Spanish Cru an exploration of site 2019

Grand Cru, single vineyard, site specific wines - expression of Terroir. What was discovered by the monks in Burgundy in the 14th Century has slowly found its way around the world and many consumers of fine wine are well atuned to both the concept and the importance that an individual site can have on the characteristics of the wine. Yet is it worth it?

Certainly, the great vineyards of Burgundy and the best sites in the Rhone and Barolo demand a premium both for their rarity, but also their proven ability to age and have distinctive personality. The new world now is also attempting to value-add to the great sites with Single vineyard and even sub site 'blocks' now being used widely to differentiate different Crus to highlight the best that a site can produce.

In Spain, the indication of special sites has been there for a long time yet often it was blended away for the sake of simplicity of marketing and to make a main estate cuvee. During the Franco years and the down time thereafter, the dominance of big companies simply wishing to buy-and-blend "Reservas-ecetera" eventually led to the banning of the village, let alone the vineyard. Most infamously in Rioja, The Bigs Banned Terroir!

But location never really goes away … the best village (in Spanish, Pueblo; in Catalan, Vila) locations, and the best Cru (in Spanish, Parcela; in Catalan, Vinya) sites have always been mapped, recognised, and known to be special. There has been a long struggle to re-birth special sites, which began with the legal re-introduction of Vila and Vinya (village and vineyard) ID in Priorat in the 2000s. A decade later, Rioja was dragged kicking and screaming back into reality, and now we have a host of 'new' (largely very old, long known as special) site specific wines hitting the market to represent Iberia (Portugal, as well as Spain) in its deeper, more historically rich glory.
ALEX WILCOX