In a country where red wine is generally king, Spanish white wine is fighting back. After decades of sitting in the shadows, whites wines are now standing proud with their red counterparts.
There’s a huge choice, too: from zingy, citrus-led Albariño from Galicia in the verdant north-west of the country, down to Rueda, which excels at the herbal Verdejo grape, and through to Viura (aka Macabeo), the mainstay of white Rioja. Each one is classy and characterful.
White Rioja is a curious beast. Bottles of the past were often aged in oak for much longer than necessary, creating an unbalanced wine that masked Viura’s floral and citrus notes. Today’s winemakers have found the sweet spot, producing aromatic bottles loaded with flavour.
A fine example of how good white Rioja can be is Bodegas Azpilicueta, Colección Privada 2020, winner of an IWSC Silver this year. Hailed by the judges as having ‘ripe orchard fruit and candied lemon peel on a creamy, dry palate’, it scored 90/100.
Another eye-catching Spanish white Silver winner was Virgen Del Galir, Godello 2021 from Galicia in the northwest of the country. Made with Godello – a popular grape in the region – it scored 91/100 and displays a ‘delicate style with a nose of apple blossom and grapefruit zest and flavours of ripe peach, apricot and melon.’
And we couldn’t ignore Albariño. The shining star of Spanish white wine, its popularity is seemingly unstoppable. Tesco Finest Viñas del Rey Albariño 2021 won a Silver this year, thanks to its ‘attractive floral nose with soft lime notes’ and ‘fresh apple, peach and lemon flavours.’
All of the best Spanish white wines in this year’s IWSC were tasted blind by an expert panel made up of judges with many years of experience. The panel was chaired by Dirceu Vianna Junior MW, assisted by fellow Masters of Wine Alistair Cooper, David Round, Victoria Burt and Matthew Forster, JetVine director Kelly Stevenson and Club Oenologique columnist David Kermode.
Spanish white wines have simply never been better than they are today, with a host of attractive styles to choose from. Here is our pick of the best Spanish whites from this year’s IWSC.
HOW DO WE JUDGE THESE WINES?
We run a tightly structured, rigorous wine tasting process. That means that each wine sample is pre-poured into numbered glasses and assessed blindly by the judges. Most importantly, our IWSC wine judges are experts in their field, who work across all sectors of the wine industry. For evidence, see our full list of judges.
HOW DO WE SCORE THESE WINES?
Only the best wines sampled receive a Gold or Silver award. For example, to win Gold, wines have to score between 95 and 100 points. Meanwhile, Silver wines range from 90 to 94 points. Click here to read more on our scoring system.
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