Spain is also one of the few regions of the world where Reserve (Reserva) actually means something … the word is canonized in their wine laws as to age requirements both in barrel and bottle, before you can put certain words on the label they have to adhere to those laws. For example: Reserva means the wine has been matured 36 months of which a minimum 18 have to be in oak (for red wine) – 24 months/6 months in oak for white; Gran Reserva is 60 months with a minimum 18 in oak (red) – 48 months/4 months in oak (white). Below the Reserva lines are Crianza and Jovan. Jovans are young wines that see little to no oak, are fresh and fruity and are released the year following harvest. Crianza on the label signifies a wine aged 24 months with a minimum 6 months of oak habitation. All these minimums are just that, as you’ll regularly see producers far exceed them: a Crianza that spent 14 months in oak or a Reserva with 2 years oak and 2 years in bottle before release.
You’d also expect to pay mucho pesos for wines with that kind of age on them, but Spanish wine is a bargain with great wines starting at under $10 (see my previous report).
This tasting was described to me by someone in the know (and in attendance) as “the losers showcase” – meaning these are wines/wineries currently seeking representation in Ontario so that you and I will one day see their bottles on LCBO shelves. By the time that happens many of these vintages will be sold out, so to review them would be of little to no use to you because you won’t see them anyway. But, dear reader, if I can leave you with one piece of advice: check out the Spanish wine section, get to know the terms (because here they actually mean something): Crianza, Reserve, Gran and Jovan, learn what you like and then experiment in Spain, it’s well worth both your time and money … a 10 or 12 dollar Spanish “bargain” may be the best wine investment you make.