Decanter Fine Wine Encounter 2020 – Spain & Portugal – Part 1

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Part 1 (all about the white)

This Decanter event has always been a highlight for me, never fails to impress and this year was no exception. The luxurious Landmark Hotel in Marylebone, was the perfect venue with its grand ballrooms featuring a host of producers, retailers and winemakers giving us the chance to taste the best wines that Spain & Portugal have to offer.

Regular readers will know my passion for Spanish wines and I offer no apologies for concentrating mainly on what Spain had to offer and believe me 6 hours was nowhere near enough time to get around to every stand I wanted to (120 producers), never-mind starting the Portuguese ones.

There is a real buzz around Spanish wines at the moment and it’s not all about Rioja. Regions such as Rias Baixas, Ribeira Sacra, Valdeorras, Bierzo and Navarra in the north/north west as well as north eastern regions of Cataluyna, Penedes and Priorat. Not forgetting the more southerly hot and humid Castilla La Mancha, Almansa and an area close to my heart Alicante, these are all producing world class wines. Of course Rioja still plays a major part, probably Spains best known region and I will get around to telling you about some brilliant examples I managed to sample.

Decanter Spanish wine regions map
Please note regions 8 & 9 are reversed (taken from Decanter brochure)

Read on to discover a brief selection of some stunning white wines this Decanter event showcased, there are lots more I could have highlighted but then you’d be reading this for a week……..

White wines of Spain

Godello

Where to start? there were so many good wines, so let’s begin with my favourite white wine Godello I’ve loved this wine for a while now ever since I visited the north west of Spain travelling around Galicia where I first discovered it. Godello does vary in style depending on whether it’s oaked or not, from fresh, crisp, with bracing acidity, showing apples, pears even slightly saline in character to (if it’s oaked) more Chardonnay/Burgundian like, much more intense, with more texture and full of tropical fruits.

There were lots on show and I must say all pretty decent, unfortunately finding a Godello here in the UK is a little harder although their are some good ones in Majestic and the Wine Society, occasionally you may find some in your local supermarket. Here are my picks of the better ones I tasted at the Decanter event…..

Special mention for the Oluar Pago De Los Capellanes especially the Sobre Lias which has 6 months on Lees was full of tropical fruits, textured and just a joy to drink.

Txakoli

A lesser known white wine called Txakoli (pronounced Chocoli) primarily from the north of Spain was a real surprise again first time I tasted it in San Sabastian. This is a bright very acidic slightly spritzy wine, very popular in the Basque region made from grape variety Hondarrabi Zuri, if ordered in a bar you’ll find it’s poured very theatrically from a height, aerating the wine, quite spectacular to see.

Astobiza was a very good example of this as was their Astobiza Malkoa both excellent and would be the ideal match on a hot sunny day for all types of seafood.

White Priorat

White Priorat wine Decanter

White Priorat, The Olbieta was good but this Marco Abella Olbia 2017 was a real gem of a discovery made with 48% Viogner, 48% White Grenache and 4% Pedro Ximenez. Peach, apricot and floral with hints of vanilla /oak this just had a real elegance to it.

Just an addition Waitrose Cellar do a lovely White Priorat called the Morlanda

Definitely worth seeking out !

Verdejo, Albariño & Viura (White Rioja)

A bit more well known, we’ve all had Verdejo and Albarino but these were the stand outs including some excellent Viura (white Rioja).

Bodega Campo Eliseo Verdejo, always amazes me how wine this good cannot secure a UK Agent/Stockist. Situated north west of Madrid these wines were superb in qualty showing Verdejo at its best, fresh, sweet vanilla and a little bready with some floral notes Others worthy of note were all Decanter 2019 award winners including Paco & Lola Albarino 2018, Clos De Lom, Malvasia (Valencia) 2018, Urbion Cuvee (White Rioja), Bodegas Cornelio Dinastia en Barrica (White Rioja) this was particularly special, full of intense white fruit, slightly oily/waxy, with a touch of vanilla, superb !

As I said earlier this is just a brief tour of the many excellent white wines Spain has to offer in Part two I will be getting into the reds with some stunning world class Rioja’s. Stay tuned !

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