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Home Winners > Winners 2012 > SPAIN: North/North-East, including Navarra, Calatayud, Somontano and Catalonia

Winner Details

Spain: North/North-East, including Navarra, Calatayud, Somontano and Catalonia 

High quality from Catalonia, decent value (and smaller numbers) from Navarra and Aragon, with an impressive performance from the Catalonia’s main hombre

 

Historically in the Sommelier Wine Awards, Catalonia has generally done better than Navarra and Aragon, with Navarra in particular rarely getting out of second gear.

Catalonia’s bedrock of medals is its whites, and they anchored the region again this year (at good prices). But for the first time, the whites were rather outshone by the reds, with some high-class (if generally expensive) entries from across the region, from Priorat in the south to Costers del Segre.

The whites are often a mix of indigenous and international varietals, and it was the same again this year, with the international grapes just shading it in the success stakes. The sommeliers tended to prefer crisper, more mineral, unoaked versions over the Burgundy imitators, though the richer, oaked Fransola Sauvignon Blanc was a notable exception.

‘Despite the oak, it was really food friendly because it had that lovely acidity,’ said Athila Roos of The Arts Club.

If Navarra and Aragon didn’t exactly set the heather alight with the whites (bar a Silver for Chivite), they performed better with reds. Maybe there weren’t swathes of medals, and there was a tendency at times to ‘use oak to cover up holes in the wine’, according to Hide Bar’s Paolo Tonellotto, but the Grenaches (DSL Lagrimas de Garnacha and Norrel Robertson’s Escoces Volante La Multa) were very popular right from the off.

‘They introduce the area at a cracking price,’ said Vivat Bacchus’s Laura Ward. ‘Then the next time, you can push people up to more expensive wines from the area. They’re very exciting wines at the price.’

If these two had a cheerful, slightly untamed exuberance like a surfer dude in a tie-dyed t-shirt, the Mas La Plana was more classically dressed. The same wine (2007) only picked up a Bronze last year, suggesting that 12 more months in bottle has suited it down to the ground.

‘It has this lovely big savoury character and great fruit as well,’ said journalist Sarah Jane Evans MW. ‘It’s deliciously complex. For a start it doesn’t hit you, then after a while it dawns on you.’

‘It would be great with venison or oxtail,’ added The Glasshouse’s Sara Bachiorri. ‘It needs some big flavours.’

In fact, the Catalan reds generally were a strong flight that could, on another day, have picked up a few more medals. ‘It’s a real mixture of styles, but some consistent good quality,’ said Liam Davey of Hawksmoor Spitalfields. ‘Nothing was awful, and nothing less than interesting. Every wine made me think of what food I would have with it.’

Congratulations, incidentally, to Miguel Torres, who did his reputation as ‘El Rey de Catalonia’ no harm, with both of this category’s Golds.

‘I preferred the fresher, more mineral style whites. I’m not so keen on the white Burgundy imitators.’ Liam Davey, Hawksmoor Spitalfields

‘I was impressed by the quality of the Catalonian reds. The entry-level wines especially are amazing quality, with real concentration and depth of fruit for the money. I would buy the Gotim Bru to put aside and keep.’ Emilie Courtois, Terroirs