The prestigious British publication Decanter states that the lesser-known white grape varieties from Spain “shine” (which it has named Spanish indigenous whites). As for Catalonia, Penedès and Xarel·lo wines make up an entire specific Decanter list. The publication invited UK producers and agents to submit their currently launching 100% varietal white wines produced from any indigenous Spanish grape variety and available in the UK at a retail price of up to £40. A total of 87 wines were tasted. Although there has not been any wine that has been considered exceptional, of those tasted, three have been rated outstanding and 44 have been rated highly recommended.

This tasting, which Master of Wine Matthew Forster has described as “fascinating”, included up to 19 grape varieties and, as the prescriber states, “that in itself tells a story about the changing face of Spanish white wine.” In this sense, he adds that “a decade ago I doubt there would have been anything close to the same base level of quality, or even enough examples of some of the varieties involved to make such an extensive tasting possible.” The list is headed by the Linarejos 2022 albillo from Las Pedreras (Sierra de Gredos). The jury was made up of Master of Wine, independent wine consultant and education specialist Matthew Forster; David Williams, who is wine correspondent for The Observer and a regular contributor to Decanter; and Inés Salpico, Decanter’s special projects editor,

In this classification, Decanter has placed a xarel·lo from old Penedès vineyards among the 5 best in Spain: El Clot del Roure 2021 from Vins el Cep (DO Penedès). Matthew Forster has awarded it 94 points, which places it at the top of Catalan wines. For the CEO and co-owner of this winery founded by four families of winegrowers, Maite Esteve, “this wine is very special because it is the fruit of the oldest Xarel·lo vineyard that we have in my house, from the Esteve family, and it has always given some beautiful grapes and an exceptional wine.”

For this winery it is also very special because it is the last vineyard he went to with his father before he died. It is a white fruit from a 1.5 hectare vineyard that bears its name, planted 80 years ago with glass vines on limestone soil in Sant Llorenç d’Hortons (Alt Penedès). This vineyard in the Espiells area is cultivated following the principles of biodynamic agriculture. From the winery they claim that “it provides the maximum expression of xarel·lo”, and that it is “pure elegance with richness of nuances”.

In position number 8 is Enric Soler’s Improvisation 2021 (Penedès without DO), in 15th is Vi-D-Re 2021 from Bodega Credo de Recaredo (Penedès without DO), in 16th is Xarel·lo de la Vinya del Noguer 2021 from Vinos Pepe Raventós (Penedès sin DO), on the 18th the Cantallops 2021 from AT Roca (DO Penedès) and on the 26th the Can Sumoi Xarel·lo 2022 (DO Penedès).

The president of the regulatory council of the DO Penedès, Joan Huguet, celebrates the international recognition that the xarel·lo variety is receiving. He believes that it is the result, in part, of promotional actions they have carried out in London. He describes it as “fantastic” that “qualitative wines with great personality” are recognized. Joan Huguet also believes that climate change is helping to make better white wines in the Penedès with varieties such as Xarel·lo. Unlike what happened in the past, when this variety was only mixed with two other whites native to the Penedès to make base wines to obtain sparkling wines “for mass consumption”, it now states that “viticulture is already working to create still wines.” quality”.