Sunday, 31 December 2017

31.12.17 ¡Feliz 2018! Happy New Year! Soleras Olvidadas

I would like to wish everyone a very happy and healthy New Year. Since it is a time of resolutions, my suggestion would be to drink more Sherry! Salud!

Francisco Yuste has spent years buying up old soleras of Sherry and spirits. When Pedro Romero went bust he bought much of its stock including Manzanilla Aurora, the Punto Azul brandies, ponche, rum and Moscatel Pico Plata (ex Florido Hermanos). Separately he also bought the Amontillado and Palo Cortado soleras of the Conde de Aldama. These date back to 1740 and the lost firm of Aguilar & Cia and were bought and cared for by Aldama until it was sold in 1927. The Palo Cortado solera consists of only 8 butts which were separated out from the Amontillado solera for their PC character and like the Amontillado the wine has an average age of 100 years.

Now Yuste has launched a special set of 4 bottles of extremely old wines and spirits called Soleras Olvidadas (forgotten soleras) containing 1 x 50cl bottle each of Aldama Amontillado, Aldama Palo Cortado, a 20 year old Ponche and a 20 year old rum. This comes from the Dominican Republic and has been aged in soleras in Sanlúcar. The ponche and rum are also branded Conde de Aldama. The bottles are hand-made, hand-filled en rama and hand-labelled. Only 100 of these packs are available at 288€ each at the bodega.

Saturday, 30 December 2017

Table Wine Bodegas: Hacienda Parrilla Alta

This fine cortijo built in 1881 and owned by the Rebuelta González brothers (related to González Byass), is located in an old 400 hectare estate at San José del Valle, about 35 km south east of Jerez, in lovely countryside close to the Sierra de Cádiz. It was planted with olives in the mid XIX century and currently includes agricultural and pasture land, where pure bred Iberico pigs roam free, and 16.5 hectares of vineyard. The pigs are sold to Sanchez Romero Carvajal who own the famous 5J brand. Nearby is the old Moorish castle Gigonza, and just a few km away is the large reservoir of Guadalcacín. The vineyard is on a fairly steep slope with albariza soil round which is the Arroyo (gully) Alquitón which drains into the Guadalete.

Vineyard manager Nicolas Lobato, manager Juan Miguel Gomez and proprietor Ricardo Rebuelta

The grapes, which are sustainably grown, are 6.5 hectares of Palomino and a little PX planted in 1972, and 10 hectares of the red varieties Tintilla, Shiraz, Petit Verdot and Merlot, planted in 2001/2, all supported on wires and all hand- picked. In 2012 they began to make red wines and gradually converted the old olive mill into a bodega as it was ideal for the purpose having thick walls and a high roof. Modern equipment was installed along with mostly French oak barrels for ageing. Ramiro Ibáñez was appointed as winemaking consultant and the wines, which are contract bottled by EMC3, are gaining a good reputation. 

Production totals a little over 20,000 bottles (plus olive oil) and the wines, which are Vinos de la Tierra de Cádiz, are:

Blanco Joven Palomino and PX cold fermented, 6 months on fine lees before bottling.
Tinto Joven Petit Verdot, Tintilla, Syrah tank fermented, malo-lactic plus 4 months in French oak.
Arroyo Alquitón Destemmed Tintilla from the best parcel undergoes alcoholic and malo-lactic fermentation in barrel followed by 12 months in French oak, then bottled with minimal filtration.
Tinto Dulce Tintilla and Syrah made sweet by stopping the fermentation and aged in French oak for 3 months

Address: Carretera de Gigonza (CA-5033) km 3.5, 11580 San José del Valle (Cádiz)
Telephone: (+34) 647 625 786


Friday, 29 December 2017

Fino Del Puerto en rama Spring 2017 15%, Lustau

Bright golden straw with golden highlights.
Forthcoming rounded and attractive with plenty of flor bitterness, the faintest trace of apple and a good salty marine edge. There are also gentle notes of seaweed and olive brine which add to the maritime picture and a delightful ozone freshness.There is a little body there too.
Full and fresh with that up front yeasty bitterness, those briny saline notes and traces of straw and bitter almond. It is a serious, complex wine with tremendous depth of flavour yet very fresh and approachable. This is very fine quality and has terrific length.
From Lustau's Tres en Rama range this representative from El Puerto was bottled in April 2017 with no clarification treatment whatsoever. It has an average age of five years under flor which remains reasonably constant throughout the year, and it really shows. It has a little more weight than a Manzanilla but many of their shared maritime characteristics. Lovely.
15.25 euros per 50cl bottle

Thursday, 28 December 2017

28.12.17 The Cooperatives Want to Extend the Zona de Crianza

It seems that the renaissance of Sherry has not reached the vineyards. The growers are not seeing the benefits of the growth in sales of de-classified wine driven by the shortfall in this year’s harvest elsewhere, and by growth in the cask seasoning business. Despite things looking up, the price of grapes and mosto is the lowest in the country and is strangling the cooperatives, whose spokesman, Francisco Lorenzo (also president of the coop Católico-Agricola in Chipiona), says that growers are getting ever older because the younger generation see no profit in the vineyards.

He says that “people are still abandoning vineyards so we need to sell more and better”, and he is asking the trade to consider raising prices since “we have a jewel of a wine but we sell it too cheaply, we simply can’t have Sherry at 2.50€ a bottle on the shelves”. He questions that Sherry sells as a wine of maximum quality but its true price is not paid. According to the man who represents the growers, who between them own almost half the vineyards “to have quality in the vineyard and the grape itself requires investment, and with current wine prices that is impossible”.

Francisco Lorenzo (foto:diariodejerez)

Having overcome their internal differences, the cooperatives are now defending their interests with a single voice, and within this integration process, a rise in the grape price and its effect on the growers are key to the future. Along with an increase in the final value of the product, the growers’ route plan for improving their situation includes a series of priorities and red lines, one of which is to extend the Zona de Crianza to the entire Sherry area.

As things stand, for a wine to have the Denominación de Origen (DO) it must be aged in the Sherry triangle of Jerez, El Puerto and Sanlúcar. But while, bodegas in the Zona de Producción: Chiclana, Puerto Real, Chipiona, Rota, Trebujena and Lebrija canal  produce Finos, Amontillados, Olorosos etc, they cannot have the DO. The cooperatives complain that wines from the production zone must comply with the same rules as those of the crianza zone but don’t have the same privileges. As Lorenzo puts it “the DO rules give us the same obligations, but not the same rights”. The cooperatives are thus claiming “recognition for what is already being made”.

It is paradoxical that a bodega in the crianza zone can buy wine from the production zone, age it for just six months more and sell it with the DO. In the judgement of Lorenzo this proves the quality of wine from outside the crianza triangle. He says that it is not really a question of competition since this refers to some 10,000 butts from the production zone versus some 85,000 from the crianza zone.

At the Consejo Regulador a committee was set up to look into increasing the area of the crianza zone, but members have not met in six months. In the face of this lack of progress the cooperatives have proposed reviving the debate, warning that if nothing happens soon they will look at other ways of reaching an agreement.

Wednesday, 27 December 2017

Brandy Oxigenado 37%, Diez Hermanos

Deep amber with copper highlights.
Gently aromatic and fruity with notes of date, raisin, nuts and oak along with hints of spirit and Oloroso which are all very well integrated. Quite lively and fresh and not too heavily sherried.
Attractive and tangy with almond and hazelnut and dried fruits following through and just enough Oloroso and very little tannin. There is a hint of nutty caramel sweetness and a certain freshness. This is not an expensive brandy but it is well made with a long clean finish.
This brandy was produced by Diez Hermanos from the late XIX century and was a very popular brand, continuing through the Diez - Mérito era, but disappeared, like so many brands, as a victim of Rumasa takeovers, in 1981 in this case. At one time it was advertised using huge metallic letters fixed to the walls of the Alcázar in Jerez, unthinkable now, but in fairness the firm did spent a lot of money on the restoration of the Alcázar in 1926. From 1909 till the 1950s the label bore a certification by a doctor recommending the "coñac" as a tonic, a common practice in those days, but it would never be allowed these days. The label does not state whether the brandy is a Solera or Solera Reserva etc and it is probably a Solera, but a very good one, with some 30 years in bottle.
38 euros for a litre bottle, La Tienda del Jerez

Tuesday, 26 December 2017

26.12.17 González Byass Launch Vinos Finitos

Vinos Finitos is a new range of wines from “forgotten” butts and which therefore have considerable age and class. They haven’t really been forgotten, but have just been biding their time till the right moment arrived and will only be available in very small quantities. "Finito" means "finite"and is also the diminutive of "fino" meaning "fine". The first wine to be marketed is Oloroso Alfonso 1/6, a dry Oloroso of a style which the bodega refers to as “Oloroso Fino” because of its finesse on the nose, its innate elegance and its charm on the palate. This wine originally came from a solera which for many years refreshed the standard Alfonso solera, but over the years a capataz had separated out 6 particularly good butts. Only one of these has been selected for bottling by the firm’s oenologist Antonio Flores “with his nose and with his heart”. The bodega describes the wine as a “vino de pañuelo” (a wine so aromatic a gentleman would apply a few drops to the handkerchief in his breast pocket instead of using aftershave) and ideal for meditative sipping. It has an average age of over 40 years and a strength of 22°. The price at the bodega shop is 96€.

Monday, 25 December 2017

¡Feliz Navidad! Happy Christmas!

I would like to wish everyone a very Happy Christmas. Thank you so much for following the blog, which I hope will bring you even more exciting things in 2018. Sincere thanks also to the bodegas for enriching our lives with their inimitable wines.

Me gustaría agradecer a todos los bodegueros y bodegueras del marco de Jerez por enriquecernos la vida con vinos tan excepcionales.  ¡Que sigan haciendo el buen trabajo! ¡Feliz Navidad!

Plaza del Cabildo, Sanlucar

Sunday, 24 December 2017

Amontillado Viejo La Garrocha 20.5%, Bodegas Grant

Bright patinated mahogany with copper highlights fading through amber to a hint of green at the rim.
Forthcoming, aromatic, crisp and pure, a classic old Amontillado nose with intense notes of  toasted nuts, exotic woods, even a trace of incense, and a noticeable salinity and a slight trace of cinnamon all beautifully harmonised into a delightful bouquet. It is a real "vino de pañuelo" - so aromatic that a gentleman would put a drop on the handkerchief in his breast pocket, the Jerezano's superior version of aftershave.
Fresh and lively with a certain (inevitable for its age) volatile acidity. It is good and dry yet well rounded and extremely elegant with smooth tannins and intense crisp nutty saline flavour with lots of toasted almond and that lovely trace of cinnamon. A beautiful wine with great length and character.
Bodegas Grant produce extremely limited quantities of very old Oloroso, Palo Cortado, PX and this Amontillado. Rarely are all available at once. The wines are all well over thirty years old, probably nearer 50, yet as quantities are so limited it is not worth their while to go through all the machinations of the VOS/VORS system. The wines would easily qualify however. They are presented in an elegant old fashioned bottle and sealed with a driven cork and a wax capsule. The wax is as old fashioned as the bottle, and is brittle, so it needs to be warmed in very hot water to soften it but the effort is very worth while.
70 euros, Er Guerrita

Saturday, 23 December 2017

23.12.17 New Sparkling Vermouth

A new sparkling vermouth has been created, Vermut Espumoso Francisco de Cala, and naturally it is based on Sherry. It is the result of four years of close cooperation between two companies: Artesanos Jerezanos in Jerez and Cala & Arrobas in El Puerto. It should be on the market in the next couple of months once they have the labelling finalised. Luis Benjumeda has already produced sparkling wine in El Puerto and Genaro Cala has been producing vermouth in Jerez (Duque de Diano), so these two make the ideal partnership to bring the idea to fruition. The Champagne method (secondary fermentation in bottle) has been employed to produce the fizz and the base wine is made from a blend of Oloroso and Pedro Ximénez (unfortified, one presumes) to which are added the botanicals which are steeped in the wine over a period. Next the wine is bottled with the addition of yeast and the fermentation gets under way in the cool humid atmosphere of a Sherry bodega which is ideal for the process. The finished vermouth will contain 13° alcohol, lower than most of the fortified still vermouths, but at 15° or above it will not ferment, especially in bottle. The price will be somewhere between 15 and 20 euros. Interestingly there was once a sparkling vermouth produced in Galicia, but it was made by injecting CO2; and Cayetano del Pino in jerez once made one too, but I don’t know what method was used. Anyway, this new one should be fun.

Genaro Cala (L) and Luis Benjumeda with their new vermouth (foto:cosasdecome)

Friday, 22 December 2017

22.12.17 The Worst is Over; Barbadillo Invests in Tech

The bodegas association, Fedejerez, celebrated its 2017 general assembly yesterday in a mood of optimism, if not triumphalism. Member bodegas are now seeing a future in the Sherry business as things have changed greatly in recent times, after very difficult years during which many thought of giving up. The feeling is that the worst is over now, and Sherry is back riding the crest of a wave, a feeling shared by the bodegas and their president, Evaristo Babé. Among other topics discussed was a change in the strategy of generic promotion to fewer markets – just the most important ones – and directly towards consumers. While some bodegas prefer to do their own promotion, the differences are not great and Babé urged them to resolve them with business-like vision and without any politics. He said that Sherry is a marvellous patrimony and pointed out the good personal and business relations between bodegas and their shared vision for the future, but Jerez needs to change and since there is potential for increased employment, the necessary conditions for investment need to be in place. The assembly ended with a glass of Sherry at Bodegas Gutiérrez Colosía, attended by the Mayor of El Puerto de Santa María, the president and director of the Consejo Regulador and members of the Cádiz Confederation of Business among others.


Bodegas Barbadillo has implemented a new technology to monitor the condition of the vineyards. Using big data and artificial intelligence which provides information in real time, this helps decision making to obtain the best possible quality in the grapes. The technology is called Cultiva Decisiones and is supplied by Spanish company Seresco. It provides a huge amount of information from various sources, both public and private, along with sensors in the vineyard, drones and satellites. The information will be used to analyse factors such as humidity, rain and the risk of disease automatically. Information is both numerical and visual and this platform can even offer alerts and advice on fertilisation and when to harvest among other things, and information is available on PCs, mobiles and tablets. This will be useful in countering challenges like climate change and sustainability.  

Vineyard monitor - foto:vinetur)

Thursday, 21 December 2017

Barbazul Selección Especial 2015 14%, Huerta de Albalá

Almost opaque black cherry red with black tinged ruby rim.
Lots of ripe plummy fruit with some red berries there too and an attractive hint of spice from the French oak. Quite fragrant and refined for a hot vintage and more subtle than the normal Barbazul, though there is a hint of fat there. Still, it is a very attractive nose.
Well stuctured, indeed fairly powerful and generous up front, then it calms down a little and lets the fruit and spice speak. It has lots of black fruit  and a very slight wood feel yet the tannins are remarkably  unaggressive leaving an elegant slightly spicy toasted oak and plum finish.
This is the first "reserva" from Huerta de Albalá, launched this year, and is a Vino de la Tierra de Cádiz. It is made from approximately 50% Syrah, 5%Merlot, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Tintilla, depending on the vintage; 2015 was quite a hot year with low rainfall which didn't suit the Merlot. After a manual harvest the grapes are selected and undergo the alcoholic and malolactic fermentations in French oak vats before racking into Allier French oak barrels where it ages for 6 months before the final coupage, 32,000 bottles were released, sealed with a Diam cork.
9.75 euros, Licores Corredera

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Cobijado 2014 15%, Barbadillo/Carvajal

Very deep black cherry red with a fairly tight ruby rim.
Big and full bodied with noticeable alcohol and a slightly Port-like character. The grapes must have been super ripe and there are aromas of bramble, black cherry and plum as well as a gentle violet note along with faint background spice from the oak and even a trace of eucalyptus. Quite something.
Very full and well structured with plenty of ripe tannin, pure, clean fresh bramble and blackcurrant and a decent acidity with a subtle gently spicy background, but this is a powerful heady wine which could still do with a few more years in bottle. Very good though.
Cobijado is the excellent result of a joint project between Barbadillo and winemaker Jaime Carvajal, who worked at Finca Moncloa and Huerta de Albalá before working with Barbadillo. He was given a free rein to select the best barrels of wine at the firm's bodega at Gibalbín and made a blend from 12 French oak barrels (Taransaud) and 13 American oak barrels (Murua), two of the best cooperages. He worked closely with Barbadillo oenologist Montse Molina, and the final blend, which is a Vino de la Tierra de Cádiz, is based on Tempranillo and Merlot with smaller quantities of Syrah, Tintilla and Cabernet Sauvignon. Naturally the blend varies a little according to the vintage. It was aged in oak for 11 months followed by 8 in bottle. The wine's name refers to a kind of burka which used to be worn by the women of Vejer de la Frontera, where Jaime's mother came from. It is a big serious wine which would benefit from more time in bottle, but can be enjoyed now. Approximately 12,000 numbered bottles were produced.
15.60, La Tienda del Jerez

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Oloroso Aurora 17.5%, Bodegas Yuste

Deep mahogany fading to amber with coppery highlights.
Attractive fresh Oloroso nose: intense walnuts in syrup, toasted almond and a hint of Oxford marmalade with an attractive savoury salted caramel edge, a turron yema tostada note and a refined trace of oak. There is a real charm to this wine.
Full bodied, firm and generous with a reasonably open texture and barely any troublesome tannin, well rounded and dry. It seems just a little more serious than the nose with a very slightly burnt, woody flavour amongst the nuts and hints of leather, but that charm comes through. Good.
The grapes for this wine come from the pago Balbaina, and once the wine's destiny has been decided it is fortified to 17% so that it will age oxidatively. It emerges from the solera with an average age of ten years. Having bought the famous Aurora Manzanilla solera from the bankrupt Pedro Romero, Yuste decided to produce a range of upmarket wines bearing that name. They are very good and the labels are lovely, and hopefully they will attract people to the wines.
9.45 euros per 50cl bottle, Licores Corredera

Monday, 18 December 2017

Blanco Joven 2016 11%, Hacienda Parrilla Alta

Very pale bright silvery gold.
Fresh, very young and almost raw with that appley Palomino character and hints of pear, glace fruits and meadow flowers, all very delicate.
Very light, super fresh, clean and gently tangy, it is a little like a mosto. There is an attractive minerality balanced with orchard fruit. It would benefit from some more bottle age to concentrate the flavours and nose.
This is a vino joven, a young wine which is not subjected to ageing, and is made from Palomino and a little Pedro Ximénez grown sustainably on albariza soil on a large estate near San José del Valle, of which 16.5 hectares is planted to various vine varieties. Yields are low and great care is taken both in the vineyard and the bodega where artisan techniques are used. The grapes were hand selected and de-stemmed before being gently pressed. After fermentation the wine was racked and then left on its fine lees for six months in stainless steel tanks at low temperature to allow precipitation before bottling. Only 2,000 bottles of this Vino de la Tierra de Cádiz were released.
5.95 euros, De Albariza

Sunday, 17 December 2017

Oloroso 17% Bodegas J Martinez

Chestnut to mahogany with copper glints to amber rim.
Walnut and toasted nuts with dried fruits, mainly date and fig, giving a hint of sweetness almost like Christmas cake. There is also a trace of oak barrels in the wine which is not dramatically complex as it is quite young, but not unattractive nonetheless.
Medium bodied and dry, but those dried fruit notes give it a certain gently fruity roundness with an open texture, and there is a hint of caramel. Again not over complex but good everyday drinking.
Bodegas J Martinez, also known as El Gato is a family business and the last bodega to make the classic Tintilla de Rota in Rota itself. They have a large range of products including vinegar, olive oil, honey and wine, including a range of Sherry style wines. As Rota is in the production zone, rather than the ageing zone, its "Sherries" are not covered by the DO, but are good nonetheless.
9.50 euros, Pura Cepa

Saturday, 16 December 2017

Vermut Rojo 15%, Lustau

Deep black brown fading to amber with coppery glints. 
Really herbal, bitter and spicy, the wormwood and gentian really come through and there is a faint curry note from the coriander before the sage appears. There are distinct Sherry notes with a trace of volatile acidity and cinder toffee sweetness. It is quite full on, nicely integrated and characterful.
While the sweetness is just right, it is countered by the bitterness and a very slight tannic grip, then the orange comes through. Part of the fun is that one can pick out many of the botanicals, yet they all work so well together. It has texture and considerable length and is frighteningly moreish. Great stuff.
Vermouth used to be produced by many bodegas in Jerez but fell out of fashion until quite recently. Now many are re-launching the product, mostly using original formulae. This delicious vermouth, launched in March 2016, is made from a blend of two solera wines, both over 10 years old: a dry Amontillado (80%) and a PX (20%) which is enough to give the product 150g/l sugars. The sweetness is balanced out by ten botanicals, including orange peel, gentian, angelica, wormwood, sage and coriander are macerated separately before being blended with the wine according to an old Lustau formula. This was one of the last projects of the bodega's much loved and sadly missed oenologist Manuel Lozano. 
About 13 euros, widely available

Thursday, 14 December 2017

Bodegas: Celestino Díaz de Morales

The history of so many bodegas in Jerez is tortuous and that of Celestino Díaz de Morales is no exception. The firm arose from two older bodegas which became linked by marriage and inheritance. It all began at the beginning of the XIX century, 1800 in fact, when the Sanluqueño José Ubreva established a bodega which soon contained some excellent wines known as the “Soleras Ubreva”. A little later in the early XIX century Pedro López de Villegas, born in 1788 in Cóbreces (Cantabria), also founded a bodega of great repute. By the end of the XIX century it was located at Calle Ferrocarril, 10, moving to Calle Cervantes in 1916.

The bodega in Calle Zaragoza

Celestino Díaz de Morales was born in Jerez in 1893 and in 1934 married Petronila Ysasi Ivison, descended as her name suggests from bodega royalty. Celestino established a bodega under his own name in 1964 using the soleras he inherited from his father, Pedro Díaz y López (Jerez 1866), who already had established brands such as Amontillado Alcalde, Solera Real and Quina Cantabria. These soleras had been founded by his grandfather, the aforementioned Pedro López de Villegas. Celestino’s bodega also contained wines inherited from his mother’s side of the family in 1916. Her name was Mercedes de Morales Ubreva (Jerez 1872). Her parents were Miguel Morales y Morales (Arcos 1826) and Cayetana Ubreva Bardayo (1840-1920) and had inherited the famous soleras of José Ubreva. These would reach great heights in the hands of Celestino.

Miguel de Morales Ubreva

Miguel de Morales Ubreva (1864-1904), son of Miguel Morales and Cayetana Ubreva went to London as the representative of the family business. Here he met and married María Lasa Eguibar in 1884 but died young of nephritis leaving four daughters. Of Miguel Morales y Morales’ other eight children, José María de Morales had a mainly almacenista bodega at Calle Ávila, 6, but was also known for his brandies Uno, Dos and Tres Racimos. He died aged only 38 but his widow kept the business going till 1909. His brother Rafael also had a bodega at Calle Bizcocheros, 16, where he specialised in spirits, while yet another brother, Manuel, had a bodega in Calle Paralejo, moving in 1913 to calle Zaragoza. Having no children, Manuel took on as a partner Juan José Palomino Jiménez of Palomino & Vergara who gradually absorbed the firm.

Packaging at Bodega Jose Maria Morales

From the late XIX century the family home was located at Calle Tornería, 7. The building was converted into flats a few years ago. In 1900 the Guía Oficial de Jerez places the firm at the Plaza de los Santos where the bodegas included offices and a cooperage, and there were other bodegas at the Plaza Peones and Plaza del Cubo.

Miguel Morales y Morales owned several vineyards, among which were San Cayetano, San Miguel and Nuestra Señora del Carmen which were located in the Pagos Macharnudo, Carrascal, Balbaina and Carrahola. He also owned several famous brands: Jerez del Abuelo, Amontillado Selecto, Solera de la Serranita, Amontillado NPU 1810, Pedro Ximénez 1820, Naranja 1780, Gran Coñac Español, Anís del Corzo, each carrying the distinctive “H” logo.

The firm of Celestino Díaz de Morales, which had inherited from Miguel Morales y Morales and Pedro Díaz y López remained in business until it was taken over by Rumasa in 1976 and subsequently disappeared. Among their brands were Anís del Canario, Fino Carrascal and El Grillo.

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Medium Sweet 17%, Fernández Gao

Copper tinged mahogany fading through amber.
Lots of fresh fruity raisins and hints of figs and dates but behind that there are aromas of toasted almonds and traces of oak, all nicely balanced. There is an attractive freshness as well as a degree of sophistication in this wine which is a little different from the norm.
Sweet and raisiny up front yet fresh and fairly light, then a slightly more serious side makes an appearance, charged with traces of oak and almond and a hint of marzipan. It has a gentle texture and good length, finishing quite dry with no sign of cloying.
This wine is most attractive and slightly unusual. It is made from a blend of Amontillado - not Oloroso - and enough Pedro Ximenez to provide 100 g/l sugars in the finished wine. It sounds sweet, and it is quite sweet, but not as sweet as a Cream which contains at least 115 g/l sugars. It is this which gives it its character and charm, especially as the PX is younger than the Amontillado and still has lots of grapiness. The wine has an average age of 12 years. The quality of the wines from this firm is very good and they deserve the success which they will undoubtedly achieve.
24 euros per 50 cl ex bodega

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Brandy Dios Baco Solera Gran Reserva 40%, Bodegas Dios Baco

Bright mahogany chestnut with gold and copper highlights.
Fresh crisp and quite fruity, good clean spirit with notes of oak, dried fruit, vanilla, caramel, toasted nuts, tobacco, and of course Oloroso, all enhanced by faint notes of exotic wood. The aroma is quite complex with plenty of character and charm.
Again crisp and fruity at the start followed by a slight caramel sweetness flavoured with dried fruits and vanilla. It is quite powerful but never loses focus and has virtually no aggressive tannins. The finish is very long and tasty. This is an excellent brandy.
Behind this magnificent label is an excellent brandy. It is one of two Solera Gran Reservas made at Dios baco. This one is aged in a solera of Oloroso butts and the other, Luis Enrique, in a solera of PX butts, so what is basically the same brandy ends up in two very different forms. I've heard this one referred to as Bodegón, but there is no mention of this on the label. It could have something to do with the solera's location. Anyway it is a jolly good brandy.
22.50 euros, Licores Corredera

Monday, 11 December 2017

Ponche Caballero 25%, Luis Caballero

Mahogany fading to amber with coppery gold glints.
Very fresh and clean which avoids over-sweetness and not over alcoholic. There is a lovely balance of brandy and spices as well as an attractive fruitiness. Cinnamon and vanilla are perhaps the most prominent spices, and there is lots of orange with nutmeg not far behind. Lovely.
Sweet, naturally, and very tasty with hints of toasted almond, caramel, orange, cinnamon and vanilla. There is a gentle tanginess which mitigates some of the sweetness while all the different flavours bind together to form a liqueur better than the sum of its parts. No cloying and gently spicy finish.
This is the best selling Ponche, and that's because it is very good, and was arguably the first. In fact it is the top selling liqueur in Spain and in the top ten worldwide. The formula has been used by the firm for 180 years and needless to say it is a secret, however it contains spices from all round the world which have traditionally been imported into El Puerto de Santa Maria for centuries. They include vanilla, cinnamon, clove, orange peel and nutmeg, based on brandy. In 1943 the bottle was wrapped in silver paper as a homage to the old silver punch bowls, and in 1969 a better process was invented, and copied by many. Grupo Caballero produces Milenario brandy and the lovely Miura cherry liqueur among others, and owns Bodegas Lustau in Jerez, (they also bought Burdon and Cuesta) as well as being a large drinks distributor. Ponche is lovely straight from the fridge or on the rocks.
9.35 euros, Roali

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Finca Moncloa 2014 14.5%, Gonzalez Byass

Dense black cherry red with a tight purply-pink rim.
Attractive polished fragrant nose with pronounced oak notes of vanilla and cedar and plenty of bramble and blueberry fruit with a faint balsamic note. The wood and fruit notes balance nicely and it smells smooth and almost creamy with all that black fruit along with a hint of spice.
Full bodied and well structured with plenty of tannin but it is ripe and unaggressive giving a firm -feeling wine but with lots of that black fruit. It shows a high degree of ripeness as one would expect of a wine from Arcos, and a correspondingly lowish acidity, but it has a real touch of elegance giving it class. Two or three years longer in bottle would round it off nicely.
Gonzalez Byass started a table wine project in 1972 and in 2000 bought the 45 hectare finca near Arcos where they could put their experience into practice. The results have been excellent and while this wine is a blend of many grape varieties, they all seem to shine. They are: Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Tintilla, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc and Tempranillo. The grape bunches are all sorted before leaving the vineyard for the nearby bodega and each variety undergoes a cold soak before temperature controlled fermentation in stainless steel. After malolactic the wines are aged for at least 12 months, again separately, in a mix of new and used French and American oak barrels before the final blending and bottling with only a light filtration. This is a "limited edition" of 54,585 bottles.
13.25, Licores Corredera

Saturday, 9 December 2017

Amontillado Laureado 18%, Bodegas CAYDSA

Warm mahogany tinged amber with copper highlights.
Predominantly toasted almond with a little turron and a faint hint of caramel, then in the background there is a distinct salty note along with a gentle bitterness from the flor. This is a comparatively young wine so it is still obvious.
Quite full, dry and well rounded with a trace of glyceric sweetness. It is nutty with a toasted, almost smoky note  and that bitter hint as well as very slight traces of oak but there is little or no tannin and it has a long finish. This is an inexpensive, very pleasant to drink Amontillado with a bit of character.
CAYDSA stands for Criadores, Almacenistas y Distribuidores SA and it is the brand name of one of the Sanlúcar cooperatives, Cooperativa del Campo Virgen de la Caridad, so you can see why they use initials. It was originally a private bodega established by the Italian Francesco Bozzano, later bought by the growers. It also passed through the hands of Nueva Rumasa, during which time it was renamed Bodegas Teresa Rivero, but was bought back in 2009. 
7 euros, Er Guerrita

Friday, 8 December 2017


Zerej is a masterstroke, a sort of luxury Sherry tasting pack consisting of four different magnums of seriously interesting and top quality wine from Sanlúcar in limited quantities. Armando Guerra had the idea and was helped by Ramiro Ibáñez, and the theme of the first release, Zerej I, back in spring 2015 was to show the effects of flor. It contained a 2014 barrel fermented Mosto with no flor and an eighteen month old Manzanilla from Viña Callejuela; an eleven year old Manzanilla Pasada from Juan Piñero; and an eighteen year old Amontillado from Delgado Zuleta. Only 120 packs of four magnums were available. Naturally Sherry enthusiasts were delighted and shared their magnums with friends and family, so the pack inevitably sold out very quickly. 

Later, Armando was put in charge of top end wines at Bodegas Barbadillo and, among other projects, he and the firm’s oenologist Montse Molina set about creating Zerej II. This time the wines in the pack all come from Barbadillo and the theme is the effects of oxidation. They are a 2014 barrel fermented white, a nine year old Manzanilla Amontillada (labelled Amontillado), a twenty-five year old Palo Cortado and a twelve year old Oloroso. There are 240 packs containing one magnum of each, bottled in March 2017, and an explanatory booklet.

Thursday, 7 December 2017

Palo Cortado Horizontal 20%, Las Botas

Bright chestnut tinged deep amber with copper and gold highlights.
Refined, elegant, sophisticated and fresh with distinct hazelnut and almond aromas along with notes of polished furniture, tobacco and caramel. There are gentle notes of exotic woods too, and the wine lies right between Amontillado and Oloroso, focused and generous.
Impressive on entry, packed with flavour, complex and attractive, perfectly balanced between volatile acidity and glyceric sweetness with a nice tang leading through to those caramelly nuts and wood flavours and a trace of vanilla. There is hardly any tannin and it has terrific length. Excellent.
This delightful Palo Cortado is a limited bottling of 850 x 50cl bottles selected from Bodegas Urium. The original mosto came from the pago Carrascal and the name “Horizontal” refers to the fact that the wine didn’t go through any awkward stages and seemed determined to be a Palo Cortado right from the first clasification. César Velazquez of Balandro Vinos and sommelier Raúl Villabrille marked four butts for their particular character and made a blend using greater or smaller amounts from each. The wine has an approximate average age of 28 years and was bottled in September 2017 without any filtration or stabilisation. 
31.90 per 50cl, La Tienda del Jerez

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Entusiastico 2010 11.5%, Pepe Cabral

Pale gold with golden highlights.
Forthcoming, ripe and mature yet very fresh with stewed apple and lactic custard notes, straw, a certain soft minerality and very slight bottle age notes. It is very attractive with a hint of sweetness from ripeness and maturity rather than sugar.
Fresh, dry and clean with the right level of acidity, though a little softer than it was. Lots of fresh and stewed apple along with hints of ripe buttery pineapple and the faintest oxidative note with a certain roundness from maturity. Good length. This wine is in superb condition for its seven years.
Made from 100% Palomino grapes grown organically in Pepe Cabral's Viña Entusiasmo in Trebujena. This is the first Andaluz wine certified suitable for vegans. The wine's name might seem familiar, and not without reason; Pepe grows the grapes for the first organic Manzanilla, Entusiastica, which is made at Delgado Zuleta. He also supplies mosto to various people. He is a leading light in the Mostolé movement to recuperate the styles of wine and grape varieties of the past and is its president.
4,95, De Albariza

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

5.12.17 Williams & Humbert Launch New Vintage Fino

A new Fino de Añada 2010 has been added to the firm’s Colección de Añadas and is now on the market. It joins the previous Fino releases of 2006, 2007 and 2009, all bottled en rama and aged statically, not in the more usual criaderas and soleras system. This means that the wine has a precise age (seven years) and demonstrates the quality of its vintage year, which in this case was slightly cooler than average. It was made from selected first pressings from the firm’s vineyards in the pagos Añina and Carrascal, fermented at a fairly low temperature, fortified to 15.5° and aged in old butts. Only 1,000 x 50cl bottles have been released in a saca which took place in October 2017.

Monday, 4 December 2017

Fino La Barajuela 2013 Saca 2017 16% Luis Pérez

Bright light gold with golden reflections.
Full fruity and tangy with notes of candied fruit, stewed apple, wax, and doughy yeasty notes of flor. There are also faint hints of apricot, quince and straw. There is a higher degree of ripeness than most Finos due to slightly later picking and asoleo, but it is most attractive.
Rounder, fruitier and more generous than most Finos which are leaner and more bitter, but perhaps they used to taste more like this. There is also more glycerine and a slightly higher acidity with a note of minerality too making it unusual and most interesting.This is a really successful wine.
This is the second release of the 2013, now around 4 years old and further developed. It is the first unfortified vintage DO Sherry. The grapes come from old vines (over 40 years) in the Corregidor vineyard in the pago Carrascal near Jerez which has albariza soil in the laminated form known as barajuela. The grapes are picked slightly ripe than usual and sunned for 24-36 hours before pressing to ensure a decent alcohol level without the need to fortify. The must is fermented in butts with natural yeasts, after which it is aged statically as a vintage wine. The butts are filled to a higher level than most Finos to limit the flor and express more vineyard character. The previous release was in spring 2016 with an alcohol level of 15.3%, and that has now increased to 16%. There is much to be admired about this wine, but it is certainly not cheap, especially as this release is 50% more expensive than the last one.
45.40 euros, Licores Corredera

Sunday, 3 December 2017

Table Wine Bodegas: Vinifícate SL (AKA Mahara Viticultores)

Dynamic brothers Miguel and José Gómez Lucas were born into a family in San Fernando which had no connections to the wine trade and they came into it by accident. Miguel was studying at the faculty of chemistry at Cádiz University, soon to be followed by José, when they were given a few days of introduction to oenology. It interested them so much they later gained degrees in it and went to work in various bodegas both in Spain and abroad. In 2009 Miguel was invited to work on a new organic wine project in Zahara de la Sierra which came up with the wine Fine Tempo (QV).

Miguel (L) and Jose Gomez Lucas with a tinaja

The brothers had long believed that Cádiz had the potential to produce great wines from its indigenous grape varieties, and that became the focus of their work. In 2011 they came across the Calderín del Obispo vineyard in the pago Balbaína with Tintilla grapes for sale and they decided to make their own wine. That first year they bought 1,500 kilos, buying a little more each year, experimenting all the time with the vinification, and then began buying Palomino in Chiclana in 2015. Soon they were renting vineyards and applying biodynamic and permaculture principles, doing everything as ecologically as possible, as healthy vines give better grapes which better express themselves, the climate and albariza soils of the area. They also only use natural local yeast.

Ladybird is proof of a healthy old vine

Their first release was 1,000 bottles of Mahara, made from Tintilla. They had been experimenting with oak barrels for maturation, but felt the oak flavours masked the fresh character of the Tintilla, and so they experimented with hand-made amphorae, and liked the results, buying many more since. The next wine was Amorro, a red blend of Tintilla, Tempranillo and Palomino, and then followed an Amorro white, 100% Palomino. Currently they are working on sparkling wine made by the metodo ancestral: fermented half in tank and half in bottle.

All hands on deck for the grape sorting in the new bodega

In 2017 they finally inaugurated their own bodega, allowing them to move out of the house! And they are now buying grapes from a vineyard in Sanlúcar. Sales have grown substantially to some 30,000 bottles, helped by a good Parker score, and the wines are now exported to the USA, Sweden and Britain, with France and Canada coming soon. The brothers want to keep things sensible however, and to grow the business only as far as quality will allow.

The new bodega is in the Fadricas industrial estate in San Fernando

Saturday, 2 December 2017

Manzanilla Pasada Solear en rama Otoño 2017 15%, Barbadillo

Pure gold with golden glints.
A very attractive mix of salty brine and flor with pronounced notes of straw, slightly toasted bitter almond, dry scrub, humidity and the faintest traces of apple signalling oxidation. It is clean, quite tight and classic, and a little less exuberant than the summer release.
As always exceptionally well balanced and with real pasada flavours; a clean crisp bitterness, olive brine, sour dough, hints of oxidation, rancio, butter, traces of nuts. The flavour is quite intense and leaves a lovely briny bitterness on the palate for quite some time.
Another excellent release, and this time, for a change, the label features the Iberian Lynx and not a bird. The lynx is on the endangered list and its population numbers in the hundreds, mainly in Andalucía. The wine was made following the established routine. It comes from a 550 butt intermediate solera with two clases in the middle of the El Potro bodega. The saca comes from 15 selected butts in the older clase with wine which is 8 years old, and only 1,500 litres are withdrawn, 100 litres per butt. The younger clase is topped up with the normal Solear which is 6 years old. The oldest wine feeds the Amontillado Príncipe solera. The wine was bottled on the 3rd October, and sold out at the bodega in a couple of weeks.
14.30 per half bottle, Licores Corredera

Friday, 1 December 2017

1.12.17 Official Launch of Maximum Brandy; Albarizas Coop 40th Anniversary

Grupo Estévez has celebrated the official launch of its new Maximum Brandy 100% Jerez. For some years the firm has been keen that both fortifying spirit and brandy should come from Jerez rather than La Mancha, and this new brandy comes from their own 800 hectares of vineyards and is 100% Palomino. The idea is to make a brandy which faithfully reflects the character of the vineyards of Jerez. It takes 5 kilos of grapes to make just one litre and the spirit, based on the 2014 vintage, is aged in butts seasoned with the company’s finest Oloroso. It is released under the brand Marqués del Real Tesoro and is available now in 50cl bottles.

Hot on the heels of the 50th anniversary of Covijerez comes the 40th anniversary of the cooperative in Trebujena known as Albarizas. This coop, founded in 1977, has some 220 members with a total of 710 hectares producing 2.1 million litres, and supplies grapes to Williams and Humbert among other bodegas. In celebration of the anniversary, and for the first time, they are bottling their own wine, a range of Fino, Amontillado, Oloroso, young white table wine and mosto. A despacho de vinos will open on 4th December at the coop in the calle Jerez, Trebujena, for the sale of these wines. There is a total of 10,000 bottles.


Thursday, 30 November 2017

30.11.17 New Saca of Goya XL; Sherry Casks Big Business

This is only the 4th saca of this superb Manzanilla which is not released regularly but only when conditions are exceptional, and then only from very few carefully selected butts. It comes from the family reserve Manzanilla solera which was located in an old underground bodega called La Casa near Sanlúcar’s Bajo de Guia. When the firm relocated to the new bodega on the Chipiona road in 1989, the solera had to be moved and all the old butts were repaired, stave by stave, so it took a while for the wine to settle, but it soon returned to its former glory. It is a Manzanilla pasada with an average age of over 10 years, bottled en rama and in very limited quantities.

The multi million euro business of seasoning Sherry butts for the distilling industry is steaming ahead according to figures presented to the latest meeting of the Consejo Regulador. Since the Consejo established a voluntary certification system in 2015, some 50,000 butts have been seasoned officially, mainly for Whisky and Rum distillers. The Consejo has long been worried that many “Sherry casks” were seasoned elsewhere, illicitly using terms which are protected by the Sherry Denominación de Origen. Currently some 65,000 butts are being seasoned under Consejo supervision.

The Consejo issues traceability cards for those butts which have been seasoned by one of the 12 firms which have registered for the scheme. Each card, which is stapled to the butt, is printed with a QR code which contains information like the name of the cooperage, the type of oak, the type of wine used for the seasoning and the period of seasoning. The minimum period is one year, but the average is more like three years. Spirits aged in butts without the card cannot use protected terms such as “Sherry cask”, Manzanilla, Fino, Oloroso, Amontillado or Pedro Ximénez on their labels. A certain prestige is, of course, attached to labels bearing the words “Sherry cask”.

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

29.11.17 New La Guita En Rama; Covijerez 50th Anniversary

The iconic Manzanilla La Guita has launched a second saca bottled en rama in October 2017. It follows the excellent 2015 saca, and like its predecessor, it is made from a very carefully selected solera butts from the firm’s two bodegas, La Misericordia and Pago Sanlúcar Viejo. The wine has not been subjected to any filtration or stabilisation, so it best reflects the character of the coastal vineyards of Sanlúcar and of La Guita itself. As with the previous saca, the label has a picture of a Sanlúcar landmark and this year it is the tower of the XIV century church of Nuestra Señora de la O.

The largest of the seven cooperatives in the Sherry zone, Nuestra Señora de las Angustias –also known as Covijerez - has been celebrating its 50th anniversary. The occasion was attended by the members along with many other members of the wine trade as well as the mayor and the agriculture minister of the Junta de Andalucía. Founder member and past president of the coop, Pepe Sierra was elected honorary president in recognition of all he has done for the institution. The event also saw the premiere of a lovely new film about the vineyards of Jerez and the coop itself, which was founded in 1967 and now counts 200 members with some 1,000 hectares of vineyard. Last year’s turnover was some 8 million euros and the coop has its own Sherry brands: Fino Sin Pecado, Mira La Mar and the Romerito range. The film is in Spanish and can be seen here:

Mayor Mamen Sanchez, agriculture minister Rodrigo Sanchez haro, Pepe Sierra, coop president Salvador Espinosa

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Bodegas: Internacionales

The modern golden era for Jerez lasted a little more than a decade from the early 1960s till the oil crisis of 1973 and during this time Sherry was virtually selling itself. Marketing had become lax and overproduction became a problem as demand fell, with stocks eventually reaching nearly 50% more than could be sold. Many bodegas were insolvent. During this period José María Ruiz Mateos, founder of Rumasa, began buying them up at rock bottom prices in order to have enough wine to fulfil his contract with Harveys, buying a total of 16.

Inevitably, these bodegas were in various locations, and it was decided that great efficiency savings could be made if as much as possible were in one place.  Ruiz Mateos was confident that  he could increase sales by cutting prices. To this end a massive 50,000 square metre (5 hectare) bodega was completed in 1974 to provide all the winemaking, bottling, office and storage facilities required. It was the largest bodega in Europe - and one of the largest in the world - and dealt with the wines of 6 subsidiary bodegas: Diestro, Otaolaurruchi, Misa, Varela, Pemartín and Bertola. Many soleras were consolidated and famous names became mere labels before disappearing altogether, but luckily those subsidiary bodegas with better facilities continued as before.

The building itself is cleverly constructed using hundreds of interlocking octagonal concrete cones on pillars which conduct rainwater down to underfloor drains. The radical design won the national prize for architecture but is not a million miles away from the concept of González Byass’ Las Copas bodega. One good thing to come out of Internacionales, or BISA as it was known, was the excellent range of Duke of Wellington Sherries created by Beltrán Domecq González, but unfortunately they only lasted as long as Internacionales itself.

Rumasa had a huge effect on Jerez and the Sherry business changed beyond recognition. The trade saw much modernisation and the vineyard area more than doubled while sales were beginning to collapse, so the firm began to cut prices more aggressively and worry less about quality, and were accused of dumping, which did great harm to Sherry’s reputation. The bubble burst in 1983 when the government accused the labyrinthine firm of not paying taxes and took it over, selling it off in various viable parts. In 1985 the Rioja magnate Marcos Eguizábal bought Internacionales, along with Diez Hermanos, expanding the former to almost 70,000 square metres. In 1994 Grupo Medina bought the bodega and installed Williams & Humbert there. Medina part owned the firm, which had also once belonged to Rumasa, and now own it outright. The bodega houses some brands inherited from Rumasa days such as Lacave, Don Zoilo, and Gran Duque de Alba.

Monday, 27 November 2017

Palo Cortado 21%, Fernández Gao

Bright chestnut - mahogany fading to amber with copper highlights.
Aromatic and forthcoming with beautiful faintly sweet notes of almost honeyed hazelnut and almond, turrón yema tostada, faint background notes of fine oak and even a trace of incense. This is an extremely refined and elegant wine which one could sniff for hours. Some Palos Cortados show a slight Oloroso tendency and others a little more Amontillado, and this one is more Amontillado.
Beautifully rounded on entry with sublime sweet nuttiness following through. It is fairly light and super elegant and complex with hints of exotic woods yet has no tannic rough edges and has a very long refined finish. Lovely.
This excellent Palo Cortado has an average age of some 20 years which is a lovely age where you can really taste what the wine is like before it takes on too much concentration and wood  flavours. This "new" bodega will surely be successful with wines of this quality. Juan Carlos Sánchez Gago is a very talented and keen young oenologist and the firm really deserves that success, and they are off to a good start. This wine earned 92 points from Wine Enthusiast and a Gran Oro at the New Wines Competition.
30 euros per 50cl bottle ex bodega


Sunday, 26 November 2017

Palo Cortado DA 18%, De Albariza

Deep old burnished gold to amber with bright golden highlights.
Very attractive and interesting nose, still with some Fino characteristics like a hint of flor bitterness, salinity and traces of apple along with some oxidation, caramel sweetness, dried fruit and wax. It is still young but you can see where it is going, and it is definitely on the right road.
Medium bodied and quite tangy with a certain texture, traces of blonde tobacco, rancio and early signs of nuts. It is at a lovely stage between young wine with lots of appley oxidation, and a mature one with great refinement. It is really tasty and has great length.
This is probably the only organic Palo Cortado, and it comes from albariza vineyards in Trebujena, available exclusively, and in tiny quantities, from the great new wine and local produce shop in Sanlúcar, De Albariza, run by Antonio Peña. It spent just a few months under flor before being fortified and aged in butt for about eight years. It was made very well by someone extremely competent but who would rather remain unnamed. Naturally it has no DO having been matured in the production zone, but it is certainly a very good "Sherry".
18.75, De Albariza