Let’s Hear it for the Little Guys!


When watching sports (remember that?!), but supporting no particular team/competitor, many of us root for the underdog. The player/team with the lesser reputation, the one of whom we’ve never heard – yes, let’s give them some support.

So it was at Goodison Park, Liverpool, in 1966 when the largely unheard of North Korea were playing Portugal in the Football World Cup, Eusébio, Torres et al. Unbelievably, North Korea took the lead, and suddenly most of the crowd, of which I was a small part, was willing the little guys on, supporting their every move. ‘We’ lost, but what a game!

If sporty yourself, I’m sure you’ll remember similar situations in a number of different sports. Probably, like me, you’re the same today. It’s so exciting when someone wholly new to us aces a seed to win a round at Wimbledon; or sinks a put in the Open to beat the defending Champion; comes from half a lap behind to take the 1500 metres Olympic title from the athlete who surely had his/her name written on the trophy – and so on.

Well, my friends, it’s time to support the underdogs, the little guys in the wine world!

I can’t think of many businesses in Spain that have done well during this dreadful pandemic, a live scenario that is still playing out, but supermarkets haven’t done so badly! One of the few businesses that have been allowed to open throughout, they have, of course, suffered some extra costs. Staff have been taken on in order to police/assist customers; they’ve all had to have protective masks and gloves; checkouts have been fitted with extra protection for those seated, etc.

However, compared with profits during this time, such outgoings are small beer. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not knocking them. Supermarkets have fulfilled a vital role, they’ve done a brilliant job at keeping the nation in food, and at a risk to themselves too. It’s certainly appreciated. Imagine how these weeks would have been if, like in a war zone for example, it was dangerous to go out (as it has been here, though we’ve been dodging a virus not bullets and bombs), and there was no food available!

Plus, of course, those businesses that supply supermarkets have been doing reasonably well too, though any exports they’d been enjoying are likely to have largely petered out. This, of course, applies to the wine sector.

There are many large wine businesses that have been able to maintain at survival level, and above, simply by virtue of the fact that they are established supermarket suppliers. Yes, it’s true that such large concerns have lost out in the export trade, of course, so they haven’t been making extra profits, but they’ve been doing ok, particularly when statistics tell us that we’ve all been drinking more wine in lockdown times!

I’m speaking on behalf of the many far smaller bodegas, often family owned who progressed from making wine for home consumption only a couple of generations ago to making it on commercial basis nowadays. Their production is of course limited – they don’t have many hectares of land covered in vine, though often their vineyards are old, producing great quality wines from their richer grapes.

There’s no doubting their quality, but of course, they are unable to supply supermarkets because of their insatiable demand for high volume wines. The little guys make great wines, just not so much of it! Some of these small wineries have been able to develop some export trade, though this of course has dried up in recent weeks, though many are relying solely on the domestic trade. Sadly, this has also largely dried up too. The little guys are in trouble – and they need our help.

This is why I wholly support an initiative started by my friend Nicola Thornton, of the company Spanish Palate, of whom regular Cork Talk readers will have read on a number of occasions over the years. Spanish Palate is itself one of the small producers to whom I refer, but they have another important role as well – they are distributors of wines from a number of other small, family owned producers.

A very positive and proactive young lady, Nicola must nevertheless have noticed the dramatic downturn in the livelihoods of her winery owning friends whose sales are dwindling to below survival levels. So, she and her business partner have decided to do something about it! If you go to www.spanishpalate.es/Direct you’ll be able to see the wineries with whom she deals, their wines, and of course, those made by Spanish Palate themselves, You’ll also notice the ease by which you can buy whichever wines you select and have them delivered directly to your door, in fact for hard to believe excellent prices!

Over the years I’ve tried lots of the wines distributed by Spanish Palate, as well as those they make themselves. You won’t be disappointed, quite the reverse, in fact, and significantly, during these difficult times, you’ll be giving the little guys a very much needed helping hand!

NB my next Valley Vibes Wine Show will be on Sat. 6th June, 12 – 1pm, online here www.valleyfm.es and I’ll be tasting one of Spanish Palate’s wines too!

Twitter @colinonwine.com  Facebook Colin Harkness

colin@colinharknessonwine.com www.colinharknessonwine.com

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Please don’t forget my monthly Wine Show on www.valleyfm.es – it’s always the First Saturday of the Month, from 12:00 hrs – 13:00 hrs CET. You’ll find some great wines tasted on-air; top music; fun chat; and lotsa informal wine info! Hope you can join us soon!

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