Friday, 22 August 2014

Amontillado 18%, Dios Baco

Quite pale golden amber, legs.
Light with remaining traces of Fino such as hints autolysis, refined and elegant with lots of hazelnut and hints of vanilla - even pastry - praline perhaps, from the American oak. Traces of raisin, wood and some glyceric sweetness. Attractive.
Fresh, light and elegant, super smooth and grows on the palate with a gentle tang. A medium weight wine with lots of nuts and real character from those traces of Fino still there, quite classy actually with good length.
Aged as a Fino for 9 years, fortified and aged for a further 10 years in the Amontillado solera, this wine is remarkably light yet equally complex and very good value considering that the VOS Amontillado which only need be 20 years old (though is actually a good deal more) sells for 42 Euros.
A reasonable 8.76 Euros from the bodega, available from Twenty One Wines in Brighton

Monday, 18 August 2014

Bodegas: Cesar Florido

This old family firm, in the trade since the XVIII century, was founded in 1887, being the oldest surviving bodega in Chipiona and is one of only two non-cooperative bodegas in the town. Once, Chipiona had dozens of bodegas but now there are two plus the Cooperativa Catolica Agricola. Most Chipiona wine – mainly Moscatel - is sold to the big bodegas, but Florido bottle their own, or sell in bulk. They specialise in Moscatel de Alejandria. Chipiona is the perfect place for the Moscatel which grows happily on the fine sandy soils close to the Atlantic coast south of Sanlucar.

The firm, run by 5th generation Cesar Florido, buys in some grapes, but from family-owned vineyards whose vines are anywhere between 15 and 50 years old. Grapes which are to be sun dried are simply laid out on the sand without the usual esparto grass mats or sheets of plastic. Presumably the sand is dry enough to avoid any risk of rot.

They have three bodegas, all situated in the old centre of Chipiona: Calle Padre Lerchundi is where they have the winemaking facilities, offices and bottling; the bodegas in Calle Castillo and Calle Ladislao Carrascosa contain ageing wines. One can buy wine at each of the bodegas. Sales are largely domestic, but they do export, principally to the USA.

The wines:
Fino Cesar: made from Chipiona, Balbaina and Miraflores grapes, at least 3 years old from 62 butt solera
Oloroso Seco Cruz del Mar: made from pago Balbaina grapes and aged in solera for 12 years
Peña del Aguila Palo Cortado 20%: very limited quantities, solera aged for 38 years
Cream Cruz del Mar: at least 5 years old, blended with Oloroso and Moscatel

The four wines above cannot get the DO Jerez because the bodegas are outside the official Zona de Crianza (ageing zone), but the Moscatel below can because they are unique to Chipiona:

Moscatel Pasas: The top of the Moscatel range, made from Moscatel grapes sun-dried for 15-20 days (which means a 50% loss in grape weight) giving a huge increase in relative sugars, aged in solera for up to 9 years
Moscatel Dorado 15% (17.5 for export): Mistela made from super-ripe but not sun dried grapes aged for one year in wood
Moscatel Especial 18%: Mistela as above but with added arrope for complexity and aged for one year in wood

Address: Calle Padre Lerchundi, 35-37, 11550 Chipiona, Cadiz
Telephone: (+34) 956 371 285
Visits? Yes, by previous appointment

18.8.14 Tio pepe Roundabout Inaugurated

The new Tio Pepe roundabout is finished and was inaugurated tonight by GB president Mauricio Gonzalez Gordon and the mayor of Jerez Maria Jose Garcia Pelayo. It is situated close to the Corte Ingles department store on the Avenida Tio Pepe, and is made from high-grade stainless steel, measuring 9 metres in height. Here is yet another reason to visit Jerez!

(foto: + Jerez)

Sunday, 17 August 2014

17.8.14 Chiclana Salt Pans; Gonzalez Byass Night Harvesting

Chiclana is not only famous for wine, but for salt. A great deal was produced in the past, but the industry has declined for reasons of viability – or perceived viability. Now two young men, Adrian Sanchez and Antonio Jesus Rivero, are convinced that the three disused salt pans in Chiclana could be viable in this consumer age, and they are already in negotiations with the local council for permission to reopen them.

Salt pans at Chiclana (voz digital)
There is definitely a market for artisanal salt in Europe. Both men have degrees in Environmental Sciences from UCA (Cadiz University) and have specialised in marshes, wetlands and salt pans, winning prizes for their work. Some 25 hectares of salt pans could employ 30 people.  To Adrian and Antonio, all you need to succeed is to believe. Chiclana already has a museum of wine and salt, which shows the importance they once had. Let’s hope they succeed!

Gonzalez Byass is night-harvesting in their 15.5 hectare vineyard “Viña Racha”, part of the 120 hectare Finca San Antonio in the pago Macharnudo. The best musts will eventually refresh the Tio Pepe soleras. These grapes will be taken quickly to the GB vinification plant, “Las Copas”. These vines are being picked by hand, by 40 people wearing “hi-viz” jackets, in almost total darkness except for the lights from small tractors and those on their heads. They are filling plastic crates with a capacity of 15 kilos and are paid 25% extra for working at night. Many work in the vineyards during the rest of the year.

Night harvesting at Bonzalez Byass (diario de Jerez)
At night the temperatures are a good deal cooler, which is good for the grapes, avoiding evaporation and potential oxidation, but there is dewfall and this adds to the feeling of cold which the pickers feel.  The grapes go through a sorting table, and any which may be unsuitable are discarded. Viña Racha will take 3 or 4 days to pick.

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Amontillado Viejo El Tresillo 1874 20%, Emilio Hidalgo

Bright gold-tinted amber, is that a trace of green at the rim? Legs.
Huge full and expressive, impressively fresh and laden with charm. Very fragrant and complex. Some American oak and a trace of exotic wood like cedar gives a slight edge to the sweeter side with its toasted hazelnut and pistachio praline and honey, as does a decent acidity and a mere trace of its Fino past. There are hints of cinnamon, cooked orange peel, caramel, beeswaxed antique furniture, all beautifully nuanced and integrated. It just keeps on opening out in the glass.
Sweetness: caramel and creamy nuts at first, which then disperses into lots of tangy nuttiness, traces of walnut, oak tannin - not much given the age, but along with that lovely tang it balances things and makes for terrific length. Super smooth, voluptuous, perfectly balanced and so, so good.
This wine comes from a solera dated 1874, roughly the foundation date of the bodega, and averages somewhere around 50 years of age. Only about 3,000 bottles are released annually. A younger wine called El Tresillo is extracted from the same solera at about 15 years old. The young wine entering the solera has already had extensive biological ageing which gives it suitable complexity to develop into one of the finest Amontillados in Jerez. It combines concentration and finesse, complexity and character. It is intensely beautiful! Wine like this requires to be drunk slowly on its own with no distractions while you commune with it, watch it open out and out...
About 60-70 Euros in Spain, probably @ £80 in UK, agents are Caves de la Pyrene

Friday, 15 August 2014

Bodegas: JW Burdon

John William Burdon was born in London in 1782 began in the Sherry trade working as a clerk for Duff Gordon in El Puerto de Santa Maria. He eventually left to start his own business in 1821. Before long he was doing well enough to take over the old Harmony family bodegas, of which little record remains. In 1854 he shipped more Sherry than any other shipper, and prospered. His firm was awarded the Royal warrant by King Alfonso XIII and allowed to use the colours of the Spanish flag on the decoration of his bottles.

He married one Carmen Borges, but there was no issue and towards the end of his life he returned to England, selling the business  to Luis de la Cuesta proprietor of bodegas Jose de la Cuesta (established in 1849 and producers of Troubadour Sherries). Eventually the combined business was sold to Luis Caballero in 1932. Caballero marketed some basic styles of Cuesta and Burdon Sherry into the late 1980s, the latter still with little tassles round the bottlnecks in the colours of the Spanish flag, but not any longer. They are preoccupied with Lustau, who now operate the Burdon soleras.

Burdon's house with his monogram and his magnificent Medinaceli bodegas in C/San Bartolome still stand, but the bodegas are now stables for the Terry horses. Caballero still possess Burdon's accounts and many letters, as well as his clock and an equestrian portrait.

Some of the brands were: Burdon Fino, Dry Oloroso, Moscatel, Manzanilla Don John, Medium Amontillado and Rich Cream, Don Luis Fine Old Amontillado, but the star was Heavenly Cream.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

La Bota de Palo Cortado Sanlucar No. 52 18%, Equipo Navazos

Pale amber with traces of copper, legs.
Big with lots of soft oxidative notes, quince, quite savoury, trace Marmite, quite yeasty and savoury yet some Amontillado notes such as that implied sweet nuttiness - hazelnut, almond and walnut, clean, fine and very complex for such a young wine,  it can't hide its youth but that gives added character - and versatility.
Really quite tangy, dry, quite light and very fresh, some delightful slightly sweet caramel and walnut notes, no wood, amazingly "grown up" for its youth, nutty oxidative notes balance beautifully with the freshness and there is the slightest hint of bitterness and still that tang showing Sanlucar origins at the finish which is pretty long and very clean.
This seriously interesting wine was made from Palomino grapes grown in the Pago Miraflores near Sanlucar in 2010. The must was fermented in steel tanks at bodegas La Guita, where it had only a little interaction with flor, so this is really more of an oxidative wine. It was fortified to 17.5% then aged in 600 litre Sherry butts and 225 litre Bordeaux "barriques" filled almost to the brim to avoid excessive oxidation. The contents of 6 botas cañon (butts sitting on the ground) were selected, these having been seasoned with old Amontillado, giving more complexity and depth. Despite the short interaction with flor, the wine still has noticeable minerality as it comes from coastal vineyards. It was bottled in April 2014 at a modest 18% vol.

This is a ground-breaking wine. Probably the youngest Palo Cortado ever, pretty well from the start, and a vintage wine to boot. Yet technically it satisfies all the legal requisites and is delicious as well- and perhaps more food friendly than the usual heavier, older style of PC. We have mainly Eduardo Ojeda's experience and sense of adventure to thank for this gem.
Around £36 in the UK (as always worth every penny), importers Rhone to Rioja