In search of truth

"Wines that tell stories" is the region's motto on the Valdepeñas website. Not all the stories currently being told contribute to the positive image of the Spanish PDO. Jürgen Mathäß reports.

Peace in the vineyards is deceptive. In Valdepeñas, there is a fierce dispute over allegations of fraud / Credit: reto ilari halme photography
Peace in the vineyards is deceptive. In Valdepeñas, there is a fierce dispute over allegations of fraud / Credit: reto ilari halme photography

Reports on the economic situation of a region usually include sales figures. These can be found on the website of the Valdepeñas DOP up to 2018. More recent figures have not been published on the official pages. According to these figures, the DOP's bodegas sold a total of 48.3 million litres of wine in 2018, 21 million of which were sold abroad. That was about ten percent less than in 2013, both domestically and abroad. But was there really less sold?

That no figures are published for 2019 and 2020 could have a less honourable reason: No one knows how much wine the big bodegas really sold because a judge accuses four of the largest wineries of having sold considerably more than was officially stated. García Carrión, Navarro López, Felix Solís and Fernández Castro are named.

Internal sales figures, sales taxed at the tax office, and sales reported to the Consejo are inconsistently reported as three completely different figures – two of them apparently completely fabricated figures. Not only that, but the figures for different levels of qualities are probably even less reliable because the authorities also accuse the bodegas of having sold masses of Crianza, Reserva and Gran Reserva that did not have the required storage times – i.e. were not Crianza, Reserva or Gran Reserva at all.

Perhaps it is related to these events that the Consejo Regulador unadornedly states that the annual “Memoria”, a yearbook published for the general public on the activities of the Consejo with data on the region, is “not available”. Some of those involved accuse the Consejo of not having carried out strict-enough controls and thus making the suspected fraud possible in the first place. 

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