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Spain: North-West, including Albariño 


Some excellent wines at decent prices – but a somewhat muted showing from the region’s supposed star white


Spain’s north-west has established itself as the go-to region for cool-climate whites over the past 20 years, with Albariño in particular driving the renaissance. And the prices of our entries reflected that. The vast majority of the wines sent in were over £9 a bottle, which is pretty chunky for a generally unoaked white.

‘There were lots of styles, some of which were very overpriced for what they are,’ said consultant Angela Reddin.

Differences of style, of course, meant lengthy discussions among the sommeliers – without even a plate of seafood to chew on.

‘Winemakers are exploring the grape and working it,’ said consultant Maria Rodriguez. ‘In Spain, Albariño is less fruit-driven than it is here. We’re looking now for Albariño with more character, more power. It was initially created to go with seafood. Now we’re promoting Albariño that can go with any type of food.’

Not everyone was impressed though. Coq d’Argent’s Olivier Marie found the flight ‘unimpressive and lacking in definition. Some were overworked and a bit too confected.’

So, expensive and stylistically confusing, it’s perhaps no wonder that Spain’s supposed star white grape only managed a couple of Silvers. But, interestingly, there were far better pickings elsewhere in the region.

With far fewer submissions, Godello strolled languidly to take two white slots on the Gold List, with a highly sommelier-friendly combination of waxy citrus and minerality. The zingy, fresh Pazo de Monterrey was reckoned to be great with sashimi and raw fish ‘acting like a squeeze of lemon juice’, while the long, minerally A Coroa was more of a sommelier wine, and great with scallop or crab tortellini.

‘Most of the non-Albariños were quite integrated wines with a minerally style and complexity as well. I was very pleased with the prices,’ said a happy Philippe Loiseau from Hakkasan.

There was even a red Gold from Bierzo. Sommeliers have been talking about the potential of the mid-weight, refreshing Mencia grape for a while, so it was good to see one getting on the Gold List here.

‘The good thing about these results is that it will encourage people to go to other places in the region with other varieties.’ Sarah-Jane Evans MW, journalist

‘There is a division between the pretty styles and the more lees-aged, textured style that’s not so easy to like but is perhaps more serious.’ Peter McCombie MW, consultant