Caballeros honour three Spanish stars

Three new members were inducted last night into the Gran Orden de Caballeros del Vino in recognition of their “outstanding contribution” to the Spanish wine industry.

New Caballeros Eddie Hart, Sam Hart and Antonio Sanz

New Caballeros Eddie Hart, Sam Hart and Antonio Sanz

Rueda producer Antonio Sanz along with restaurateur brothers Sam and Eddie Hart were welcomed into the organisation during a ceremony at The Dorchester Hotel in London, which brought together many of Spain’s top producers and representatives from across the UK wine trade.

Sanz was recognised by Maria José Sevilla, UK director of wine & food at the Spanish Trade Commission, for his work as “a pioneer and innovator” within Rueda.

Having established his winery in 1976, seven years before the region became an official Denominacion de Origen, Sanz was credited for introducing approaches such as night harvesting and stainless steel fermentation. In addition to the innovation of sparkling and late harvest styles of Verdejo, he has played a key role in the acceptance of Sauvignon Blanc within Rueda.

Turning to the Hart brothers, who opened Spanish restaurant Fino 10 years ago and have since added Barrafina and Quo Vadis, Sevilla highlighted their success in popularising high quality Spanish gastronomy among UK consumers.

“Their passion for Spain’s wine, food and culture continues to permeate everything they do,” summed up Sevilla as she announced the pair.

As well as welcoming new members, the organisation also paid tribute to four Caballeros who have died in the last year: wine writers John Radford and Jan Read, restaurateur and writer Nick Tarayan and, earlier this week, a leading figure in the Sherry industry, Luis Caballero.

Now in its 29th year, the dinner also offered a chance to consider the performance of Spanish wine in the UK, with Maria del Coriseo Gonzalez-Izquierdo, CEO of Spain’s foreign trade commission ICEX, highlighting the country’s progress in this market during the last year.

Citing Nielsen data to the end of 2012, which showed a 16% volume increase in off-trade sales of Spanish wine, she noted that this figure has helped Spain to move up from 7th place to hold the 5th largest share of the UK wine market.

In order to support the popularity of Spanish wine among UK consumers and trade, Caballeros chairman and Waitrose wine buyer Nick Room outlined the organisations ongoing development of a trade bursary scheme, as well as its collaboration with the Wine & Spirit Education Trust.

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