Home Winners > Winners 2013 > SPAIN: North & North East, including Navarra & Priorat

Winner Details

Spain: North & North-East, including Navarra & Priorat

Some of the best wines – red and white – and some of the best value for money in the whole of this year’s competition came from this part of Spain

If you’re looking for a hot spot in Spain, then it pays to head to the north-east. As the Veneto did for Italy, so the top right hand corner has done for Spain. From two Golds and 14 medals last year to 18 medals – an amazing six of them Gold in 2013, this is a region on a roll.

Admittedly, since it takes in everywhere from Navarra and Campo de Borja to Somontano, Penedès and Priorat, it’s hard to generalise too much. But certainly the quality here was impressive – not least because the value for money was so outstanding.

This was perhaps the most obvious in the whites, where all but two of the medals went to wines under £9.

‘This was a very good level overall,’ said Barbecoa’s Marco Carboni. ‘At £5-£10 the wines were great value – all very vibrant and representative. But there was good value, even at the top end.’

Most of the whites were made with one or both of Garnacha Blanca and Chardonnay, and the two seem to be well suited to the mountains/coast/sun combination of northern Spain. Once they passed the £7 price point, our tasters thought the wines showed real elegance, restraint and minerality.  Nowhere else in this year’s competition was able to deliver descriptors like that at such a low price.

It was a similar story for the reds, which managed to nail down an impressive four places on the Gold List; two well-priced offerings from Navarra and two around the £12 mark from Priorat.

All four were excellent and over-delivered, but the story here, in a sense, was the groundswell of support right the way through the flight. Our tasters found very little to dislike.

‘At the lower end they were likeable and easy to drink. At the top end they had distinctly more complexity,’ said team leader Richard Bampfield MW.

‘They had lots of fruit and were very pleasant to drink,’ echoed Marco Adreani from The Pass at South Lodge. ‘Lots going on, lots of complexity for the money.’

Admittedly, regions like Navarra, Somontano and Campo de Borja are not the sort of names that restaurant customer actively look for, but their pricing of all the medal winners was so good that they wouldn’t require much persuasion. And the wines’ versatility was a plus point, too.

As well as no-brainer matches such as lamb, with their generosity of fruit, the tasters felt they’d be good with ‘slightly spicy foods’ as well, provided the alcohol was kept in check (not always the case – it was generally the only downside of the flight).

‘Jamon Iberico shavings and wines like this. That’s all you need,’ said The Arts Club’s Athila Roos, kindly giving us his recipe for a happy and balanced life through a mouthful of well-priced Garnacha.

So despite the mysterious absence of Miguel Torres – the gran hombre of Catalonia took both Golds last year – this was a massively successful section of the competition.

‘The whites are a good alternative to Chablis, I’m finding more and more people are going for this region unprompted.
Nick Chiu, South Lodge Hotel

‘Outside Rioja, this year the Spanish reds have been good. People tend to associate Spain with old-fashioned winemaking, but the stuff making it to medal stage this year has been pretty modern.’
Christine Parkinson, Hakkasan Group