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Cuvée 3000 turnover soars boosted by thirst for natural wines

Published:  16 April, 2018

Cuvée 3000 - Spain’s leading natural wine distributor, has announced a 20% rise in annual turnover with growth triggered by a ‘double effect’ in demand: growth in wine consumption (especially for local wines), coupled with an “explosion in demand” for natural wines.

Barcelona-based Cuvée 3000 said turnover had reached the €6 million (£5.1 million) mark in 2017, with the thirst for natural wines now spreading from Catalonia, to the Basque Country and Galicia and Madrid, where the company held its first natural wine fair on April 9th this year.

“Last year (2017) was a good year with turnover reaching €6 million, up from €5 million in 2016 and €4.5 million in 2015,” Jerome Siffermann, buyer at Cuvée 3000, told Harpers.

He declined to comment on the company’s net profits, but said: “There has been a veritable explosion in demand for natural wine.”

Siffermann said an upturn in the economy in Catalonia and Spain, and in the Eurozone overall in 2017, had helped improve demand.

Cuvée 3000 distributes the lion’s share of natural wines in Spain; more than half of the company’s catalogue is now made of natural wine references from Catalonia, Spain and across Europe.

After 20 years of trading, the company now has 25 employees but the rise in demand for natural wines was now providing the company with the “logistic” challenges of distributing wines from producers who generally make small quantities of wines,

“We are always looking for new producers; our natural wines are sold out within the year of their release and some, like Bodegas Cueva, from Valencia, even sold out before they had been released,” said Siffermann.

Cuvée 3000’s objective was now to sell “uniquely natural wine,” said owner, Joan Valencia. At the moment, this was not possible for commercial reasons, he said, adding despite the surge in demand for natural wine there were still some clients who were reticent to make the switch from conventional, technological wines to natural, organic and biodynamic wines.

Since 2015, Barcelona has been transformed into the indisputable epicentre of natural wine in Spain, with local Catalan wines thriving - newly released figures show that for the first time, consumption of local Catalan wines has outstripped Rioja in restaurants in Catalonia, with Catalan wines now holding a 35.7% share of wine consumption in the region (Catalan Institute of Wine and Cava (Incavi) based on study by consultancy company, Nielsen, compiled between October 2016 and November 2017).

Vella Terra, the natural and organic wine fair in Barcelona, says the number of restaurants selling natural wines in the city, has doubled over the past three years.

In addition to running Cuvée 3000, Valencia owns 50% of the Barcelona’s hip natural wine bar, Bar Brutal, which as well as attracting tourists, has provided greater visibility for natural wines and has enticed a new generation of wine drinkers to embrace natural wine, he said.

It has also proven to be a catalyst, alongside L’Anima del Vi, Barcelona’first natural wine bar, for the opening of several new natural wine bars and bars selling uniquely local wines, with restaurants including El Celler C’an Roca, embracing natural wine.

In Barcelona, natural wines are generally sold at a similar price to premium conventional wines.

While natural and artisanal wines are made in numerous regions of Spain, Catalonia holds the greatest concentration of natural wine producers.

In March this year, Catalonia’s agriculture department said organic agriculture had doubled over the past five year, with 25% of Catalan vineyards now farmed organically.

One of the latest talented natural wines producers in Catalonia is New Zealander, Mike Shepherd, whose wines are sold in Barcelona, in Monvinic, Celler Cal Marino and Bar Brutal as well as being exported to Japan and Singapore.

Shepherd, makes a range of sulphur-free natural wines made from certified organic grapes, including Miksei (Why not?), a blend of ‘Hairy’ Garnatxa, Samsó and Syrah and the Patatina rosé made from Garnatxa and Xarello.

He is one of several producers now opting to co-ferment white variety Parellada with red varieties, to produce clean, balanced violet-red wines with natural acidity and low-alcohol.

While Shepherd uses Garnatxa, for his Parellatxa wine, other Catalan producers are now blending Parellada with Cabernets Franc and Sauvignon.

The new trend follows the major renaissance in recent years of Xarello as a still wine, the widespread re-emergence of Ancestral method sparkling wine and the renewed production of further local grape varieties such as Sumoll.