This is the sixth year that this ranking has taken place. We are pleased to publish the long awaited results. I am sure many of you will rush straight into the list, but please spare a few minutes to read these lines saying thank you. Thank you to the A La Volé team: Alvaro, Manuel, Nacho, Goyo who were the perfect hosts for our jurors in the amazing city of Segovia, north of Madrid. Thanks as well to Venta Magullo who provided the venue for the wine tasting and where we had a beautiful meal after the tasting took place.
This year again we are incredibly proud of these results – which we owe to many. We are specially proud as the average quality from all wines submitted was very high. More importantly we believe the jurors managed to understand and “get” the the majority of the wines they tasted and rated.
It is amazing to read year on year at the time of compiling the results the comments from the tasting sheets diligently filled by the jurors – they exhale a raft of expertise, experience, curiosity and true passion and love for wine.
Right, let’s go straight into this year’s results:
In 10th position a wine from a winery that is a newcomer to this competition. Over the last few years this producer has gone through an internal revolution focused on searching the authenticity from the local village wine, getting it to express all its terroir.
We are still scratching our head as to why this winery has left the Ribeira Sacra D.O, but this hasn’t been detrimental to the quality of its wine, and on the contrary in this first year outside of the D.O., the wine Pradio 2014, a fresh, vibrant and mineral Mencía makes its entry in 10th position.
In 9th position the naughtiest funniest Grenache made by Orlando Lumbreras Viñador. A vineyard in Gredos, abandoned and restored with love and patience over three years. With the rock-style happiness brought by the granite soils, and the aromas that only nature expresses when in equilibrium. A red wine that will leave great memories: Los besos que te robé 2014. (loosely translates as “Those kisses I stole from you”)
In the 8th position, Arcán 2014 a dream from the family-run Adega Pombal A Lanzada. Their oenologist is the star Dominique Roujou de Boubee, who has managed to extract the salty and mineral flavors out of this albariño vineyard based in Noalla. It is a flavorsome, mineral and very coastal. The perfect company if you are looking for that atlantic breeze on your table.
In 7th position a dream comes true. After many years in the wait, a sparkling wine makes it all the way to the top ten. Over the years we always had a small set of sparking wines that were submitted to the competition, but they were always shadowed by more intense wines.
This is no longer the case. This year the elegance brought by Privat Reserva 2013 from Alta Alella earns a place in the ranking, achieving an almost unanimous view from the jurors. Mediterranean terroir , good catalan winemaking and a bit of champagne style. A sparking wine that should form part of every cellar.
In the 6th position a classic in the ranking every year. Its balance and delicacy takes overs jurors year on year. Tilenus Vendimia 2014 is a mencía wine from the Bierzo region: full of fruit, free from oak and any other interferences. Perfect for these times when one looks for immediate pleasure.
Half way through the table, in 5th position came Chass 2014 another example of mischief coming from the Gredos region made by RuBoR Viticultores. The grapes are chasselas doré found and looked after by the Cebreros sherpa known as Rubén Díaz Alonso. A very unusual vinification that highlights the honey aromas coming from a slow, natural open fermentation. It makes one wonder if acidity -which is so scarce in wines from these parts of the world- may be overrated. A wine to drink and drink (and then drink some more).
In 4th position things are starting to heat up. This wine brings us back to Galicia, specifically to the area that has the historical right to be in any conversation about Spanish wine: Ribeiro. Manuel Formigo consistently performs an encouraging labor recovering and dignifying small honest village wines. The fruits of his labor have taken the jurors by storm, and have been recognised in the ranking this year. This fantastic white wine is Finca Teira 2014 , it could become the best pairing if you are thinking of having sea bream over one of your Christmas meals.
We are getting close to the podium, with another great piece of news in 3rd position as we have another Sherry right up there in the ranking. Once again the unassuming muscatel grape variety. It is hard to imagine a world without those sweet muscatel wines like this. This wine is Moscatel Micaela made by Bodegas Barón. This Moscatel Micaela calls for long sweet post-meal moments amongst people that like each other. It is profound, aromatic and with a never ending finish.
In 2nd position another result to be proud of: the silent proof that it is possible to have verdejo, a white Rueda wine that is not true to the sad stereotypes of high volume low quality wines (this one doesn’t have the Rueda DO, mind you). This wine is simply delicious. The perfect white wine to surprise, amuse and seduce by being different and not conforming to stereotype. It is called Cucú (cantaba la rana) 2014, and it is a real pleasure. (“Cucú, cantaba la rana” is the old nursery rhyme – “Cuckoo, a frog was singing”).
And finally in 1st position and this year’s winner: another Sherry wine, a region that through its intensity has gained its place in the ranking and seems to be here to stay. A very traditional amontillado sherry, of a long tradition out of Poe. This wine attracts even those that forgot – or never knew- that these delicious oak aged wines in large barrels ever existed. Salty, complex, sharp, with a never ending finish… with a piece of matured sheep cheese is sinful: Amontillado Callejuela.
This concludes this 2016 ranking. We would like to thank you to those that have made it possible, one way or the other, but specially to those that make wine with a passion and will, as without them, none of this would have ever taken place.
Winegossip from Spain will be publishing individual entries for each of the wines with more detailed descriptions of those wines as well as detailed tasting notes over the next few weeks.
1. Amontillado Callejuela – Sherry
2. Cucú (Cantaba la Rana) 2014 – White Verdejo
3. Moscatel Micaela – Bodegas Barón – Sherry Muscatel
4. Finca Teira 2014 – Manuel Formigo – White Ribeiro
5. Chass 2014 – Rubor Viticultores – White Gredos
6. Tilenus Vendimia 2014 – Red Bierzo Mencía
7. Privat Reserva 2013 – Alta Alella – Cava
8. Arcán 2014 – Adega Pombal – White Albariño – Rías Baixas
9. Los besos que te robé 2014 – Orlando Lumbreras Viñador – Red Grenache – Gredos
10. Pradío 2014 – Pradío – Red Mencía – Ribeira Sacra
A note on transparency
In case anyone has any doubts about this ranking and how it is conducted a few points in the spirit of transparency:
1) Our jurors (22 tasters) have determined that these wines and not others from the many submitted made it to the top ten following a strict blind tasting.
2) Many of those jurors are wine producers, and in some cases, some of their wines were submitted to the competition and may have been present in the blind tasting. Although not all of them detected their own wines during the blind tasting, if their scores involved their own wine were were automatically discarded. So, in short, it was other people’ s ratings that achieved the results when it comes to wines where the producers may have been part of the tasting panel.
3) Amongst those wines that have been submitted or that have made it to the ranking wines, there are people that are friends of this blog’s author. We have collaborated in the past and we will very likely continue to collaborate in the future.
4) I never believed – rightly or wrongly – that given the above should become an impediment for those to either submit their wines and / or to be a juror at the same time.
5) Lastly, given that no one makes a penny out of this competition – in fact it costs a few quite a bit of their own money – this should be seen as the clearest sign of transparency. I would still like to reiterate that this competition and ranking has no other agenda than to run a clean, transparent and not for profit ranking, with the only goal to help those that enjoy the pleasure of enjoying a good bottle of wine for a reasonable price (under 10 Euros).
Some may want to read whatever they wish into all of this, but I can assure you there isn’t anything else to this.