27-08-2018 ~ 2 Comments

#sademoji, Catalunya loses its cellar lead

Well, Catalunya ain’t Number One anymore; at least in terms of Spanish regional cellar totals. State government statistics have come out that at last official count, there are 606 registered cellars in the Autonomous Region of Catalunya–although in scratching out the numbers I know, I come up with more for some reason (*). But, according to these given stats, Castilla y León just barely passes Catalunya with 609 cellars in total.

Oh don’t worry, no one is going to come anywhere near the biggest producer of wine in terms of volume which is still Castilla y La Mancha with over 2 billion liters flowing out annually although the vast majority is in bulk and often sent to France to be attacked by masked wine bandits at the border.

No one should actually be sad about this turn of events as Catalunya is still a leading producer of wine in Spain. In fact, there’s been a steady increase from 509 to 606 cellars over the last decade for a net gain of 16%. The catch is that while Catalunya opened 97 new cellars in this time, Castilla y León opened 131 so they were bound to overtake.

It’s interesting to look at the hard numbers behind this and when you do, it’s amazing that Catalunya has been at the top in terms of cellar numbers for so long. Castilla y León has three times more area than Catalunya 95,000km² vs 32,000km² respectively and 50% more vines, 75,000ha vs 52,000ha. So there’s plenty of raw material for a great many more cellars in Castilla y León were there the entrepreneurial folks willing to do it and apparently there have been to in some regard as they’ve seen 27% growth in the last 10 years. The issue of course is a problem of who is going to work there?

Castilla y León is vast and bigger than nearly half the actual countries in the world including neighboring Portgual. But, it’s sparsely populated at 2.5 million residents whereas Catalunya has three times that at 7.5 million, essentially flipping the same proportions of land and population between the two. So, if you wanted to open a cellar in Spain, it appears Castilla y León is open frontier.

To bring everything into perspective, the total number of registered cellars in Spain now sits at 4,373 but this is a bit misleading as these are registered cellars and then there are registered “cellars”. These are the many projects that are completely separate from a physical cellar but making use of another cellar’s space. I don’t know of any easy way to figure out this total this as even I count as an officially registered entity to produce and sell wine despite the fact I never have and I must be one of thousands.

But wineries, while contributing to the overall income of the state, are not huge employers in terms of raw numbers. To anyone who has suffered to try and book a tour in Spain, you’ll not be surprised to find out that about 1/3 of all the cellars in Spain have only one or two very overworked employees (usually the owner and his or her spouse.) A touch over 1% of Spanish cellars have up to 100 employees and then there are just 13 cellars in all of Spain that employ up to 200 people. Only one cellar counts more than 500 employees and I doubt that anyone would be shocked to find out that it’s Torres.

Ultimately, it’s always a bummer to not be #1 but, we’ll always have Priorat #happyemoji.

* Cellar totals:

  • DO Cava – 230 (actually lower due 5% of cellars not in Catalunya)
  • DO Penedès – 140
  • DOQ Priorat – 100
  • DO Montsant – 60
  • DO Terra Alta – 51
  • DO Empordà – 42
  • DO Costers del Segre – 37
  • DO Conca de Barberà – 31 (actually lower due to ‘nursery’ shared space)
  • DO Tarragona – 31
  • DO Pla de Bages – 14
  • DO Alella – 9
  • DO Catalunya – 226 (but this overlaps all of Catalunya)
  • Total – 745
  • Total w/DO Catalunya – 971


Ancestral Wine Cellar - Khikhvi 2014 95
First harvest of Khikhvi. Light apricot notes, peach skin, lemon peel. Citric in the mouth, fresh, lively acidity, vibrant. Very holistic, full and deliciously good.
100% Khikhvi · 12% · 30GEL
95 3 Stars

Petriaant Marani - Khikhvi 2015 94
Bruised red apple, touch of lemon peel, limestone minerality, and some white pepper notes at the back of it. High acidity and full in the mouth. Luscious, involving, elegant wine.
100% Khikhvi · 14% · 25GEL
94 3 Stars

Domaine Augustin - Adéodat Blanc 2016 93
Lemon and white peach, strong kick of salinity, and toasted notes. Very fleshy and full on the palate, peach notes more prominent as well as Meyer lemon, medium plus acidity and a lengthy finish.
100% Grenache Gris · 14.5% · 20EUR
93 2 Stars

AA Badenhorst - Secateurs Red Blend 2012 93
Forest bramble with ripe red fruit, touches of cherry, ripe red plum, tiny bit of prune, cumin, anise, black licorice, wet cement mineral note, underlying fig jam. Crisp medium plus acidity, medium tannins, medium plus length, medium alcohol, overall medium plus body that’s ripe and lively but super fresh and balanced at the same time. Bit of rugged wildness to it but doesn’t get out of hand. Easy to drink but with just enough underlying complexity so that it stays interesting.
56% Syrah 27% Cinsaut 6% Grenache 4% Cabernet Sauvignon 7% "Others" · 13.5% · 12EUR
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Domaine Treloar - Motus 2015 93
Dark ruby, minor rim. Big, mighty bouquet of red cherry and other brambly forest fruit, vanilla, almond blossom, orange peel, and cocoa. Rich and full on the palate with a wealth of tannins still integrating, leading into a crunchy, lingering finish.
80% Mourvèdre 10% Syrah 10% Grenache · 14% · 14EUR
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Domaine of the Bee - Cuvée 2015 93
Ruby with minor garnet rim. Rich red fruits with an underpinning of ripe plum, orange peel, licorice, cocoa. Broad, round tannins with a touch of toast and sweet cocoa in a long finish. Manages to stay very light on the palate despite the higher alcohol.
50% Grenache 50% Carignan · 15% · 25EUR
93 2 Stars

Tchotiashvili - Khikhvi 2014 93
Apricot, yellow peach, orange peel, and a touch of honey. Quite complex aromatically. Orchard fruit much more prevalent in the mouth with young apricot notes. Rich and elegant, touch of astringency in the finish.
100% Khikhvi · 13.1% · 28GEL
93+ 3 Stars

Domaine Fontanel - Prieuré 2014 92
Dense ruby with brick flecks. Crisp red fruits, lifted by a waft of volatility making for a light nose with a spicy licorice and leather component. Crisp and lively with red cherry fruit in the mouth and a nudge over medium acidity. Nice, lingering finish.
50% Syrah 25% Grenache 25% Mourvèdre · 14.5%
92 2 Stars

Cave Abbé Rous - Cornet & Cie Blanc 2016 92
Peach, orange peel & blossom, honey, dried apricot, and a hint of green apple. Very nicely balance in the mouth, green apple notes more prevalent, medium plus acidity and a lengthy finish. Fresh, lively, very pleasing wine to drink.
60% Grenache Gris 25% Grenache Blanc 5% Marsanne 5% Roussanne 5% Vermentino · 14.5%
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Clos Henri - Petit Clos Pinot Noir 2016 92
Earthy, red cherries, young, crisp cranberry, light herbal notes, leafy, minor chalk. Medium tannins and medium plus acidity as well as length. Light sweetness on the palate but with a very pleasant, lingering structure and lightness to it.
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92 2 Stars