Sommelier Job Sueren, Star Wine List's ambassador in the Netherlands and co-owner of restaurant Zoldering in Amsterdam, is often on the road. Now he has put together our new wine guide to great spots in Valencia, Spain.
"In Valencia, there are wine lists for everyone. And the great thing for foreign tourists: it's really cheap, both the food and the wine. This makes it a city for any budget," he says.
How would you describe the wine scene in Valencia?
"Like in most places in Spain, in Valencia, you can get a decent glass of wine almost everywhere and even at the right temperature in a proper glass, so the basics are well established. On top of that, there are many places, from neighbourhood tapas places to high-end restaurants that have a good selection of more premium wines, though mostly by the bottle."
"The natural wine scene is not as established as in Paris or even Barcelona, but when asked for new discoveries or new producers, many sommeliers will suggest a wine which at least leans towards a more natural style (high in volatility, touches of brett/heavy reduction). Still, the fact that within two weeks I was able to make a selection of already quite some restaurants (with many still on the to-visit-list) says enough about the general feel towards wine."
Why should wine lovers visit and discover Valencia?
"In Valencia, there are wine lists for everyone. And the great thing for foreign tourists: it's really cheap, both the food and the wine. This makes it a city for any budget. Most places, even those with more extensive selections, represent the traditional Spanish style reds with lots of oak, which means it's a preference if that's what floats your boat. However, quite a few places have a more diverse selection, with some also focusing on the more natural wines. For sure, any wine lover will find something to their liking, though natural adepts and those looking for a lighter style might have to look a little harder.
It seems as if the city is in development when it comes to restaurants suggesting new stuff
Have you detected any specific trends in the city right now?
"It seems as if the city is in development when it comes to restaurants suggesting new stuff, so you see a bit more of unknown regions appearing. Larger local producers can easily be found, but there is a growing respect for more small-scale artisanal winemakers. However, you need a good sommelier to introduce you to that and one that doesn't necessarily go for the natural choice straight away (at least in my flavour profile). At the same time, it's great that top well-established producers from the more classical regions like Vega Sicilia, Alion, Artadi, Carraovejas, López de Heredia and more can be easily found everywhere."
Anything in particular that surprised you during your last visit to Valencia?
"Not so much wine-specific, but when it comes to restaurants, and I guess the city itself, you find that more and more tourists are discovering it. Places that were insiders addresses four years ago are now filled with tourists (though luckily also still with locals). Some, like Casa Montaña, even have an English-speaking person at the door to place the reservations and tell the passer-by's that the place is full. Prices have, however, not significantly increased (yet)."
Anything you would like to see more of in Valencia?
"I guess it would be great if restaurants would take (local) artisanal winemakers more seriously and actively started looking for more exciting names, not just leaning on the established producers. The by-the-glass selections are generally not very interesting, so that could get an upgrade in some places. Also, it would be great if there were more places for just a snack and a good glass of wine in between lunch and dinner. From 16:30 till 19:30, the city is basically closed for nice wine."