Ferran Centelles: ”Barcelona has a cosmopolitan wine approach”

Ferran Centelles.
Andreas Grube
Published 24-August-2020
Interview / Barcelona

Renowned sommelier and wine writer Ferran Centelles is Star Wine List’s ambassador in Barcelona. After many years as sommelier at El Bulli, Ferran is one of the best known wine names in Spain.

”We can find many natural and “out of the box” wines; but also, some of the more traditional. Another point to be explained are wine prices; I think they are extremely fair, still a bargain!” says Ferran.

Ferran Centelles’ interest in wine started to grow during his days in culinary school, where he started at age 17. And when he got an internship at El Bulli – chef Ferran Adriàn’s famous three-star restaurant in Catalonia – his interest grew even deeper.

”It was 1999, and El Bulli was already a famous place, a myth. I remember having great admiration for the sommelier. I would say that I really started to take wine seriously at El Bulli restaurant,” he says.

Today Ferran Centelles is the wine director at elBullifoundation, a foundation promoting gastronomic creativity and innovation, as well as the Spanish wine specialist for jancisrobinson.com.

”I am responsible for the Sapiens del Vino project, a full encyclopaedia written following the Sapiens methodology (provided by elBullifoundation). It is a project within elBullifoundation, led by Ferran Adrià himself. It is a very motivating work, and we have already published some titles. We aim to gather all the knowledge that a wine professional working in a restaurant needs in order to understand wine.”

It’s so good to live in Barcelona, honestly speaking, you never get tired since there is a wide range of choice

Now, of course, he is also Star Wine List’s ambassador in Barcelona.

Describe Barcelona as a wine and restaurant city?
”Barcelona is a top place for gastronomy, many talented chefs are proposing the best of the culinary arts, but betting on a friendly atmosphere. Furthermore, we also have some classical places: tapas, seafood, paellas, that are also extremely worthy. It’s so good to live in Barcelona, honestly speaking, you never get tired since there is a wide range of choice.”

”In terms of wine, the approach is quite cosmopolitan. We can find many natural and ’out of the box’ wines but also some more traditional. Another point to be explained are the wine prices; I think they are extremely fair, still a bargain!”

How has corona affected the restaurant scene in Barcelona?
”It has been difficult. However, many places have reopened with social distancing and sanitary measures to guarantee the safety of the customers.”

When it comes to wine bars, what are the biggest trends right now?
”As I mentioned, natural wine is a trend. Otherwise, I would say that wine lists normally represents the personality or ideas of the sommelier or wine buyer of the restaurant. So actually, we need to see it case by case. This is why I have tried to explain the soul of each selection in the Barcelona guide.”

How do you think Barcelona will evolve in the upcoming years?
”I think top gastronomy served in an informal atmosphere will continue to grow, and we will see more places with outstanding food but more simple service. Furthermore, maybe Catalan wines will be even more important, as the interest for local consumption also increases. As I said, Barcelona is today serving wines from everywhere, even though Rioja, Ribera, France, Galicia, are main regions easily found on wine selections.”

Anything you want to see more of when it comes to bars and restaurants in Barcelona?
”Jerez and Montilla. For me, they are two of the Spanish jewels, and sometimes I miss a wider selection of them in the menu.”

Anything you want to see less of?
”No, no! I feel incredibly fortunate with the quality provided!”

For you personally, what is the most interesting wine regions in the world right now?
”Priorat, Jerez, Bobal area (Utiel, Manchuela), Ribeiro and Calatayud.”

See Ferran's Barcelona tips in the guide links below!

Read more about the elBullifoundation here.

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