Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Oloroso Solera 1842 VOS 20%, Valdespino

Deep transparent burnt sienna with ruddy tints fading to a yellow/green rim, slow legs.
Full, deep and most attractive, complex notes of muscovado sugar, toasted bread and almonds, dates, figs, old barrel wood, toffee, slightly burnt caramel, cinnamon and a slight rancio hint. Quite sweet yet serious, tangy and beautifully integrated over its 20 years. It is an Oloroso abocado perhaps but not quite as sweet as a Cream.
Super smooth entry then bursts out with fig and date fuelled tanginess, the sweetness follows, then it all balances up. The sweet exuberant start gives way to a more serious side where the wood and Oloroso come through. This has been more than teaspooned (adding a drop of PX to balance out the astringency of an old wine without obviously sweetening it), but it is less sweet than a Cream being medium to medium-sweet, but the important thing is the flavour, and there's lots of that. Tangy figs and dates, some walnut in syrup, a trace of coffee and an appealing texture. Delicious for sipping of an evening.
This is a lovely wine, well judged in its sweetness. It contains about 10% Pedro Ximenez yet it is not excessive, it just rounds off the wine nicely. The Macharnudo wine is fermented in butts and after a year the Oloroso is fortified to 17% and aged oxidatively in one of the Oloroso soleras which was, of course, established in 1842. The PX is blended in at around the half way point and the blend carries on through the solera emerging after over 20 years as a finished wine. The sugar content is about 50-60g/l, less than a Cream
About £32, but half bottles are available. I got this from Cornelius, Edinburgh. UK importers Liberty Wines.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

An Interesting Interview with Ramiro Ibañez Espinar

Ramiro Ibañez Espinar has degrees in agriculture and oenology. Born in Sanlucar, he began his career in the Sherry zone before going off to other wine producing areas of Spain and other countries. Now back, and after working for various bodegas he has decided to become a winemaking and viticulture consultant, doing much research, especially into vineyards. He has produced an interesting wine which he calls “Encrucijado 2012. His latest idea is looking for the “Real” Palo Cortado. Here is an interview with him in Mas Jerez with fellow Jerez oenologist, Reyes Gomez:

Ramiro with his Encrucijado (foto + jerez)
What exactly is Encrucijado 2012?
It is an artisan vintage wine aged under flor. It is made with Palomino Fino and five other native varieties which historically played a minor role and may have helped the natural development of Palo Cortado. Basically, it is a very young Palo Cortado.

It is Sherry, but outside the DO?
It cannot be a DO wine because it uses grapes which, although they are as old and historic as the Palomino, are no longer included in the Reglamento.

What are the Pros and Cons of going it alone?
The freedom gives one more knowledge, and access to different soils, grape varieties, wines, different vinifications, and the possibility of getting to know the great unknown personalities of Jerez vitiviniculture who have a treasure trove of wisdom. On the other hand, one’s diary is full and one covers considerable distances, but that’s fine.

You are committing yourself to the recuperation of the individual Jerez vineyards. Is that where the future lies?
For a very long time there have been Sherries on whose labels the Pago (vineyard area) or actual vineyard where they came from were indicated. Many others could have done this but chose not to. And of course these wines have an outstanding pedigree. Looking through the thousands of years of history of what is now the Sherry area, you can see that the one common denominator in all these thirty centuries is our soil, the albariza. During this time all sorts of grape varieties white and red have come and gone, dry wines, sweet wines, unfortified wines. Not even biological ageing, oxidative ageing and the solera system, which only appeared in the last couple of hundred years, could be considered indispensable. However much all the civilisations which have passed through here improved the wines grown on albariza, our soil will have something special independently of the grape and winemaking technique. So somehow some of us are trying to put the importance of the albariza area and its individual vineyards back on the map. At least some bodegas recognise this importance.

Now THAT'S Albariza! (foto + Jerez)
Are hand-made individual wines valued in the area?
Such wines are made by artisans all over the area, some are fantastic, some not so good, but they all have personality and express their origin. Hopefully we will see before too long lots of small, quality producers like in France.

With which dish would you match Encrucijado 2012?
Baked sea bass, shellfish soup, duck pate, gilthead baked in salt or any Asian dish.

Any future projects, or are your hands full with Encrucijada?
In a few weeks I’ll be releasing an artisan white wine from one of the oldest single vineyards in the area made from Palomino, but here there are still old pre clonal revolution vines.There is a lot to do, and many projects in the pipeline.

Friday, 24 October 2014

Amontillado 12 Years Old 17.5%, Bodegas Maestro Sierra

Bright, very golden amber, legs.
Lots of Fino character still, in the form of hints of bitterness from the flor and the very slightest trace of Marmite, yet clear oxidative notes of nuts - toasted hazelnuts and almonds, even a honey-nut note, and a vague trace of apple. This is a fresh, smooth, really good Fino-Amontillado, but that term is no longer permitted unfortunately.
Similar to the nose really, quite light, softly nutty, dry, round, tangy and long with beautiful balance. This is a very elegant wine and very versatile with food. It could be served at room temperature or lightly chilled. Either way it is delicious.The bodega suggests drinking it with smoked meat/fish salad or mushrooms.... Some Finos are older than this, but it is not about age - it is about style and quality.
This is the new label. The bodega's Fino ages for 6 years before either being bottled (en rama) or   fortified to 17% before going into the Amontillado criaderas, emerging at about 12 years old as a young, but fine and complex Amontillado. Some of this feeds the old Amontillado criaderas. I love to see the variations in Amontillados, watching them develop from Finos: everything from old Finos to old VORS. Some of these would make an amazing tasting, watching the Amontillado develop. What are you waiting for?!
According to Wine Searcher, this wine is available at Bottle Apostle in London at £14.40 per half bottle. UK importers Indigo Wine.

(foto Migue Zayas/Maestro Sierra)

24.10.14 European Wine Tourism Day in Jerez

Jerez will be celebrating European Wine Tourism Day over three days: 6th – 9th November. It will be a great offer to tourists in the low season, especially as it will include the International Flamenco Day (which lasts for a week). They don’t do things by halves in Jerez!

The organisers of European Wine Tourism Day in Jerez
The Rutas del Vino y del Brandy will be involved as will the City Sightseeing Worldwide bus service. A total experience of Jerez is on offer here, including open doors to bodegas such as Díez Mérito, Cortijo La Jara, Fundador Pedro Domecq, Diós Baco, Garvey, Álvaro Domecq, Miguel Domecq – Vinos Entrechuelos, Sandeman, Williams & Humbert and Luis Pérez.

The councillor for tourism, culture and fairs, Antonio Real also pointed out the contribution of the tabancos, the Ruta de los Guisos (“stew route”), trips round vineyards in all-terrain vehicles and a sketching competition. Also there will be bus routes connecting the three Sherry towns. A walking tour is available too, round the city of Jerez with tasting at Domecq, Harveys and Terry. There will also be theatrical events. In short, every reason to be in Jerez NOW!

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Fino 15%, Bodegas Tradicion

Quite deep for a Fino, golden with the very slightest trace of amber, legs.
Huge, full, complex, assertive. Hints of straw, lots of flor and autolysis, salt and dry scrub, traces of nuts- bitter and even toasted almond, even a passing trace of glace fruit, not so far off Fino-Amontillado, yet there is not a great deal of oxidation here, just an appley almost cidery hint, but overall this reeks of flor, still very much a Fino, and one that could age further as such. No wonder the Amontillado is so good!
Serious, very dry at first but softens a little, very full with tons of bitter flor notes, nutshells, traces only of early oxidation in that cidery hint, bitterness replaces acidity giving great balance and a fair bit of body, that roundness gives way to a very clean bitter dryness and serious depth and length. This is one for aficionados, too extreme for novices, so let's keep it to ourselves!
Fino is a fairly recent departure for Tradicion, (the first release was spring 2013), who set out to deal exclusively in old wines, VOS and VORS. Not that this is particularly young: it is over ten years old, nearer twelve. As the bodega owns no vineyards, the wine is bought in. There are two releases (sacas) annually, in spring and autumn. This example was bottled en rama in spring 2014, bottle number 1254 of 3,000. That is two annual sacas of 1500 bottles each, so bottle no 1501 onwards would be from the autumn saca, not yet bottled. Fino not bottled as such feeds the Amontillado solera. It is bottled, labelled and wax-sealed by hand and has a driven agglomerate cork with a spare stopper cork attached.
92 points from Parker's man in Spain, Luis Gutierrez. 90 from the Wine Spectator. If I believed in points, I would give it 98, it is quite magnificent.
£25.99 from Raeburn Fine Wines in Edinburgh who are also UK agents.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

21.10.14 Ruta del Mosto; Sherry Lecture Cadiz; Consejo Budget

The tourism department of El Puerto de Santa María Council has organised the II Ruta del Mosto as part of the wine tourism programme. The event will take place from the 3rd till the 30th November. Participating bars will offer a glass of mosto (newly made wine) and a tapa for 1.50 euros. The timing of this event is designed to avoid the seasonality of the local tourism.

 On Wenesday 29th October the Atheneum in Cádiz city will play host to a conference hosted by Jose Luis Jimenez entitled “El Jerez, un Vino con Etiqueta”. It will begin at 7.00pm and is in the Calle Ancha, 20.

Jose Luis is a Jerezano whose heart lies in Sherry and film, and the connection between the two. He is president of the Jerez Club de Cine and has been involved in all manner of related projects including the new film “El Misterio del Palo Cortado”. He is also a regular contributor to Más Jerez.

The Consejo Regulador is sharing its promotional plans with the growers. Consejo executives held an informative meeting on Friday with them to explain the generic promotion plans for the key export markets. Aa a result of the agreement on the small levy per kilo of grapes or litre of must for this campaign, the Consejo expects to raise 250,000-300,000 euros for promotional use. The levy is calculated against the annual harvest declaration.

The bulk of the promotional budget will come from the bodegas, whose contribution has increased 25% to 1.25 euros per litre of wine sold, which translates into about 500,000 euros based on current sales. However the main objective is to somehow double the budget by obtaining public funding. This appears to be complicated by the lateness of the stage in the campaign, by cuts and the finance still available from public administrations especially the autonomous regions, which have reduced their budgets in this area considerably.

At Friday’s meeting, which was also attended by representatives of Fedejerez (the bodegas’ association), the president of the growers’ association explained that the purpose of the meeting was to get growers more involved in the use of their contribution and in how it is spent. He noted that it is much better used now than in the past when many growers were complaining.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Bodegas: Primitivo Collantes

The history of this bodega in Chiclana goes back to the end of the XIX century, 1889 in fact,  when the brothers Primitivo and Tomás Collantes Lloredo arrived there from the Valle de Iguña near Santander. Their first harvest was in 1903, and before long they bought from Don Manuel Lloredo, presumably a relative, part of a bodega in the Calle Ancha, 51, which remains to this day their headquarters. This bodega is known popularly as the “Bodega El Gallo” (The Cockerel) and is still run by the 4th generation of the family.

Over the years the brothers worked hard and the business grew. They went on to acquire a site in the Calle Arroyuelo, now the site of their bodega de crianza. In 1946 the company was registered, becoming a limited company in 1973 under the name Primitivo Collantes SA. The firm makes wine and vinegar from the produce of its own vineyards which are in the registry of the Consejo Regulador for Sherry, along with the bodega de elaboración and the bodega de crianza.

The bodegas over the years
The vineyards consist of Pozo Galván (17.3 ha.), Matlián (19.53 ha.) and El Inglés (18.31 ha.) totalling just over 55 hectares of long established albariza soils, very similar to those of Jerez Superior but with a more coastal climate. Wines are fermented in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks before being transferred to butts for ageing in criaderas and soleras. The firm is associated with the well-known oenologist Ramiro Ibañez Espinar.

Seven Sherries are produced and a table wine:

Fino Ceballos (3years old), Fino Arroyuelo (5 years old from solera with 5 criaderas)
Moscatel Viejo Los Cuartillos, Moscatel Oro Los Cuartillos
Amontillado-Fino  Fossi (5 years old)
Oloroso Los Dos (7 years old and slightly sweet)
Cream El Trovador (Oloroso + Moscatel)
Viña Matlián (Table wine made from Palomino launched in March 2014, but only 4,000 bottles)
They also make very good vinegar aged in solera

Address: J. Canalejas, 51, 11130 Chiclana de la Frontera, Cádiz
Telephone: (+34) 956 400 150 and 956 400 767
Visits: Mon- Fri  07.00 – 15.00 by appointment