Thursday, 29 January 2015

28.1.15 The Bodegas Double Promotion Contribution

At the plenary meeting of the Consejo yesterday the bodegas agreed to double their contribution to the promotional budget, meaning 2.5 centimos per litre sold, or an extra 900,000 euros. The initial proposal by Fedejerez, the bodegas' representative body, was to quadruple their contribution to 5 centimos, however while a majority could have been achieved, Fedejerez chose to reduce it to 2.5 in order to guarantee consensus and thus demonstrate the commitment of the bodegas.

While this is a significant increase, it is still felt to be insufficient, but there are many loose ends to tie up. The idea is to raise the matter again before the harvest to keep raising the contributions from both the bodegas and the growers. The growers contributions, known as the "canon de la uva" re-started last year after some years of absence.

Fedejerez wants to see any increases in contributions to be in the same proportion for growers and bodegas, and asked the Consejo to draw up a three year plan to determine the precise budget requirements. As things now stand, the Consejo will have a budget of some 1.5 million euros for this season which will be augmented by the state and the OCM (a European fund for promotion in third - non EU - countries) up to some 2.2 or 2.3 million euros.

A Sherry promotional event in a specialist shop in Madrid (diario jerez)

However promotion in traditional European markets - the major markets - will prove more difficult as a fine line must be drawn between these markets where the quantities are sold and the emerging ones such as the USA and Asia. While this new budget is much better than that of last year, Fedejerez president Evaristo Babe made it clear that more effort is needed and that the matter will need to be looked at again. The increase to 5 centimos will be considered again later, and he said that everyone needs to contribute to the promotion of the wine to generate more addad value ans more profit. "When demand takes off Sherry, which is predestined to be a top level drink because it is limited, because it is a rare asset, will sell better and give more profit to us all including the growers".

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

27.1.15 Manzanilla at Enofusion; Consejo Asks for More Money

Manzanilla celebrates 50 years of Denominacion de Origen with a superb tasting at Enofusion a big wine fair which will be held at the Palacio de Congresos Municipal in Madrid on the 2, 3 and 4 February. The tasting will have the hefty title of “Manzanilla or the Elegance of Ageing under Flor and the Atlantic Subtlety”, and will take place at the Centro del Vino at the fair at 12.00 on 2 February.The tasting will be led by Beltrán Domecq and César Saldaña of the Consejo Regulador.
The nine wines for tasting look fantastic, and they are as follows:

Palomino 2014, Barbadillo (winner of the first DO musts competition)
Manzanilla Gabriela, Miguel Sánchez Ayala
Manzanilla La Guita, Grupo Estévez
Manzanilla La Cigarrera, Pilar García de Velasco
Manzanilla San León Res. De Familia, Argüeso
Manzanilla en rama Solear, Barbadillo
Manzanilla en rama La Goya XL, Delgado Zuleta
Manzanilla Pasada Pastrana, Hidalgo La Gitana
Amontillado muy viejo, saca especial, La Guita

At today’s plenary meeting at the Consejo, Fedejerez will ask the bodegas to contribute more than the current 1.25 céntimos per litre sold as their contribution to the Consejo’s budget in order to give more punch to generic promotion of Sherry. While there is a less defeatist air in the trade, it is felt that everyone should contribute a little more – the Consejo president would like to see the quota tripled – to capitalise on the European City of Wine and Vinoble last year.  

The budget has shrunk dramatically since 20010 – to as low as €600,000 – and while it is now around €1 million, there is definitely a lot of scope for improvement. The Consejo in Jerez could teach a master class in how to stretch a budget, but more money is needed, not just from the trade but from the EU and the Government.

Monday, 26 January 2015

Oloroso Viejo Villapanés 20%, Emilio Hidalgo

Deepish amber with mahogany tints through to yellow at the rim, legs.
Lovely clean fresh Oloroso with a sweet aroma of garrapiñadas (almonds in caramel), hazelnuts, hints of walnut, autumn leaves, old moist barrels, dried fruits, some toasted notes with fine traces of citrus and cinnamon, damp esparto curtains (used at the bodega windows to shield the barrels from the sun). This is a complex wine which at first seems straightforward but just grow and develops.
Velvety, fresh and sweet at first developing nicely, then the drier notes of wood, nuts, mineral, earth, and dried fruits such as apricot, it is dry and there is a noticeable acidity giving the wine a lovely tang which balances the glyceric sweetness and carries across the flavour which has almost interminable length. Beautiful.
This magnificent wine is named after the XVIII century Palacio Villapanés in the Barrio San Miguel not far from this important old bodega now run by the 5th generation of the family in the centre of Jerez. Outside the Palacio is a statue of the legendary singer and actress Lola Flores. The wine comes from the same solera as the Oloroso Gobernador, probably established in the 1870s, which is bottled at about 12 years of age, while the Villapanés is sold at more like 20. Interestingly, some of the butts retained flor for a while before ageing oxidatively, and the bodega feels that it is this which gives the wine its elegance, and no doubt some of its crispness.
About 30 Euros in Spain, and probably about £30+ in the UK where it is imported by Les Caves de Pyrene - who don't seem to do much with it, more's the pity.

More on Parker Points

The influence of Robert Parker on wine consumers around the world is beyond any doubt. Perhaps the Wine Advocate has fewer followers in Spain, but it has a legion of faithful followers in the US and Asia, two of the world’s most important markets for wine, and also for Sherry which has seen itself spurred on in the little more than a year since Luís Gutiérrez joined Parker as his taster for Spain, Argentina and Chile.

Luís finds it hard to conceal his devotion to the wines of Jerez and last year he consecrated two wines with 100 points: Barbadillo’s Reliquia and Valdespino’s Moscatel Toneles. This year another Sherry won 100 points: Equipo Navazos’ La Bota de Amontillado No. 49 Bota AR. There are very few old wines like this in the area and according to Jesús Barquín, co-founder with Eduardo Ojeda of Equipo Navazos, it is a wine that speaks of history, it is a piece of history which took decades and decades, generations and generations to achieve this level of quality.

L-R: Jesus Barquin, Luis Gutierrez, Cesar Saldana (foto diario jerez)

Of all the wines awarded 100 points in the latest edition of the Wine Advocate the La Bota No. 49 is the most affordable at about €75 per half bottle, and Jesús says that he had no doubt that such an exceptional wine would score 100. He does not say this to sell the wine which is already hard to find, but to point out that there are collectors who buy up all the 100 point wines leaving very few bottles available – and the guide has been out for a month already.

Another Equipo Navazos wine, La Bota de Palo Cortado No. 47 (from the same source as No. 49) and a wine from Bodegas Tradición achieved 99 points in the guide. This success extends to Sherry in general. No fewer than 75% of the over 60 Sherries tasted by Luís were awarded 90 points or more, qualifying them as “excellent”, and that doesn’t include some local table wines.

Emilio Hidalgo’s Palo Cortado Privilegio scored 98; five Williams & Humbert wines scored 90 or more: Pando, As You Like It, Oloroso Añada 2001 and the Fino en rama Añada 2006 and Oloroso Añada 1982 both scored 93. Jesús believes that the arrival of Luís was providential for Jerez as he has a much better understanding of the wines and they are now more prominent than before in the Wine Advocate.

The Parker tastings will be centred on new wines, that is to say small sacas, special releases or new vintage wines rather than the same old solera brands which have been in previous editions. César Saldaña, director of the Consejo underlined that the bodegas are no longer limiting themselves to marketing their solera brands as has been the case until recently. They have taken account of the limitations to innovation inherent in the solera system, and though it will naturally continue, many producers are seeking differentiation in which they see many opportunities. He sees this as the right road to take with limited special releases, añadas, seasonal sacas etcetera, giving new challenges to the marketing people.


Saturday, 24 January 2015

East India Sherry

This romantically-named wine is a form of sweetened Oloroso which once found great favour. The name comes from the fact that the East India Company used to carry Sherry on long journeys to the East Indies, and it was found, like Madeira to have improved en route.

The Sherry might have been cargo or used as ballast, but either way it improved. The tradition goes as far back as the early XVII century, in the days when Sherry was known as Sack. The constant movement of a ship meant that the wine also was in constant movement, and this caused slightly more transpiration and oxidation through the wood, giving a more mature, ”finished” character to it.

(Pic: historicalleys)
East India Sherry was very popular, despite its higher price, till the end of the XIX century. Charles Dickens mentions it in “David Copperfield”. The old clerk, Mr Tiffey, visited Mr Spenlow at Norwood and was given a glass of brown East India Sherry, “of a quality so precious as to make a man wink.”

In Jerez there is a saying: "Mareado el buen vino de Jerez, si valia cinco, vale diez"
                                      (Seasick, the good wine of Jerez, once worth 5 is now worth 10)

As sail gave way to steam, and wood gave way to steel, the practice slowly died out. It was also found that the conditions at sea could be approximately replicated on land. Probably the last to continue with it was the Scottish shipping company “Benline”, established by Alexander and William Thomson in Leith in 1825. The origin of this name is that they named their ships after Scottish mountains (Beinn in Gaelic, but pronounced “ben”). Nearly all their business was with the East, but their last shipment of Sherry was just after the turn of the XX century, though the company is still in buoyant good health.

East India being welcomed at Grangemouth (Pic: Scotsman Publications)
In the 1950’s, however,  they thought they might revive this idea, and a butt of Valdespino  Solera 1842 Oloroso was duly sent on a round trip of some 20,000 miles aboard the SS Benlomond.  On its return, the wine was bottled and then a tasting was held to compare the East India wine with one which had stayed at home. The experts present at the tasting (including Andre Simon) were unanimous that the wine (already excellent) had improved, being smoother and rounder, richer and with a more evolved bouquet.

Lustau East India solera (foto +Jerez)
The wine was sold by, among others, Edinburgh merchant Alastair Campbell at 19/- (19 shillings - or 95 pence in current money) a bottle, and was popular enough for a second hogshead, and maybe a few more, to be despatched to the East Indies. The last known bottling was done by Scottish wine merchant Peter Thomson of Perth in 1982. Occasionally a bottle comes up at auction. The only real option remaining, then, for fans of this wine is the example bottled by Emilio Lustau. This wine is entirely produced at the bodega in Jerez but in a selected bodega with higher than normal levels of humidity and heat. It is very good (see post).

(Much information gleaned from Jose Luis Jimenez)

Friday, 23 January 2015

Oloroso Monteagudo 18.5%, Delgado Zuleta

Bright transparent mahogany amber with slight reddy tints to very slightest trace of green at rim, legs.
Forthcoming, generous, open, savoury and balsamic with salty hints, (this is from Sanlucar), walnut, developing notes of wood, cinder toffee and traces of cinnamon, candied orange peel and raisin. An interesting and attractive duality between sweet and savoury.
Nicely textured, plenty glycerol but dry and still very savoury if not particularly tangy. A definite bitter note, only partly from the wood - it's almost as if there were some autolysis there, an almost tapenade note, slightly salty with lots of walnut and a good long finish.
This lovely Oloroso is made from musts selected for their body, is aged for about 12 years, and is from the premium range produced by DZ. The range is named after the Conde de Monteagudo whose vineyards were acquired by the company. The title was created by King Carlos IV in 1794. The IV Conde, Jose Romero Moreno,  was one of the founders of the famous horse races at Sanlucar.
£19.00 at Goya 23, Edinburgh. UK importer: C&D Wines.

22.1.15 Feria Poster; Consejo 80th Anniversary

The poster for the 2015 Feria del Caballo in Jerez has been presented by the mayor, María José García Pelayo and the artist who designed it, José Manuel Reyes. They drank a toast of Tio Pepe. The poster is a photographic reproduction of a work he painted in oil and represents two of the things most dear to Jerezanos: wine and horses. Somewhere in the background there is also an allusion to motorcycling which is also very important to Jerez.  The presentation of this year’s poster is earlier than usual as the council is keen not to lose the momentum gained last year.

The 2015 poster (foto:diariojerez)

The Consejo Regulador will soon celebrate its 80th anniversary. It was established on the 19th April 1935 with the publication of the Reglamento (reglations) of the newly formed Denominación de Origen in the Gaceta de Madrid, now the Boletín Oficial del Estado, and was the first in Spain. The main celebration will not take place till May so as not to interfere with the 50th anniversary celebrations of Manzanilla joining the DO which themselves have been extended to cover the Feria in Sevilla, where so much Manzanilla is sold.

This delay will give the Consejo time to make some modifications to the headquarters building in Avenida Álvaro Domecq in order to make it into a showpiece for Sherry wine tourism. The idea is to use the lovely and well positioned building better and bring it into the XXI century by relocating departments and removing architectural barriers.

Cesar Saldana & Beltran Domecq toast the anniversary

The work, which will cost €400,000 and is 40% funded by the Grupo de Desarrollo Rural, will start next week, and the hope is that it will be finished in two months’ time. The ground floor will have a promotional centre and a multi-purpose room where tastings can be held. Visitors will be able to organise their visits to establishments on the Ruta del Vino y del Brandy de Jerez via an interactive system. A lift will be installed making it easier to reach the main debating chamber on the first floor. Despite all the disruption, work is under way to organise the anniversary festivities which will be put to a plenary in March. These include special labels and lots of tastings.