Ángel González is head of sommeliers at the Marbella Club group.
Two of Spain's top-ranking sommeliers are on the Costa del Sol
Food and drink

Two of Spain's top-ranking sommeliers are on the Costa del Sol

Ángel González (Marbella Club) ranked fifth in the Top 100 Sommeliers, while William Sequera, secretary of the Malaga sommeliers association, came 36th

Marina Martínez

Friday, 7 June 2024, 16:09

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Knowledge, years of experience, degree of responsibility, awards, courses, communication skills, empathy... The requirements were many. But they met them all. Ángel González and William Sequera have brought to Malaga two high-ranking positions in the Top 100 Sommeliers list. The ranking, which recognises the best sommeliers in all of Spain, sees the former placed fifth and the latter 36th.

Ángel González boasts an impressive 35 years in the industry, serving as the sommelier at The Grill (Hotel Marbella Club) and overseeing the sommelier team for the hotel group. His extensive experience has earned him the fifth spot in the first edition of the Top 100 Sommeliers in Spain, providing him with additional motivation despite his veteran status.

González has received numerous accolades, including best sommelier of the Costa del Sol (2009) by the Malaga association of sommeliers, first prize for best service and harmony in the XXI edition of the Nariz de Oro 2012, and an award for wine service from SUR in 2017. His résumé is further enriched by countless courses and roles as a trainer.

"I am very happy. It was a great joy, and I absolutely did not expect to be ranked near the top. Recognitions are always welcome, no matter when they come, because this is a profession where you have to constantly improve yourself - it's a daily effort," says the affable Asturian who has made Malaga his home.

"A negative service can spoil everything, and an excellent one can save average or misguided cuisine," says Ángel González.

With 23 years at the Marbella Club behind him, he sees sommelier as a passion: "If it weren't, this would be the hardest profession in the world because it requires a lot of dedication. You have to be always evolving and very aware of wine cellar management, trends, novelties... in continuous training, for you and for the client, who is becoming more and more demanding."

He is also critical with himself. He is clear that the sommelier is "the final link, who must convey the cuisine and serve it with elegance, kindness, and education." "Negative service can ruin everything, and conversely, if the service is excellent, it can save average or misguided cuisine," he says, emphasising the "combination of many sensations" that is a dining experience.

He also states that those who come to the Marbella Club have very high expectations. "No two years here are the same, there must be a progression to adapt to a changing reality," says González, who has been ranked ahead of figures such as Miguel Ángel Millán (until a few weeks ago, sommelier at DiverXO), Álex Pardo (Coque), Cristian Sánchez (Hotel Mandarín Oriental Barcelona), Silvia Ortuñez (Kabuki Madrid) and Marc Ibáñez (Hotel Four Seasons Madrid).

William Sequera has been working in the sector for twenty years.
William Sequera has been working in the sector for twenty years.

Also in the top 50 (36th) is another Malaga-based sommelier, William Sequera. Until recently, the Venezuelan was head of the wine sector in the restaurants of the Tercer Acto Group and is currently sommelier at the Enoteca Negrini, where he carries out both wine promotion and training.

"This award is a challenge to keep working hard, studying and fighting to make the sommelier's room shine, because there are many hours of dedication behind it. Society is increasingly understanding that there is a professionalism, that the sommelier has to prepare a lot so as not to ruin the diner's experience. His job is to tell stories, about the origin of the wine, its provenance, and to associate it with the dish. At the end of the day, it's about creating happiness, giving added value, so that when the diner leaves, they have learned something and enjoyed themselves," says Sequero, encouraging young people to train in this profession "because they are going to have a job for sure".

William Sequera: "Society is understanding that the sommelier must be well prepared so as not to ruin the diner's experience"

"For me this is not work, it's enjoyment, because it's something that has always fulfilled me, and I think that's also why awards like this one come along." A graduate in sommelier from the Venezuelan academy and after nine years in Malaga, he feels that being among the 50 best in Spain is a prize not only for him, but also "for this land that has given me everything".

After a career spanning two decades and having travelled the world working as a sommelier in restaurants and hotels, as well as in the production of events and protocol, Sequera considers himself "just another Malagueño". Secretary of the association of sommeliers of Malaga and ambassador for Sabor a Málaga wines, he is also a trainer for the regulatory council of the Malaga, Sierras de Malaga, and Pasas de Malaga designations. "When I arrived nine years ago, it was very difficult to find Malaga wines in restaurants, but today it is not only common here, but also outside. We can still do more, but we are reaping the benefits."

All this dedication has earned him a place among the 50 best sommeliers in Spain. It's a selection that also includes, at number 29, Pol Samon and, at number 31, Luis Baselga, sommelier and wine director of Smoked Room, a restaurant that, despite having locations in Madrid and Dubai, also has a Malaga connection: it belongs to the group run by Marbella's Dani García.

Some of the award winners at the gala held at the Four Seasons Hotel in Madrid.
Some of the award winners at the gala held at the Four Seasons Hotel in Madrid.

María José Huertas (Paco Roncero), Diego González (Tiempos Líquidos Wine Room), David Robledo (Robuchon) and Dani Giganto (Marcela Vinos 6 Brasas) lead this ranking brought to Spain by sommelier Agustín Trapero, president of the jury and responsible for the edition of this popular initiative in the UK.

"What we are looking for is for this to be the most complete and fair evaluation system, as it guarantees that all the award winners tonight are valued for their work and daily management at the head of their projects and recognised as true professionals in the sector. For me it is a great joy to see so many top sommeliers, colleagues and peers under the same roof," he said during the gala that recognised the work of these professionals celebrated at the Four Seasons Hotel in Madrid.

Special awards

Almudena Alberca, Pedro Ballesteros, Valeria Gamper and Andreas Kubach made up the jury of this first Spanish edition, which also awarded three special prizes: the Inspiration Award, Josep Roca (El Celler de Can Roca), the Communicator Award, Ferran Centelles (El Bulli Foundation) and the Legend Award, Custodio López Zamarra.

"Top 100 Sommeliers is not a list of who we know or who is most active on social media, nor is it a list of sommeliers in top restaurants. All of the award winners have earned their position through their own achievements, on their own merit," said Charlotte Hey, co-founder of the UK-based initiative, adding that the aim is simply to "highlight the professionalism of sommeliers and encourage new talent in our industry".

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