SPANISH WINE GUIDES
PART TWO – THE PROENSA GUIDE + LA GUÍA DE ORO
Following on from last week’s article focussing on Spain’s comprehensive and most widely used wine guide, Guía Peñin, time now to concentrate on two other guides. One, Guía Proensa De Los Mejores Vinos De España has a similar format, though simultaneously pleasingly different too; and the other, well a whole new concept really.
Most important to we Spanish wine enthusiasts though, is how much use are they regarding advising us about the wines we should be buying here in Spain. Well I think they each play an important role in guiding us through the wine shop and supermarket shelves. And I’m delighted to have access to all three.
The Proensa Guide is named after it’s founder and author, Andrés Proensa, a journalist born in 1958 in Madrid. A lover and aficionado of all things Gourmet in Spain he teamed up with a group of like-minded people, specialising in Spanish wine and was responsible for the Guís de Vinos Gourmets from 1985 – 1993.
Following this success, he created La Guía De Oro (to be discussed next) until he passed on the business to my friend Jesús Iniesta in 2002, for whom I wrote several articles in English in his Vinos De España magazine. He then decided that there was a call for another guide to Spanish wine, creating Guís Proensa in 2002 – making this year it’s tenth anniversary.
Señor Proensa also edits and is the Director of PlanetAVino, a bi-monthly magazine that I have read and enjoyed several times, though it is now available for subscribers as an e-magazine. Clearly here is a man who has dedicated his working life to information diffusing about all that is good in the Gourmet world of Spain, with a clear emphasis on Spanish wines.
And it’s clarity that is the buzz-word for his Guía Proensa. The lay-out of the confidence boosting hard-back guide is clear and concise. There is some information about him, but more so about the aims of the guide and its raison d’etre. I also found this familial styled guide to be most interesting in his opinions of the strengths and weaknesses of the Spanish Wine Trade, including a historical perspective where he comments, for example on the dramatic improvements made in white wine production here, as I have myself.
There is a section dedicated to short summaries of the previous ten years, on this its tenth birthday. It also explains the scoring system employed, the language used (don’t forget this is a multi-lingual country) and of course its complete impartiality, crucial if we are to believe anything in a guide!
There are drawbacks though. Despite its claim to include the Best Wines of Spain, there must surely be some omitted as some Denominaciónes de Origen have only one wine and one bodega mentioned. However, as a counter argument it this could simply be explained by the fact that no matter how good a guide is it has to be subjective.
Also, like the Peñin Guide, for me it has too great a concentration of Rioja wines with many more pages devoted to this DO which for me is woeful need of an overhaul. Although I’m pleased to see that mostly sensible marks are awarded, and importantly, to those wines which deserve them.
But for me there are two main draws. Firstly its obvious honesty and its unwillingness to jump on any ultra-high point bandwagons; and secondly its user-friendly layout, language (as long as you speak Spanish that is!) and general feel. Señor Proensa has cleverly created an older, more experienced Uncle of a wine guide who doesn’t pontificate but rather leads the reader on a gentle adventure of discovery.
Furthermore it is now available in English via the internet www.proensa.com . I commend it to you.
La Guía De Oro is now an internet guide (though as yet only in Spanish), perhaps making my 2010 hardback edition a collectors item for wine enthusiasts of the future? Its Editor, Jesús Iniesta explained in an e-mail to me that it doesn’t score wines and bodegas like the other guides do, perhaps it’s felt that there is too muich compoetition, or just that there isn’t the demand or the need for another similar guide? Rather, it studies and lists all the other guides’ marks and the medals and plaudits each wine has garnered.
As such Jesús says it’s more like a Guide of Guides and is therefore original and of more use. Well I understand the theory, and agree that this may well be something worth looking at, but I have and at the moment, it isn’t working. Yet? – well who knows. The site is operational in that you can go to www.laguiadeoro.es but, unless my internet was having a particularly bad day, there’s basically nothing there. I hope it’s a work in progress!