Ferrer Family Benefits From Spanish Wine Renaissance
Review of the value-priced Mia wines from Freixenet.
By Lou Marmon
Gazette Newspapers January 7, 2015
Among the many reasons Spain has become a source of some of the world’s best wine values is their innovative spirit. For many decades, Spanish wines were mired in old-fashioned techniques and inferior, obsolete equipment. These harsh and unappealing wines ignored the tremendous potential in their indigenous varietals and they became the second-rate cousins to other European winemaking regions.
The renaissance of Spanish winemaking began with an infusion of capital for new facilities and equipment coupled with a willingness to adopt modern techniques. The results have been dramatic and now the country that gave us such ground-breaking artists as Gaudi and Picasso is also the place to find inventive approaches to satisfy wine consumers.
An example is the latest line of value-priced wines produced by the Ferrer family, owners of Freixenet, one of the premier producers of the Spanish sparkler Cava. Their story began as simple grape farmers and winemakers in the 16th century eventually expanding despite the travails of the Spanish Civil War, 2 world wars and the Depression. Now the Ferrers own 18 wineries in eight countries on four continents producing a wide range of red, white, and sparkling wines.
While their cava is made in the time-honored “Méthode Champenois,” the Ferrer family is not bound by tradition. Recognizing that a large market persists for flavorful, value-priced wines, they spent many months focusing on which types of wines would be the most appealing to consumers and finding the best way to market them. The result is “Mia” (Spanish for “mine,”) a series of still and sparkling wines that range from $10 to $15 per bottle but have as much flavor and interesting complexity as wines costing significantly more.
Mia’s winemaker is Gloria Collell, who has worked for Freixenet for many years. She is from a winemaking family and was part of the marketing team that developed the concept and branding for Mia. So it seemed natural to the Ferrers that Gloria be put in charge of their project. Vivacious and engaging, Gloria intuitively grasps what consumers’ desire in a wine and is also willing to bend a few rules.
Moscato is currently one of the more popular sparkling wines, ever since the hip-hop star Drake sang about it in 2009. It would seem natural to use the same techniques that Freixenet utilizes for their sparkling wines to make the Mia version. But Gloria recognized that the style desired did not exactly fit with their current methodology so she visited Italy and, risking disapproval from her employers, eventually adopted a different (and ultimately acceptable) approach to create the Mia version.
Another innovation is the Mia front labels which tell buyers what to expect from within the bottle. Thus the front of the 100% Tempranillo “Mia Red” says that it is “Fruity and Full-Bodied,” while the “Mia White” made from Macabeo, Xarello and Parallada is appropriately described as “Aromatic and Fruity.”
The wisdom in their labeling approach is seen best with the Mia Rosé that is made from Bobal, an unusual varietal grown in Valencia, Spain. Rather than feature the name of the grape on the label whose unfamiliarity could be discouraging, they instead increase appeal by declaring the wine as “Delicate and Floral.”
The label descriptions are simplistic but inherently accurate including the “Fruity and Sweet” Mia Moscato, the “Fresh and Crisp” Mia white sparkler and the “Delicate and Sweet” Mia Pink Moscato. Each Mia wine is remarkably well made for their price and is food friendly with good balance and length. Creative both inside and out, the novel and enjoyable Mia wines are poised for a bright future.