There´s only one word to describe the growth and development within the Spanish wine sector in the last decade: incredible. Dramatic investments both publically and privately have been made, particularly over the last ten years, to improve the quality and reputation of Spanish wines internationally. Spain is now the 3rd largest wine-producing region in the world, and their commitment to the future of the sector appears to be reaping its benefits.
Spanish wine exports for the first trimester of 2003 increased 8.9% with respect to the first trimester of 2002, with total sales of 317,850,000 euros. Export volume growth was even higher, with an increase of 15.85% and over 280,600,000 liters sold. The good news for buyers? The average price of Spanish wine exports for the first trimester of 2003 decreased 6%, to an average of 1.13 euros per liter. In other words, Spanish winemakers are cashing in by selling high quality wines at competitive prices.
An excellent example of this trend is what has occured with Spain´s sparkling wine and export giant, called cava. Export sales of cava grew 15.26% (33.73% in volume) in the first trimester of 2003, while the average price declined 13.8%. Cava´s increasing popularity worldwide is due to two main factors: Cava is high quality sparkling wine made using the same time-consuming, laborious production process used to make French champagne, yet it is available at relatively inexpensive, competitive prices compared to its French counterpart.
It is worth noting that sales of Spanish wines with Designation of Origin (Denominación de Origen) have risen 5.53% in terms of value, with an increase of 4.9% in volume. The average price of these wines remained stable (0.6%). With such a large selection of wines available to consumers, the D.O. system (known as Appellations d´Origine Contrôlée in French) offers a guarantee of authenticity and quality that appears to be convincing to consumers.
Approximately 25% of Spanish wines carry the prestigious Denominaciones de Origen label (Designations of Origin in English or Appellations d´Origine Contrôlée in French). Among the red wines, there are two styles which generate a great deal of excitement among professionals and the wine press: dark, full-bodied powerhouse wines from regions such as Ribera del Duero, Toro, and Priorat, and lighter, fruitier wines which are being produced throughout the country, often in a low tannin, whole-berry fermented style. La Mancha, the vast baking plane south of Madrid that produces most of Spain´s bulk wine, is a source for some fine value, light, smooth reds, as are other D.O. regions, such as Valdepenas and Jumilla.ª As far as white wines are concerned, D.O.´s such as Condado de Huelva, Rias Baixas, and Albariño are some of the most refreshing and in-demand whites around today.
It is clear that Spanish wine producers have reason to be optimistic that the sector is on its way to gaining the success and recognition worldwide that it deserves.