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 Altos de Rioja Viticultores y Bodegueros Altos R Pigeage 2020, winner of an IWSC Silver this year. Hailed by the judges as a ‘smorgasbord of pithy perfection’, it scored 90/100pts thanks to its notes of tangerine, nectarine and spring flowers.
Another eye-catching Spanish white Silver winner was Aroa Bodegas Le Naturel 2020 from Navarra in the north of the country. Made with Garnacha Blanca – a popular grape in the region – it scored 94/100pts and displays aromas of lemon verbena, tarte Tatin and almond, and is a world away from the unimaginative white wines that dominate wine lists at the cheaper end.
And we couldn’t ignore Albariño. The shining star of Spanish white wine, its popularity is seemingly unstoppable. Agro de Bazan Granbazan Limousin Albariño 2017 won a Silver this year, thanks to its aromas of peaches and cream with tinges of warm pineapple.
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.
Award-winning Spanish white wines 2021
- Aroa Bodegas, Le Naturel 2020. Navarra; 94/100
- Bodega Cuatro Rayas, Amador Diez Cuvée Verdejo 2015. Castilla y Leon; 94/100
- Agro de Bazan, Granbazan Limousin Albarino 2017. Galicia; 92/100
- Lagar de Cervera, Pazo De Seoane 2020. Galicia; 91/100
- Bodegas Principe de Viana, Chardonnay 2020. Navarra; 91/100
- Raimat, Castell Organic Chardonnay 2020. Catalunya; 91/100
- González Byass, Secastilla La Miranda Garnacha Blanca 2019. Aragon; 91/100
- Bodega Cuatro Rayas, Green & Social Organic Verdejo 2020. Castilla y Leon; 91/100
- Finca Albret, El Alba 2020. Navarra; 91/100
- Bodegas Clunia, Albillo 2019. Castilla y Leon; 90/100
- Altos de Rioja Viticultores y Bodegueros, Altos R Pigeage 2020. Rioja; 90/100
- Bodega Alanís, Gran Alanís Treixadura-Godello 2020. Galicia; 90/100
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.
More from Club Oenologique
Club O is an exclusive community and the go-to platform for wine and spirit lovers. Our flagship Club Oenologique magazine offers even more insights for enthusiasts and collectors. Based in London, our editorial team tells informative, inspirational stories from the world of wine and spirits, gastronomy and travel, as well as covering recommendations and the latest trends in drink. You can take a look at our Explained series, for instance, where we’re tackling grape varieties, regions and styles of wine and spirits. Alternatively, visit our Ask the Sommelier section, where experts answer your wine-related questions.