Quantitative Easing – a Wine perspective!



No, my Economics ‘A’ Level of years ago (too many, don’t ask!) does not furnish me with the credentials to write anything at all meaningful about financial matters – as my bank manager will surely endorse! So, as we are constantly hearing at the moment that ‘Quantitative Easing’ is all the rage in the lands of the Euro, you may wonder why I have the audacity to head this week’s Cork Talk with such a title.


Well, my version of Quantitative Easing is entirely different and, I hope, makes far more enjoyable reading than that in the Financial Columns of Europe’s newspapers.


I remember, when a student so many years ago (I told you, don’t ask!) my fellow PE (Physical Education) types and I took part in far too many ‘quantitative easing’ sessions. These sessions might have come about after a certain sporting loss, or after the stress of exams (believe it or not, when I was at College our PE Department was in fact the best qualified, in terms of ‘O’ and ‘A’Levels). Although, it has to be said,  such sessions also manifested themselves simply because it was Wednesday (mid-week match day) or the weekend!


You’ve perhaps cottoned on now that the quantitative easing to which I refer was the, well let’s be honest, drinking sessions in which most other students indulged as well, and not just those bent on, eventually, becoming PE teaching pillars of society!


Now, before I’m castigated by those on the moral high-ground, I’m not, of course, advocating that we should ease our worries by engaging in quantitative drinking sessions. Not at all. Perhaps I should coin a word in it’s place, ‘qualtitative’ might fit the bill.


In other words, I think it’s safe to suggest that a glass of quality wine, or sparkling wine, can very often help us unwind. And it seems that statistics are on my side.


Returning to the ‘quantitative’ once again, but remembering the Disraeli quote:


“There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.”


I am encouraged to see statistics, from many different quarters (which is why I don’t wholly go along with Benjamin) proving that wine consumption (yes, all right, responsible consumption!) in Europe, and indeed the World, is increasing.


For example, but without quoting the exact figure (largely because I’ve lost it!), Spain’s ‘en granel’ (bulk) wine exports have increased over the last year. Now that’s quantitative easing, and how, as ‘bulk’ means huge containers full of wine. Those in the Europe (and further afield) who require some Spanish sunshine in their wine are being satisfied.

Furthermore, the financial situation of many bodegas is thus being quantitatively eased. And make no mistake this has been crucial to the industry. During the crisis there have been many bodegas that have been close to going under and lots have joined forces under a conglomerate banner as a means of protection.


I’m also delighted to see that exports of bottled wines have also increased during the last two years. Also the number of different countries importing bottled wines from Spain has increased, as the Asian market, including the now major player, China, has opened up . I’ve seen that a number of Denominaciónes de Origen (DOs) have been quick to publicise the fact that their particular sales have increased in the domestic markets as well as internationally. For example one in three bottles of wine sold in Spain is from DO Rueda! So, some quantitative easing for sure.


But let’s return to my new word, qualtitative easing. I was pleased to read some statistics recently advising that it’s not just any bottled wine whose sales have been increasing. There has been a slow, but regular increase in the number of bottled wines sold in Spain and abroad that are priced in the mid-price range, and significantly, above that price.


Of course, the ‘mid-price range’ is a phrase open to interpretation. One man’s ‘cheap’ is another man’s mid-price; whilst a totally different man’s mid-price can also be another man’s ‘expensive’! However the point is that it’s quality wines that are enjoying a surge, albeit gradual, in popularity.


So it all bodes well for Spanish wine producers, and for consumers, of course.


So for quantitative easing you may like to consider the following few wines, which are I’m sure going to help with the stress of life, such as it is, here in Spain. There are of course many more!


Bodegas Vicente Gandía is local to the Valencia region, but nowadays also makes wines in several different DOs. I’ve recently discovered their aromatic and flavoursome DO Rueda Organic Verdejo. Priced at under 4€, it’s a clear pointer as to why it is that Rueda wines now have such a large market share.


You’ll find faint whiffs of Sauvignon-esque gooseberry fruit as well as fennel seeds on the nose and perhaps a little exotic kiwi with some green pepper spritz too. It’s fairly rich and there is just a touch of slatey minerality.


I first tasted Bodega Bajoz, DO Toro, wines 15 years ago, when we chose it for our second wine of the month for our small wine club of the time. I was impressed then, and I’m pleased to say that I still am.


The bodega is now under the new ownership of Bodegas Félix Solís, one of the ‘conglomerates’ referred to above, which has been acquiring bodegas to add to their DO portfolio. Made with Tinta de Toro (aka Tempranillo) the Bajoz Joven 2013 has a picota cherry nose and flavour with a little earthiness too. On the palate it’s really fruit driven and has a mid-length finish. Easy drinking but with some body too.


And for qualtitative easing, also just one red and one white from a huge choice that is available in Spain. Firstly, I’d recommend the Bodegas Castaño Detrás de la Casa 2011, DO Yecla. A wine made with Syrah harvested at optimum ripeness and aged for 12 months in a selection of three different types oif French oak.


The rich Syrah fruit is to the fore filling the mouth with damson and a touch of pepper spice. The blend of different oak has added some flavour, but greater complexity and depth, providing a long finish, and the resulting desire for another glass! Priced in that upper mid range(?!) at about 15€ – an excellent buy.


And the white? Try the lovely Pezas da Portela Fermentado en Barrica from Bodegas Valdesil, DO Valdeorras. This wonderfull white wine is made with Godello (remember the name of the variety, if you don’t already know it!) grown in slate strewn soils at altitude in Galicia.


It’s white  peaches and magnolia on the nose with a rich depth of creamy fruit on the palate and a little discreet oak on both nose and palate. One of my favourite Spanish whites! Priced at around 20€ – which is going towards the expensive, I know – but what a wine, and what a way to experience qualtitative easing!


PS There are just a few seats left for the Gourmet Tapas/Spanish Wine Pairing Evening at Vintage Gastro Bar & Restaurant, Albir. Vintage is owned and run by Dani Bowler who shot to fame on UK TV’s Masterchef Programme, and his precise and imaginative cooking is now enjoyed by all who visit his new restaurant. Proceeds from this event will also go to the:  Asociación Espanola contra el Cáncer (AECC)! Please contact Colin to reserve your places!


PPS Don’t forget to view my weekly YouTube videos on Spanish wines, accessories, news etc. Simply go to www.Youtube.com and search Colin Harkness On Wine.


Contact Colin: colin@colinharknessonwine.com & please also visit www.colinharknessonwine.com for all the latest news on Spanish wines, bodega trips, tastings, wine/food pairings etc!

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