in the traditional method.
Dinner was spent with some other wine educators and importers at Maitea, a Basque restaurant with absolutely fantastic food and wine! (Photo below courtesy of @riojaryan)
The first day of fair-going was filled with meeting new people, trying wines made with native grapes, and discovering new producers. I can't think of a better way for a wine geek to continue their education, so if you ever get the chance to attend one, do it. You'll fit more of the pieces of the wine world together and will have a great time doing it!
(These two photos courtesy of Fira Barcelona)