Thursday, 23 November 2017

23.11.17 La Guita in Wine Spectator World Top 100; Aponiente Wins 3rd Michelin Star

The prestigious American wine magazine Wine Spectator has awarded 91 points (“outstanding”) to Manzanilla La Guita from Grupo Estévez. The magazine, which sells some 2 million copies and is considered one of the most influential, edits an annual list of the 100 top wines of the year based on their scores. These take into account quality, value, availability and the pleasure they evoke. La Guita was one of only nine Spanish wines in the list – the only Sherry - and came in at number 30. Naturally, Grupo Estévez is delighted and points out the wine’s 100% Sanlúcar character being made from Sanlúcar grapes grown mostly in the famous Pago Miraflores La Baja and aged in the town’s Barrio Alto.



The restaurant Aponiente in El Puerto de Santa María has been awarded a third Michelin Star, making it the only 3* Michelin restaurant in Andalucía. Owner and chef Ángel León, known as the "chef of the sea" created the restaurant by refurbishing a XIX century tide mill. He also owns a restaurant called Alevante in Chiclana, which was awarded its first Michelin Star. Both have extensive Sherry lists.




        

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Fino en rama 16% May 17, Gutiérrez Colosía

Appearance
Bright amber tinged gold with golden highlights, a shade deeper than the 15% version.
Nose
Fuller, more complex and intense with stronger flor and salty, briny, sourdough notes and less fruit. There is also a hint of seaweed and dried flowers. A couple more years of crianza has allowed the wine to soak up more of the quayside atmosphere in El Puerto, and it really shows.
Palate
Full and deep with lovely flor bitterness and all that brine, perhaps olive brine, and slight traces of oxidation, all in perfect harmony. This is a serious Fino with hints of straw and dry autumn leaves yet it is very fresh, with perhaps a slightly higher acidity which helps it to produce a very long, super clean tasty finish. This is a lovely wine, intense and natural.
Comments
Gutiérrez Colosia have done a very interesting thing and released two Finos en rama, both bottled at the same time, May 2017. This one, with the yellow label, is a shade over five years old and contains 16% alcohol, while the other wine, with a white label is a shade over three years old and contains the standard 15% alcohol. So here are two very different versions of the same wine from different stages of development, and they are both lovely but in different ways. It would help consumers considerably if these subtle differences were made clear on the back label, but they are not. 
Price
17.30 euros per 50cl bottle, Licores Corredera





Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Fino en Rama 15% May 17, Gutiérrez Colosia

Appearance
Bright pale gold with golden highlights.
Nose
Fresh and light with delicate traces of meadow herbs and faint apple, patisserie and lemon peel notes. There is not a great deal of that bitterness imparted by flor but there is a hint of fresh sea air and a suggestion of almond. This is a light young Fino, elegant and most attractive.
Palate
Light and dry retaining a hint of the fruitiness which will be lost to the flor. Acidity is low with only a hint of flor to provide balance and the wine lies somewhere between a Palomino table wine and a full blown Fino, a delightful and very interesting stage of its life, and it has a good long clean finish.
Comments
Gutiérrez Colosia have done a very interesting thing and released two Finos en rama, both bottled at the same time, May 2017, but with different ages and strengths. This one is a shade over three years old and contains the standard 15% alcohol, while the other is a shade over five years old and contains 16% alcohol. So here are two very different versions of the same wine from different stages of development, and they are both lovely but in different ways. Some explanation of this great idea on the labels would help consumers, but, well...
Price
12.60 euros per 50cl bottle, Licores Corredera


Monday, 20 November 2017

Manzanilla la Guita en rama Autumn 2015 15%, La Guita (Retaste)

Appearance
Old gold, fairly deep pasada colour with brassy highlights.
Nose
Showing some bottle age now with slight oxidation-like aromas and butter yet it is surprisingly attractive with some faint nutty Amontillado and dry scrub characteristics, even a faint trace of cheese. It still retains its mineral maritime verve however, and is simply more concentrated than before - and it is certainly more interesting.
Palate
Full, tangy and zippy with all the bottle age characteristics mentioned above which give it extra layers of flavour. It resembles a young Amontillado in some ways but hasn't lost its wild Manzanilla character. It has a long clean tasty finish. This stuff is amazing.
Comments
This was the first - and indeed only - saca of La Guita en rama, and it was a real character. I gather there will be another saca shortly which will be very welcome, so it seemed opportune to take a look at the original again after two years in (half) bottle. Wine matures a little more quickly in this format. Two years in bottle has evolved the wine a good deal and it is not for the faint hearted, but as with all things Sherry, it needs understanding, and the only way to get that is to taste as much as possible. It was very lucky that my local cash and carry was selling off the wine at such a good price. I'd love to know why. Either they think it is over the hill - which it most certainly isn't - or they are making room for the next saca. 
Price
6.50 euros, Roali Cash & Carry


Sunday, 19 November 2017

Brandy Capa Negra Solera Reserva 36%, Sandeman

Appearance
Mahogany tinged amber with bright coppery golden highlights.
Nose
Brown sugar and plenty of vanilla from the American oak with hints of caramel, chestnut and Oloroso combine in a lightish fairly crisp style with a hint of spirit. 
Palate
Smooth, fresh and fairly light, very much like the nose with a fairly crisp clean caramelly vanilla flavour. Very easy drinking and perhaps just slightly simple, but certainly very pleasant.
Comments
Capa Negra translates as the black cape, the famous Sandeman logo, better known as "the Don". The brandy was a later addition the the Sandeman range as they only began selling Sherry in Spain in 1958, and their  distributor suggested they also sell brandy. A major solera was duly established in 1964. The Capa Negra Solera Reserva is a blend of aguardientes aged for one year and the older holandas which is solera aged till it reaches an average age of three years. Like many Jerez brandies it has a trace of sweetening, in this case <8g/l.
Price
14.30 euros, Licores Corredera


Saturday, 18 November 2017

18.11.17 Fantastic Sherry Week Results

In only its 4th year, International Sherry Week has grown from some 200 worldwide events to over 2,500 in over 30 countries in 5 continents. Furthermore it received over 50 million hits on the social networks, especially on Twitter – where it became the trending topic for an hour - Facebook and Instagram. As Consejo Regulador director César Saldaña put it, “it is about sharing a passion”, and the social media are perfectly suited to this, especially among the younger generation, the very people Sherry would like to attract. The wine’s sheer versatility with food helped as well, with many of the events focusing on matching.


Sherry Week has the added attraction of almost running itself, needing only a degree of central coordination, and this level of promotion would cost a fortune through normal channels. Events fell into three main types; those centred on gastronomy (65%), tastings and promotions in shops (23%) and cocktail events – an ever growing category – (17%). Of the 30 participating countries Spain, now Sherry’s largest market, held the most events, numbering about 1,000, a 15% increase on last year. So has Sherry Week increased sales? It is too early to say, but it is certainly laying the foundations for steady growth by increasing awareness and enjoyment amongst the target audience. Roll on next year!


Friday, 17 November 2017

Raya La Barajuela 2015 15%, Bodegas Luis Pérez

Appearance
Bright mid amber with golden highlights.
Nose
There is sweetness and richness here as one would expect from a late harvested wine, with traces of mature Auslese and cider as well, yet there is also a hint of crispness. Distinct notes of well-ripened apple, citrus and dried apricot blend with the familiar but light oxidative notes of Jerez. You can even detect the texture of the grape pulp.
Palate
Fairly sweet on entry and lightly textured but then there is a distinct tartaric acidity, much more than one would expect in a late harvest wine. There are overripe, very slightly rancio, not yet pasa flavours and those appley ones of oxidation too yet the classic Oloroso nuttiness is not quite there yet. The finish is very long and clean, and virtually dry.
Comments
This is an interesting and rather unusual wine, and the only one of its type on the market as the term Raya had disappeared. Willy Pérez is a great experimenter and wants to recreate the Sherry of the past with as much vineyard character as possible. Raya used to be a slightly inferior style of Oloroso often fairly sweet through late picking and used for blending, but this is something else. It is a vintage "Sherry" made the old fashioned way, reaching 15% without fortification, from late picked Palomino grapes in a particular 40 year old parcel of the El Corregidor vineyard in the pago Carrascal, where the soil is the barajuela type of albariza. Harvesters picked the ripest grapes on five occasions over two months, from the start of August to the end of September, providing grapes for various different wines, and the last grapes went into this wine, so they were super ripe. This, along with a short (36 hour) period of sunning the grapes, brought the sugar/potential alcohol readings to a point where 15% could be achieved. After pressing, the juice fermented in butts at ambient temperature and the wine was allowed to age oxidatively. Of the 10 butts produced only one had this particular style, so there were only 550 bottles available, all filled en rama.
Price
40 euros, Licores Corredera



Thursday, 16 November 2017

16.11.17 González Byass Releases Ancient Moscatel

Thought to have been made in the 1850s or 1860s this ancient Moscatel was made before Phylloxera ravaged Jerez in the 1890s. It comes from a single butt laid down in honour of the appointment of Pope Pius X in 1903, and who went on to be canonised in 1954. The wine is made from the Moscatel Menudo grape which was one of 40 permitted in those pre Denominacion de Origen days, but has long been superseded by the Moscatel de Alejandría, and has an alcoholic strength of only 9°. After well over a century of ageing there only remained some 90 litres of wine in the butt which was enough for 120 bottles. Of these, 100 will be sold at £1,000 each, while the rest will be kept at the bodega. Naturally the wine is amazingly intense, but apparently has a remarkable freshness nonetheless.


Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Manzanilla Predilecta 15%, Bodegas Carbajo Ruiz

Appearance
Bright pale lemony gold with golden highlights.
Nose
Quite floral with notes of meadow flowers and camomile along with saline marine notes and  nicely balanced flor. There are slight fruit notes as well with hints of apple and apricot. It is all nicely balanced, fresh and open.
Palate
A yeasty flor start opens out allowing the fruity floral character to come out but the flor is there throughout. It is very dry and light with average acidity and an attractive minerality and really quite complex for its age and has very good length with a lovely bitter flor twist at the end.
Comments
This attractive Manzanilla is made from grapes grown in the firm's own vineyards, all on Jerez Superior albarizas, while the bodega is located in the Barrio Alto of Sanlúcar. Despite being in business since the dawn of the XX century, the firm is not particularly well known outside Sanlúcar and its wines are not seen around very often. That in no way implies that their quality is inferior however. This Manzanilla is aged for an average of three years and is at that attractive stage where there are still traces of fruit to balance the flor.
Price
6.50 euros, De Albariza

 

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Beta Sur NV 12.5%, Bodegas Barbadillo

Appearance
Bright pale gold with golden glints and a persistent bead of very fine bubbles.
Nose
Clean and super fresh with apples, apple tart, yeasty bakery aromas with a mineral edge and traces of crystallised fruit and flowers. The Palomino gives it the apple and the Chardonnay gives it a bit more breadth and seriousness and a buttery hint, but there is still a trace of wonderful Sanlúcar wildness.
Palate
It starts out fresh and crisp with a faintly saline mineral note and plenty of apple, then the Chardonnay comes through with more weight and with an almost toast and butter flavour. Acidity is perfect giving it an attractive tang, and the lack of any dosage means the wine is very dry and elegant without sugar obscuring the flavour. It is beautifully balanced (or poised, even) and much more complex than Beta Brut and more intense with a long super clean finish.   
Comments
This is a new version of the well-established and successful Beta Brut which was the first traditional method sparkling wine produced in Cádiz. Beta Sur is made from the same Palomino and Chardonnay grapes hand-harvested from the firm's own albariza vineyards, and is fermented in stainless steel tanks at low temperature for 2 weeks before bottling for the second fermentation. It is then allowed to age on its lees in bottle for 20 months rather than 9. This allows the wine to absorb more flavour from the lees and develop an even finer mousse. After ageing, the lees are disgorged and the level in the bottle is topped up with the same wine rather than a mix of wine and sugar (dosage) allowing it to be categorised as brut nature as it contains under 2 g/l sugars. While the label does not declare a vintage it is almost certainly 100% 2015. The blend works really well, and the wine is delicious.
Price
8 euros ex bodega


Monday, 13 November 2017

Table Wine Bodegas: Cortijo de Jara

Cortijo de Jara is the Brand name for the agricultural products produced by the group of businesses Puerta Nueva SL run by the García Angulo family which grow various crops like chickpeas and olives as well as wine. They started out more as farmers, but as agricultural produce fell increasingly into the hands of multinationals they felt they had to change, so in 2002 they planted olives and vines on the land once used for wheat and sunflowers.



The cortijo (or farmstead) is an XVIII century, typically Andaluz set of farm buildings, and the name Jara derives from Xara, an piece of land awarded to the area after its reconquest from the Moors by Alfonso X in the XIII century.  The buildings were restored and the cortijo now has full modern bodega facilities neatly fitted into what were once granaries around a central patio. These include grape reception equipment, de-stemmer, temperature controlled stainless steel fermentation tanks, temperature controlled barrel warehouse, laboratory and a bottling and packaging plant. They also have a shop located in a beautiful old house at Calle Medina, 79 in Jerez.



The estate is very large and includes 130 hectares of Arbequina olives which make outstanding Extra Virgin oil. The vineyards amount to 14 hectares and, like all the cortijo’s produce, are virtually organic. A nearby lake helps moderate the climate. They are planted mainly to reds: Tempranillo (60%), Merlot (20%), Syrah (20%) and include 2 hectares of whites: Sauvignon Blanc (20%) and Gewürztraminer (80%), the latter being the first to be planted in the province. Harvesting is done at night where necessary. While the red wines belong to the DO Vinos de la Tierra de Cádiz, the white does not as Gewürztraminer is not authorised. The family has invested huge sums and is prepared to wait for any profits as their philosophy is quality above quantity. A number of medals has proved that the quality is certainly there.

White Wines:
Cortijo de Jara Blanco: Gewürztraminer with a dash of Sauvignon

Red Wines:
Cortijo de Jara Joven: Tempranillo, no oak
Cortijo de Jara Roble: Tempranillo, Merlot, Syrah aged 6 months in oak
Cortijo de Jara Crianza: Tempranillo, Merlot, Syrah aged 12 months in oak

Visits? Yes by appointment, also celebrations catered for
Address: Carretera Estella del Marqués-Gibalbín, km 5.2
Telephone: (+34) 956 338 163
Website: www.cortijodejara.es

Sunday, 12 November 2017

Manzanilla Pasada La Gitana Edición 225 Aniversario 15%, Hidalgo La Gitana

Appearance
Amber tinged gold with golden reflections.
Nose
Complex and attractive with lots of yeasty sourdough, brine and butter dominating rather than the more usual bitter almondy flor - though it is definitely there. This is a fresh yet serious wine with background notes of scrub and dried flowers, and a slightly humid saline feel. There are only very faint traces of oxidation and there is a delightful balance of all those classic Sanlúcar elements.
Palate
Full and very generous, a mineral, very saline backbone supports intense flavours of straw, brine, bitter almond, butter and flor. A little more oxidation on the palate and hints of cabezuela. Acidity is low but there is so much flavour you wouldn't notice. This is absolutely delicious, classic Pasada.
Comments
Having been established by José Pantaleón Hidalgo in 1792, the firm naturally wanted to celebrate eight generations and 225 years in the Manzanilla business, so what better than a limited release of special Manzanilla. And it is special - very special. It is classic old style wine with an average age of around 15 years and very pasada. The most outstanding wines from the finest old toneles gordos - or 1,000 litre butts - in the Bodega san Luis were selected and a blend was created sufficient to fill 1,792 heavy old fashioned Jerezana bottles which bear the old version of the iconic label, and are sealed with a driven cork and wax. You'll need to be quick to get a bottle of this masterpiece.
Price
27.50 euros, Licores Corredera


Saturday, 11 November 2017

Overo Crianza 2015 14%, González Palacios

Appearance
Dense blacky red with a fairly tight deep ruby rim.
Nose
Full and obviously made from super ripe grapes, it has lots of spice notes both from those extra ripe grapes, especially Syrah with its slight hint of smoke, and from the oak. Behind all that spice there is a tight blackcurrant bramble fruit and there is an overall element of polish.
Palate
Full bodied and super ripe with a firm structure both in terms of alcohol and of tannin. There is also a decent acidity which imparts some much needed freshness to balance the heat that emanates from the wine. There is something wild and untamed about it yet it has some charm, and that will develop with a couple more years in bottle.
Comments
This wine comes from the leading bodega in Lebrija and is made from70% Tempranillo and 30% Syrah grown on albariza soils. Overo is the name of the place they are located and is a gentle hill looking over the Guadalquivir marshes and open to the Poniente winds. It is aged for 12 months in a combination of French and American oak and is one of a handful of wines which belong to the Denominacion de Origen Lebrija, the town which legend has it was founded by Bacchus.
Price
8.95 euros, De Albariza


Friday, 10 November 2017

Oloroso VORS Solera de su Majestad 21%, Valdespino

Appearance
Very deep walnut tinged mahogany, bright copper glints fading through amber to a hint of green at the rim. It even looks old but is very bright.
Nose
Forthcoming and profound aromas of walnuts and toasted almonds with balsamic hints and traces of roasted coffee, chestnut and fragrant almost spicy exotic wood notes from the oak. All of these are beautifully harmonised giving an intense bouquet which age alone can achieve. It is full but elegant at the same time, and one could sniff away at it all night.
Palate
Full bodied and intense on entry, then it slowly opens out to reveal its considerable splendour. The spice, nuts volatile acidity and surprisingly gentle tannins are all superbly balanced by a gentle caramel tinged glycerine and there are slight traces of dried fruits, even smoke. It is rich yet dry with almost interminable length and is quite outstanding.
Comments
This is Valdespino's oldest Oloroso, and is over 50 years old. It comes from a solera of only eight butts established towards the end of the XIX century. The grapes came from the pago Carrascal. It is not cheap, but when one considers how beautifully it has developed over so many years - a period that would kill most wines - and how much work and skill have gone into its production - and the sheer quality, it is very good value for money indeed.
Price
85 euros per half bottle, Er Guerrita


Thursday, 9 November 2017

Bodegas: JB González y Cia.

Juan Bautista González y Villar was born in Jerez in 1846. His father, who came from the north of Spain, was a rich landowner and his mother was Mexican. Juan established his bodega in 1870 in the C/Arcos, 55. He bought soleras, some dating back to 1780, and also owned extensive vineyards in the Pago Macharnudo which he tended with great care.

Don Juan (foto:JLJimenez)

With such fine soleras he quickly earned a reputation for excellent quality which won him many international awards. The firm expanded considerably, having to move to larger premises in the old Orrantia bodegas in nearby Calle Matadero, 7 near the railway station in 1896.



González owned a much reputed brandy distillery within the bodegas where he produced a “Cognac-style spirit with a degree of quality and finesse which competes with the most accredited French spirits.” In 1907 the trading name changed to Juan Bautista González and remained as such till the firm ceased trading in 1933. Juan lived in a palatial house at Calle Corredera, 35 with his wife and daughter Juanita.




Their most memorable brands were: Amontillado Fino El Conocedor, Fino Viña del Pleito, Doble Palma, Ambrosía, Solera Palo Cortado Superior, Amontillado Néctar de Ángeles, Manzanilla Mariloli, Brandy Las Meninas, Brandy El Coloso.


Wednesday, 8 November 2017

8.11.17 Barbadillo Launches New Sparkling Wine

A new versión of Barbadillo’s Beta Brut has been launched: Beta Sur. Like its sister wine, it is made from Palomino and Chardonnay grapes grown in the firm’s own vineyards and made by the traditional method with a second fermentation in bottle. Unlike its sister wine, no dosage is added, making it a brut nature, and it spends 20 months rather than nine ageing on its lees in bottle. The Beta wines are not covered by the Cava regulations, but if they were, Beta Sur would be a reserva. The wine was launched at the Flamenco Dance Museum in Sevilla and served along with good music and food specially chosen to match Beta Sur.


Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Oloroso Los Buhos 18%, Wisdom & Warter

Appearance
Chestnut mahogany colour fading to amber with copper highlights.
Nose
Fresh and soft, with a light dried fruit note, traces of oak, not particularly old, somewhere between five and eight years perhaps, but has character with dried fig and walnut and an open friendly style and a faint wax note. 
Palate
Attractive smooth, open textured, fresh young Oloroso. The dried fruit notes follow through and balance beautifully with the oxidative character making it a very versatile everyday Oloroso which is very tasty and has really good length.
Comments
Wisdom and Warter were two Englishmen who in 1854 established a bodega in Jerez and earned a good reputation. The firm was bought out in the 1960s by González Byass and quietly disappeared, but GB still use the brand name for a standard but good quality range of Sherries mostly for export, but they can occasionally be found in Jerez, especially at GB's shop. Los Buhos was the W&W trademark featuring a pair of owls representing wisdom.
Price
6.65 euros, Licores Corredera


Monday, 6 November 2017

Manzanilla Solear en rama Autumn 2016 15%, Barbadillo (retaste)

Appearance
Brass tinged gold with bright golden highlights.
Nose
Full with lots of lovely bitter flor and notes of dry scrubland and briny seaside air with faint traces of pine and butter. It is a little more concentrated than when tasted a year ago and a little more complex. 
Palate
Quite intense with a decent acidity and that flor making it tangy and fresh. It is slightly more buttery than before, slightly more pasada, better integrated, and is as clean as a whistle with great length.
Comments
This delightful wine is still pristine, indeed much better and more evolved after a further year in bottle, with more concentration and intensity, and clearly demonstrates the value of  bottle age. I greatly look forward to tasting it again in another year or two if I can get hold of any more, but there were only 2,500 half bottles in the saca. It comes from 30 + year old vines and the wine has an average age of 8 years in solera plus one in bottle. This saca took place on 20th September 2016 and came from 15 selected butts.
Price
13.90 euros per half bottle, De Albariza


Sunday, 5 November 2017

Barbazul 2014 15.5%, Huerta de Albalá

Appearance
Dense, deep blacky red with a trace of orange in the ruby rim.
Nose
Full, ripe and slightly spicy. It speaks of heat with 15.5% alcohol, a trace of volatile acidity and a trace of jammy dried fruit. There is plenty of black fruit like plum and bramble as well as gentle aromas of the Allier oak and perhaps a trace of smoke.
Palate
Quite a powerful wine with lush super ripe black fruit verging on over-ripe. Luckily there is a decent level of acidity which provides a little freshness, and the tannins are ripe and not excessive. It is still fairly young though, and could do with a couple more years in bottle.
Comments
This Vino de la Tierra de Cádiz is made from a blend of Tintilla de Rota (10%), Syrah (70%), Cabernet Sauvignon (5%) and Merlot (15%) grown and hand picked at the 75 hectare Huerta de Albalá near Arcos de la Frontera owned by Vicente Taberner. This area has seen vine growing since Roman times. The wine is fermented in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks and aged for six months in 225 litre third year French Allier oak barrels. The wine then spends some time in bottle before sale. Barbazul translates as "bluebeard" and is certainly assertive enough for a pirate.
Price
6.60 euros, Licores Corredera


Saturday, 4 November 2017

Lost Styles of Sherry

Sherry is a highly complex wine and is forever evolving. In the past, wines were described as accurately as possible according to their type and stage of development. But this can never be a precise art, and one bodega’s Manzanilla Pasada could have been another’s Manzanilla Amontillada, yet these decisions were made by highly skilled tasters and were pretty accurate. Nevertheless one can see that consumers would be confused, and the labelling regulations were simplified in 2012 as it is of course easier to simplify nomenclature than educate consumers. Some of these styles are still produced of course, but are sold using the simplified nomenclature. Anyway, here is a list of these "lost" styles with brief explanations.

Entrefino is a wine which lies between Fino and Amontillado. The term was mainly used in El Puerto de Santa María and the closest Jerez equivalent would be a Fino Amontillado or perhaps a Fino which was a bit fatter in style. Osborne’s Coquinero is the only commercial example from El Puerto still available.



Amontillado Fino Lies between Fino and Amontillado but closer to Amontillado than Fino Amontillado. It is a youngish Amontillado, perhaps 15 years old, which still has some Fino characteristics. Emilio Hidalgo’s El Tresillo is a rare and delicious example while Viña AB from González Byass used to be labelled Amontillado Fino, now just Amontillado. Cayetano del Pino once offered an Amontillado Fino Oloroso, presumably a fragrant Amontillado Fino. 



Fino Amontillado is the Jerez equivalent of Manzanilla Amontillada or El Puerto’s Entrefino, an older Fino which retains only very thin flor if any and thus shows signs of oxidation. Bobadilla's Victoria (below) changed to Fino in the late 1970s.



Amontillado Pasado is a Jerez style and is a mature wine between Amontillado and Amontillado Viejo. A middle-aged Amontillado perhaps. Not seen nowadays - at least under that name.



Manzanilla Amontillada  Is a stage between Manzanilla Pasada and Amontillado. By the Pasada stage the flor is getting weak, greyish and thin allowing a certain degree of oxidation, yet the wine is still recognisably Manzanilla, just older and more complex usually with over 10 years of average age. Amontillada is older and more complex still, yet not quite full Amontillado.


Manzanilla Olorosa Is a Manzanilla Pasada which over time has developed a particularly pronounced nose which slightly resembles an Oloroso, but still retains the hallmarks of Manzanilla on the palate. Both Barbadillo and Pedro Romero used to offer Manzanilla Fina Olorosa which must translate as “Fine Manzanilla Olorosa”, as Fina is young Manzanilla and as such can’t be Olorosa.



Palma is essentially the proper name for Fino, or at least particularly fine Fino, and its name derives from the chalk mark on the butt which vaguely resembles a palm frond. If a horizontal line is crossed over the mark it is called Palma Cortada and this signifies its suitability to become fine Amontillado. 


As the wine ages the palma can be crossed again. Tres Palmas is Fino at the limit of the flor while Cuatro Palmas will be an old Amontillado. La Riva, Blazquez and Cayetano del Pino used to sell “Fino Tres Palmas” but the only firm using this system commercially today is González Byass.



Oloroso Dulce/Abocado These are terms for Oloroso sweetened with Pedro Ximénez or occasionally Moscatel. They have been replaced by the term Cream.



Amoroso is an Oloroso with a particularly smooth character and more or less sweetness which may come from its high glycerine level or more likely the addition of a little PX.



Pajarete Once beloved of the whisky distillers, this very sweet wine was named after the place it was made in vineyards close to the old tower of Pajarete near Prado del Rey. Thanks to Phylloxera mainly, it has all but disappeared now, though Bodegas Rivero still make tiny quantities. A wine called Pajarete is made in Malaga but while sweet it is not the same.



Raya Is an inferior quality Oloroso, known as Raya macho if full bodied and a bit rough or Raya hembra if  light. They were sometimes made from grapes picked towards the end of the harvest. If it is not too inferior it is known as Raya Olorosa. Butts of Raya often used to be placed in the sun to age them more quickly and concentrate them and they were generally only used for blending. The name had died out until Luis Perez launched an unfortified example in 2017 called Raya La Barajuela. It is not DO Sherry, however.



Vino de Pasto is a modest Amontillado which has been slightly sweetened. Lustau used to offer an example till comparatively recently.



East India was generally a full, rich, sweet Oloroso which had been further aged in butts used as ballast in ships crossing the equator to the East Indies. It is thought that the wine spending months slopping around inside a butt which was not quite full had more effect than the temperatures, but while necessarily expensive, it was popular and many bodegas produced it. Lustau is the only one left and the wine no longer sails the seas but is aged in a warmer bodega.







Friday, 3 November 2017

Table Wine Bodegas: Finca Moncloa

Having successfully experimented with table wines using Syrah at the family owned viña Casa de Postas since 1972, González Byass took the plunge and bought the 45 hectare finca near Arcos de la Frontera in 2000. The climate is tempered by the Guadalcacín reservoir and sheltered from the Levante by the Sierra Valleja, and there is a long tradition of vine growing in the area, going back beyond the XIV century. Soils are chalky limestone and low in organic material, and excellent for making fine red wines. Careful studies were made of soil composition and microclimate and individual parcels established. Vine varieties were then selected for their suitability.



The intention was to recuperate the virtually lost tradition of red wine making and also recuperate the all but lost local grape variety, Tintilla de Rota which had given way to Palomino for Sherry and brandy production. The finca is now planted with 3 hectares of Tintilla, 2 hectares of Petit Verdot, 3 hectares of Merlot, 4 hectares Cabernet Franc, while the rest is Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Tempranillo.




Three wines are produced by oenologist José Manuel Pinedo: Finca Moncloa, Colección Barricas and a traditional sweet Tintilla de Rota which was launched in 2009, being the first time the bodega had produced this wine since the XIX century, though no longer in Rota. Grapes of the different varieties and parcels are vinified separately and a coupage is made after ageing, normally in 1st or 2nd year French oak. The bodega has a capacity for 20,000 cases but is only producing about half of that at the moment. Since 2014 Finca Moncloa has been a member of Grandes Pagos de España, an association of single vineyard wines with indisputable expression of their terroir. 


Thursday, 2 November 2017

Manzanilla Pipiola 15%, Bodegas M Sánchez Ayala

Appearance
Fairly pale almost lemony gold with bright golden highlights.
Nose
Forthcoming and aromatic with classic Manzanilla notes of camomile and salty sea air. There are also slightly floral and gently fruity hints of apple with background notes of briny salinity, minerality, yeast and scrub, but overall it has an air of super freshness and charm.
Palate
There is a very fine balance here between the very gentle bitterness of the flor and the slightly fruity, floral side, so they all have a chance to shine. The level of acidity is spot on and accentuates the freshness and the finish is as clean as a whistle, leaving lingering sensations of camomile, bread and olive brine. The wine is elegance itself.
Comments
The brand and solera Pipiola used to belong to Manuel Garcia Monge, whose widow ran the bodega until she sold it to Sánchez Ayala in the 1980s. Then, the wine was sold as a Manzanilla Amontillada, but it is now a straight Manzanilla. Later the bodega was bought by its current owner, José Luis Barrero Jiménez. While José Luis has plans to bottle it someday, it is only sold on draught at the bodega at the moment. To relaunch it in bottle would be costly and need much promotion. At least it is being looked after with loving care for the time being, and in a bodega which is extremely close to the beach. The word "pipiola" is colloquial for someone young and inexperienced, a novice.
Price
3.65 per litre draught ex bodega

The Pipiola solera and old label

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

1.11.17 London Sherry Trail Map Launched

The Sherry Institute in Britain has created a fantastic map of the London Sherry Bars, and it is impressive to note that there are as many as 47. Publication of the map comes just in time for International Sherry Week (ISW) and the map provides all the information you could possibly need to find a good glass of Sherry in the capital. It lists all the bars and gives their contact details and can be downloaded at: http://www.sherry.wine/sites/default/files/a4_london_sherry_trail_map.pdf

Many will be organising ISW events, so here is a golden opportunity to try all sorts of gastronomic combinations with the most versatile of wines: Sherry. Each time you visit one of these establishments you are encouraged to share your experience on social media at #SherryLondon. Meanwhile, everything you could possibly need to know about ISW can be found at:
http://www.sherry.wine/sherryweek and don't forget it all kicks off on Monay 6 November!


Tuesday, 31 October 2017

31.10.17 Romate Launch New Labels; González Byass Launch 2017 Palmas

Despite having being established in 1781, Bodegas Sánchez Romate are always innovating and yesterday they presented the new bottle design for their standard range to 300 members of the Cádiz and Sevilla horeca sector at the bodega. The traditional tall round dark bottle has been replaced with a paler Burgundy style bottle and modern labels, and it is hoped that the whole package will have more appeal to younger drinkers as it looks less Sherry-like. As before the bottles are sealed with screw caps. The new presentation will be available from January.



González Byass have released the 2017 Palma Collection known as the “Ages of Tio Pepe”. As is customary, GB oenologist Antonio Flores was assisted in his selection by Pedro Ballesteros, the first Spanish Master of Wine. Selections were made from various of the older Tio Pepe soleras, the oldest dating from 1880. GB are now the only bodega to bottle wines labelled as Palmas, which are Finos of particular finesse, and the higher the number, the greater the age. As Antonio put it “we have bottled the power of the albariza and the magic of the flor”. The details are:

Una Palma: A blend of wines from 3 butts with an average age of 6 years, lots of flor.
Dos Palmas: A blend of wines from 2 butts with an average age of 8 years, a little less flor.
Tres Palmas: Wine from a single butt with an average age of 10 years, very thin flor.

Cuatro Palmas: Wine from a single butt with an average age of 52 years, an old Amontillado which still shows traces of its Fino background.


Monday, 30 October 2017

Brandy Mons Urium Solera Gran Reserva 36%, Bodegas Urium

Appearance
Deep walnut mahogany with copper highlights fading through amber to a faintly green tinged rim.
Nose
Full and rich with distinct notes of vanilla and oak, walnut and toasted almond, all nicely harmonised with age. There is a hint of caramel sweetness balancing the spice from the oak and adding to the considerable complexity of a fairly powerful brandy.
Palate
Classic Jerez brandy; rich, full, characterful and round with plenty of oak yet not excessively tannic despite its age. There are distinct Oloroso notes and a faint rancio note along with nuts and a faint trace of dried fruits. The intense flavour lasts for ages and it takes a drop of water well.
Comments
Produced specially for Urium as this small bodega doesn't have the room for a brandy solera, it is occasionally bottled in limited amounts, and is an excellent brandy, though Urium don't make a big thing of it; it doesn't even feature on the website though it certainly deserves to.
Price
21.10 euros, Licores Corredera

Sorry.....couldn't wait!

Sunday, 29 October 2017

29.10.17 Universo Santi Inauguration Ceremony

The official inauguration ceremony took place on Friday in the presence of the mayoress of Jerez, Mamén Sánchez, the president of González Byass, Mauricio González Gordon, representatives of the Junta de Andalucía and the 30 or so institutions which have supported the project. The haute cuisine restaurant is the first in the world to be staffed entirely by people with some form of disability who have been given a chance to show that they too can contribute to society. The Diario de Jerez reported the event noting that while independence was being declared in Cataluña that same day, the 30 disabled staff of Universo Santi were also being given independence - and without trampling on the Constitution. The late chef Santi Santamaría, himself a Catalán, was the first to win three Michelin stars in Cataluña for his restaurant Can Fabes in Sant Celoni (Barcelona). His widow, Angels Serra, who was also present at the event, said that Santi would be very pleased and would have agreed instantly to this project and wanted to be involved. It deserves all our support. The doors are expected to open imminently. http://universosanti.com/

The staff at Universo Santi

Saturday, 28 October 2017

Fino Cruzado 15%, Las Botas

Appearance
Bright pale amber with golden highlights.
Nose
Fine and complex with plenty of bitter flor, notes of straw and gentle traces of oxidation. There are slight buttery, autolytic, rancio hints of cabezuela and a nutty toasted almond note, giving the wine a very serious Fino-Amontillado character and considerable depth. It is on that cusp - or at least approaching - it between Fino and Amontillado.
Palate
Full for a Fino, and very complex with an attractive texture and perfect balance between bitter almondy flor, correct acidity and the softer buttery notes. The flavour is intense giving a really long finish which is amazingly fresh and clean, a lovely wine.
Comments
Las Botas is a joint project between two young Sherry fans, wineshop owner César Velázquez and sommelier Raúl Villabrille who have spent a couple of years searching for amazing wines hidden away in the bodegas of Jerez and Sanlúcar (but not just in the Marco de Jerez) which they can bring to the public. They mark particularly interesting butts and make a very small scale blend of some of these wines. This Fino is made from grapes from the pagos Carrascal and Macharnudo and the wines were selected from the solera of Fino Señorita Irene at Bodegas Francisco Yuste. The wines have undergone considerable crianza and the scales have only been run occasionally giving a more mature style. In fact this en rama Fino averages 10 years of age, and comes from a saca of 2,000 50cl bottles. The name "cruzado" means the wine is right at the crossroads between Fino and Amontillado

Price
15 euros per 50cl bottle, La Tienda del Jerez




Friday, 27 October 2017

Alba Rojo Pago Miraflores 2015 10.8%, Viticultores Alba

Appearance
Bright light cherry red with a slight trace of orange at the rim.
Nose
There is a lot of lively ripe fruit as one might expect from the production method and a passing resemblance to red Burgundy, but the fruit is slightly blacker with cherry and plum notes. It is very fresh and clean and really encourages you to drink it.
Palate
Again lovely and fresh with those bright fruits to the fore. There is an attractive slightly chalky texture and perfect acidity giving it a gently tangy character with plenty of minerality and of course virtually no tannin. It is dangerously moreish.
Comments
This delicious red wine comes from sustainably grown Tempranillo grapes grown on 15 year old vines in the albarizas of the Pago Miraflores near Sanlúcar. The hand harvested grapes were not de-stemmed and the whole clusters were trodden by foot. They were fermented semi carbonically in stainless steel using natural yeasts and given 14 days of maceration, roughly half anaerobically and half aerobically without the addition of sulphur dioxide. After 8 months in the tank the wine was filled into only 400 bottles in May 2016 without any fining or filtration. No wood ageing - nor was it necessary. The idea was to produce a young fresh fruity wine of quality, and that's exactly what they have done. This is the perfect summer red, perfect slightly chilled, and surprisingly versatile with food. I just wish they would put some sort of indication of vintage on it.
Price
29.95 euros, De Albariza

Thursday, 26 October 2017

Manzanilla pasada Solear en rama Verano 2017 15%, Barbadillo

Appearance
Bright strawy gold with golden highlights.
Nose
There's a lovely dryness on the surface with straw and dry scrub baked in the summer heat and even a trace of that smell of just-ironed laundry. Yet behind there is a more humid feel with marine salinity and very refined traces of oxidation. It is very complex and really shows how the aroma of flor varies seasonally, and it is thinnest in summer.
Palate
Packed with flavour. Dry with a slightly chalky texture, a lovely bitterness and perfect acidity yet all those seaside characteristics are there, and those too from the bottom of the butt. It has the perfect balance between oxidative and flor notes, and is just delightful.
Comments
Delicious wine, and the only en rama which is regularly released seasonally. It has about eight years of average age and is selected from the best 15 butts out of 550 in two scales in the El Potro bodega. These are refreshed with Solear at six years old and each saca amounts to 1,500 litres or about 4,000 half bottles. The rest of the wine is aged further to feed the Amontillado Príncipe solera. What is lovely about this wine is that every release is different and you can follow the flor's activity in the butt all through the year and see how the weather affects it. This is just one of the factors which makes Sherry so unique and interesting. And then there's even more fun re-tasting it a year or two later to see how it develops in bottle.
Price
15.25 euros per half bottle, Licores Corredera