Spain still struggling in the on-trade

3rd May, 2013 by Rupert Millar

Despite increased listings, outside of the Spanish restaurant scene Spanish wines are still not well represented in the on-trade.

spainmapRibera del Duero and Albariño have appeared in increasing numbers to challenge Rioja’s dominance in recent years but the number of other Spanish regions being listed is still very limited.

Maria José Sévilla, director of Wines from Spain, spoke positively about Spain’s progress: “It appears that in the last year or so, Spain has improved its on-trade position,” she said.

“It’s wonderful these days to see Albariño, new Riojas or expensive ones, white Riojas and also Riberas increasingly, they were so difficult to find before.”

However, sommelier consultant Bruno Murciano told the drinks business that this was not enough: “What I’ve seen in the past four to five years is that most restaurants have a very limited amount of Spanish wines,” he reported.

“Classics, such as Albariño and maybe, if you’re lucky, Verdejo and Godelhos.

“In my opinion Spain is not well represented at all particularly in whites. There’s still a lot of work to do.”

Alison Easton, Gonzalez Byass’ Spanish portfolio brand manager, agreed saying: “People are still very surprised by what Spain has to offer when they come across it.

“Lists aren’t as varied as we’d like that but it’s getting there.”

The continued appeal of tapas and Sherry bars was cited as an important part of Spain’s current and future success.

“I don’t know if you can draw a straight line (between Spain’s popularity and increased sales),” Easton, “but now that Spanish cuisine is more prominent it’s seen as more than just a producer of cheap plonk.”

Also important aside from the wealth of styles Spain produces, is the growing quality and continued value for money that Spain offers.

With margins being pushed ever tighter, it has surprised some that more restaurants have not delved further into Spain’s DOs.

Olly Bartlett, responsible for sales and marketing at Indigo Wines, said: “Spain offers incredible value. At the top end, yes there’s Unico and Pingus but there are single vineyard Greanches that if they were French they’d be hundreds of pounds a bottle. From Spain you can have very rare wines that don’t break the budget.”

For more on Spain in the UK on-trade see the April issue of db.

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