Very funny your comment on Gobs and ’90s fashion.
Perhaps in the Internet forums where the wine geeks inhabit return to elegance is the new fashion but we must assume that most newcomers and ocasional wine drinkers are in love with ";a-lot-of"; wines.
In the end, the important difference is between balanced and unbalanced wines not classic versus modern styles of vinification.
Having previously observed (and been greatly entertained by) your wine observations elsewhere, I predict that we may have some philosophical disagreements regarding Spanish wine. I’m no fan of manufactured termite juice with all the unique charm of an international airport. On the other hand, when a wine is dismissed as ";internationally styled,"; I think one must have a clear concept of what a ";nationally"; styled wine would be instead, which raises the question: what is a Spanish wine style? Obviously Spain is virtually a continent unto itself with a great variety of climates and terrain, and it has more acres under vine than any other country. So it is not easy to answer this question. Just a friendly warning, however, that I might be pointing out from time to time such things as:
- in the Middle Ages, wine from old Castile, and Toro in particular, were famed for being highly extracted and alcoholic
- it is rare to my knowledge for big wines from Spain to be overly manufactured (unlike OZ wines, for example) and such wines in Spain are more typically a product of a generally warm climate and the often overlooked fact that, relatively speaking, Spain has extraordinarily low vine yields
- those internationally styled atrocities that issued from Priorat in the mid-90s are drinking pretty damn good almost 10 years later
In short, I do not regard big Spanish wines as some malignancy visited on an innocent populace, sapping IQs and corrupting public morals. No wine is bad simply because it is big, but nor is it necessarily good. And in the case of Spain in particular, I firmly believe big wines can and often do possess a firm sense of place.
I would never (ever, ever, EVER!!!) propose such a thing as a ";Spanish national style"; of wine. Having lived in Spain for extended periods and, furthermore, having been raised drinking Spanish wine drom an early age in the Caribbean, I came to understand that, as you say, Spain is almost a continent unto itself, with many microclimates and viticultural-enological idiosyncrasies. I remember when my grandfather first gave me wines to taste. Something from the Duero (well, Vega Sicilia and Protos, which were still the only known representatives of the area at the time) was easily discernible from a Rioja. Oh, andno one could possibly mistake wines from either of the two regions for the wines of Fariña, those diehards who were the precursors in Toro...
The ";International Style"; is a curse, as far as I’m concerned, which affects the whole wine industry, not just Spain. An ";International-style"; wine to me is one where the primary aromas and flavors of extra-ripe fruit and oak have been overemphasized, to the detriment of soil-related components and structure. If you have followed my posts in various boards all over the internet, you will know that I am an extremely stubborn terroirist. In fact, it’s hard to say which is greater, my love of good dirt, or of great structure and balance in a wine. When those things are lacking, I tend to be dismissive, yes. And in so many ";International-Style"; wines from all over the planet, the lack is almost painful to behold.
My complaints about so many latter-day Spanish wines are usually the same. Let’s review...
(1) Overripeness and its accompanying high alcohol: I once had to hear my friend Víctor de la Serna argue that ";Spain is a Mediterranean country,"; so perhaps excessive ripeness is unavoidable in its wines. Víctor dismissed my claims about areas like Rioja, Navarra, etc. having more Atlantic climates that weren’t necessarily conducive to 14.5% alcohol in the wines. But let’s face it, at the same time when the ";gobs"; became desirable, so did Port-like alcohol levels. That certain regions could not produce healthy wine at such levels of ripeness was not a concern, seemingly.
(2) Overextraction,etc.: Again, not denying that some areas in Spain make for dark, intense red wines (Toro, Jumilla, La Mancha... There’s enough). But not all. And at some point it became de rigueur for the New Wave to produce impenetrably dense wines. Oh, don’t get me started on so the many ways in which maximum color was attained. I could tell you stooooories.
(3) Excessive oak: Does this mean I think ";real";Rioja (the original ";Spanish Wine,"; if you know what I mean; all else comes later) made no use of wood? Hardly. Many of my favorite Riojas, wines of depth, balance, elegance and undeniable ";tipicity,"; all saw oak. But the oak was never used as a primary flavoring agent, which seems to have been the main use so many of the ";Internationalist"; bodegas had for it in the ’90s.
(4) Pretension and pricing: To paraphrase the great Goatboy, many ";New Wave"; Spanish bodegas saw themselves Making ";the next Château Latour."; Of course, what they ended up making in most cases was an odd puppy indeed, a big and brassy parody of a parody of a joke that was supposed to be as bold as majestic as Latour could be. Of course, prices on the initial releases of those farcical megawines were astronomical. This was what made the joke not funny in the end. Of course, when someone tells me that ";mistakes were made in the winemaking at Bodegas X with the ’94 vintage"; (which may have scored 10,000,000 points in the Monkton scale) but that ";I should try their wines now, because they have learned a lot,"; all I can think about is that I paid $60 a pop while these ";luminaires"; were trying out their training wheels. Am I not right to feel screwed?
On your comment about Toro
You got it right. It’s balance, depth, elegance and authenticity, as well as good value for money, which we should take into account. Never mind all that ";Classic versus Modern"; stuff...
That’s the real difference.
I like very much (very very much) Bosconia 54 and 47, but I also like very much Clos Mogador 2000 or 2001.
Also, as it is very difficult to keep it in the fridge it is better to finish! :^)
((PD: Just a brief explanation for the English forum: my name is Joan, and it is male Catalan name, equivalent to the English John or Spanish Juan. Salut=Cheers.))
Yes, but it should be served nice and cool, NOT ice cold! ;>)
I agree with the drinking part! Thanks for the explanation of your male name.