Saturday, 22 November 2014

Oloroso 12 Years Old 19%, Bertola/Paternina

Appearance
Mahogany/amber fading to yellow, legs.
Nose
Savoury walnut with slight hints of Marmite, fresh, clean and elegant yet fairly pungent with notes of toasty American oak, dried fruits and nuts, especially walnut. Rounded and attractive.
Palate
Smooth with glyceric apparent sweetness but dry with the slight bitterness of the walnut balancing the glycerol. Nice clean oxidation, interesting balance of savoury and sweet, quite full bodied with good length.
Comments
A more than decent well made Oloroso with all the characteristics one could expect. Aged in a solera with 5 criaderas originally from Bertola, then via Rumasa to Paternina.
Price
£ ? Hard to find generally in the UK, but imported by Peter Watts Wines in Coggeshall, Essex


Friday, 21 November 2014

21.11.14 Tsunami in Cádiz? New Book about José Estévez

There is a real risk of a tsunami which could affect the Bay of Cádiz according to the director of the National Seismic Network of the National Institute of Geography of Spain. The most exposed areas are the Bay of Cádiz, Huelva and the Mediterranean coast as well as the Balearic Islands.

The Network has already worked on tests and simulations of undersea quakes of the past, and the National Tsunami Alert Network is awaiting the appointment of a Civil Protection directorate to be fully put into action. All sorts of instruments are sending in data in real time which will be analysed to help predict when and where a tsunami might strike and what height the wave will be.

The Bay of Cadiz (foto la voz digital)
There will probably be less than 5 minutes’ warning, and it is more likely to occur in the Mediterranean, but it would do more damage if it occurred in the Atlantic. The worst natural catastrophe in Spain was a tsunami caused by the earthquake of 1755 which killed 1,200 people in the Bay of Cádiz. Paleoseismic research suggests that there could already have been five throughout history. In the Mediterranean five lower intensity tsunamis have been recorded between 1790 and 2003 provoked by quakes off the Moroccan coast.

The publication of a new book about José Estévez written by his daughter, oenologist Maribel Estévez was celebrated yesterday in the bodegas he founded. It is a hommage to her father, “It is not a biography, it is not a novel but my father would merit many more books. Here I am talking about what I know and what I experienced of a man who did so much for the Sherry business with his perseverance, ingenuity and innovation. It was more difficult writing a book than making wine!”

Maribel Estevez (centre) with her co writer (L) and publisher (R) - diario Jerez
The book displays a lot of professional knowledge, and clearly explains terminology, vineyard work and anecdotes. It describes the family art collection, the coach museum, label collection etc. There is even a chapter in which celebrity chefs give recipes to match to Estevez wines. The book is titled “José Estévez y el Vino de Jerez” and is published (in Spanish) by Canto y Cuento.



Tuesday, 18 November 2014

18.11.14 XIX Fino Days; Organic Wine Seminar

The Atheneum of Wine has announced the programme for the XIX Fino Days. They will take place on Friday 21st and Saturday 22nd and will include conferences, tastings and a visit to Gonzalez Byass. The announcement was made at Bodegas Obregon in El Puerto de Santa Maria, and the Atheneum vice president, Javier Thuiller, said he was pleased with the number of bodegas participating and that this would help promote the classic Fino from El Puerto
.
The Hotel Monasterio will host a homage to Manuel Gonzalez of bodegas Obregon as well as a round table to discuss Fino en rama in which such winemakers as Manuel Lozano, Jaime Gonzalez, Antonio Flores, Juan Carlos Gutierrez and Fernando Romero will take part. The event will conclude with a tasting of Obregon’s Fino La Draga led by Manuel and Álvaro Gonzalez. The following day there will be a visit to Gonzalez Byass with a tasting of Tio Pepe en rama led by Antonio Flores and a meal at the bodega to round off the events.

(foto: la voz digital)

 A seminar on Organic viticulture and winemaking starts today at the Rancho de la Merced organised by the Agrarian Research and Education department (IFAPA) with the support of the Junta de Andalucia. The seminar will last till Thursday and will look at every aspect of organic production which include regulations, certification, production in the vineyard and the bodega and more.  There will be a visit to an organic vineyard and a bodega as well as a tasting of the wine. 

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Amontillado Antique 19%, Fernando de Castilla

Appearance
Quite pale old limpid amber with coppery reflections to pale yellow rim, legs.
Nose
Very aromatic, classic old Amontillado: roasted hazelnuts, old barrels, that implied honey-nut sweetness, fresh and quite crisp, liveliness belying its age, yet very elegant despite being quite full, a beautifully precise wine which keeps on giving.
Palate
Develops nicely on the palate, starting off quite light, but the complexity grows, dry but with hints of softening glycerol which eliminate any astringency, traces charcuterie are followed by hints of oak, toast and loads of nuts. This is an old wine, but it is very fresh, quite tangy, its charm hides its weight. Serious.
Comments
The Antique Amontillado solera consists of three criaderas and a solera, and is fed by wine of eight years of age from the Antique Fino solera. Antique Amontillado is bottled at around 20 years of age and only once a year (in winter, when the lower temperatures help sediments fall naturally) in limited quantities after a minimal filtration. It is excellent.
Price
This wine is sold in 50 cl. bottles, each in a cardboard tube at £26,95 at Drinkmonger, Edinburgh, Scotland. UK importers are Boutinot.


Friday, 14 November 2014

14.11.14 Press Release for Julian Jeffs' New Edition of the Classic "Sherry"

Here is the press release for Julian Jeffs' latest edition of his book "Sherry" which is among the best books ever written on the subject. It should be in the library of every Sherry lover. 

                         The authority on sherry since 1961



The sixth edition of Julian Jeffs’ classic work Sherry is published this November by Infinite Ideas as the third book in its Classic Wine Library.

In 1956 Julian Jeffs got a job (by chance) in the sherry bodega of Williams & Humbert. Having decided he needed to learn all there was to know about sherry he read everything he could lay his hands on regarding the subject. It quickly became evident to him that there was no single accurate, reliable book on the subject and so he decided to write his own. Since then fashions in sherry-drinking have changed dramatically but Jeffs’ book has remained the standard work, published in every decade over the last fifty years.

This revised edition of Sherry is much-anticipated and brings the story right up to date. Much has changed since he first wrote his book. Technological advances mean that the way the wines are made has changed, market forces have seen many great names in the trade disappear and tastes mean that we are drinking different types of sherry than we were fifty years ago.

Sherry covers everything the sherry enthusiast might want to know and also makes a comprehensive guide for anybody involved in the sherry trade.
·         History: from the Phoenician colonisation of Andalusia through the boom years of the late nineteenth century, to the current revitalisation of the trade though the rise of boutique bodegas.
·         Sherry making: detailed chapters on viticulture, wine production and the maturing of sherry.
·         The wine: focusing on the appreciation of sherry and devoting an entire chapter to manzanilla, a sherry that has finally come into its own.
·         Comprehensive, fully updated directory of shippers and thorough appendices and glossary.
This is an essential addition to any wine-lover’s library.

After leaving Cambridge, Julian Jeffs worked in a bodega in Jerez de la Frontera, where he saw every stage in the production of wine. He was then called to the Bar but took two years off to write the first edition of this book, and to pay other visits to Jerez before practising. A successful career in law did not prevent him from writing two more books on wine. In the past Jeffs has been President of the Circle of Wine Writers, and General Editor of Faber Wine Books.

About the book
Title                      Sherry
Edition                  Sixth
Author                  Julian Jeffs
Publication date   20th November 2014
Price                     £35
Specifications       Hardcover, 234  x 156mm, 272pp, mono illustrations, colour plates, also available as an eBook
ISBN                     9781908984296

The Infinite Ideas Classic Wine Library
Port and the Douro, Richard Mayson
Cognac: The Story of the World’s Greatest Brandy, Nicholas Faith
Sherry, Julian Jeffs
Madeira, Richard Mayson (May 2015)
The Wines of Austria, Stephen Brook (September 2015)


14.11.14 Manzanilla's 50th Anniversary

Manzanilla is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the establishment of its own Denominacion de Origen which was written into law on the 15th December 1964. The Consejo Regulador is therefore setting up a promotional campaign with various commemorative activities.

Various oenologists, chefs, hotel and catering people and journalists will participate in these celebrations culminating in an official celebration in Sanlúcar on the 15th December. There will be two commemorative bottlings of Manzanilla, one Fina and one Pasada, as well as an audiovisual production.


The celebrations will extend into 2015 involving the city of Sevilla, Manzanilla’s biggest market, where there will be a big exhibition in which all the Manzanilla brands will participate in April. In Madrid too, there will be a big tasting as the highlight of the Madrid Fusion exhibition attended by wine professionals from all over Spain.


Manzanilla is unique, even in the Sherry zone, where special climatic conditions give the wine its singular quality and style. Of the nine and a half million bottles sold annually, 90% are sold in Spain, where its qualities as an accompaniment to all sorts of seafood and the Mediterranean diet are well known.

Monday, 10 November 2014

Genesis of a Solera


Translated from a fascinating article in El Mundo Vino by Jose Angel Dianes (May 2007)

Sometimes we wine lovers have the good fortune that some of the many butts which, containing very fine or sometimes old wine and lying there in obscurity separate from the traditional andaluz bodega come out from the shadows and transcend their imposed silence and let themselves be known to connoisseurs. Such initiatives usually allow timely bottlings which a chosen few can enjoy, but after which these wines run the risk of falling back into obscurity.

So what should be done? Ideally, this is the opportunity to create a solera which would allow the regular bottling of this wine, thus retaining its quality and hopefully assuring its future. Thanks to the initiative of Jesus Barquin and Eduardo Ojeda, we have been able to enjoy just such occasions recently with some real treasures from the Sanlucar bodega of Sanchez Ayala, founded in 1789. 

Wines like Navazos, NPI or Las Cañas and others which are yet to see the light of day. The bodegas of Sanlucar, which have for so long have played the role of almacenistas for the Jerez brands, have accumulated large quantities of wine which hasn’t had a market, but thanks to the patient and responsible work of the capataces has been kept alive for ageing. Because of the negligible releases of these wines, in most cases they end up becoming part of some blend.

This is what had happened to the already known Navazos or NPI, but also to other Sanchez Ayala wines like Don Paco or Arizon. Let’s examine each one according to what we can establish of their origins and historical antecedents. Once we have a clearer vision, we will reveal the plans, which from inside the bodega and guided by the forerunners of La Bota de..  can be considered as the basis for a solera line which will ensure future consumption of these enological  jewels.

Navazos
The starter’s pistol was fired by the Amontillado Navazos. It is a singular wine, which distances itself from what is usually considered the archetypical Amontillado. The principal organoleptic reason for that is the lack of dominance of the oxidative profile – we could be talking about a very old Manzanilla Pasada. Yet, if we do the sums, the wine in all probability averages over 30 years old. But how can a wine of this age not have been more affected by oxidation? To answer that, we must submerge ourselves in the past of the butts which form the Navazos solera.

Let’s go back. When our 2 friends, accompanied by the great connoisseur Alvaro Giron, came across the 60 butts from which Navazos was selected, in the bodega Sanchez Ayala in the lower quarter of Sanlucar, they met an old wine but one with a marked crianza biologica character on the nose and a concentrated dryness in the mouth. From what could be established with help from the last 2 capataces of the bodega, these butts came from a larger number of butts of a natural Amontillado, a wine which had stopped supporting flor and which had begun to oxidise, and which had been bought by the previous owners of Sanchez Ayala, before the bodega was acquired by Jose Luis Barrero.

During the time of Jose Luis’ predecessors the solera’s scales were almost certainly run, but since its acquisition by JLB in 1986, they were not, except for small rackings to reduce the number of butts where content had evaporated over time. These losses, of course, augmented the alcohol content to 20%. There never took place a second fortification, and the flor died off naturally as the yeast nutrients decreased.

This is a key factor. There were no sacas, and therefore no air to replenish the flor or to oxidise the wine as in an active Amontillado solera. Furthermore, each butt followed its own path as there was no horizontal blending either. And the wine has remained in the perfect atmosphere for Manzanilla – low temperature and high humidity, rather than being moved to a warmer, drier bodega for oxidative crianza. These conditions have slowed down the oxidation. What we have is a Manzanilla Pasada  Amontillada which could normally be produced in say 10 years, which, after a productive period, stopped for 21 years, and is now over 30 years of average age.

Don Paco, NPI & Arizon
Somewhat older than Navazos is the Amontillado Don Paco. From references to its origins and its organoleptic profile, it is an Amontillado with an average age of around 40 years. It is a very old wine, more concentrated by age than Navazos, and in a more oxidised state than its “predecessor”. The solera has no scales, just 13 butts, plus another two, called “las botas del abuelo y de la abuela” which are in an intermediate state, in a sort of organoleptic no-man’s-land with their own character which is between the best butts of Navazos and the most fino of those of Don Paco. Again we have butts which have been here forever, probably as a result of acquisitions and the ownership passing through the generations of the previous owners.

The NPI is a very salty wine – more than saline, a concentrated monster created by age. It was already in the bodega 40 years ago marked as NPI, possibly by one of the Sanchez Portales, past owners of the bodega. There is no record of sacas between 1968 and 2007, and nobody is certain when a saca was last done. No-one knows the wine’s history, and its story probably died with some past capataz.

The Palo Cortado Arizon is a wine which still hasn’t come out, a parallel product to these other soleras. The solera consists of two butts from the “little Altar” of the Don Paco solera which have evolved slightly differently to the others. Organoleptically they are not Amontillado but Palo Cortado, and have been marked as such after the experience of Navazos and all the classification that that entailed. Although its origin is the Don Paco solera, and probably topped up occasionally from Navazos, it’s future is not yet clear, since its particular profile needs to be maintained and developed.

Las Canas y Gabriela
Gabriela, along with Pipiola is the Sanchez Ayala Manzanilla, well known locally and often sold in bulk. It is the firm’s main solera as much for its quantity (a total of 750 butts/toneles) as for its reputation. The butts are really old and many undoubtedly go back 200 years to the firm’s founding. It is a very authentic Manzanilla, with lots of flor character and good acidity, Its freshness and quality are already evident in sobretablas and it has a lot of extract, guaranteeing that it will provide the necessary nourishment for the flor for the long life of the wine. The solera has 12 scales-11 criaderas, the 6th of which is triple and is only run alternately:

11 Criadera – 48 butts, refreshed from sobretablas from finca Las Canas, a white wine full of character and extract
10 Criadera – 50 butts
9 Criadera – 48 butts
8 Criadera – 91 butts
7 Criadera – 51 toneles (bigger than butts) wine beginning to age by now
6 Criadera – 51,53,55 butts (159) run alternately allowing the wine to rest, arriving at the 5th criadera more mature
5 Criadera – 66 butts
4 Criadera – 55 butts
3.criadera – 46 toneles
2 Criadera – 40 butts
1 Criadera – 44 butts
Solera – Total of 46 butts and toneles, the butts in one row above the toneles.



In some of these we can see that despite the ideal microclimatic conditions of the bodega, the flor disappears partially at certain times of year, having virtually run out of nutrition from the wine. It will now easily be 6 years old.

The dynamics of this solera are complicated. A small saca is done every 20-30 days, but all the scales are not run each time. Instead the scales are run up to the 3rd criadera which is left unrefreshed. Once the 3rd has gone through 2 sacas, it is refreshed from the 4th and the scales above are run.
8 of the toneles in the solera were selected for bottling as Las Canas in the 4th “La Bota de”. Las Canas is a finca whose vineyards are situated in the Jerez area of Balbaina, and whose grapes provide the wine for the house’s Manzanilla. The bodega has owned the brand for a long time, despite not bottling it as such regularly.

Like Gabriela, this is a very traditional and authentic Manzanilla with an absolute biological character. This has been achieved, as it always has, by situating the butts in the places in the Barrio Bajo bodega which have the most perfect microclimate for this kind of wine. A place which benefits from a freshwater aquifer close to the albero, as well as Atlantic humidity brought by the west winds. Furthermore the high number of scales in the Manzanilla solera means the scales are run more, providing oxygen to the flor. It is the purest selection of the Gabriela solera.

Tracing the life cycle
For the last 20 years or so, the mermas and sacas of NPI have been replaced with Don Paco, and its own by Navazos. But Navazos has never been refreshed, and so the number of butts has diminished.
We should note here an interesting detail, pointed out by the capataz, Luis Gallego. It is very probable that these butts from Gabriela which are definitively amontillado-ing could easily have gone to stop the Navazos butts, but which in all probability happened sporadically.

So the obvious question was how to refresh the Navazos butts; how to secure the future of these old soleras. The answer was naturally an old Manzanilla. The reactivation of the connection between a Manzanilla solera and Navazos is effectively planned with Las Canas/Gabriela. But in general the idea with this solera structure is not to establish a continuous cycle of running the scales, but to make some blends where necessary and to leave each stopped butt to follow its course. This is the most practical way to deal with the sporadic bottling of this kind of wine, producing a wine with a different personality each time. This is, of course, the opposite of what the traditional solera system is supposed to do, but things here are different, and not always as written in text books, which usually express the general practice, but lack the details which make it really authentic.

So here we are at the birth of a solera, putting things in order for the rebirth of a world class wine.  It is the happy recuperation of an important fragment of the cultural patrimony of a town and its people who must – and do – give a great part of their lives to their wine.