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Spain’s indigenous whites: panel tasting results

In an eclectic tasting with several surprises, Spain proved its indigenous grapes have plenty to offer white wine lovers, with tremendous range and character to suit all pockets.

Sarah Jane Evans MW, Matthew Forster MW and Beth Willard tasted 149 Spanish indigenous whites with seven outstanding and 77 highly recommended wines.

Entry criteria: producers and UK agents were invited to submit current-release vintages of 100% varietal white wines from any region in Spain

The verdict

Cask-fermented Palomino from Cádiz. Garnatxa Blanca from Terra Alta. Macabeo from Aragón.

It was no wonder that such a variety of grapes and regions won praise from the judges and earned Outstanding scores.

However, it was one of Spain’s better-known white styles that performed best across the board. White Rioja accounted for three Outstanding wines and 13 Highly Recommended. ‘The Riojas were all benchmark, high-end offerings; sophisticated oak, quite classically styled,’ noted Matthew Forster MW.

While the three Rioja top scorers were made from Viura, other varieties worked well too. ‘I found some of the really individual characteristics of Tempranillo Blanco came through, which is exciting,’ said Beth Willard. ‘Some of the younger wines were really lovely, which reflects where Rioja is with its white winemaking.’

Verdejo from Rueda also put in a solid performance with 10 Highly Recommended wines. ‘Rueda is a great alternative to New Zealand Sauvignon,’ noted Willard. ‘Verdejo is a fabulous glass of wine; it’s fresh, with limey, lemony character and a really sharp acidity. It shows there’s a lot to offer in these classic Spanish regions.’

Scroll down to see tasting notes and scores for the top Spanish indigenous white wines

Top-scoring wines from the Spanish indigenous whites panel tasting:

The judges

Sarah Jane Evans MW

Evans is an awarded journalist, author and broadcaster in food and wine, with a particular interest in Spain. A Master of Wine since 2006, she is chairman of Spain’s Gran Orden de Caballeros del Vino, author of The Wines of Northern Spain, and one of three Co-Chairs overseeing the Decanter World Wine Awards.

Matthew Forster MW

An independent wine consultant and education specialist, Forster started his wine career with Berry Bros & Rudd before joining the Wine & Spirit Education Trust, where he led the team responsible for WSET qualifications in wine, spirits & sake. A Master of Wine since 2016, he specialises in the wines of Spain and Portugal.

Beth Willard

After moving to the UK from Australia, Willard worked in several buying roles before that of buying manager at Direct Wines. Now working with Winetraders to introduce new wines from Spain and Eastern Europe to the UK, she is a member of Spain’s Gran Orden de Caballeros de Vino and the Confrérie de Tokaj.

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