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Spain: Other regions, including Jumilla 

Cheap and cheerful afterthoughts? Forget it. This was one of the most exciting – and surprising – sections of this year’s competition


Sometimes, ‘Rest of…’ categories can look like a bit of an afterthought. Stripped of big-name appellations and star grape varieties they’re often bypassed by sommeliers in a hurry. Well, miss this section at your peril. Though there weren’t vast amounts of wine sent in from Madrid southwards our tasters were highly positive about what they were seeing – for both reds and whites.

The Spanish revolution, which people have been talking about for a few years, is, it seems, being most keenly felt outside the established regions, where modern winemaking and cleaned-up vineyards are combining to great effect.

‘There was some phenomenal stuff here,’ said Henley Hotel du Vin’s Michael Harrison. ‘The kind of quirky winemaking you sometimes get in the Rhône. Wines with volatility and funkiness, but real character.’ Nigel Lister of Bread Street Kitchen described the reds as his ‘favourite flight of the day’.

 It’s particularly interesting that while there was a good stretch of decent wines under £10, there was also a sign of genuine ambition, with a good number of pricier offerings. ‘To produce a £10 wine ex VAT from a non-famous appellation, you need big cojones,’ said consultant Joe Wadsack.

In which case, one can only wonder at the size of the testicles of the team at El Nido, who sent in two wines from Jumilla – a region normally associated with budget supermarket Monastrell – at £24 and £75, and were rewarded for their chutzpah by both getting onto the Gold List.

‘The Clio is an extremely beautiful, sexy wine – perfect harmony in a glass,’ said consultant Angela Reddin, while Julien Sahut of China Tang at The Dorchester praised the El Nido for its ‘very good complexity of fruits. There are a lot of tannins but they’re quite soft, some leather, tobacco, cherry, and good texture on the palate. This would go well with some grilled meat or lamb with some herbs.’ No wonder it scored a Critics' Choice award.

Of course, not all the wines sent in were popular. Those that got kicked out tended to be ones where the tasters detected a style veering towards the international, rather than Espana autentica. While Jumilla and Yecla’s efforts generally did well, the wines from the vast plains of La Mancha were particularly guilty of putting size over finesse and having rather clumsy tannins too.

‘The fruit spectrum here is very dark, you need the tannins in balance; the wines that jump out have the freshness as well as the fruit,’ said Cinnamon Club’s Laurent Chaniac.

Talking of freshness, there was a lot of praise for the Veranza Chardonnay, which was described as ‘a cracker’ by the tasters in the Final Round of tasting and picking itself up a By the Glass award along the way. ‘A versatile food wine, flexible, fresh, with some lees work too and texture and mouthfeel, and at a very good price,’ said consultant Peter McCombie MW.

‘The reds from the less-established areas of Spain were generally really good. Lots of fruit and richness, but with fine-grained tannin and a cleanness to them, too.’ Robert Tozser, Galvin La Chapelle