Every olive counts + Reviewing Ribera
Year 13, No. 17
That tell-tale sound of vibrating rakes has been fast and furious with everyone scrambling to get in what olive harvest there is to be found this year.
Ah, you thought that olive oil prices had gone up just on a whim? Well, maybe a little, but across Spain, olive production is down 34% from the average. So with a third less income (and keeping in mind that 2022 was actually worse), prices had to raise so that farmers can keep food on the table. Thus, given Spain being the #1 producer of olive oil in the world (nearly triple that of #2 Italy), there’s a knock-on effect of higher prices for the consumer.
The plus side of this is that due to price jump, I’ve noted that parcels which haven’t been touched for years in my region are suddenly getting cleaned up so the collection nets can go down. In years like this, every olive counts.
Bug questions linger however. If the harvest returns to normal-ish in 2024, so too will the prices? And what if production doesn’t rebound? Will this mean a lot less “Italian” Extra Virgin Olive Oil?
What we may currently lack in olives, we make up for in a bumper crop of reports on Hudin.com with both the report for Sparkling wines of Catalunya being released as well as the DO Ribera del Duero report with hundreds of wines reviewed and scored in each for paid subscribers.
As always, these reports are derived from on-the-ground research via time spent in the regions. The sparkling wine report was especially complicated as there are essentially four groups now in Catalunya and each one needed to be contacted in turn. The largest by far is DO Cava and tasting those wines gave rise to this essay (*) about the issues confronting that DO.
In addition to the reports, there’s also been a bumper crop of wine film reviews for the site due to me being a member of the jury for this year’s Most Festival in Catalunya. You can have a look at my personal selection of top films (*) from the judging experience.
There are also big things yet to come before the end of the year so stay tuned!
Drink well, be well.
(*) Free to read
The Featured Reports
One of Spain’s most famous regions, I take a look at its current vintages as well as the stylistic state of the wines as many are indeed still exceptional and… they’re not all reds.
We delve into the myriad complexities of the sparkling wine scene in Catalunya. There are more than 200 wines reviewed from all the groups on the bubbles front.
And Now This
Torredemer Mangin is a new winery up in the striking village of Vingrau in the Roussillon region of France. They’re showing a great deal of promise in their first vintages and I look forward to what's to come.
In a rather strange string of deaths for the Corpinnat group, they’ve recently lost their publicist, Josep Maria Flores, vicepresident Xavi Gramona of the winery, Gramona, and now, Antoni Mata of Recaredo (*). May 2024 present less hardships.
Maturana Tinta is a Rioja variety that’s still in the process of being “cracked”, but this new wine from Sístole does a fine job of showing what it’s capable of.
Unfortunately in yet more difficult news, the flagship store of Lavinia in Madrid is closing (*) in January of 2024, although this is far from the only well-known wine shop closing these days.
It’s time to have a look at the current vintages of the very fine wines Verónica Ortega is making in DO Bierzo these days.
Massal Selection is a new wine importer started by Álvaro Ribalta (Catalunya’s first Master of Wine) with the intention of bringing in a broader selection of international wines to Spain.
And lastly it’s time to catch up with the 2020s from Bodegas Frontonio, one of the finest wineries in Spain without a DO.
The Featured Wine
I don’t think I’ve ever heard of DO Ribera del Duero referred to as a “budget” wine region in Spain. Good for them given that so much of Spain is unfairly regarded as such.
This is why it may be a stretch to call the Bodegas Balbás Reserva 2018 a “good value” at 42€ put keep in mind the region and the fact that I’ve rated this at 95pts. Given that, it should seem quite reasonable as it’s a hell of a wine at reasonable price for the region and some fine work by the family.