Thursday, 19 July 2018

19.7.18 Harvest Latest

This year’s harvest will be very different to last year’s which was the earliest on record with grapes being picked from 1st August. It looks like being more than a month later, more like it used to be, and right now the grapes are going through the “envero” or colour change which is a key point in ripening. But it has been noticed that some vinifera scions have been putting out roots into the air at grafting points, something which only happens in the tropics and is associated with excess humidity. Certainly winter and early spring brought record rainfall, but this is unheard of. Also virtually unheard of is the appearance of botrytis so early in the season, before the envero, but it too is the result of excess humidity.

Bunches just before envero when the grapes turn golden (foto:Vanesa Lobo/Diario de Jerez)

The grapes are ripening more slowly than usual due to relatively mild temperatures with overnight dewfall and there has so far been no sign of the hot dry Levante wind to dry things out and stop the fungi which cause botrytis, oidium which is widespread especially near the coast, and mildew, which is largely under control. It is turning out to be an expensive vintage in terms of both hours worked and treatments used. What at first looked like being a huge harvest is now looking more like last year’s 75 million kilos or slightly less. While the torrential rain guarantees a large crop, it does not guarantee a healthy one. It looks like the harvest will have to be manual wherever possible as selection will be required, which adds to costs but is something harvesting machines can’t do. So as things stand only a good Levante can help, along with some leaf pruning to better  expose the bunches to the sun.

Wednesday, 18 July 2018

Vino Blanco La Riva 2016 13.5%, M Ant. De La Riva

Mid strawy brassy gold with golden highlights.
The first thing you notice is seriousness: depth and a good degree of ripeness; most Palomino table wines are 12% and lack this depth and intensity. It reminded me slightly of a fine Burgundy, Meursault possibly - it certainly has that level of class, and faint oxidative nuttiness. There are as many fruit notes as those of flor with very ripe/stewed apple and quince balancing the bitter ones of the flor. It has a slight orchard air about it with some wild herbs growing nearby, and also a distinct nod to Fino. It is very complex, intense and beautiful.
This is way more complex and concentrated than any white table wine I have come across so far in Cádiz. It has a lovely chalky grapeskin texture and a gentle tension between that lovely ripe fruit and just a little bitter flor edge. It is clean with reasonably low acidity and lingers for ages. No new French oak barrels necessary for complexity here, just outstanding grapes and winemaking - the way it was done in the past. It makes you realise how much has been lost, and how important Ramiro's and Willy's work is in recuperating it. This wine is utterly superb.
This stunning wine was made by Ramiro Ibáñez and Willy Pérez for their new brand, M Antonio de la Riva, for which they bought the rights. The original firm was famed for quality and they want to maintain that, and have got off to a great start with Oloroso and Moscatel (just 90 half bottles) Viejisimos and an outstanding Fino. This white wine is made from old Palomino 84 vines grown in the Viña El Notario, located in the northern part of the Viña El Majuelo, owned by Fundador, in the Macharnudo Alto. It is well inland with a warmer climate but has a decent altitude of some 115 metres and fantastic albariza soil composed of tosca cerrada and barajuela. The grapes were harvested by hand in mid September and sunned for 8 hours, as was the original La Riva practice, which increased the must weight by 1.2 degrees. The grapes were very lightly pressed for maximum quality and the wine was fermented in butt at ambient temperature using flor yeast, and remained in the butt under the flor for 10 months before only 400 bottles were filled in October 2017 en rama and under a fine quality 2 inch driven cork. If you manage to get hold of a bottle, don't over chill it.
35.50 (and worth every centimo) Guerrita

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Fino 9/65 15%, Alexander Jules

Deep golden amber with golden glints.
Big, generous and rich with lots of yeasty flor and notes of sourdough balanced by a slight strawy buttery note and a hint of almond. There is a fine mineral backbone with a faint trace of apple and a feeling of weight and seriousness. Oxidative notes are just beginning to make an appearance through what must now be pretty weak flor. Most attractive.
Again, full, almost powerful for a Fino which is approaching the crossroads towards Amontillado, but still very much a Fino. Acidity is on the low side, but the bitterness from the flor compensates and is augmented by autolytic notes, faint oxidation and concentration. There is loads of flavour and it carries through to a very long finish. Excellent.
This outstanding Fino comes from the "other" superior Camborio solera which consists of 65 butts selected for their quality and allowed to age longer than the 9-10 years of the normal - and excellent - Camborio which comes from Juan Piñero's Jerez bodega. I think this was the idea of the brilliant oenologist Ramiro Ibáñez, who acted as a consultant. He spotted that some butts had flor of different strains from others and made a feature of it. This wine, then, is a blend composed of a selection from 9 butts in this solera and blends the different yeast strains giving amazing complexity. It was bottled en rama in June 2017 and sealed with a Diam cork.
15 euros per 50cl, Er Guerrita

Monday, 16 July 2018

González Byass and Sustainable Viticulture

This interesting article from was written by Raquel Benjumeda

González Byass is working towards sustainable viticulture and their weapons of choice are biological: roses, woodland daisies, lavender, rosemary, oleander, jacarandas and pheromone diffusers. The latter attract male moths into traps so they can't breed, obviating the need for insecticide, and the others protect the vineyard from mosquitos, spiders and fungi. This is what has been happening at the firm’s Viña La Canariera in the pago Carrascal.

Roses are planted at the ends of the rows of vines for the early detection of diseases which can be lethal to the vines such as oidium, a virulent fungus whose spores blow in the wind. It is attracted to the humidity of the rose petals and in a few days it can cover the leaves in an ash-like powder, killing them off. Once alerted, the vineyard staff can spray the roses and the vines with sulphur, a natural antiseptic.

Rose bushes

The woodland daisies which share soil with the vines begin to feed the mosquitos at the most sensitive stages of the vineyard cycle, the flowering and fruiting. There are referred to as weeds but those which grow spontaneously do not affect the vine’s yield. Lots of flowering oleanders will take over the provision of nectar for the mosquitos from the nearby sunflowers when they wilt offering an alternative to vine sap.

This combination of species protects the vines while avoiding the use of contaminating chemicals and is the method used in so called “integrated production” which has been successfully used for many years with positive results for the company and the environment. Integrated production is an intermediate step between traditional and organic viticulture according to the firm’s agronomist Manuel Delgado.


All the firm’s 414 hectares of vineyards are now managed this way, including the ones near Arcos where they make red wine at Finca Moncloa. There a project is under way to plant trees and shrubs to attract useful wildlife. At the 12 hectare La Canariera vineyard the organic conversion has begun, with no chemical products used for over two years. Next year the official green seal will be issued making it one of few organic vineyards in the area.

Along with the careful plantings in the vineyard, the winemakers will install advanced applications which will provide climatic and agricultural data throughout the seasons in real time so they can predict the conditions which might lead to the presence of fungi and insects and be able to act quickly. The idea is to use chemicals only if absolutely necessary.


There is now more colour in the vineyard than in the days when chemicals were used. Manuel Delgado says “we believe that as well as protecting the vines, this new bio diversity will favour an increase in other species which will fill the vineyard with life and colour. Already there are lots of quail and rabbits which live among the native shrubs which are being planted between the rows of vines. It all adds up to a healthier vineyard and a better product”.

This environmental conscience which distinguished Manuel María González, the firm’s founder in 1835, has been passed down the generations of both family and employees. The principle of responsible use of natural resources has resulted in the firm’s ten point sustainability plan “5+5 Caring for the Planet” created by the first five generations and dedicated to the next five. 

These are the firm's "Ten Commandments":

1 Reduce atmospheric emissions by reducing the use of fuel and increasing the use of electric vehicles in the bodegas and the planting of 10,000 native trees in the vineyards over the next 10 years.
2 Reduce the use of lights by installing high efficiency motion sensor bulbs, conduct audits of energy use periodically and harvest the grapes at night.
3 Increase the use of clean energy. Change from biomass boilers to solar panels for heating water in the bodegas.
4 Save water by using rainwater collection ponds, use controlled deficit irrigation and clean used water using specific algae in the firm’s own water purifying plants.
5 Reduce waste from bodega activity by recovering by-products from winemaking and distillation, production of organic fertiliser from cattle manure and 100% re-cycling of paper, cardboard, glass and plastic generated in the bodegas.
6 Change to eco-design, reducing the weight of glass in bottles, using re-cycled containers and packaging, buying cardboard and wood from certified forests, supporting and educating suppliers to achieve better results.
7 Test sustainable agricultural practices in the vineyards with integrated ecological production, substitute chemical treatments for biological ones wherever possible.
8 Conserve the biodiversity of the environment, protect fauna in danger of extinction, and conserve gardens and native species.
9 Undertake to offer people a range of products which are sustainable and respectful of the environment.
10 Social commitment to employees.

Sunday, 15 July 2018

Vermouth Rojo Premium 15%, Bodegas Osborne

Deep orange tinged brown with coppery glints.
Bright and bitter at first, it really catches the attention with wormwood and quinine, and then notes of bitter orange peel and hints of cinnamon and sweetness from the Sherry come through and it starts to form a whole. It has an attractive tang and is very appealing.
The Sherry is a little more apparent and that up front bitterness subsides a bit. It is not over sweet and has a smooth gentle texture which is lifted by a light, elegant bitterness which imparts a sort of freshness. This is great vermouth, a little different and full of character.
Although originally launched in May, the new Osborne Vermouth Rojo Premium got a bigger and more official launch at Vinoble 2018. The label is striking and the quality is excellent. It is based on a blend of Medium and PX which give it a very smooth character while the botanicals used, which include wormwood, hierba gitanera (dittany), cinnamon, nutmeg, bitter orange peel are mostly locally sourced and typical of the area giving it a good bitter-sweet balance. 

Saturday, 14 July 2018

Atuna 2017 14%, Santiago Jordi

Bright pale lemony gold with golden highlights.
Forthcoming zippy and quite fragrant. Chardonnay can often be a little vegetal with added oak for flavour, but this wine seems not to have any oak and instead has slightly tropical fruity aromas of lemon icing, pineapple and kiwi, very appealing.
It has a lively refreshing tartaric acidity and plenty of those tropical fruit flavours which give it a slightly New World character which is slightly at odds with its Cádiz origins. Nonetheless, it is elegant and fresh and would be perfect for casual summer drinking.
Santiago Jordi Martín is a consultant oenologist and president of the Federation of Associations of Spanish Oenologists. His philosophy is to make interesting wine from small vineyards on poor low fertility soils using traditional methods and varieties with minimal intervention so that the vineyard character can shine through. This 2017 is the first release of Atuna, which is made from 100% Chardonnay, is a Vino de la Tierra de Cádiz. The label illustrates the various cuts of tuna, which the Cádiz coast is famous for, and he produced the wine with accompanying tuna very much in mind. "Bottling the power of the sea of Cádiz, the personality of its aromas and the character of its seafood" as he puts it. Only 6,500 bottles have been produced.
8,95, Licores Corredera

Friday, 13 July 2018

Manzanilla Pasada La Gallarda en rama 15%, Bodegas Covisan

Bright mid gold with golden highlights.
Very fresh and at first on the light side but it grows as it opens out and there are some gentle buttery briny hints along with some fresh herbs including camomile and of course some gently bitter flor and the faintest trace of oxidation. It is a very attractive wine with lots of gentle complexities, all nicely balanced and well integrated.
Fairly crisp and very clean and fresh yet it is a bit more serious than first appears with a noticeable minerality and salinity and traces of buttery cabezuela and flor bitterness showing through. It has a slightly chalky texture and a relaxed complexity with a good feel and length. It starts by refreshing the palate and then leaves a long, more complex aftertaste. Good.
Gallarda means elegant, fine, dashing, which suits this wine. It comes from the cooperative COVISAN in Sanlúcar, established in 1968. IThe brand was introduced recently to respond to the pasada en rama fashion and to celebrate the coop's 50th anniversary. The wine has about ten years solera age. There used to be a Manzanilla Amontillada Gallarda many years ago, but they are not related as the other pre-dated the establishment of the coop.
6 euros per 50cl  ex bodega