Friday, 19 April 2019

Brandy Duque de Veragua Solera Gran Reserva 38%, Álvaro Domecq

Appearance
Very deep brown-mahogany fading to amber with a trace of green at the rim and copper highlights.
Nose
Serious. Thirty years of ageing are really apparent giving a fairly intense and complex aroma with fairly prominent notes of old oak, caramel, toffee, traces of dried fruit, walnut, Oloroso,and hints of brown sugar and bitter orange marmalade all melding together. Full bodied, rich and very Jerezano.
Palate
Fairly sweet on entry then that body comes through but without all the expected tannin. It has a certain dry tannic feel though, and the slight wood notes one would expect but they are by no means excessive and it is actually very smooth with all the sweeter elements of dates, raisins, Oloroso and caramel helping round it off and the finish is fairly dry, very complex and almost interminable.
Comments
This outstanding brandy is distilled from 95% Airén and 5% Palomino grapes in alquitaras and consists entirely of selected holandas. It has an average solera age of 30 years and the butts are very well seasoned with Oloroso mostly for over 100 years. The solera consists of one criadera made up of 600 litre butts which give a gentler initial ageing as the proportion of wood to brandy is less, before the brandy is transferred to the solera which comprises smaller butts of 250 litres which give greater intensity. The Duchy of Veragua was conceded by king Carlos I of Spain to the family of Christopher Columbus in 1537.
Price
39.60 euros, Licores Corredera

Thursday, 18 April 2019

Manzanilla Arboledilla Poniente saca 2019 15%, Barbadillo

Appearance
Bright clean gold with golden highlights.
Nose
Fresh and fairly saline, just a shade fuller than the Levante with a trace of straw amongst the herbs, which include a note of camomile, bread dough, olive brine and  faint trace of glace lemon and a very slightly more mature note. Again the flor is not overly bitter, and there is less of a apple note. For some reason the Poniente seems to open out a little less in the glass but it is not short of aroma.
Palate
Very slightly fuller than the Levante with perhaps a faintly more mineral note and the acidity seems slightly lower while the herbaceousness and bread dough remain roughly constant. It feels slightly tighter, more disciplined perhaps than the Levante and has just a shade more flor bitterness.
Comments
These two Manzanillas, the Poniente and Levante are drawn from the same Solear solera at between 4 and 5 years old (Solear is 6) and the only difference between them is that they were stored at other sides of the Arboledilla bodega. It is interesting how there are very subtle yet noticeable differences caused by the environment in which the wines matured. The Levante (east) side of the bodega has smaller windows and is shaded by trees making it a little cooler than the Poniente (west) side. The two wines are sold together so one can make comparisons
Price
12.50 euros

Wednesday, 17 April 2019

Manzanilla Arboledilla Levante saca 2019 15%, Barbadillo

Appearance
Bright yellowy gold with golden highlights.
Nose
Delightfully fresh with some herbal notes, traces of apple and quince and quite saline; it really smells of the sea. The yeasty bitterness of the flor is not particularly pronounced, though by no means absent, and is more like sourdough with traces of olive brine and even a faint trace of lemon and a fainter still trace of cinnamon giving the wine a distinct character and charm.
Palate
Clean, quite zippy, almost crisp and good and dry with that characteristic chalky texture while the salinity, olive, bread dough and herbs are  still there. It is light, clean, fresh and zestful, and perhaps slightly more graceful than the Poniente, but equally good and it develops slightly more in the glass.
Comments
Bottled en rama in February 2019 with only 600 bottles available. It is a selection from butts on the the Levante (eastern) side of the huge and beautiful Arboledilla bodega which houses the enormous Solear solera. Despite being located barely a couple of hundred metres apart, wines from each side of the bodega show subtle but noticeable and interesting differences in their character after 4-5 years of ageing. For that reason the wines are sold in pairs of one of each and they really challenge one´s tasting skills. There is one annual saca but the timing of this varies.
Price
12.50 euros

Tuesday, 16 April 2019

“La Nariz” (The Nose)


This was the nickname given to José Ignacio Domecq González (1914-1997), one of the fourteen children born to Manuel Domecq Nuñez de Villavicencio, Viscount of Almocadén, and Mercedes González Gordon. This was a handsome, sporting, well educated family which spoke very good English, and José Ignacio was a good example of this. He was tall, slim, dynamic, intelligent and refined.  During the school holidays he had followed his father round the bodegas, watching what he did and tasting after him, learning the trade. His early ideas of being in the Navy came to nothing when the Naval Academy closed in 1931, and his industrial engineering studies were cut short by the Civil War in which he fought. On his return to Jerez he married Ángela Fernández de Bobadilla y González Abreu and they had twelve children.




In 1939 he joined the family business, which was fortuitous as he was gifted with a prodigiously sensitive hawklike nose and fine oenological skills. He was well known for his ability to identify a brand of perfume or soap from some distance away, and even once halted a tasting when he detected the smell of chorizo on a waiters´s breath. On another occasion he postponed a glass of Amontillado 51-1ª as he could smell his secretary´s nail polish in the distance. 



Needless to say his wine tasting skills were legendary, and he could recognise every possible nuance, which was fitting as a director of Pedro Domecq. He would go round the bodegas with his trusty venenciador, Julio Delgado, and taste vast numbers of wines to give the go-ahead for running the scales, and indeed is credited with tasting 45,000 in a year – that´s over 120 a day, not to mention the thousands more he tasted in the laboratory and sample room. He believed in following each wine´s progress regularly and thus keeping his tasting skills well practised.


 Some wondered about how much wine he must have consumed, yet nobody ever saw him the worse for wear. Asked by a journalist if he drank much, he replied that “I don´t know how much “much” is, but I drink enough to satisfy my thirst”. And despite that, and always having a cigarette in his hand, he lived to 82. When he was not at the bodega he would often be travelling round the world promoting Sherry in general and Domecq in particular while being a great aficionado and skilled blender of Jerez Brandy, indeed he did much to create the huge Hispano-American markets.



 José Ignacio often used to drive to the bodegas on a little red Moto Guzzi motorcyle he had bought from his chauffeur, and fixed to the rear was a box for his best friend “Paco”, his Jack Russell terrier, who accompanied him almost everywhere, even to board meetings. The old bike can be seen in the bodega´s museum.  In 1994 Domecq was taken over by Allied Lyons but José Ignacio still went daily to the bodega, the office and the laboratory he had occupied for some 50 years until he was taken into hospital in December 1996, where he passed away the following January. Thus, one of the great Sherry characters passed into legend, but his nephew, Beltrán Domecq y Williams, chemist, oenologist, author of “Sherry Uncovered” and president of the Consejo Regulador, is now flying the flag.

Monday, 15 April 2019

Vino Tinto Taberner 2014 15.5%, Huerta de Albalá

Appearance
Opaque fading to a deep black plum skin red with a fairly tight rim and just a trace of brick.
Nose
Quite powerful, fairly intense yet fresh and complex, it is beginning to open with lots of red and black fruit like loganberry and bramble with slightly balsamic and faintly smoky notes and distinct slightly spicy French oak aromas. There is a certain richness and softness born of ripeness and you can really smell the texture.
Palate
Full bodied and well structured with tons of perfectly ripe almost chewy fruit and plenty of tannin which is reasonably ripe, and a good level of acidity keeping it fresh. Being from Cádiz it has a very gentle saline hint and also a dryness to the texture. This wine needs another 5 years to tame it to perfection, but it is lovely now, perhaps with a good steak. Good assertive stuff.
Comments
This excellent Vino de la Tierra de  Cádiz is made from estate grown Syrah grapes near Arcos de la Frontera. After selection they are crushed and fermented in 5,000 litre conical vats made from French Allier oak. After fermentation the wine is aged for 18 months in 225 litre medium toast Allier barrels in an ageing cellar below the beautiful chateau style bodega which is designed to operate by gravity. Syrah is very much a southern grape and produces very fine wines with considerable bottle ageing potential in the climate and soil of Cádiz, especially in the hands of the Taberner family whose first commercial vintage was 2006.
Price
23.90, De Albariza

Sunday, 14 April 2019

Amontillado Romerito 17.5%, Covijerez

Appearance
Quite deeply coloured mahogany with copper glints fading to amber.
Nose
Fairly full rich and rounded and surprisingly Oloroso in style with a faint sweetness and a hint of walnut but then some notes of toasted almond and hazelnut come through along with traces of oak. There is a faint hint of caramel and the oxidative character is pronounced so it is probably a fairly young wine, maybe 8-10 years old or so and by no means unattractive.
Palate
Again, quite full and Oloroso-ish up front, smooth, well rounded and fairly rich with plenty of nuts and despite that faint background sweetness the finish is fairly dry with a dry texture and moderate length while acidity is also moderate.
Comments
Jerez only has one cooperative, the Cooperativa Vinicola Jerezana Nuestra Virgen de las Angustias, which is thankfully shortened to Covijerez. Its 200 members cultivate some 1,000 hectares, and while most of the mosto is sold to bodegas which do not have vineyards, they also produce and bottle their own ranges of Sherry: Romerito and Mira la Mar. These wines are very reasonably priced yet still represent excellent value for money.
Price
4.21 euros ex bodega











Saturday, 13 April 2019

Vino Blanco Añina Casalbón Corta y Raspa 2017 12,5%, Rafael Rodríguez Jiménez

Appearance
Mid golden straw with golden highlights.
Nose
Super fresh with lots of slightly grassy apple and quince fruit, the faintest background trace of flor and a hint of glacé lemon. There is a little weight and roundness to it as well as a trace of wild flowers giving a charming feeling of being in the fresh air in an orchard or meadow.
Palate
Smooth, fresh, light and fruity with lots of apple, perhaps a hint of pear, and naturally it has that dry chalky albariza texture. Acidity is fairly moderate but gives just the right amount of tang which perfectly balances the roundness afforded by perfect ripeness.
Comments
This wine comes from another vineyard owned by the Rodríguez Jiménez family, this time Casalbón in the pago Añina which has vines approaching 30 years old (the other is Las 40). It is made in the same way as Las Cuarenta; 100% Palomino fermented and aged in a single butt with minimum flor and demonstrates the difference between the produce of two vineyards in the same pago and on the same tosca cerrada type of albariza. Rafael is the third generation and like the other mayetos affiliated to the Corta y Raspa project finds it more profitable selling wine than grapes. Like the other wines in this innovative range, yields are kept low and there are only 600 bottles.
Price
9.50 euros, Er Guerrita