José García de Castro, Delegate of La Rioja S.A. points out that prestige is still the unfinished business for Spanish wines, which are the fourth most highly consumed in the Duchy
Luxemburg may appear to be a minor concern in as far as opening up markets. It is a country that is too small, with a population of less than 500,000. Yet, in the opinion of José García de Castro, Administrator Delegate of La Rioja S.A., importer company of Spanish wines and food products since 1982, this premise is false. More than 72% of Spanish wines sold in the country go through his hands and Spanish wines represent practically 20% of the total that is commercialized. La Rioja S.A. provides 85% of its products to retail distribution, restaurants, specialized stores and other professionals; and the remaining 15% is directly distributed in his store.
Question-. What wines are consumed the most in Luxemburg?
Answer-. The most highly consumed come from France, and second place goes to white wine that is produced in the Duchy territory itself. The third country that sells the most wine is Italy, due to the important number of Italian immigrants that have settled there and because of the huge amount of Italian cuisine restaurants that promote consumption of Italian wine. In the fourth place, with a share that almost reaches 20% are Spanish wines, winning out on Portuguese wines, and wines from the new world, such as from Chile, South Africa or California.
Q-. What is a good gondola of wines in a supermarket in Luxemburg like? What criteria is the client in search of?
A-. In Luxemburg wine is part of its culture and, therefore, supermarkets have a very broad-ranging offer, to the point of almost reaching 4,000 wine references from different countries. What is highly appreciated is value for money. The client looks for Spanish wines with Designation of Origin and with prices standing between 5 and 12 euros. About 90% of the wines we sell do not cost more than 10 euros; in Luxemburg clients only pay more than that for French wine. As an anecdote, many clients comment that they spend their holidays in Spain, although they are unable to find Spanish wines that are as good as the ones they normally buy in the supermarket in Luxemburg.
Q-. How is Spanish wine perceived in your country?
A-. The problem with Spanish wines is that they do not have a prestigious image, such as French wines for example, as in the last fifty years the French state has carried out huge campaigns that have given prestige to their wines, something that has not been done in Spain. Also, many French or Italian restaurants that commercialize and give prestige to their wines can be found all over the world, while Spanish cuisine is practically nonexistent outside of Spain, despite the international boost it has undergone in the last 15 years, this fact still represents a handicap.
Q-. Have you ever visited FENAVIN? What is your opinion of the trade fair?
A-. I visited FENAVIN once, in one of its first editions and I do believe it was an excellent initiative; a great trade fair that already at the time was set to become one of the most important professional trade fairs on wine in Spain. I have not been able to return since then because until now the dates always coincided with the International Luxemburg Trade Fair, but this year the calendar has changed and I have great interest in once again returning to the trade fair.