Sunday, 31 January 2016

Oloroso Saca 2015 21%, Sacristía AB

Appearance
Old natural mahogany with an antique patina, fading through amber to a hint of green on the rim with copper highlights and slow legs.
Nose
Intense and utterly charming with notes of wax, bitter orange marmalade, cinnamon, almost incense, and a trace of toasted almond and walnut. There is a rich glyceric quality: a certain unctuousness implying sweetness and a slight vanilla note from the oak, but that is balanced by a slightly more bitter woodiness inevitable in a wine of this age but still controlled. Charming but serious.
Palate
That touch of sweetness carries the wine through. It is a big full bodied wine and there is plenty of wood tannin and volatile acidity yet everything is balanced. Spices, dried orange peel and a very slightly burnt note only add to the complexity of a very old, noble and concentrated wine.
Comments
This beautiful wine was selected by Antonio Barbadillo Mateos from Bodegas Urium in Jerez and released at the end of last September. Urium has some wonderful old wines and this is an absolute charmer. It is the first wine Antonio has selected which does not come from Sanlúcar, and it is very old, at least 50 years and is bottled directly from the butt without any kind of filtration. Probably it belonged to the almacenista Josefa Pérez Rosado from whom Alonso Ruiz bought the bodega in 2006. It is sealed with a high quality driven cork and red wax.
Price
60 Euros for a 50cl bottle.

Saturday, 30 January 2016

30.1.16 Williams & Humbert Hosts Debate on Tartessos; Mauricio González Gordon Wins Award

Williams & Humbert's bodegas were the spectacular scene of the presentation of a new book on Thursday evening. “Legends of Tartessos” by Manuel Pimentel attracted over 250 people to hear about this fascinating subject, and he was introduced by the director of the bodega, Jesús Medina García de Polavieja. The audience, which included Beltrán Domecq, Evaristo Babé and many academics, enjoyed a glass of W&H Sherry at the end of the presentation.


Tartessos was a semi-mythical city-civilisation at the mouth of the Guadalquivir somewhere near modern Sanlúcar, and some believe it could be Atlantis. Various archaeological remains from the late Bronze Age have been found in the area and it seems Tartessos had its own language, making its living from metal and trading with the Phoenicians. There are various references to it in classical literature, especially Herodotus. It is perfectly possible, indeed probable, that the city disappeared under sand or marshes as a result of a tsunami, as did Atlantis.

Mauricio receives award from Rami Aboukhair of Santander

President of González Byass, Mauricio González Gordon, yesterday received the II Prize for Agroalimentary Innovation, awarded by publishing group Grupo Joly and sponsored by Banco Santander. The prize was awarded in recognition of the firm’s values of respect for family tradition, quality and innovation which have characterised it for 180 years, as well as for its inspiring example to other firms in Andalucía. Some 300 people from the worlds of business, banking, politics and agriculture attended the event.

Friday, 29 January 2016

29.1.16 Manzanilla Rebels Call for Dialogue

The Association of Artisan Bodegas of Sanlúcar has issued a communiqué in which they outline their position in the BIB conflict, question the legality of the proposal to modify the regulations, and call for dialogue at the Consejo. After the Junta said BIB could be legal if it was sold only to horeca (hotel, restaurant, catering), the Consejo change the rules, prompting the association to pose a few questions.

Firstly they point out that they had “right from the start tried to maintain dialogue with the Consejo in the belief that what they were doing was legal. The dialogue was kept up with growers, cooperatives etc, but Fedejerez refused to talk”. According to the association the Junta’s report “confirmed that what they were doing was right and legal and that consequently BIB is perfectly legal for certain types of sale such as horeca”.

They also complain that “members of the Consejo did not know about the Junta’s report till the very moment the plenary began on Tuesday, at which Fedejerez produced their proposal to modify the rules to prohibit BIB, which is absolutely legal, even now”. Representatives of the association held a meeting with the Consejo Director 24 hours before the plenary at which “we asked how it was possible that a proposal to modify the rules could be presented when nobody would see the Junta’s report till the start of the plenary. Given that the presentation of the proposal was manifestly irregular, we asked that it be withdrawn”.

The answer was “no” and the proposal remained on the agenda, so at the end of the meeting the association’s representatives gave him a note which “confirmed the irregularities being committed in case the matter were put to a vote. At no time did the association try to coerce or restrict the rights of members of the plenary, but only make them aware via the report that this was an irregular proposal, unjustified, illegal and from a dominant position.” The association says that the Sherry zone needs dialogue and innovative proposals to reactivate things and put an end to the “bodega cemetery” image which has arisen over recent years, and all that is a consequence of conservative policies and a concentration of power to the detriment of the sector as a whole.

The association admits that their “sales as a percentage of the whole DO are small but we represent 80% of the Manzanilla bodegas of Sanlúcar, and quality cannot be measured in terms of scale, but by the artisan process. Members of our association were never rebels but acted reasonably, and that reason was supported by the Junta, and now there are attempts to deny it to us.”

Finally they call for dialogue, “we are all the Consejo Regulador and reason is not a question of taste or preference, especially when the image of quality for the consumer should be the contents, not the packaging, and we fulfil that.”


Thursday, 28 January 2016

28.1.16 #winelover to Visit Jerez; Earthquake

About 30 members of the international community of wine lovers (www.winelover.co) of no fewer than 16 nationalities are coming to town to learn more about Sherry next month. This is to celebrate the 4th anniversary of the community which consists of professionals as well as amateurs. Their trip has been organised by Paladar y Tomar, specialists in wine and gastronomy tourism. All three Sherry towns will be visited and they are booked at Barbadillo, Delgado Zuleta, González Byass, Lustau, Gutiérrez Colosía and Osborne. Williams & Humbert are offering them a tasting of Añada Sherries, and the trip ends with a tasting of wines each member will bring with them. I hope they have stamina - they have a lot to do between the 10th and 13th of February.

They even have special T shirts!
An earthquake of 6.3 Richter struck on Monday. The epicentre was 20 km below the Alborán Sea, part of the western Mediterranean and it was felt along the Costa del Sol, luckily without any damage, but some was suffered in the Spanish enclave of Melilla on the tip of North Africa. The quake was followed by a 5.1R tremor minutes later which was felt as far away as Sevilla and Granada, followed by many milder ones. The African tectonic plate is pushing north and the area between it and Spain has seen much seismic activity. The Bay of Cádiz has many mud volcanoes and the area is no stranger to mild earthquakes. Let us hope seismic activity will not harm Sherry.


Wednesday, 27 January 2016

27.1.16 Fedejerez Proposal Approved

In a very tense Consejo plenary yesterday the proposal of Fedejerez to modify the wording of the regulations to eliminate misinterpretation in relation to BIB was approved. Earlier the Junta had said the rules could be interpreted as allowing BIB to the catering trade, but suggested a proposal to change them as a simple way to make them clear. This would ratify the decision taken at the plenary of 29th September, and approved by 95% of the sector, that all DO Sherry should be sold only in glass. The Junta will have to give this the green light, but the representative of the rebel s, the Association of Artisan Bodegas of Sanlúcar threatened to take action against those who had voted in favour. He complained the Consejo had not issued suitable DO labels for BIB, but the response was that until the rules were clear they could not do so. They are clear now.

Though the BIB affair took up most of the time at the meeting there was still time for other matters. The Consejo will arrange an extraordinary meeting to approve the agreement on calling the elections as soon as they receive the decree from the Junta, which regulates all the DOs in Andalucía. It looks as if the elections will take place at the end of April or the beginning of May.


There was also time to approve the budget, which will be 2.4 million Euros, 1.45m of which will be spent on promoting Sherry in the principal export markets. This budget is 4.6% less than last year due to falling sales as the trade pay a levy to the Consejo as a proportion of wine sold. Over the coming weeks staff at the Consejo will be presenting their proposals to generate public funds, especially from the EU before the window closes in February.

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

26.1.16 Consejo Meeting; Peñín Tasting

It is all happening today at the Consejo Regulador. Firstly there is a plenary meeting to discuss the proposal of Fedejerez to make the text of the regulations clearer regarding the sale of Sherry in bulk: section H4 “Etiquetado y Envasado” (Labelling and Containers) to be precise. The plenary will also look at starting the process of calling Consejo elections which will take place in spring.


Secondly the tasting team from Spain’s number one wine guide Guía Peñín have arrived to set up for their tasting tomorrow of Sherry for the 2017 edition. They tend to start the annual tastings in Jerez, perhaps as an aperitif for the more than 11,000 wines from nearly 70 DOs which they taste each year. Interestingly Sherry was the DO with the highest average score in last year’s guide at 91.67.


Monday, 25 January 2016

Manzanilla Gabriela 15%, Sánchez Ayala

Appearance
Bright, paleish sandy gold with light legs.
Nose
Attractive and compact with considerable elegance. There is lots of flor but it doesn't quite dominate, there is dry scrub mixed with bread dough and a marine salinity but all in perfect balance giving complexity. It smells dry rather than damp and yet has a sophistication which inspires the immediate need to drink it. And I will:
Palate
Remarkably similar to the nose at first before it opens out revealing a super complex wine wrapped up in a cloak of easy sophistication. For the (ridiculously cheap) price this is a very elegant wine which nonetheless retains all the racy, salty flor-driven Manzanilla character - but on a silver spoon. This is a lovely wine, grab it if you can.
Comments
The grapes come from the Las Cañas vineyard in the Pago Balbaina and are fermented with natural yeasts at the vineyard. The wine is aged for about 5 years in a solera with no fewer than 9 crideras. You can tell from the character of the wine that the bodega is in the Barrio Bajo, close to the sea - in fact it was once surrounded by navazos, the now all but disappeared fields cut out of the sand dunes which in their day were on the coast before the sea level receded.
Price
5.90 Euros

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Manzanilla La Kika 15%, Bodegas Yuste

Appearance
Fairly deep strawy brassy gold, looks to be en rama, some legs
Nose
Beautiful and deep, saline flor, olive brine and sourdough. It is quite full, very maritime and reeks of Manzanilla Pasada with the very slightest traces of rope, butter and nuts coming through which indicate that the flor is getting thinner and that air is beginning to influence the wine. If ever a wine smelled of its place of origin, this is it.
Palate
Deep and really quite intense, with great presence, olive brine, sea salt, hints of almond, a decent acidity gives it a tang, and there is a hint of autolysis, all of which adds up to a complexity which is amazing for 8 years of age, and the flavours go on and on in a soft round finish with a bitter flor edge.
Comments
This wine is beautiful but serious stuff. It comes from selected butts in the first criadera of a 400 butt solera over a century old in the bodega Santa Ana. It is only bottled occasionally and in tiny quantities, mainly for family and friends. It is nearly 10 years old yet still retains flor all year round and is thus a Manzanilla pasada, a lovely stage, and it is bottled en rama, 1,000 bottles per October saca. The bottle is a one-off and it even has a tiny spout, along with a long stopper cork which gives a great seal. The wine is named in homage to Francisco's mother, Francisca Brioso, whose portrait appears on the label.
Price
25 Euros. Not easy to obtain.

Saturday, 23 January 2016

23.1.16 Fedejerez Proposes New Strategy

In their agenda for the plenary session on Tuesday, Fedejerez is including a proposal to modify the rules so as to leave no doubt that containers which are not glass are prohibited for wines for human consumption. It is very likely that the proposal will be approved, given that the vast majority, both in Jerez and in Sanlúcar, are against BIB, and Fedejerez hope that this will put an end to the dispute. The rules were slightly vague as to the precise definition of “direct” and “indirect” consumption, and the simple answer is to replace these words with “human”. The Junta will, of course have the final say on any rule changes.

Friday, 22 January 2016

22.1.16 Mosto Sanlúcar; Japanese Venencia Winner

The IV Mosto Competition of Sanlúcar has been a success. No fewer than 37 mostos were entered for the competition which took place at Sanlúcar’s XV century Castillo de Santiago and which is now a firm fixture on the list of cultural events. The Asociación Del Mosto, the organisers, want to spread the word about mosto, preserve and promote local traditions, put more value on the vineyards, revive lost grape varieties and generally promote Sanlúcar.

Noriko with venencia and friends at San Gines (foto:diariojerez)
Noriko Sakumoto, winner of the XVI venencia competition in Japan organised by Fedejerez and the Consejo, has been enjoying her prize: four days in Jerez packed with visits to bodegas and vineyards. To win the prize not only requires skill with a venencia but also a written and a tasting exam. Noriko practised her skills for two hours every day for a year. She and her husband have a restaurant in Japan which has benefitted from the curiosity of locals about her Sherry menu. There are as many qualified venenciadores in Japan as in Jerez now, and recently more and more women.

22.1.16 Events in Sanlúcar

The three largest bodegas in Sanlúcar have made their view of BIB clear. Barbadillo, La Guita and Delgado Zuleta, which between them sell 70% of all Manzanilla, believe that this container harms the image of the wine and its international prestige which have taken centuries to achieve. In a document published today the three firms point out the loss of investment and jobs implied by BIB and ask for meaningful dialogue to seek agreement.

They go on to say that BIB is illegal, and that while the Junta says it could be legal in certain circumstances, there has been no proper resolution of the denunciations by the Consejo for the sale of Manzanilla in BIB by members of the Association of Artisan Bodegas of Sanlúcar. They say that they comply with the law and ask that everyone else does too without getting into arguments about the pros and cons of the BIB versus the garrafa, which is legal. The point out that not only is the use of BIB illegal but it has been refused by the Consejo on three occasions.



According to the three, “the flagrant use of BIB is to fly in the face of market reality and the potential of Manzanilla to generate wealth and added value. It will have a bad effect on employment in Sanlúcar and hit financial resources for investment in quality, vineyards, research and development, infrastructures and parallel industries, affecting the business fabric of the entire region. It would mean that money invested in bottling lines would have been wasted and staff would have to be laid off”. BIBs have been on the market for over 20 years and are associated with poor quality and image, the very things the three bodegas have been doing their best to avoid.


Four bodegas in Sanlúcar have jointly cancelled their membership of Fedejerez. In a communication to the president Evaristo Babé they said they felt they lacked representation and their interests were not defended. Hidalgo La Gitana, Miguel Sánchez Ayala, Juan Piñero and La Cigarrera, all members of the recently constituted Association of Artisan Bodegas of Sanlúcar, have mulled the matter over for some months. They are angry at Babé’s accusations and repeated denouncements both in the press and at the Consejo and at his lack of mediation.

Thursday, 21 January 2016

21.1.16 New Rules for Consejos Reguladores

On Tuesday the junta de Andalucía finally approved a new decree giving the green light to the calling of elections in the 29 Consejos Reguladores of Andalucía. These are normally held every four years, but despite an eighteen month delay this will continue. Also each Consejo will have to elect a president and propose their name to the Junta. The elections in Jerez will probably take place in May or June.
The last elections in Bodega San Gines (foto:diariojerez)
There are some changes in the rules, one of the principal ones being that bodegas which also own vineyard can no longer represent themselves as growers and bodegas at the Consejo, as they have done hitherto. From now on they can only represent their principal activity, a measure by which the Junta hopes to achieve more equality of representation between the different sectors of the trade and minority interests. On behalf of the bodegas Fedejerez had lobbied unsuccessfully against this.


Wednesday, 20 January 2016

What are Enzymatic Biosensors?

These are incredibly useful gadgets which can measure the health of the grapes at the point of reception at the bodega. A common problem at harvest time is Botrytis (Greek = grape disease). This fungus can spread quickly in wet or humid conditions and produces unsightly grey mould on the grapes which can cause various problems during fermentation.

Botrytis affected grapes: no good for Sherry
A key marker for Botrytis is an increased level of gluconic acid (GA) caused by oxidation of the glucose metabolism, and a concentration of over 0.5 g/l of GA can put the must at risk. Biosensors can measure levels of not only glucose (in degrees Beaumé) but also GA - in seconds. The biosensors can also measure malic acid, lactic acid, histamine and sucrose in the must. Selected enzymes react to other substances and a transducer converts this to an electrical signal. In 2011 the Consejo Regulador imposed a limit of 1 g/l of GA in the regulations as it was becoming a problem due to less care in the vineyards as growers struggled with profitability, and the advent of harvesting machines which cannot detect Botrytis - yet. Deductions can be made from the sensors’ results, for instance a grower might not have used sufficient fungicide spray.

Developed by Spanish company Biolán, the biosensors are not cheap, costing 6,000 euros plus the cost of someone to operate them, but eventually pay for themselves with higher quality musts. The arriving grapes must pass a sensor which will spot GA and pass the information to measuring devices. On detection of excess GA unsuitable grapes can be removed. In the past the only way of checking for Botrytis was complex and time consuming laboratory work or an equally time consuming visual inspection.

Biolan Biosensor monitor
It should briefly be pointed out that Botrytis is used to advantage for certain other wines. The great sweet wines of Sauternes, Côteaux du Layon or Sélection de Grains Nobles in France, the Beerenauslesen and Trockenbeerenauslesen of Germany and Tokaji Aszú from Hungary are at their best with a healthy dose, but not if you want dry wine.


Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Amontillado 20% Saca 2014, Sacristia AB

Appearance
Remarkably light in colour for its age, golden amber with brassy, almost coppery, tints and a trace of green towards the rim, legs.
Nose
Intense, concentrated and super complex yet elegant and fragrant. Distinctly Sanlúcar notes at first of sea salt, rope, esparto, then that classic Amontillado glyceric sweetness comes through carrying hazelnuts and traces of oak but never losing the maritime notes. There are still traces of autolysis and bitterness which tell of a Manzanilla past yet they are balanced by the glycerine. Raw and exciting despite its age and sophistication.
Palate
Decent acidity, really quite light, salty and very slightly bitter, this is concentrated Manzanilla which probably ran its full course in crianza biologica rather than being fortified to make it turn Amontillado, so strong are the Manzanilla charecteristics. It is so different to the richer sweeter Jerez Amontillado and the oxidative notes give a trace of apple and the expected nuttiness, while present, is subordinated to the sharper wilder Sanlúcar style. Delicious, long and seriously interesting.
Comments
One of only 350 bottles and sealed with a fine quality driven cork and wax. This the first Amontillado from Antonio Barbadillo Mateos' Sacristia AB venture. It comes from the ancient 100 butt (and one bocoy - a larger butt) solera Conde de Aldama, some of the oldest wines anywhere, now housed in the Sanlúcar bodegas of Francisco Yuste, who bought them a while ago, having had not been run for decades, despite having once belonged to both Argüeso and Valdespino. Thanks to Francisco Yuste these soleras are now safe and thanks to Antonio Barbadillo we can now taste this treasure which is around 60 years old and showing no signs of fatigue. It is bottled with no fining or filtration whatsoever, exactly as it was in the solera.
Price
70 Euros per 50 cl. bottle

Monday, 18 January 2016

Bodegas: José Mellado Martín

This family bodega was founded in 1974, though its founder, José Mellado Martín (born 1935) was brought up with the wines of Chipiona, where in many homes people used to make a little Moscatel, which has an aroma which never leaves you. The Mellado family was no different and José heeded the call to the wine trade. They bought their first bodega, called Bodegón Alobasto in the Calle del Castillo in 1974 and before long were producing 1,500,000 litres and bottling them.

The new bodega built 1990
In 1980 they consolidated with the acquisition of another bodega opposite Alobasto from Florido Hermanos and made this the centre of operations introducing their own brand, called the Playa Regla range, at the same time. Until then they had supplied Moscatel to the big bodegas such as Domecq, Garvey, Real Tesoro, Terry etc. They are now the largest Moscatel producer. In 1985 they launched the Moscatel de Pasas Soleras de la Abuela, a special wine made from selected sun-dried Moscatel grapes.
Moscatel sunning at the bodega
1990 saw the construction of another bodega sited in one of the firm’s vineyards – they own all their vineyard - just off the Rota road, and here they installed more up to date equipment. While they specialise in Chipiona’s famous Moscatel, famous since before Roman times, they also produce a good range of other wines, though they cannot carry the DO Jerez as they are aged in Chipiona. If you are in Chipiona you can buy the wine bottled or draught at the bodega or a two despachos (shops) in the Avenida de la Diputación and Calle Víctor Pradera. The firm is registered with the Consejo as a shipping bodega.

Legendary Chipiona-born singer and actress Rocio Jurado visiting

The Playa Regla range consists of:
Moscatel: Dorado, Oscuro, Especial and Pasas, each with different degrees of sunning and ageing
Fino, Oloroso and Cream

Address: Crtra. A-491 Chipiona-Rota, Km. 2, 11550 Chipiona, Cádiz
Telephone: (+34) 956 370 197

Visits? By appointment

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Manzanilla Fina 15% Viña Callejuela

Appearance
Decent depth of colour: bright pale-ish strawy gold with some legs.
Nose
Fresh, full and soft, well rounded without overt flor - but it is there if you look for it, beautiful balance with a trace of bread dough and distinct maritime notes. There is a certain minerality, a floral trace, chamomile, lavender perhaps, and all beautifully integrated giving an elegant and sophisticated wine.
Palate
Very much like the nose, generous and rounded with a bitter flor tinge, notes of straw and the subtlest savoury hint, medium acidity and terrific length. This is delicious.
Comments
Made by the Blanco brothers from their own grapes grown  in the 15 hectare Callejuela vineyard (in Pago Hornillo, Sanlúcar). These guys do everything from grape to bottle, and they do it very well, partly because they have immense respect for their vineyards, which are beautifully cultivated.
Price
Around 7 euros ex bodega. Quite hard to obtain outside Sanlúcar


Saturday, 16 January 2016

16.1.15 Junta Declares BIB Legal for Horeca

Having asked the Junta for clarification on the BIB affair, the Consejo has been informed that Manzanilla in BIB destined for horeca (hotel, restaurant, bar, catering) fulfils the requirements laid down in the regulations covering producers of Manzanilla de Sanlúcar, though the text needs to be altered. According to the current regulations containers for DO wines shall be made from glass or other materials approved by the Consejo which does not affect the quality of the product and with capacities of between 10cl and 150cl, leaving producers to decide on other capacities so long as they are clearly indicated on the label. However the regulations impose no restriction on types of materials and are thus not sufficiently precise, meaning that as things stand BIB is legal so long as it is clearly indicated that the wine is for horeca and not for sale to the public. The Junta feels that the Consejo should propose any changes in the legislation which it feels necessary so producers can be sure about the rules they must obey, but also feels that it is responsible for interpretation of the rules until such time as the text is revised.

Friday, 15 January 2016

15.1.16 Yuste Re-launches Pedro Romero Brands

Francisco Yuste, Sanlúcar businessman and owner of Bodegas Francisco Yuste, bought much of the wine at Bodegas Pedro Romero after it went bust. He has spent months organising things and is now re-launching some famous old brands: Manzanilla Aurora and the brandies Pedro I and Punto Azul. Interestingly, Francisco's wife and daughter are both called Aurora. The Punto Azul comes in two versions: Prestige and Heritage aged for 50 and 80 years respectively. During the next six months Yuste also plans to release some VORS wines from the pre-phylloxera soleras of the Conde de Aldama. This is fantastic news!


Thursday, 14 January 2016

Manzanilla 1a Saca 2015 15%, Sacristia AB

Appearance
Mid depth strawy brassy gold, legs.
Nose
Attractive, well developed and quite complex with forthcoming marine notes of salt, seaweed and the smell of seawater. There's lots happening here: slightly damp but not over-intense flor, and a trace of camomile - and is it just me but I get a trace of cinnamon? This is really a Manzanilla pasada with its very slight rancio hint and it is really quite mature and very interesting.
Palate
Full and quite intense with a very slightly buttery rancio character balanced by the bitterness of the flor and a decent acidity. It is so complex and ever evolving yet so easy to drink and has terrific length. This is a lovely wine which has aged and still is ageing well.
Comments
From the bodegas of Francisco Yuste, the wine was selected and bottled en rama there in July as the first saca of 2015. Antonio has chosen well. Normally the spring saca would have been earlier but the weather was reasonably mild before the (record) heat of summer hit. The flor must be pretty thin by now, one wonders if it is there all year round. A Manzanilla Pasada close to Amontillada I reckon.
Price
Can't quite remember, I think it was 18 Euros for the half bottle and worth every cent.


Wednesday, 13 January 2016

13.1.16 González Byass Tweaks Packaging; Fedejerez Wants End to BIB; Magellan Ship

Viña AB, Nectar, Alfonso and Leonor are getting a facelift. In this smart new presentation the red capsule denotes a dry wine and the black a sweet one, and Tio Pepe appears in gold at the bottom.


“A lie told often enough becomes the truth.” This expression was used by Fedejerez in reference to the BIB Manzanilla producers and their repeated claim to represent Manzanilla. Following the publication of the manifesto signed by the members of the Association of Artisan Bodegas of Sanlúcar “in defence of Manzanilla and the wine producing traditions of Sanlúcar,” in which they demand more decision making power in the Consejo and ring fencing of the commercialisation of bulk wines, Fedejerez president, Evaristo Babé, underlined that their claim to represent Manzanilla is “completely false” given that their sales represent a minimal percentage of total Manzanilla sales. He insisted on the need to avoid the “manipulation” on the part of the rebels, who account for barely 20% of Manzanilla sales, and thus could not be said to represent its interests.


The rebels have initiated a campaign to collect signatures of support which is seen as one more step by them in the open conflict to get recognition for BIB, a container prohibited by the DO. At the end of summer at a full Consejo meeting, Fedejerez proposed that 100% of DO wine be bottled and bulk sales banned, with the possible exception of small garrafas for domestic use. The rebels, on the other hand want to see BIB as the principal means of supply to bars, restaurants and despachos. Fedejerez will revive its proposal at forthcoming Consejo plenaries at which the rebels are seeking equality or if that is not possible, an independent plenary. Babé insists on getting rid of BIB to protect the quality of wine sold in bars and restaurants and create better value. “Things need to change; it can’t go on like this” he said.


A replica of the first ship to circumnavigate the globe is berthed at Bonanza near Sanlúcar. The Nao Victoria was the only survivor of five ships which set out from Sanlúcar in 1519, under the command of Ferdinand Magellan, to find a new spice route. After many vicissitudes, Victoria returned in 1522 captained by Juan Sebastian Elcano. Big celebrations are planned for 2019, the 500th anniversary. The ship can be seen for a week starting today, and there will be an exhibition on board. For further information contact www.fundacionnaovictoria.org

I have been on board this ship, and wondered how such a small ship could possibly circumnavigate the globe. It is a real testament to the sailors and their courage. They did have plenty of Sherry with them, so maybe that's how!

Monday, 11 January 2016

The Cooperative Sherry Producers

Most wine producing regions have cooperatives; they are necessary and life would be more difficult without them. They consist of many small grape growers, some with tiny plots, who band together to protect their interests and pool resources. There are seven Coops in the Marco de Jerez and between them they produce nearly half of all the grapes, the vast bulk of which are sold in the form of must to the shipping bodegas or almacenistas, many of whom either possess little vineyard or none at all.

Life is not easy for the small producers who are paid very little for their grapes (Sherry grapes are the second cheapest in Spain) and can’t always sell them all. As sales of Sherry continue to decline the bodegas just buy less and the growers are left with unsold wine, currently some 10,000 butts! The Coops have found it necessary to sell their own brands of wine or other products, such as vinegar, in an attempt to reduce excess stocks. They are also up against bodegas taking too long to pay or buying musts at the last minute after the Coop has been forced to reduce the price to make much needed space for the next harvest.

So spare a thought for the growers and their Cooperatives, unsung heroes of Sherry. They are:

Jerez: Nuestra Señora de las Angustias (also known as Covijerez) was established in 1967 and counts 200 members controlling 1,000 hectares of vineyard. Their installations, located in the Circunvalacion (ring road), consist of an ageing bodega with 5,800 butts of Fino Amontillado and Oloroso sold under the Romerito brand, a fermentation bodega lined with stainless steel tanks with capacity for 13.4 million litres and two further buildings, one housing the wine presses, and the other for storage. In 2013, 11 million kilos of grapes were pressed here. (See separate post)


Sanlúcar: Covisan (Cooperativa Vitivinicola Sanluqueña) located on the Carretera Sanlucar-Jerez, km 1.3 was established in 1968 and has 160 members with 350 hectares of vineyard. In 2013 they pressed close to 5 million kilos and the bodega contains 1,450 butts. Some 60 % of their production is bought by La Guita, and they also market their own Manzanilla, Cream, PX and a white table wine under the brand name Covisan.


Sanlúcar: Caydsa (Cooperativa  del Campo Virgen de la Caridad) The bodega itself was established in 1803 and owned during the latter half of the XIX century by Italian emigré Francesco Bozzano. It later passed to the company Criadores, Almacenistas y Distribuidores de Vinos de Jerez SA (Caydsa), then in 1980 to the cooperative which was established in 1959. There are 700 members with 800 hectares of vineyard providing 7.5 million kilos. The coop sold the bodega in 2009 to Nueva Rumasa who re-named it Teresa Rivero, but never handed over all the money, resulting in a lengthy and complicated court case which the coop finally won in 2012. The Coop makes a decent Manzanilla called Bajo de Guia.



Chiclana: Unión de Viticultores Chiclaneros. The coop movement in Chiclana goes back to 1884, but has seen many changes over the years. The current bodega was established in 2000 at Calle de la Madera, 5 and consists of 6,000 m2 divided into 11 buildings. There are 170 members with 215 hectares who produce an average of 2 million litres. The bodega has a few of its own brands which are: Fino Chiclanero, Fino Salinas, Oloroso Matadero, Moscatel Matías Serrano and Cream Sarmiento Padre Salado. They also produce vinegar.


Chipiona: Bodega Cooperativa Católica Agricola is located on the Carretera Sanlucar-Chipiona in Chipiona and was founded in 1922. They have a bodega de fermentación “Los Madroñales” which can produce 1.6 million litres of must in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks. The other bodega “Avenida de Regla” is for ageing wine, all 1.500 butts of it, stabilising and bottling it. This bodega also houses the Museum of Moscatel. Their range of wines is called Los Madroñales, and consists of a Fino, three Moscateles, a decent red and white wine and a consecration wine.


Trebujena: Cooperativa Agrícola Virgen de Palomares was founded in 1957 and has about 700 members with about 710 hectares of vineyard between Trebujena and Lebrija. Of the 8 million kilos of grapes pressed here annually, some 6.5 million litres of must are produced which will fill 13,000 butts. As well as selling musts in bulk to the shipping bodegas and producing vinegar, they also bottle small quantities of their own Fino, Oloroso, Dulce Natural and Cream under the brand name name “Trebujena”.


Trebujena: Cooperativa Vitivinícola Albarizas (also known locally as la Otra or the other Coop) was founded in 1977 by 220 growers with some 710 hectares of vineyard mainly because the other coop, Virgen de Palomares had insufficient capacity. They crush some 3 million kilos from which some 2.1 million litres of must are produced. Their biggest client is Williams & Humbert which buys about half their production.


A word or two should be said about the “cooperative of cooperatives”: Aecovi, the only grade 2 coop in Cádiz. It was established in 1989 consisting of and representing the interests of 4 cooperativas vitivinícolas or wine growing and producing cooperatives: Nuestra Señora de las Angustias in Jerez, Covisan in Sanlúcar, Unión de Viticultores Chiclaneros in Chiclana and Bodega Cooperativa Católica Agrícola in Chipiona.

Aecovi had 1200 members representing over 45% of the Jerez growers and some 2,000 hectares, being 20% of the total vineyard land in Cadiz. Aecovi was responsible, in the name of its member coops, for sectorial agreements along with Fedejerez, Asaja and Coag.


 It was also president of the vitivinícola sector of the Federación Andaluza de Empresas Cooperativas Agrarias (FAECA) via its president Carmen Romero García who also had a seat on the Consejo Regulador in that capacity. Aecovi Jerez also had the vice presidential seat on the Consejo in the person of Francisco Lorenzo Gallegos.

The Coop participated assiduously in the restructuring and reconversion of vineyards having presented 12 plans for it since 2000. The reconversion of 1500ha (656 growers) was financed at a cost of 10 million Euros. For promotion abroad Aecovi received 745,000 Euros for 2011/12.

In 2008, Aecovi decided to market its own brands and not merely sell in bulk to bodegas. Since then, they produced 4 ranges of good Sherry under the brand names Alejandro, Santiago, Alfaraz and Mira la Mar as well a establishing an organic Sherry project. They also marketed a red and white table wine as well as syrups, sauces and vinegars. Unfortunately and despite the quality and innovative nature of their products, Aecovi succumbed to the crisis and was declared insolvent in March 2015. The member cooperatives themselves were not insolvent and are still very much in production, though they are out of pocket.



Fino en rama Mons Urium 15%, Bodegas Urium

Appearance
Strawy, brassy gold with golden highlights, a shade deeper than filtered wines, legs
Nose
Interesting, forthcoming and really quite complex. It is extremely fresh with slightly muted but certainly noticeable flor, less bitter than Manzanilla and more almondy, lots of sour bread dough and slight grassy, herbal traces. There are very slight but attractive waxy notes, and it is quite full and assertive with a definite spring in its step.
Palate
Again quite full, generous and incredibly fresh. Acidity is quite low but is is still beautifully balanced between the developing bitterness of the flor and the sweeter almondy side but that flor helps give it a such a long clean finish. There is just so much character here, it is far better than many.
Comments
This wine is quite delicious and has about 8 years under flor. The solera has 66 butts and the very old bodega is situated in one of the highest parts of Jerez where it can make the most of the poniente (west) wind, and it can certainly be seen in this wine. Like its owner, Alonso Ruiz, it is a real character. The bodega also has older Finos: 10 and 12 years old and a single butt of Fino which still has some vestiges of flor at 30 years old! Nowhere on the label does it mention being en rama, a fact which would surely help sales, but then I doubt if a wine this good needs any help, and it would be a crime to filter it. It tastes remarkably similar to the wine drawn straight from the solera.
Price
11 euros for a 50cl bottle. Available in UK from Sherry Boutique



Sunday, 10 January 2016

Amontillado Oñana 19.5%, Garvey

Appearance
Beautiful mahogany to chestnut colour with copper highlights fading through yellow to a trace of green at the rim, legs.
Nose
Forthcoming, pronounced and charming, ethereal, sweet and nutty - toasted hazelnuts and almonds in caramel with the slightest hint of oak and even slight orange and cinnamon notes. This is  archetypal Amontillado on the nose, a wine matured to perfection.
Palate
Starts off full bodied and the alcohol is noticeable but calms down and evolves into that ethereal character of the nose. The nuttiness and wood come through with hardly any tannin and are gently smoothed off by the glycerine. Fantastic length: it just goes on and on leaving nutty, slightly bitter flavours which I would swear derive from flor.
Comments
This delightful and classic Amontillado is a member of Garvey's Sacristia de Garvey Range all aged from over 15 years and which are limited editions with numbered bottles (this is no. 14523). The solera was established by Patricio Garvey Gómez, son of the founder William Garvey, in 1834 from carefully selected butts of San Patricio and the wine is close to 20 years old. Age of the wine is one thing, the age of the solera is another and this shows the complexity offered by an old solera. Peñín gives it a deserved 93 points.
Price
26.40 Euros from Licores Corredera in Jerez. I have seen it around at more than double that price so take care if you're buying it - which I suggest you do.

Friday, 8 January 2016

Bodegas: Zoilo Ruiz Mateos SL

The original business was established in 1857 in Rota. Zoilo Ruíz Mateos Rodicio inherited the firm which produced the local red wine, Tintilla de Rota, known then (to the anglophones) as “Tent.” He was married to María Dolores Camacho y Cacella.

One of these children is Zoilo (foto:Fundacion Alcalde Zoilo Ruiz Mateos)

Their son, Zoilo Ruíz Mateos Camacho born in Rota in 1900, reorganised the business and associated himself in 1930 with another small bodega, Benítez López, in Jerez. He bought a small (hexagonal!) bodega with a mere 300 butts in the Calle Chancillería from Perico Lassaletta in 1944 and was now happily dealing in Sherry as an almacenista.  He enjoyed a very happy marriage to Encarnación Jiménez de Tejada y del Pozo with whom he had various children. He was a much respected man and mayor of Rota, where a street is now named after him - and one in Jerez too.

A lovely portrait (foto:Jose Luis Jimenez)
In 1952 his three elder sons, Zoilo, Rafael and José María, joined him in the business and in 1958 José María formalised it into a company called Zoilo Ruíz Mateos SA. It was still a modest family business but José María had big ideas. In 1960 he somehow managed to persuade Harveys of Bristol to make him their principal wine supplier with a 99 year supply contract even though he didn’t have enough wine to supply the 96,000 butts Harveys needed. Over the next decade, therefore, he would buy up no fewer than 16 of the Sherry firms which were struggling and amalgamate them into the new Bodegas Internacionales (BISA). Really he was more of a businessman than a bodeguero, leaving  Zoilo to run the Sherry business while he embarked on his Rumasa empire in Madrid. Zoilo died in 1962 and José Maria's sons took over.

The sign reads "The firm started here" (foto:diariodejerez)
Sherry which ZRM could produce was augmented by that of BISA, keeping the remaining brands supplied until Rumasa was expropriated in 1983. The ageing bodega is in the Calle Pizarro next to Sandeman and close to the Real Escuela. Through ZRM Nueva Rumasa bought Sandeman’s bodegas and 400 ha of vineyards with a contract to make the wines for the latter’s owners, Sogrape of Portugal, most of which is made at Garvey.

Both the Garvey bodegas (Complejo Bellavista) and Bodegas Zoílo Ruíz Mateos are being sold by the administrators as a going concern, but together, as they share winemaking and bottling facilities. Also for sale is the iconic Sandeman bodega which is still not yet fully paid for.

Apart from the Sandeman range, the bodega makes three wines of its own: Zoilo Ruiz Mateos Reserva Privada Amontillado, Oloroso and PX, all VORS in fancy cut glass bottles.

In 1994 Williams & Humbert bought the BISA bodega and the Sherry brand Don Zoilo and Brandy Gran Duque de Alba from Marcos Eguizabal who had bought it from the Spanish State. In the end it might be said that this once very good bodega reflects the stories of both Rumasa and Nueva Rumasa.




Thursday, 7 January 2016

7.1.16 Junta Allows BIB for Horeca

The technical services of the Junta de Andalucía’s Agriculture department have given a boost to the Manzanilla rebels by issuing a statement which, at least up to a point, supports their use of BIB. It says it is legal so long as the wine is destined for horeca (the hotel, restaurant, bar and catering trade) which is regarded as “direct” consumption, as the wine is used to make sauces etc. and not for sale by the glass (at least officially). The Consejo Regulador has asked for clarification on the matter, which hinges on whether sale to horeca is or is not direct consumption. It has the power to dictate which containers are used for the wines it represents, and currently it does not allow anything other than glass which must carry its official seals. The Consejo feels undermined by the Junta, which is not really helping to achieve a definitive solution to the problem.


Wednesday, 6 January 2016

6.1.16 Manzanilla Rebels Publish Manifesto

The Professional Association of Artisan Bodegas of Sanlúcar has produced a manifesto “in defence of Manzanilla and the wine producing traditions of Sanlúcar” in which they demand “greater power of decision making” for the Manzanilla DO within the Consejo Regulador, and “respect for its traditions looking toward the future” which would imply the protection of the open sale of BIB wine.

In a note, the Association which was recently constituted to promote, preserve, improve and defend the wine producers of Sanlúcar, calls on the support of citizens in the face of a “situation of continual defencelessness against the persecution and harassment they have been suffering in recent months.” The objective is “to permit the sale of BIB wines as the principal means of supply to despachos (shops selling draft wine) bars, restaurants and tabancos.”

They are also seeking from the Junta, the body which regulates and oversees the Consejo, “legislation which provides the DO Manzanilla with the equality they should have with DO Jerez at the Consejo,” even, if that could be achieved, “the creation of an independent Manzanilla committee where those with no interest in Sanlúcar would no longer have control in decision making.”

Typical BIBs (foto:diariodejerez)

To spread awareness among the citizens of the “gravity” the elimination of BIB wines by Fedejerez, a body which comprises mainly Jerez bodegas, would have, they will initiate a campaign collecting signatures of support for their manifesto. It declares that the wine producers of Sanlúcar form an “integral part of the Marco de Jerez and are the only people responsible for the production of Manzanilla,” and that they have been “losing bodegas and vineyard at an unsustainable rate over the last 30 years.”

The “politics of resistance to change” which “cling to the prestige of the past without recognising the complications of the present and resist looking to the future” bring, in their opinion, “an ever more obvious concentration in the wine producing sector, and with it the loss of producers and of jobs.” They say that the bodegas of Sanlúcar, “always watchful of the quality” of the product and “never forgetting our roots and traditions” must adapt to the demand of the markets, both at home and abroad. They point out that the Fedejerez proposal of “banning BIB” would bring with it “the disappearance of a deeply rooted and traditional means of selling wine in the city of Manzanilla.”

Therefore they ask that the proposals of the bodegas in the DO Manzanilla be “heard, listened to and respected” in their own Consejo Regulador.

Types of Sherry: Pedro Ximénez

PX as it is generally known is probably the sweetest wine on the planet, yet although sweet wines are rather out of favour and represent a niche market, PX sells reasonably well, some 650,000 litres annually in fact, and that is just from Jerez. Many spirits aficionados enjoy whisky or Spanish brandy or even rum matured in a PX butt and many others enjoy it as a dessert wine, while chefs use it in desserts or as a reduction in sauces. All agree it is incredible stuff and pretty well unique.

Nobody really knew the origin of the grape till DNA testing showed it is derived from the Arabic table grape variety Gibi which once grew throughout Andalucía. There are written records of it being called Pedro Ximénez since at least the early XVII century. The name is quite likely to refer to the name of a vineyard owner who made memorable wine long ago, perhaps near Jimena de la Frontera. Another suggestion is that “pero ximén” is a Spanish corruption of the Arabic for “golden drop.” Some hold with the now debunked story of a German Soldier, Peter Siemens, bringing it from the Rhine and it is surprising how many still tell it; even Ximénez Spínola, the Jerez PX specialists. The grape is not at all suited to the Rhine but is perfectly suited to the Mediterranean climate and alkaline albariza soils, and it has a good sugar content ideal for producing sweet wines.

A PX vine with its typical rounded grapes
The vine itself grows on American rootstocks suitable for albariza soil, but these cannot prevent the grapes’ propensity to rot in the overnight dewfall or humid west winds of the Jerez area due to its thin skin, meaning that the grape has declined there to the point of near disappearance. In fact the vast majority of Spanish PX vines are to be found in the DO Montilla-Moriles in Córdoba. Here there is also albariza soil but much less humidity so it is the ideal place for the cultivation of PX, from which they make every style of wine from bone dry to incredibly sweet. In fact such is the shortage of Jerez-grown grapes that Montilla is the main supplier to the Sherry bodegas, some of which once owned bodegas in Montilla.

According to the Consejo Regulador of Jerez PX should be “a wine made from must of at least 85% super ripe or sun dried PX grapes, whose fermentation has been stopped by the addition of wine alcohol, with a more or less intense golden-amber to mahogany even ebony colour, and a dense appearance with aromatic notes of dried grapes, and very sweet and unctuous on the palate.” The wine should have an alcohol content of 15ᴼ-22ᴼ and a minimum sugar content of 212 grams per litre, though it usually contains much more.

Asoleo at the almijar - old way
If we concentrate on Jerez, all PX wines produced there are made by the asoleo (or sun drying) method. Grapes are picked at over 13.5 Beaumé and left exposed to the sun for about 4-10 days during which time their sugar content can treble due to water loss. But there is one exception: Ximénez Spínola. This quirky old bodega also produces a late harvest PX which is made simply from grapes picked later than normal but not sun dried. Yields of must from pasas (sun dried grapes) are tiny due to the water loss through evaporation. Only some 30% of the original juice remains, but it is very concentrated in sugars. The pasas are much harder than normal grapes and therefore need special pressing techniques.

First they go through a set of rollers to extract the “mosto de yema” or the finest juice, and are allowed to slowly drain. This must is sometimes kept separate for the best wines. Next the squashed pasas, now looking more like a paste, go to a small diameter horizontal plate press. More juice is extracted here, but not all, so then they go to the vertical press where they are arranged on “capachos” or circular esparto mats in the form of a club sandwich and the last of the juice is extracted at around 28ᴼ Beaumé (or 28ᴼ alcohol if fermented dry). The juice will probably have already started to ferment, but when the yeasts realise the impossibility of their task they give up, having created hardly any alcohol, so the wine is fortified to about 16ᴼ with either wine alcohol or a mixture of that with some Amontillado or Oloroso – but only if it is made in Montilla, as the latter are also made from PX. It is then filled into butts to begin ageing. Wine is destined for another bodega or DO it will be sent at 22 Beaumé with 9% alcohol to allow the purchaser to adjust it if required.

Asoleo the modern way
As the wine ages it becomes more concentrated particularly in relation to colour, acidity, sugar and dry extract levels, the latter two helping to provide the amazing texture of this wine. Unlike other Sherries though, it loses alcoholic strength because its viscosity is such that it is mainly alcohol which evaporates through the pores and staves of the butt. Interestingly if PX seeps between the staves of the butt it can crystallise and force the staves very slightly apart allowing a little more wine through which makes the butt look like it is weeping. When this happens the wine will need to be transferred to another butt while the original is rebuilt. These slight leaks are known as “salideros”.

Despite most of the Jerez PX coming from Montilla it tastes different. This is down principally to differences in climate and ageing techniques. In Montilla the butts are filled to the brim (“a tocadedos”)and thus the wine is less exposed to air, while in Jerez the butts are only filled to ⅚ capacity (“ a dos puños”)allowing more exposure to air. Over time this gives the characteristic Jerez coffee, cinder toffee and chocolate aromas as compared to the caramel, honey and fig aromas of Montilla, to generalise a little.

After lengthy ageing and slow “merma” (loss through transpiration), some PX wines reach sugar concentration levels of 500g/l. If that could be fermented out – which it can’t – the alcoholic strength would be about 52ᴼ! By comparison a typical Sauternes contains around 120g/l, but in both cases this is natural grape sugar, mainly fructose and glucose in that order, as opposed to the cane sugar (sucrose) which we add to coffee. Despite the massive sugar levels, there is enough acidity for freshness; much the same level as in a Fino in fact.


Huge amounts of younger PX are used for the “vinos de cabeceo” or blended styles of Sherry. Smaller amounts are added to the Medium wines and larger amounts to the Cream or Brown Sherries. Blending can either take place before entry to the solera giving a solera blend, or afterwards by drawing the necessary wines from their respective soleras. Sugar is never added to sweeten Sherry; any sweetening is done by PX (or occasionally with concentrated must from super ripe Palomino). Extremely old Amontillados, Palos Cortados and Olorosos which have developed woody or volatile notes can be rounded off with a drop of PX; not so much that you would notice, but just enough to give the old wine a little more smoothness..

That should be all you need to know to enjoy PX. Just don’t forget your regular visit to the dentist!




Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Jerez Quina/Kina/Quinado

Since time immemorial wine has been praised for its nutritive and restorative qualities, and was much used in the days before proper medicines were available. Sherry was regarded as among the most therapeutic, and featured as “Vinum Xericum” in more than one national pharmacopeia . As the great French microbiologist Louis Pasteur said “Wine is the healthiest and most hygienic of drinks.” Naturally this was promotional gold to the Sherry producers and many set about making it healthier still, with the advice and approval of doctors.

If it's good enough for the Pope...
One of the oldest remedies was quinine, an extract from the bark of the Cinchona tree, native to Peru and Bolivia and brought to Europe by the Jesuits. Despite its very bitter taste, it has fever-reducing and painkilling properties, stimulates the appetite and is effective against malaria. Mixed with wine, especially sweet wine, it is much easier to take. (Tonic water is another way). “Vino Quinado” must contain a maximum of 300 parts per million of quinine.

Most Sherry producers made Quina and whole bodegas were filled with the wine, which generally consisted simply of PX blended with quinine, but sometimes there were other ingredients such as iron, gentian, honey, cacao, fruit, even iodine, and the more they contained the more illnesses they could claim to cure. Many brands carried on their labels testimonials of their efficacy signed by doctors or pharmacists of the day and indeed were sold in pharmacies. The placebo effect was unknown in those days.

Real curative power (foto:gentedejerez)
Typical descriptions were: Jerez Especial para Enfermos, Jerez Reconstituyente, Aperitivo Reconstituyente, Tónico Reconstituyente, Vino Longevital, Salvavidas or Gran Vino Milagroso, all attesting to their curative powers, and a great many had Christian iconography on the labels, particularly of saints who had performed miracles. Some feature nurses, strong people (eg Hercules, Titan) or pictures of the King and Queen who were seen as between earthly and divine.

King Alfonso XIII (foto:jerezsiempre)
During the heyday of Quina from the second half of the XIX century to the mid-1970s, it was consumed by people of all ages, though children were restricted to a spoonful, but nowadays the typical consumer is a person of a certain age, and it is often the only alcohol available in care homes. Production is a fraction of what it was once, mainly due to the vast improvement in medicines but partly due to changing fashions. The Consejo Regulador no longer takes an interest, with quality control now covered by the Ley Española de la Viña y el Vino.




Monday, 4 January 2016

Manzanilla Maruja 15%, Juan Piñero

Appearance
Bright, paleish golden straw with light legs.
Nose
Brine, dried flowers and flor, gentle and balanced with marine hints in the background and a certain charm. Not a huge flor hit like some, rather it approaches quietly with a slight trace of candied fruit, an almost delicate wine, subtle and attractive for that.
Palate
More flor here, briny and bitter on entry, then it reverts back to its gentility. Dry and superbly balanced with a long very clean and elegant finish with a final flourish of flor.
Comments
Made with grapes from the Sanlucar Pago El Hornillo and fermented using native yeasts at the vineyard before being transported to the bodega and fed into an 8 criadera solera. There are 8-10 annual sacas. According to the label it is over 5 years old yet the website says 8-9, which do you believe? Well I believe my palate, and it's telling me 5. There is another older version.
Price
5,90 Euros




Sunday, 3 January 2016

Interesting Sherry Expressions

Being a wine with such a long history, Sherry almost has its own language. Here are a few colourful and interesting phrases:

Vino de Pañuelo: (handkerchief wine) A wine usually Amontillado, Palo Cortado or Oloroso which is intensely fragrant. A few drops on a handkerchief in a man’s breast pocket suffice as perfume - and as a reminder of the wine.

Regar la Plaza: (To water the square – streets and squares are sprayed with water in the mornings to keep them clean and fresh). The expression means to take one’s first glass of Sherry, an oxidised style to lay a foundation in the stomach for the Fino which will surely follow.


This is all you need to "regar la plaza"

Capataz de Chaqueta: The head capataz or bodega foreman, who traditionally wore a jacket. When someone was promoted to this position the workers used to say “Now he can go to work in a jacket.”

Capataz de Venencia: Head technical person in a bodega, also known as the Catador (taster) reporting to the Capataz de Chaqueta. Responsible for wine quality, blends, laboratory and purchases from almacenistas among other things.

La Tiza del Duende: (the chalk of the spirit/muse/divine) This expression refers to the way wines can change by themselves, such as Fino to Palo Cortado. The capataz (de venencia) uses chalk so the markings on the butts can be changed easily.


Por San Andrés, el mosto vino es: Traditionally the fermentations were finished by Saint Andrew’s Day, the 30th November, therefore the must had become wine. Nowadays with global warming it is wine a bit sooner.

The Mosto flag at tabanco El Guitarron (foto: jerezlocal.com)

Jerez Amontillado, mérito doblado: The double merit refers to the fact that Amontillado is matured twice, first biologically and then oxidatively.

Dos puños (two fists) this is the gap between the surface of the wine and the bung hole of the butt giving a fill of about five sixths, ideal for the airspace needed for flor or oxidation.

A toca dedos (till it touches the fingers) This refers to a butt filled to the brim most likely a butt containing a wine to age as an añada or vintage wine, or in the past a shipping butt.


(foto:thevineinspiration.org)
Bota “No” Sometimes referred to as the Bota Punta, this is a butt at the end of the row of the solera. After wine is withdrawn from the solera it is refreshed with wine from the first criadera – but not this one. Instead the Bota No is refreshed with solera wine retaining the solera style as a reference, only slightly more intense, and highly coveted. So "No" means it is to be left alone.