Monday, 25 June 2018

Bêtanu 2011 15%, Bodegas Ibargüen

Appearance
Very deep black red with a ruby rim tinged with a hint of brick.
Nose
Forthcoming and well developed with balsamic and toasted hints and faint traces of vanilla and coconut. There is plenty of fruit with notes of overripe blackcurrant and bramble merging with the oak giving a mature, nearly integrated feel and one of the ripeness bestowed by the Andalusian sun. There is also the faintest menthol/eucalyptus note in the background which adds a hint of freshness to a nascent bouquet.
Palate
Full, quite generous and fairly open. It is well structured with decent acidity, alcohol and ripe tannins, and those very ripe fruit notes. This is a wine which is nearing maturity and all its complexities are beginning to harmonise. It has an attractive texture and feels very natural, and the structure doesn't get in the way of the fruit. Well made.
Comments
This is the top of the range red from Ibargüen. It is made from 100% Cabernet Sauvignon grown in chalky calcareous soils at the family vineyard at Finca Las Posadas near Villamartin, not far from the Sierra de Grazalema. The grapes are grown organically before rigorous selection and fermentation in stainless steel. The wine undergoes maolo-lactic in oak barrels and is then racked to special barrels oak with American oak staves and French oak heads where it is aged for at least 30 months. It is bottled unfiltered and then aged for a further 30 months in bottle before labelling and sale. Production is very small and the wine is only made in particularly good years.
Price
22.85 euros, Licores Corredera


Sunday, 24 June 2018

A Plea for Vintage Dates and Batch Numbers on Labels

I spend a great deal of money on Sherry and the wines and spirits of Cádiz. It is my passion, my hobby and my job, so I don’t mind at all, and I could happily drink most of them forever. But for the purposes of the blog, I am constantly looking for something I haven’t tried before, and this can be a problem. While on one hand it is a pleasure to revisit a wine further along its evolutionary path, (and I often do), on the other it can work out very expensive to buy the same wine more than once.

Avoiding this should be simple; I have a note of every wine tasted for the blog, but at the point of purchase it is often very hard to identify a wine’s vintage or batch as it is simply not on the label. It can sometimes be gleaned from lot numbers – which come in various forms and are not always clear - occasionally from different alcoholic strengths, sometimes laser-etched dates on the bottle, or even written in ink on the bottle’s side or its punt, or as a last resort, on the cork - but you have to buy the bottle first. The wine merchant just might know, possibly from the packing case, but if not, it will be difficult to rotate stock and it just becomes a lottery.

While it is only a minor problem - though extremely annoying - it could lead to members of the public buying wines which are past their best, or which have not yet reached it. They might dislike them and never buy them again, doing no good to the bodega’s sales and reputation. Obviously it costs money to print new labels every year – especially for the many small producers - but really not a great deal – and back labels can easily be overprinted with suitable numbers. It really is in everybody’s interest for some sort of intelligible information to be printed on the label, and I urge producers to do so.


Saturday, 23 June 2018

Oloroso Añada 1998 20.5%, Bodegas Lustau

Appearance
Quite viscous with a beautiful deep amber to chestnut colour and coppery gold glints.
Nose
It smells sweet with a sensation of super ripe grapes and aromas of raisining, stewed apple, caramel, toffee, traces of honey and orange blossom. There is also a gentle Oloroso nuttiness. It is much less intense than a PX , and there is an air of fresh, refined elegance along with some real complexity.
Palate
Sweet, yes, but there is an attractive balancing tangy acidity and a lovely grapeskin texture which give it balance and class. It is  complex and intensely flavoured, luscious, fruity and caramelly with more exotic honeyed blossom notes. While it is sweet it really doesn't cloy and it has terrific length.
Comments
This is one of those very rare sweet wines made from Palomino rather than PX or Moscatel, and it works really well. Lustau began this project in 1989. It is only made in certain years where perfect over-ripeness of the grapes can be achieved. Once the grapes are late-harvested, around two weeks after the normal harvest, they are pressed and the must undergoes a partial fermentation which means stopping it by the addition of alcohol before too much sugar has been fermented out, leaving a residual natural sugar level of around 160 g/l. The wine is then aged statically in Oloroso seasoned butts sealed by the Consejo Regulador, gradually growing more concentrated over its 19 years of ageing. It scored 93 Parker points. The 2000 vintage has been released recently and the 1997 is still around, so what about a little comparative tasting?
Price
19.95 per 50cl Licores Corredera


Friday, 22 June 2018

Brandy Solera Gran Reserva 38% Marqués del Real Tesoro

Appearance
Mid depth antique polished chestnut to amber with a trace of green at the rim and amber highlights.
Nose
Refined and elegant with beautifully assimilated aromas, or rather nuances, of toasted almond, Sherry, oak, vanilla, cinnamon and orange peel. All these have melded seamlessly over 20 years into a complex and beautiful bouquet which is still very much Jerez in character.
Palate
Clean and dry with  a fair impact up front, then it opens out and mellows into that delicious complexity above and there are also traces of dried fruit, nuts and fine Sherry. It has terrific length and is so good that it should be enjoyed on its own, slowly, with a good book.
Comments

Lieutenant-general of the Spanish navy, Joaquín Manuel de Villena Guadalfajara was ennobled as Marqués del Real Tesoro by King Carlos III in 1760 for using his own silver for making cannonballs to fight off pirates at sea and defend the King's treasure. His grandson founded the bodega in 1897 having bought the soleras of the Conde de Villacreces and it has long had a fine reputation for its Sherries and Brandies. The firm was bought by Jose Estevez in the 1980s. This excellent Solera Gran Reserva comes from a solera established in 1897 and it is a blend of carefully selected holandas distilled in pot stills and aged for at least 20 years in butts seasoned with Amontillado.
Price
32,50, Licores Corredera




Thursday, 21 June 2018

Harveys Signature Cream 12 Years Old 19%, Bodegas Fundador

Appearance
Very deep amber to brown with coppery gold highlights.
Nose
Sweetened Oloroso really, but quite stylish. An attractive Oloroso character shines through with hints of toasted nuts, faint orange peel, cinder toffee and caramel while the fruity PX notes more restrained. All seems to be in perfect harmony, and I find myself preferring this to HBC (as Bristol Cream used to be known).
Palate
Not quite as sweet as expected but quite full bodied and you can taste the Oloroso which is not tangled up with other things. Yes, it is sweet, but not excessively so and the PX rounds off the wine nicely giving a smooth and elegant style with good length. This is a very decent Cream Sherry.
Comments
Made from a blend of Oloroso (80%) and PX (20%), this is a much simpler blend than its illustrious cousin Bristol Cream, the first ever Cream Sherry, but frankly none the worse for it. It is also older. Sugar content is 120 g/l, and the overall result is quite a serious wine.
Price
15 euros approx per 50cl bottle not often seen here, it all goes to Britain...


Wednesday, 20 June 2018

La Riva Fino 15%, M Antonio de la Riva

Appearance
Bright full light amber-straw with brassy-golden glints, it looks serious right from the very start.
Nose
Forthcoming, intense and complex, it is very serious. There are all sorts of nuances like straw, esparto grass, butter, toasted almonds and dried herbs, distinct oxidative notes and cabezuela. There is some bitter flor but it is balanced beautifully by those oxidative notes which give the wine its seriousness and body. While it is still very much a Fino it is heading towards Fino-Amontillado with all the extra complexity that implies. It is old fashioned, but how could that style have been lost? It is wonderful.
Palate
Full, generous and bursting with mouth-coating flavour, low acidity (no added tartaric acid probably) and all the better for it - it shouldn't be necessary. This is real Sherry, of the classic Jerez style, fuller bodied, more oxidative, textured and expressive. Sadly there are very few like this nowadays. It is totally natural, made by letting nature do what it does best. It has amazing length, just going on and on, lovely!
Comments
This outstanding Fino was bottled en rama in October 2017 but released more recently once the Consejo paperwork was in order. It is one of just 1,500 bottles. The grapes came from the 3.5 hectare Viña Campanilla on brownish-grey soil over tosca cerrada albariza in the pago Balbaina Alta around 10 kilometres from the sea at 65 metres above sea level. The solera is tiny, consisting of just 5 butts; one criadera and one solera. Here the wine ages under flor for a good 10 years and there is one annual saca. Very much the Jerez style of the past, 50 years ago and more. The wine scored 92 Parker points, but I am very surprised it didn't score more, it is quite superb. De La Riva is the joint project of Willy Pérez and Ramiro Ibáñez who bought the prestigious brand name from Beam Global and set out to find and produce wines of at least that standard. I am old enough to remember one or two of the originals, and these are better. Anyway, presentation is of a high standard and is virtually identical to the original and it is sealed with a proper 2 inch driven cork of fine quality, which would help it age well for a good few years in bottle...
Price
26,50 Licores Corredera


Tuesday, 19 June 2018

Manzanilla Pasada en rama Los Caireles 15%, Bodegas Portales Pérez

Appearance
Amber-tinged gold with brassy-gold highlights.
Nose
Fresh and clean with attractive notes of iodine, minerals, salinity, straw and camomile, along with background hints of cabezuela, toasted bread and sourdough which work really well with the wine's very yeasty maritime character. There is even a trace of oxidation in there. This is a true Sanluqueño.
Palate
Very dry and fairly full with lots of herbal flor bitterness and those wonderful slightly buttery, not quite rancio and slightly tangy flavours from the bottom of the barrel balancing with it. This is a serious wine with a slightly chalky texture and considerable depth of character, just enough acidity, and good length. Very good.
Comments
Bottled on 31 May 2018 this is the bodega's first Manzanilla pasada to be released in bottle and it is very goodIt is made by carefully selecting wine from a few butts with over 10 years under flor. The Manzanilla solera in Calle Carmen Viejo is quite small with just 300 butts, but some of the best wine was kept aside and aged statically, and so only 700 bottles have been released and they will be much sought after. This small, charming family-owned bodega in Sanlucar, which goes back five generations, punches well above its weight and all their products are of high quality.
Price
18,50 Licores Corredera