The good news is that a wet spring followed by a sunny summer last year made Spain the top wine producer. Wine production increased by 41% taking it to 50m hectolitres, more than the 42m hectolitres of France and the 47m hectolitres of Italy. Of course, Spain has the largest area of planted vineyards in the world which helps. The lack of efficiency has always held the industry back but that is changing.
Of all the denominations, Castilla-La-Mancha produces half of the country’s wine but La Mancha lags behind the reputation of wines like Rioja and Cava. In fact, my neighbour Pepe, who is an expert on wine, tells me that many of the wines from Ribera del Dura are far better than those from fashionable Rioja. Having tried them, I think he is right.
The bad news is that the wine makers do not know how they are going to sell their product. Six point seven billion bottles of wine is a lot to drink and the domestic market for wine is falling. Eight years ago, Spain consumed more wine than it exported but now it exports twice as much as it consumes. The issue is that young people in the country no longer see wine as fashionable and the international market is very competitive.
Pam and I do our bit to help the economy by drinking wine every evening with our meals. She favours a cold glass or two of rose whilst I sink a couple of glasses of red. I further help the situation by downing a couple of brandies with my coffee. We rarely pay more than 3 euros for a bottle though and my brandy costs less than 6 euros a litre.