94

2021 Acústic Auditori Blanc Vinyes Velles Nobles, Montsant

( £31.50, 14%, Lea & Sandeman )

Montsant in Catalonia is better known for toothsome reds than whites, but this old-vine blend of mostly Garnacha Blanca with 19% Xarel-lo and 5% Macabeo from Albert Jané is a revelation. Rich, complex, layered and intense, it has plenty of buttery weight from long lees ageing, aromas of fennel and thyme, flavours of pear, quince and nutmeg and a bright, fresh, stony finish. Utterly delicious.

BuyDrinking window: 2023-28Similar Wines: £30-35, 90-94, Spain, White, Garnacha Blanca, Macabeo, Xarel-lo
91

NV Anna de Codorníu Brut, Catalonia

( £8.99 each for six, 11.5%, Waitrose )

There’s so much focus on Prosecco these day when we’re looking for a good value sparkling wine that we often forget about the joys of Cava. This cuvée of mostly Chardonnay with 10% each of the three local grapes – Parellada, Xarelo-lo and Macabeo – is complex, dry, energetic and well-balanced, with fine bubbles, notes of pear, citrus and fennel and a long, faintly savoury finish.

BuyDrinking window: 2023-27Similar Wines: £5-£10, 90-94, Spain, Sparkling, Chardonnay, Macabeo, Parellada, Xarel-lo
94

2014 Gramona Xarel-lo Ovum, Penedès

( 13.50 euros, 12%, Decantalo )

One of a trio of still Xarelo-los from Cava producer, Gramona, this was fermented in concrete eggs (hence the name) and is a thrilling wine that puts the variety on a pedestal where it belongs. Bone dry, rich and complex, with spice, texture and focused minerality, even at a comparatively modest 12%, it’s an unbelievable bargain. You can order it from Spain, but (to my knowledge) it’s not available in the UK. It should be. 

BuyDrinking window: 2016-20Similar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, Spain, White, Xarel-lo
90

2012 Terraprima Massís del Garraf, Penedès

( £12, 12.5% )

An off-the-wall blend of Riesling and the Cava grape, Xarel-lo, this is something to challenge your friends with in a blind tasting. It’s got that slight earthiness of Xarel-lo, leavened by the acidity and lime blossom notes of Riesling, made in a dry style that works really well with food. Stony, mineral and ocean-influenced. 

BuyDrinking window: 2014-16Similar Wines: £10-£20, 86-90, Spain, White, Riesling, Xarel-lo
91

2010 Colet Navazos, Extra Brut, Penedès

( £13, 12.5% )

An ambitious, Xarel-lo-based Cava that spent 30 months on lees before disgorgement, this is rich, toasty and savoury, with creamy bubbles, a dry finish and bags of nutty, honeyed complexity. A first class alternative to cheap Champagne. 

BuyDrinking window: 2014-16Similar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, Spain, Sparkling, Xarel-lo
87

NV Tesco Cava Reserva NV, Penedès

( £6.99 down to £5.24, 11.5%, Tesco )

A traditional Cava blend (with no sign of international Chardonnay or Pinot Noir), this bottle-fermented and aged fizz is on the dry side, with crisp acidity, a hint of earthiness (more pleasant than it sounds, believe me) and a tangy, lightly toasty finish. Great party fizz. 

BuyDrinking window: 2013-14Similar Wines: 86-90, Spain, Sparkling, Macabeo, Parellada, Xarel-lo