One of the most successful white wines across my wine bars on P&O Cruises is a Treixadura from Galicia – a wine that appeals as much to fans of Kiwi Sauvignon Blanc as traditional Chablis thanks to its flourishing freshness and enticing subtle fragrance. It shows modern Spanish winemaking with a grape that not many of my customers have previously tasted. And that’s why I adore it. It’s proof in a single sip that much as we love Spain for its iconic reds from Rioja and Ribera del Duero, there is a world of Spanish white wine that’s perfect to raise as Winter warms into Spring.
I’m going to include light sherries here – what could be more summery than the seaside scent of a cool Manzanilla served with a platter of shellfish? Or a fabulous aromatic Fino with a slice or two of jamón? These are the drinks that really got me excited about Spain on a visit to Seville some twenty or more years ago to visit my then girlfriend, now wife. We both fell in love with the small copas of cold sherry that fuelled the parades and fiestas of Easter on into summer, and these days one of my favourite wine trips is still to visit Jerez, Sanlúcar and Sevilla to taste traditional drinks and dishes that no-one in the world can replicate or hope to rival. But fair enough, some wine fans find fortified wines a little rich – and this is where the klaxon sounds for the entrance with all pomp and respect for Verdejo. In Rueda of course it flourishes, but it’s wonderful to see more and more fans of this gently tantalising peachy white picking it off the UK shelves and discovering its scented splendour. Equally, away to the coastline of Galicia, Albariño has been hugely popular with its breezy beauty and is reliably scrumptious alongside everything in Neptune’s lavish larder. On top of discovering individual producers, more and more people are asking me about Rías Baixas and the five distinct sub-regions offering their nuances. This passion for regional provenance is also reflected in a deeper interest and understanding of the producers as well, with passionate importers leading the charge by taking care to frame the wines in the vital context of their entire story span. It’s a short hop from adoring Albariño to glorifying Godello, but Spain’s net is cast even wider with the inclusion of the islands. In the Mediterranean, the Balearics are producing some beauties and with all that’s exotic all the way from Albillo to Torrontes it’s easy to forget the classics that endure. White Rioja in the guise of youthful zesty bottles or earthy ancient classics are great value either way and show Spain’s proud history as well as dynamic future. And from the sharp spritz of Txacoli to the full on fizz of Cava, Spain’s fragrant sparklers continue to delight.
Spain’s lexicon of lively whites still feels like an unfolding library of secrets. With sommeliers revelling in the character and food pairing finesse of these wines as well as hugely popular chefs shouting about the splendour of Spanish wine at every opportunity, 2018 feels like the perfect moment to spring into summer with an abundance of these fabulously fragrant Spanish whites.