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A drink with… Miguel Angel Millán

Miguel Angel Millán, sommelier of Madrid's Michelin three-star DiverXO, speaks to Decanter about his decision to move from a career in jewellery to one in wine, and shares some of his most memorable tastings.

After training as an artisan jeweller, Miguel Angel Millán decided to move into hospitality. The new profession turned out to be a gem: in June, the now sommelier at Michelin three-star DiverXO in Madrid was named Beronia World’s Best Sommelier at the World’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards.

‘I spent years studying to be an artisan jeweller before realising I wanted to do something different, so I opened a bar, then a small live-music venue. I finally gave all of that up and started over as a waiter, first at a high-end catering company, then in restaurants. That’s where I discovered wine.

‘While enjoying drinking wine casually with friends at home or in restaurants, I went all in and took all the wine courses available. I went to all the tastings and wine fairs I could, and visited wineries here in Spain and abroad –  everything that was available to educate my palate and awareness of aromas, sensations and flavours, as well as my knowledge and experience around wine. All this led to my working in Michelin-starred restaurants, managing large cellars.

‘My earliest wine memory is from childhood. Wine was on the table whenever there was a celebration, although my family didn’t have any particular interest in wine. A more recent memory is from years later, when someone gave me a young carbonic maceration from La Rioja to try. I was fascinated by the aromas and flavours emerging from that glass. It was so revealing, a whole world of sensations opened up before me, one that I enjoy revisiting today.

‘Different styles excite me, and I believe that the best wines ever made are being produced right now in many parts of the world. Wines of great purity that reflect terroir and the variety are giving rise to an important qualitative leap.

‘I love the revolution that’s taking place with the new generation of winemakers in Champagne and Jerez, as well as great Spanish wines from areas that were less known until recently, such as Bierzo, Galicia, Gredos and the Canary Islands.

‘The most memorable wine I ever tasted was at Marqués de Riscal with a group of sommeliers. We had the privilege of tasting the 1883 vintage in a vertical tasting that included 1964, 1954, 1947 and 1944. I got goosebumps when I tasted it; an unforgettable experience.

‘The most soul-stirring wine I’ve ever tasted was a bottle of Taittinger Comtes de Champagne 1976 with my wife on the beach watching the sunset. It was so impressive that today it has become a ritual for us to pair Champagne with sunsets. The most thrilling wine I had was on a visit to Bodegas Alonso in Sanlúcar de Barrameda. I tasted directly from the solera of Ansar Real, an Amontillado originating in Gaspar Florido that had been aged for more than a century. It was a soulful experience.

‘What I drink depends on my mood, the day and whom I’m with. But it ranges through all kinds of wines, so it’ll be whatever I fancy. Regardless of the vintage, I always try to enjoy it to the fullest and share that moment with someone.

‘It’s impossible to name just one pairing that I love at DiverXO because there is no single wine from our 1,500-label cellar for any one dish. Everything is new every day: the dishes, wines and clients change.

‘To ensure fantastic hospitality at DiverXO, we have just one rule: create a unique experience. Every person who walks through the door is different, we treat them as such and look for ways to offer them something special.

‘It’s enormously satisfying to be named Beronia World’s Best Sommelier 2023 by the World’s 50 Best Restaurants, especially for the whole DiverXO team, because we’re very proud of the work we undertake together.  The warm wishes I’ve received have been overwhelming.’

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