Sep 13 2023

Waters... A Millennial National Treasure

Water Sommelier Chris Goodrich highlights some of the most remarkable brands, some as Vichy Catalán, with a long history 


by Chris Goodrich - @goodrichchristopher 

Water is not just water... In fact, it never was, but we are increasingly discovering more and more about what we've been missing over the years by not paying a little more attention to the sector. Things like water tastings, their categories, pairings with gastronomy and wines, water menus, and the profession of the Water Sommelier are concepts that are awakening like a dormant giant wanting to come out of the cave and make itself known.

It turns out that here in Spain, we are truly fortunate when it comes to natural mineral waters. According to the European Bottled Water Federation (EFBW), Spain ranks fourth in the EU in terms of production, behind Germany, Italy, and France, and third in consumption, following Italy and Germany.

We love natural mineral water and drink it fervently. With over 150 registered springs, there's something for every taste and palate because, due to our incredible geographic and geological diversity, we have an unparalleled wealth of options that cater to everyone's preferences.

Vichy Catalán: heritage and recognitions

With all of this, it's no surprise that the rest of the world is taking note and paying close attention to the waters that come from our country. In the recent Fine Waters Summit, the most prestigious and internationally recognized event of its kind, held April of this year in Athens, Vichy Catalán won the bronze medal in its category of naturally carbonated waters (and this isn't the first time). It's worth noting that more than 100 waters participated in the tasting and design competition, of which only three were from our country.

This fact leads to an interesting contemplation: when we venture abroad, we do well, very well. In Spain, we have done an excellent job making ourselves known internationally through our gastronomy and wines, but we have been very timid when it comes to promoting one of our greatest natural treasures—our excellent natural mineral waters.

The consumption of premium waters is skyrocketing worldwide at a rapid pace, and the projections are only going up. Global consumers are demanding more and more quality waters with unique characteristics and distinct sensations, making the premium water category the new source of epicurean experiences to embellish their tables and accompany their meals.

Among our waters, the standout is undoubtedly Vichy Catalán. Internationally, it's highly appreciated due to its notable qualities and documented history. Recently, it was featured in Zack Efron's Netflix show "Down to Earth," where it was included in the water tasting by Water Sommelier Martin Riese, leaving nobody indifferent with its unique taste and qualities. Vichy is a major player in water menus in the United States since its high mineral content, predominantly sodium, ranks it high on the list of exotic experiences.

¿How do they taste? From Solán de Cabras to Cabreiroá

Another familiar name to find outside our borders is Solán de Cabras. While it might seem to us like “just” the water that always accompanies our tapas and sunny terraces, it's highly regarded both in the US and Asia. Particularly curious is its increasing presence on the most populous continent on our planet. Due to its smoothness, subtle flavor, and elegant design, it's considered an exotic luxury, a sign of quality, and high social status.

In a corner of Galicia, whose name I cannot forget, one of the great national waters is born and is gradually breaking into the international scene. From Verín, Ourense, comes Magma from the Cabreiroá brand. This jewel of magmatic origin with natural, fine, and gentle bubbles is becoming more popular among premium water connoisseurs and is making its way into stores offering Spanish products around the world. Its unique characteristics and effervescence make it highly versatile for pairing with a varied range of dishes.

Perhaps less known but no less impressive is Sant Aniol from Catalonia. Originating from the small municipality of Sant Aniol de Finestres in Girona, it has an extensive international record. This volcanic gem not only received the bronze medal in the Fine Waters tasting in 2022 but also boasts 47 Michelin stars due to being a favorite of some of the most prestigious chefs on the planet for its unique qualities, flavor, and elegance.

This is a very short list of our vast array of available national hydrological treasures. Due to our incredibly diverse landscapes and ecosystems, we have an incredibly privileged amount of fine premium waters to add to our tables. Fancy a delicate water from our Pyrenees? No problem… Are you in the mood for a bold water from Galicia? We have that too… Something fresh and historical from our interior mountain ranges? We got you covered.

In Spain, we've been doing things well for a long time. We're known for our wines, hams, olive oils, cheeses, and countless other products where few dare overshadow us. But could it be that our next great Avant Garde contribution has been right in front of us all along? In Spain we have come to an effervescent crossroads between our extensive offer and interest for gastronomy.  Water is older than our planet itself, and the nature of our country has been nurturing its own for millennia, turning them into authentic treasures accessible to everyone.