Blog post written by Xabier Gómez Meabe – Foreign Trade Assistant
On Thursday the 2nd of March, the Spanish Chamber of Commerce in the United Kingdom organised a wine-tasting event for 20 wineries from the region of Castilla-La Mancha and a group of 25 importers in the United Kingdom for the Instituto de Promoción Exterior de Castilla-La Mancha (IPEX).
Castilla-La Mancha is located in the heartland of Spain, with five provinces (Albacete, Ciudad Real, Cuenca, Guadalajara, and Toledo) that make up this large autonomous community, best known as the home of the Castilian ‘knight’ Don Quixote de la Mancha. The Castilla-La Mancha region is a very important food producer in Spain, well known for the quality and appeal of their Manchego Cheese and their premium Saffron. It may come as surprise to learn that Castilla-La Mancha is also home to important vineyards. The region has witnessed an increase in both high-quality olive oil and wine production for just over a decade.
What’s more, DO La Mancha is the largest wine region in Spain. Traditionally seen only as a high-volume producer of wines, Castilla-La Mancha has adapted modern vinification techniques to produce clean, stable wines that are increasingly popular in the international market. Fresh, crisp, delicately fruity whites, and more complex, mature reds are well worth seeking out, as wine lovers increasingly discover. Moreover, there are nine controlled denominations (PDO or DO in Spanish), the most common of which are La Mancha, Valdepeñas, and Vino de la Tierra de Castilla.
The event took place in Chamber’s Member Hispania London’s restaurant, in the heart of the City. Twenty handpicked wine producers from the region offered their wines to a selection of Wholesalers and Importers from the United Kingdom, as the wineries are currently seeking opportunities to expand their wine distribution in the United Kingdom. The attendees had the opportunity to taste an extensive variety of wines made with a selection of local grapes, such as Airen for white wine, Garnacha Tintorera (Alicante bouche), Monastrell, Bobal, Tempranillo (for red wine). As well as wine made with international varieties (Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Petit Verdot, Merlot, Chardonnay, and Verdejo. In order to further promote the product of the region, there were an assortment of delicious canapés provided by Hispania’s accredited Chef Marcos Morán (one Michelin Star and three Soles Repsol) prepared with ingredients from Castilla-La Mancha.
This was the fourth face-to-face meeting with wine importers in the United Kingdom, organised by IPEX as part of their promotional scheme abroad. Since 2015, IPEX has conducted wine tastings for Castilla-La Mancha wine producers in many markets within the European Union (Belgium, Poland, Denmark, Austria, Germany, and the Netherlands) as well as in the United Kingdom.
The institution’s motivation for targeting the United Kingdom is primarily due to the scope and size of the wine market, as well as UK importers’ increasing interest in Spanish wine. The market is expanding and has increased by 25% from 2010 to 2020. The pandemic and Brexit have led to a total reorganisation of the sector, with many changes both in consumer habits and in the distribution structure. Nonetheless, the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (ACC) signed in December 2020 to regulate relations between the United Kingdom and the EU after Brexit has dispelled the difficulties of tariffs and hard technical barriers that threatened access to European wines.
Furthermore, the British have shown greater demand for higher-quality products, whilst at the same time, wine sales have increased their shares each year, particularly with regards to total consumption of alcoholic beverages in the last five years. The wine market in the United Kingdom is one of the leaders in the sector worldwide, being the second largest importer in value, only behind the United States, with 3,429 million euros during the past year 2020.
Finally, we are very pleased that IPEX has trusted the Spanish Chamber of Commerce in the United Kingdom as their partner to organise the wine tasting. The Spanish Chamber has been helping Spanish companies to reach the British market since its foundation in 1886, as well as collaborating with other Spanish organisations to promote Spanish food and beverages in the United Kingdom and help producers to establish commercial partnerships with British importers.