Thursday, 21 June 2018

Harveys Signature Cream 12 Years Old 19%, Bodegas Fundador

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


Wednesday, 20 June 2018

La Riva Fino 15%, M Antonio de la Riva

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


Tuesday, 19 June 2018

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

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


Monday, 18 June 2018

Fino Ecologico Añada 2015 en rama 15%, Williams &Humbert

Appearance
Deep gold with a faint brassy tinge and bright golden reflections.
Nose
Quite full with marked notes of flor, salinity and minerals and hints of esparto, fresh and dried herbs and a slight brininess. Añada wines are a little fuller as they have been aged statically without being refreshed, so they're a little more concentrated, and this is textbook Fino with more depth than many, especially at not quite 3 years old, and that youth gives it  a certain freshness and elegance.
Palate
Full, with all the above, and there is still just a trace of some appley fruit less noticeable on the nose. It is nice and dry with good texture and a slightly chalky feel, a certain structure and a gentle tang and nicely balanced with good length. This is a delicious wine with some real individual character.
Comments
The 2015 vintage was more or less normal with perhaps a shade less rain than usual. The organically grown grapes came from the pago Burujena, north east of Jerez, near Trebujena. After fermentation the must was fortified to 15.5% with organic fortification spirit and filled into butts for static ageing. Soon the veil of flor appeared and remained healthy till the wine was bottled en rama in March 2018, at around 2.5 years old. By now the yeast had consumed half a percent of alcohol, so the wine had to be bottled. I wonder how it would have turned out if it had been fortified to 16% and left longer... It is not only fascinating and delicious, but it is the first vintage organic Fino from a single vineyard and bottled en rama. Wow!
Price
15,50 per 50cl Licores Corredera



Sunday, 17 June 2018

Vinoble Tastings 2018: A Tour round the Albarizas of the Marco de Jerez

This phenomenal tasting was given by Willy Pérez and Ramiro Ibáñez, whose intimate knowledge of almost every grain of albariza in the area they so obviously love with a passion  is quite incredible. On arrival everyone received a beautiful glass-fronted wooden box containing samples of the soils the wines came from along with detailed notes of vineyard locations and conditions and the wines themselves. It had all been beautifully thought out, and just as well, as they had so much to talk about that there was not enough time so they had to rush the tasting, which consisted of 9 wines, slightly to cram it all in. First they took a look at the climate and how the landscape was formed, explaining why all the different pagos, and indeed vineyards within them, are different, and thus why the wines taste different from different places. Then we tasted the wines which were all the more fascinating knowing their background, but there was little time for tasting notes.



Ube Carrascal 2014 Ramiro Ibáñez Cota 45
There are two pagos in the Marco de Jerez with the name Carrascal, one is north of Jerez and one of the farthest inland, while the other is the closest to the Atlantic of the Sanlúcar pagos, a little south of the city, so the results are very different. The pago covers 230 hectares and its long flank parallel to the sea and its gently sloping disposition eastwards leave it exposed to the humid west winds which moderate temperatures. Soils are more mixed towards the west with more lustrillos and lentejuelas towards the east. This wine comes from the 0.7 hectare Las Vegas del Carrascal vineyard in the north east of the pago at its highest point. The vines are over 100 years old and different clones of Palomino: Fino, Jerez and Pelusón. Ube is made from a field blend of these vines and fermented in butt where it is aged for 2 years, full to avoid flor. It has amazing depth and balance with hints of caramel and apple and a lovely texture.

Ube Miraflores Alta 2016
From the neighbouring 150 hectare pago Miraflores Alta just to the east of Carrascal. This pago is probably the "grand cru" of Sanlúcar and roughly two thirds of it faces west and one third east. Elevation can reach over 60 metres and soils are mixed with lots of white marl, various qualities of lustrillo and some brown albariza, while further west lentejuelas, tosca cerrada and occasional barajuela can be found. This wine is made from a small west facing parcel of 1.45 hectares which once belonged to Rodríguez Lacave. The wine was made exactly the same way as the Ube Carrascal, the only difference being the vineyard (and the vintage). Lovely wine: texture, apples, brine...

Amontillado El Armijo
Viña El Armijo belongs to the Florido family and is at one of the most elevated points of the pago Miraflores Alta. The vineyard extends to 33.5 hectares with slopes facing both west, with tosca cerrada and a little lustrillo, and east, where the buildings stand, where the soil contains more marl. The west facing slope gives more wine with more zip while the other gives more depth and structure. This Amontillado is produced here from the soleras of Gaspar Florido. It spends 10 years under flor before spending another 12 ageing oxidatively, and being a natural Amontillado no refortification is done. It is simply beautiful; fragrant and expressive, intense yet elegant, but limited in availability.

Manzanilla La Charanga
La Charanga is a famous old finca in the northern part of the pago Maina (or Mahina) dating back to 1794. Here the Atlantic has much less of a role to play as the finca is 15 kilometres away, east of Sanlúcar, however it is surrounded by the Guadalquivir marshes. The pago has 170 hectares divided into 153 vineyards and the soil is extremely fine with a high clay and fossil content. This single vineyard Manzanilla comes from the 1.7 hectare vineyard of La Charanga and the mosto is fermented in butts and the wine has an average age of 5 years. It is super tasty and zippy yet serious, lovely.

Dos Palmas 2009, Bodega Forlong
The 1825 hectare pago Balbaina Baja is just outside El Puerto de Santa María, around 6 km from the Atlantic and has a long history. The vineyard altitudes lie between 50 and 60 metres and soils here are mixed with various albarizas, lustrillos and bujeos. Bodega Forlong is located in an old organic vineyard of that name and run by Rocío Áspera and Alejandro Narváez who have made a great reputation for interesting and high quality table wines. This one is as close as they have come so far to Sherry. It is 100% Palomino Fino fermented in butt with three years crianza under flor. It is delicious, quite full with enormous depth of flavour with ageing potential even now.



Amontillado Las 40
This wine is from the pago Añina, around 6 km north west of Jerez, which dates back at least to Roman times. It is a large pago about 13 km from the coast extending to some 800 hectares and thus soils vary between mostly lustrillos and bujeos. Wines from here are considered as being between Balbaina and Macharnudo in style. The Viña Las 40 lies at the heart of the Marihernández sub-pago on about 18 hectares (or 40 aranzadas, hence the name) of high quality white marl. The wine is a natural Amontillado - not refortified - made on site in a completely artisan way with the solera only being refreshed occasionally to replace transpiration losses. It is 20 years old and absolutely lovely, nutty, fresh and elegant with amazing length.

Vino Blanco 2016, La Riva
This cracking wine comes from the famous Viña El Notario vineyard in the northern part of the Viña Majuelo (owned by Fundador) part of the 800 hectare pago Macharnudo. This "grand cru" of Jerez lies north and slightly west of the city, some 18 km from the coast, with a maximum elevation of around 135 metres. Most if it  slopes south and has probably the purest and deepest albariza in the area. Many famous Sherries were born here. The De La Riva Vino Blanco was made by hand picking the grapes comparatively late, sunning them for 8 hours before pressing them gently for a low yield and fermenting the mosto in butts and ageing it under flor for 10 months.

Oloroso Barajuela 2013, Willy Pérez
This superb wine is from Willy Pérez and comes from the El Corregidor vineyard in the pago Carrascal, north of Jerez and to the east of neighbouring Macharnudo. Located  around 20 km from the sea at an altitude of some 113 metres, the vineyard has 60 hectares of which 29 are Palomino at 45 years of age and planted in the traditional vara y pulgar. The soil is barajuela. The vineyard is harvested in various passes to make various products, and the grapes destined for Oloroso are picked in late September and sunned for 24-48 hours before fermentation and static oxidative ageing. The result is a delicious super smooth classic old fashioned un-fortified Oloroso.

Amontillado Fino Carta Blanca, Agustín Blázquez 
Carta Blanca was a famous wine in its day and was made from grapes grown in the Viña Blázquez vineyard in the pago Macharnudo Bajo. After a day or more of sunning the grapes the wine was fermented in butts where they reached an alcohol level of around 13.5 - 14%. No further alcohol was added and the wine slowly became a natural Amontillado. Carta Blanca was drawn from the 1st and second criaderas of this solera. This bottle dates from the 1940s and was in perfect condition. In fact it was absolutely superb, representing a style that has been lost: the ultimate expression of Fino, a much fuller wine than we are used to now, allowed to develop towards Amontillado, and completely naturally. Luckily I managed to obtain a bottle and will post notes anon.





Friday, 15 June 2018

Bodegas: M Antonio De la Riva SL

M Antonio De la Riva SA is a highly respected but long disappeared Sherry Brand which has been given a new lease of life, revived by local superstar oenologists Willy Pérez and Ramiro Ibáñez, who have bought the rights from Beam Global who had acquired them in 2017 along with the purchase of Domecq from Pernod Ricard. Domecq had acquired De La Riva in the early 1970s, and also Agustín Blázquez, quite possibly to boost the firm’s value in an effort to avoid takeover by Rumasa.



This new incarnation of the company was registered in 2017 as Bodegas De La Riva SL. Willy and Ramiro are making wines from grapes grown in the historic pagos like Macharnudo and Balbaina which supplied the original La Riva brands like Fino Tres Palmas, Viña Sabel and Fino La Riva. Their new Fino is sourced from the Balbaína Alta. Wines will be made in the old fashioned way and sold under this famous brand name, with labels similar to the originals. 



In the meantime they are selling a stunning white table wine from the El Notario plot in the Majuelo vineyard in the pago Macharnudo and tiny quantities of fabulous old wines they have come across: Moscatel Viejísimo Loma Baja (98 RP) the original Moscatel Pico Plata Añejo made by Domecq for then brand owners Florido Hermanos, and is extremely old and amazingly concentrated and thus only available in half bottles. Francisco Yuste now owns and markets the brand but not the original wine. Oloroso Viejísimo Balbaina Baja (96 RP), a quite outstandingly fragrant and concentrated old wine, again available only in half bottles, and a quite outstanding Fino Balbaina Alta  (92 RP). These are all stupendous wines, but available in limited quantities.

For information on the original firm, see the post M Antonio de la Riva SA

Thursday, 14 June 2018

The Botellero of González Byass

“El Aljibe” (or well) is a cellar beneath one of the bodegas where 5,000 bottles of old wine dating from the mid XIX century onwards have been lovingly stored. Both temperature and humidity are controlled and the location is quiet so the wines can sleep in peace. Every year some of the best wine is bottled and kept here as a reference or for the personal consumption of the family, and over many years a kind of liquid archive of incalculable value has been built up. This reflects the style and quality of the firm’s wines, helping with continuity and innovation through looking at the past.



Many of these wines are añadas and many are pre-phylloxera. There are also examples here from the firm’s oldest soleras like Matúsalem, Apóstoles, Viña AB and Tio Pepe as well as pre-phylloxera Moscatels, single vineyard wines like La Racha (Macharnudo Alto) 1930 and unique wines made specially to commemorate family events and the appointments of popes or kings. The Gran Perico wines are here too, wines specially bottled every year for Pedro Nolasco González, son of the founder, Manuel María González Ángel.



Over the last two years the cellar has been undergoing refurbishment and the wines, quite a few of which still bear their original labels, have been re-corked where necessary and catalogued. The firm has extensive inventories and records held by the González Byass Foundation which helped identify some. In charge of this laborious operation have been the firm’s president, Mauricio González Gordon, oenologist Antonio Flores and his daughter Silvia, the third generation of the Flores family to work at GB and a sommelier and oenology student. After cataloguing, the wines have now been placed in an enormous new floor to ceiling wine rack in which to display these most precious treasures. Unfortunately, but probably wisely, the botellero is not open to the public and is only open for special visitors and experts.



Last Monday an inaugural tasting was held here for special guests. The wines tasted were: Oloroso 1963, Viña Amorosa 1911, Matúsalem from the 1930s and Moscatel Pio X which is over 120 years old. Follow this link to an excellent 10 minute film about the botellero:


Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Vinoble Tastings 2018: From Miraflores la Baja to Macharnudo Alto

Eduardo Ojeda, oenologist at Grupo Estévez, and his partners in Equipo Navazos Jesús Barquín and Álvaro  Girón gave an excellent tasting focusing on these two iconic and very different pagos. Eight wines were tasted, from Miraflores the "grand cru" of Sanlúcar (left) and  from Macharnudo, the "grand cru" of Jerez (right). The styles contrast starkly with the crisp, fresh character of  Sanlúcar versus the full riper hallmark of Macharnudo.



The pago Miraflores lies on the south western outskirts of Sanlúcar, due south of the mouth of the Guadalquivir and consists, as do all pagos, of many individual vineyards totalling some 150 hectares. Here the albariza is very pure and white with altitudes varying between about 45 and 60 metres above sea level, and most vineyards face west allowing them to take full advantage of the moist Poniente wind. Many famous Manzanillas are made from Miraflores grapes. Miraflores la Baja, bordering on the Pago Carrascal, is where the grapes for La Guita have come from since 1972.

The pago Macharnudo is a little over 5 km  north north west of Jerez, much farther inland and about 20 km from the sea with altitude reaching 135 metres. It is probably the oldest pago in Jerez and certainly the finest. This large 800 hectare pago divides into two parts: Alto and Bajo. Its vineyards generally face southwest and are extremely pure white albariza, however its climate is warmer and drier than that of Miraflores, giving fuller Finos which can go on to make great Amontillados. This is the source of the single vineyard Fino Inocente from Valdespino, land owners here since the XIII C.

Manzanilla La Guita 15% (with 2 years bottle age)
While the current release is crisp, zippy and delicious, this was more intense, complex and serious. Two more years make all the difference; a far better wine.
Manzanilla La Guita en rama saca Oct. 2017 15%
Blended from selected butts from the soleras in both bodegas, this was recognisably the same but more complex and intense yet. Like the above will improve for years in bottle.
La Bota de Palo Cortado 75 "Sanlúcar" 18%
Made at La Guita by Equipo Navazos, old vines, single vineyard (Miraflores la Baja), single vintage (2010), very brief flor contact, 250l barrels full to limit oxidation. Salinity, caramel, apple, gently nutty and extremely elegant with a long life in bottle ahead.
Vino Blanco Navazos Niepoort 2009 13%
Palomino fermented in butts and 10 months on fine lees and under flor. This was a very hot year and the wines were fuller, darker and stronger, so this is full, with low acid, stewed apple, but lovely.
Ojo de Gallo 2016 12% VT Cádiz
Grapes from a 35 ha Valdespino plot in Macharnudo, fermented in tank and aged there for 6-8 months. Fresh, balanced, chalky, apple, some body, will age in bottle, all Macharnudo characteristics.
Fino Inocente 15% Valdespino
Classic single vineyard Macharnudo Fino. Barrel fermented, aged for 10 years through 10 criaderas and solera, two annual sacas. Inocente feeds the Amontillado Tio Diego solera without further fortification and also the Palo Corado. Full, chalky, real class, needs bottle age, classic Macharnudo.
Amontillado Tio Diego 18.5%, Valdespino
Inocente with another 8 years of oxidative ageing. Again 10 criaderas and solera. Some of this wine also supplies Palo Cortado. Super smooth, elegant and sophisticated with lots of nuts. A classic.
Palo Cortado Cardenal VORS 20.5%, Valdespino
Sublime, and it all started with Inocente. This wine is over 50 years old yet it is amazingly elegant, complex and beautifully balanced with very little astringency, intense but refined and lingers on the palate forever. This small solera is fed by Palo Cortado Viejo CP which is fed by Inocente and a little Tio Diego. No wonder the Macharnudo is regarded as the grand cru of Jerez.


Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Amontillado Viejo Don Paco 20%, Bodegas Sánchez Ayala

Appearance
Deep burnished mahogany with bright copper glints and a hint of green at the rim.
Nose
Fragrant and very complex, deep with the concentration of age and a little tight. Lots of toasted nuts with traces of iodine,salt, old oak and faint notes of linseed oil, toasted caramel, cinnamon, esparto grass and aromatic woods. There's a lot packed into this little bottle, it is a very serious wine and quite intense but extremely attractive as it opens out.
Palate
It is very full bodied with a fair salinity, some noticeable but gentle oak tannins (the butts are very old) and some volatile and tartaric acidity making it feel very dry with a faint bitter tang. There are some balancing sweeter elements like the toasted nuts and a certain amount of glycerine, but it is still a big well structured wine which lingers for ages on the palate.
Comments
This is the long awaited release of the 40 year old Amontillado from Bodegas Sánchez Ayala (established in 1798) who supplied the wine for the first Equipo Navazos bottling back in 2005: an old Amontillado, though not as old as this, which hadn't been refreshed for many years. It was the nearby navazos (old agricultural plots dug from the sand dunes) which gave the new project its name. Grapes for Don Paco come from the firm's 90 hectares of vineyards in the fincas Las Cañas and La Soledad in Balbaina, and after a period in sobretablas the wine enters the complicated Manzanilla Gabriela solera with 11 criaderas and a solera consisting of a mixture of butts and toneles totalling 46. It then moves to a couple of intermediate butts known as " abuelo" and "abuela" before going to a small solera of 13 butts. Releases are necessarily small, and this was one of only 500 x 50cl bottles or just 250 litres. Despite its age the wine is not VORS as it is just too much hassle and expense for such small amounts, and anyway the wine speaks for itself.
Price
40 euros per 50cl, ex bodega


Monday, 11 June 2018

Vinoble Tastings 2018: Tesoros de San Ginés

This was a unique tasting of wines stored at the bodega San Ginés which forms part of the building which is the seat of the Consejo Regulador. The institution's President, Beltrán Domecq, and Director, César Saldaña, imparted this fascinating tasting of the wines which since 1948 have been made from grapes trodden by foot on the steps of Jerez Cathedral as one of the central acts of the Fiesta de la Vendimia, which was established in that year. Construction of the Cathedral was paid for by a tax on wine, showing how closely linked they are.



Every year girls in traditional costume bring baskets of grapes supplied by a particular bodega, whose winemaker will be the "Capataz de Honor" for that year, to a lagar erected on the Cathedral steps and they are trodden by a team of men, again in traditional costume, including "zapatos de pisar" or special treading boots. The must runs into a butt which when full is taken back to the bodega where it is vinified and sent off to San Ginés where it will age as a vintage wine. Here there is no solera and no refreshment and the wines simply age statically and oxidatively, so nearly all end up in the style of Oloroso, slowly and inexorably gaining greater concentration through the "merma" or shrinkage through the transpiration of water, but every one will be different.



This concentration was evident at the tasting with some incredible alcohol, sugar and volatile acidity (VA) readings, and yet the wines were delicious and somehow balanced, though very powerful, and none was too astringently woody. The lowest alcohol reading was 23.1% while the highest reading in the Consejo's own broad guidelines for Oloroso is 22%. While the wines were, without exception, huge up front, they generally subsided into balanced and intensely flavoured treasures, lingering eternally on the palate. It is worth noting that all the following wines contain way beyond the level of VA acceptable in most wines, but just laugh it off. Sherry is unique and special.

(foto:tripadvisor)

The butts at San Ginés are not all from the Fiesta de la Vendimia. Some are laid down in celebration of visits to Jerez by important personages such as royalty or Poets Laureate (whose payment is traditionally a butt of Sherry) while others are  butts donated by bodegas, some of which no longer exist, offering a fascinating liquid heritage. Many were dedicated in the early years to local towns, and later to places or occasionally people farther away. The heads of the bodega butts display their coat of arms or logo and are a beautiful sight.

Anyway, there follows a list of the wines tasted and some details. Sorry about the picture quality but most were snapped on a mobile from a screen.

Bota Andrew Motion
Sir Andrew Motion was Poet Laureate from 1999-2009. This butt was filled in 2003 with 8 year old solera Oloroso from Garvey at 18.5% and has aged statically since then. It now has 23.6% alcohol, 15 g/l sugars and 1.8 g/l VA, TA 8.48 g/l and pH 3.1. Quite glyceric so super smooth, sugar barely noticeable, huge and complex.



Bota de los Príncipes de Asturias
Dedicated to and signed by Don Juan Carlos de Borbón and Doña Sofia in 1971 before Don Juan Carlos became King in 1975 after the death of Franco. It is not known which bodega made this wine, but it is over 50 years old with 26% alcohol, 6 g/l sugars and 1.9g/l VA. TA 9.75 and pH 3.03 Powerful, oaky, spicy, grippy.



Bota Fiesta de la Vendimia 1970
Dedicated to Canada , the bodega is not known but the Capataz de Honor was Salvador Diaz Lacave, so it could possibly be traced. Powerful and grippy despite damp, coolish spring, sugar barely noticeable.



Bota Fiesta de la Vendimia 1954
36 arroba butt dedicated to Rota, this wine was provided by Osborne in a fairly dry year. Full yet very elegant, more Palo Cortado, nutty aromatic spices and woods.



Bota Fiesta de la Vendimia 1953
Dedicated to Chipiona and supplied by Barbadillo. Dry warm year, yet high acidity virtually balances out sugars, though some caramel and PX aromas mingle with spicy oak.



Bota Fiesta de la Vendimia 1949
Dedicated to El Puerto de Santa María and made by Pedro Domecq. Average rainfall and temperatures following drought. Trace sweetness despite whopping VA and low sugars yet elegant, structured and attractive.



Bota Fiesta de la Vendimia 1948
Dedicated to Don Luis Romero Palomo, founder and first president of the Fiesta de la Vendimia. The vintage suffered from drought and temperatures were average. An outstanding, super elegant and refined wine, possibly Palo Cortado.  Beltrán Domecq said it was probably the best Sherry he had ever tasted - and he has tasted a few.




Sunday, 10 June 2018

Oloroso Viejísimo Balbaina Baja 22%, De La Riva

Appearance
Very deep polished mahogany with copper glints fading to amber at the rim with some green.
Nose
Enormous nose, super fragrant and intense with a wonderful and concentrated mix of toasted nuts and dried fruits with traces of bitter orange peel, cinnamon and antique polished furniture. It has a gentle sweetness to it giving it a charm and instant appeal which belies its seriousness below the surface. So many nuances have melded together to form an exquisite bouquet.
Palate
Massively structured and concentrated at first with amazing grip and lots of tannin but when the tsunami subsides you are left with beautiful flavours which linger almost eternally. It is very sapid with lots of oak, nuts, exotic spices and a fair amount of glycerine which takes the edge of the dryness. This is fantastic.
Comments
Before it was even launched this wine scored 96 Parker points. The labelling is classic and almost identical to that of the original firm, the rights to which were bought by Willy Pérez and Ramiro Ibáñez from Beam Global in 2017. It simply states "La Riva Oloroso Balbaina Baja" without any indication of what a blockbuster this wine is. Anyway the plan is to sell the highest possible quality wines which can be found or produced, and they are off to a good start. This Oloroso originated in the Fabuloso solera of the now disappeared bodega of Cuvillo & Cia. in El Puerto de Santa María and the soleras were refreshed with wine from their two vineyards El Limbo and Santa Ana, both in the pago Balbaina Baja. When the crisis of the 1980s hit the firm they were forced to pay off an architect in the form of wine and when Willy and Ramiro came across it there was a little 12 butt solera which had not been refreshed in nearly 40 years. Transpiration losses had left the butts half empty so they selected those in best condition and which were most typical of the style of Balbaina Baja Oloroso as it had been before the 1970s. The vineyard was about 8 km from the coast and at about 55 metres elevation on albariza soil. The yield at the time was some 5,000 kg/ha, much lower than now, and the grapes were sunned for 48 hours. The wine was fermented in butts and went through 3 criaderas and a solera. The wine has an average age of between 70 and 80 years. Naturally the quantity is tiny and only 1,300 half bottles were filled in September 2017.
Price
96.15 euros per half bottle, Licores Corredera


Saturday, 9 June 2018

Vinoble Tastings 2018: Reliquias Líquidas, González Byass

Hosted by González Byass oenologist and master blender Antonio Flores in his inimitable poetic and  humorous manner, this was a fascinating tasting of wines from the firm’s two new ranges of rare wines: Solera Reservada and Vinos Finitos. The Solera Reservada is effectively a club limited to 200 members who can purchase exclusive lots of top notch Sherry released annually along with all sorts of other benefits. The Vinos Finitos is a range of wines which cannot be repeated, either because they are vintage wines or because they come from small one-off lots. 




Fino Almendroso (Solera Reservada) 15%
From butt number 92 in the Tio Pepe Rebollo solera with 4 years solera age, very old butts, hints cabezuela, acetaldehyde not excessive, quite full, saline and complex. GB family drink this

Fino Añada 2010 (Finite Wines) 16%
A damper, cooler year than normal, fairly pale, hint more acidity than 2011 but very clean and fresh

Fino Añada 2011 (Finite Wines) 15%
A dry year, ½ normal rainfall, fuller, drier, slightly darker and nuttier, touch more acetaldehyde

Amontillado (Solera Reservada) 19%
From a Wisdom & Warter solera, over 40 years old, fragrant, nutty, classic, charming, long

Palo Cortado (Solera Reservada) 21%
20 years average age, mosto yema, fresh, clean, light, smooth, very long and super elegant

Oloroso (Solera Reservada) 21%
Over 40 years average age, deep mahogany, full yet elegant, well integrated oak, very long

Oloroso Alfonso 1/6 (Finite Wines) 22%
Over 40 years old, 6 butts aged statically after removal from solera, full, fairly crisp, intense yet elegant, very long, delicious, classic

Dulce Palomino (Solera Reservada) 16%
31 years static ageing (añada) 280g/l sugars, lighter than PX, super smooth, deep colour, toffee…

Moscatel Pio X 1903 (Finite Wines) 9%
Made before Phylloxera, probably in the 1860s from ungrafted moscatel menudo vines), butt dedicated to Pope Pius X in 1903 (a common practice then), from 90 litres remaining in 700 litre tonel, 700g/l sugars (!), almost black, stains the glass, viscous, intense, incredible balance and smoothness, absolutely delicious, served in pipettes as quantities are so limited. Only 100 bottles released, just 4 in Spain – at 1,800€ each - remaining 20 are in the firm’s historic “botellero”.

GB is considering the release of other treasures like the PX Tio Pancho “Romano”, the oldest wine they have, dating from 1728 or the Solera Trafalgar dating from 1805, both predating the firm’s foundation (1835), but in tiny quantities up to just 150 bottles and inevitably at very high prices.



Thursday, 7 June 2018

Vinoble 2018 A Brief Report

Tuesday evening marked the end of the well-attended 10th edition of Vinoble, with more tastings - some of them unforgettable - and lots of new wines and new sacas making their debut. While the event has experienced its fair share of ups and downs over the years, the organisation has noticeably improved, especially with the new website offering plenty of information and a means to buy tasting tickets online and in advance, thus avoiding the awful queues of previous years. 2018 has generally been considered very successful, but a great deal of work can and still needs to be done to further improve it, and starting now, as it generates not only great interest in and sales of wine but also provides an important boost to the economy of Jerez itself, not only for the bodegas but also for local bars, restaurants and hotels which were almost at capacity.



Given Vinoble’s location, the presence of the great wines of Andalucía can be counted upon, but it is more difficult to attract those in other regions of Spain and abroad which add greater breadth and variety to the event. In 2010 there were representatives from 17 other countries, while this year there were only 5, though many did have some sort of representation by their Spanish distributors. In all there were 62 stands including various dedicated to food and wine matching. 7,300 people attended, with 20% from abroad representing 16 countries. Jerez City Council is already looking at increasing the number of stands; over a dozen applicants had to be turned down.



There were many unmissable tastings, tickets for which ran out in 48 hours, but I managed to obtain tickets for four, all held in the Alcazar's XII century mosque: The Treasures of San Ginés – vintage wines from the Consejo Regulador’s bodega, Liquid Relics from González Byass, A Journey through the Albarizas and Vineyards of Jerez by Willy Pérez and Ramiro Ibáñez and From Miraflores la Baja to Macharnudo Alto by Equipo Navazos. Tastings of such a calibre inevitably attract many more than there is room for, and in the cases of more than one, more time was needed, and this is something the organisers could look into, however with certain very old and rare wines, larger quantities could be a problem.



Alongside the official programme there were all sorts of side events organised by individual bodegas. Fausino González offered an event for restaurateurs and sommeliers, Díez Mérito offered tapas and Sherry for friends, restaurateurs and distributors, Sánchez Romate offered a fiesta including flamenco, Bodegas Tradición held a show-cooking event and González Byass showed off their Botellero, the wine racks at the bodega containing ancient treasures. The Council held an event in its little bodeguita.



The stars of the show were the young, talented and driven “rebels”, operating under the banner of Territorio Albariza and members of the Manifiesto 119, an association dedicated to recuperating old vines, winemaking methods and re-evaluating the pagos: Ramiro Ibáñez, Willy Pérez, Primitivo Collantes, Alejandro Narváez, Rocio Áspera, Armando Guerra and Francisco and José Blanco. Not only was their stand incredibly busy, but also the tasting given by Willy and Ramiro was greeted by rapturous applause. These “rebels” are at the root of the Consejo Regulador looking into including new products into the Denominación de Origen and are pointing the way forward.



After three hectic days I left the Alcázar exhausted but with a genuine sense of optimism. A lot is happening on the ground and even in officialdom, there seems to be a new product every five minutes, something very few wine regions could boast, and the reins of Sherry’s future are now at last firmly in the hands of its producers, who seem ever more open minded and justifiably proud of their unique and magnificent product. Only a few years ago there was only doom and gloom, but now there is imagination, hard work and optimism. The Sherry Revolution is real and unstoppable.


Wednesday, 6 June 2018

Tesalia 2015 14.5%, Bodega Tesalia

Appearance
Opaque blacky red, still retaining a hint of purple at a fairly tight rim with ruby glints.
Nose
Big, full and still a little closed but lots of ripe black berry fruit like blueberry and bramble, though a  slightly smoky, peppery hint denotes the presence of Syrah. A ripe grape skin texture is apparent and there are attractive toasty, spicy notes of French oak. This is a serious wine which is yet to show its full hand. It is deep and concentrated, almost brooding  and most impressive.
Palate
Full bodied, quite intense and well structured with noticeable but well controlled ripe tannins. It is very generous with a real feel of the hot south. It has all you'd expect of a fine wine with lots of spice, fruit, texture, grip and complexity, all well balanced and harmonised, but still needs time to give of its best, and its best will be very good indeed in three to five years. This is an extremely good wine.
Comments
This is Richard Golding’s first commercial release of what he hopes will be the “Grand Cru” of Andalucía. It comes from 11 hectares of vines in a beautiful estate in the foothills of the Sierra de Grazalema near Arcos de la Frontera. The wine is made from 65% Petit Verdot, 25% Syrah, 5% Tintilla and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, all from separate plots, night harvested by hand and vinified separately. The grapes are cold macerated for 4 days before fermentation which lasts a little over 3 weeks. After blending the wine is aged for a year in French oak barrels. Naturally the percentages of grapes in the blend vary slightly from year to year. Total annual production of this Vino de la Tierra de Cádiz is around 6,000 bottles. The ribbon on the neck of the very heavy bottle, which is sealed with a quality 2 inch cork, shows the GPS coordinates of the bodega.
Price
29,60, Licores Corredera


Tuesday, 5 June 2018

La Bota de Manzanilla Pasada 80 16.5%, Equipo Navazos

Appearance
Bright old gold verging on light amber with golden glints.
Nose
This wine is at a fascinating stage of development. Fragrant and super complex, at 15 years of age it could be an Amontillado but the flor has been protected as long as humanly possible. There are aromas of straw, briny seaweed, flor, almond and acetaldehyde along with traces of oak and gentle oxidative notes. While definitely still a Manzanilla Pasada it is close to the limit and not so far from Amontillado. The pinnacle of biological ageing.
Palate
Full, intense, concentrated and clean with perfect tangy acidity and a salty note along with traces of butter, toast, nuts like almond and hazelnut and a faint salted caramel hint. It is teetering on the brink, but still Manzanilla (not that it changes overnight). There is a slightly dry chalky feel and it leaves a long clean finish and a sense of deep satisfaction.
Comments
This outstanding and very interesting wine was bottled in December 2017 in a saca of 1,000 bottles (500 litres) from a single butt in the La Guita solera at the Miericordia bodega. This same butt supplied the wine for La Bota nos. 20, 40, 50 and 60. It is a bota punta, so called because it at one end of the solera. I have a feeling this butt is really a tonel (which is a bit bigger) or nearly all of its wine would have been bottled. It was filled almost to tocadedos however, to protect what little flor remains at around 15 years of age. The bitter flor notes are therefore slightly muted and there are distinct notes of oxidation as well as a higher alcohol level. Two and a half years have elapsed since the last saca from this butt, after which, as is not uncommon for a bota punta, it was replenished with wine from the same solera rather than the 1st criadera. The result is absolutely delicious, grab it!
Price
50 euros per 50cl, Guerrita


Sunday, 3 June 2018

The Production Bodegas

Unlike any other wine region, the Marco de Jerez DO is divided into two distinct zones: the ageing zone and the production zone. The ageing zone or “Sherry Triangle” consists of the three towns of Jerez, El Puerto de Santa María and Sanlúcar and only wines aged here can carry the DO seal. The rest of the delimited area is the production zone, which naturally comprises all the vineyards, but the bodegas which age wine here are not allowed to sell wine under the DO seal. Instead much wine and must is sold to the shipping bodegas in the ageing zone which are allowed to sell it on as DO Sherry, simply because it has been aged, or further aged, there. They can’t sell Sherry-style wines under the IGP (Indicación Geográfica Protegida) Vino de la Tierra de Cádiz either, so the only DO open to them is that of Production Zone. It is more about where wine is aged rather than where it is produced.



The production bodegas produce wine which is often every bit as good as that of the shippers, but without the DO label they cannot sell it for the price it merits. Many do bottle wine for sale without the DO seal, and while they do get a “Bodega de Producción Control de Existencias” seal, and are allowed to use the name of the place they come from as well as terms like “Fino” and “Amontillado”, they can’t use the word “Sherry”. Another problem is that the costs of bottling, labelling and distribution add to the price and few customers would want to pay that without the guarantee of the word “Sherry”. This obviously hinders sales, but suits the big shipping bodegas very well as it limits competition. They are a much more powerful lobby at the Consejo and are in no hurry to see any change in the status quo, however unfair it might seem to the production bodegas, who would like to see the production zone merged with the ageing zone and thereby be able to avail themselves of the same rights. There are some moves afoot, however. In May 2018 the Consejo set up a commission to look into all the contentious issues in the area, one of which is whether to abolish the difference between Production and Ageing Bodegas. If that ever happens, it will take a while...


Some of the production bodegas produce outstanding wines which they are able to sell by their sheer merit. Chipiona is famous for Moscatel and César Florido has a fascinating bodega here which not only makes outstanding Moscatel, much of which is supplied to shipping bodegas who sell it under their own name, but also a range of very good “Sherries” called Cruz del Mar and the superb Peña del Águila range. Chiclana has two outstanding bodegas. Primitivo Collantes has been earning an excellent reputation in recent years with Fino Arroyuelo en rama, Amontillado Fino Fossi (both have scored 90 Parker points) and two white table wines, Socaire and Viña Matalian. Then there is Bodegas Sanatorio, better-known as Manuel Aragón, with its well-known Moscatel Gloria and Fino Granero. Here Equipo Navazos selected La Bota de Palo Cortado 62 which scored 98 Parker points and La Bota de Oloroso 63 which scored 99. So there can be no doubt that the production zone can make good wine, and given the chance, do much to enhance the range of wines on offer.

The following are the ten production zone bodegas registered with the Consejo Regulador and all of these bodegas have good quality bottled wines to sell, though they are hard to find in shops, despite their good prices, but they are well worth looking out for. Some also offer good local table wines.

Chipiona
Bodegas César Florido
Bodegas José Mellado Martín
Bodega Coop Católico Agrícola
Chiclana
Bodegas Barberá
Bodegas Miguel Guerra
Bodegas Primitivo Collantes
Bodegas Sanatorio (Manuel Aragón)
Bodega Coop. Viticultores Chiclaneros
Bodegas Vélez
Trebujena
Bodega Coop. Virgen de Palomares




Saturday, 2 June 2018

2.6.18 International Wine Challenge 2018 2nd Tranche Sherry Results

Known as the “Wine Oscars”, the IWC is, along with the Decanter World Wine Awards, the biggest wine competition. It is held in two tranches (in November and April) with the Champion Trophy and Winemaker of the Year being chosen from the shortlists and announced at the awards dinner in London on 10th July.  



Listed below are the Sherry results to date:   
               
Fortified Winemaker of the Year
Shortlist: Sergio Martínez (Lustau), Antonio Flores González Byass), Manuel José Valcárcel (Harveys)

Champion of Champions
Shortlist: Cuatro Palmas, González Byass

Sherry Trophy: Tres Palmas, González Byass
Pedro Ximénez Trophy: Harveys PX VORS
Amontillado Trophy: Amontillado VORS, Harveys
Cream Trophy: Matusalem VORS, González Byass
Fino Trophy: Tres Palmas, González Byass
Manzanilla Trophy: Booth’s Manzanilla (Williams & Humbert)
Oloroso Trophy: Oloroso del Puerto Almacenista González Obregón, Lustau
Palo Cortado Trophy: Palo Cortado, Harveys

Unfortunately there are just too many other awards to list here but there were 44 Gold medals, 41 Silvers, 19 Bronze, 9 Commendations and 3 Great Value, showing not only that Sherry is a serious international contender in terms of quality but also that it is at last being taken very seriously again.

Friday, 1 June 2018

1.6.18 Decanter World Wine Awards

DWW, now in its 15th edition, is the largest wine competition in the world and this year it involved 275 international experts from 33 countries of whom 59 were Masters of Wine and 25 were Master Sommeliers. A total of 16,903 wines were entered and it took 2 weeks to taste them all using 49,000 glasses supplied by Riedl. All wines are tasted blind and tasters only know the wine’s region, style and price bracket. The best of the Gold winners win Platinum Medals, and they are re-tasted in search of the best in category for which they win a Best in Show Trophy. Only 0.03% of the wines achieved this. There were 50 Best in Show Trophies awarded and of the 9 won by Spain, Sherry took 3 (or 6%).





Best in Show Trophies:
Lustau Almacenista Palo Cortado Cayetano del Pino (97 points)
Lustau Oloroso VORS (98)
Hidalgo La Gitana Amontillado Napoleón VORS (97)

Platinum:
Osborne Solera AOS (97)
Osborne PX Venerable VORS (97)
González Byass Cuatro Palmas (97)
Lustau Oloroso VORS (98)

Gold (95-100 points)
Hidalgo La Gitana Manzanilla Pastrana (95)
Valdespino Don Gonzalo VOS (96)
Osborne Sibarita VORS (95)
Lustau Amontillado VORS (96)
Lustau PX VORS (96)
Lustau Almacenista Pata de Gallina, García Jarana (95)
González Byass Apóstoles VORS (95)
González Byass Amo. Del Duque VORS (95)
González Byass Matúsalem VORS (95)
González Byass  Noé VORS (95)

Silver, Bronze and Commended:
There were too many to list here, and the lower ranks have many own label brands not widely available, however 34 Sherries won Silver (89-94 points) and 30 won Bronze (86-89 points) with 7 Commended (all with 84-85 points). So in total Sherry won 81 medals and 7 Commendations.



Thursday, 31 May 2018

31.5.18 Bodegas Portales Pérez Launch Manzanilla Pasada

At last the eagerly awaited Manzanilla Pasada en rama Los Caireles is on sale. It is made by carefully selecting wine from a few butts with over 10 years under flor. The Manzanilla solera in Calle Carmen Viejo is quite small with just 300 butts, but some of the best wine was kept aside and aged statically, and so only 700 bottles have been released and they will be much sought after. This small, charming family-owned bodega in Sanlucar, which goes back five generations, punches well above its weight and all their products are of high quality.




Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Vermut Atamán 17%, Bodegas Barbadillo

Appearance
Deep brown mahogany fading to amber with copper glints.
Nose
Forthcoming and complex with pronounced sweet notes of caramel, orange peel, brown sugar and Oloroso and background traces of raisin, mint, menthol, eucalyptus, wormwood and quinine. It has elements of both Jerez Quina or even Ponche but there's more to it with all those botanicals. It seems fairly straightforward at first but quickly develops all sorts of nuances as it opens out
Palate
Quite sweet and fairly fruity initially with orange notes until the bitterness kicks in pushing the sweetness into the background and delivering quite a drying, bitter punch with loads of quinine and wormwood in contrast to the sweet luscious texture. A fantastic sweet ying and bitter yang balance makes it very stylish - and moreish - with great length, and it is lovely chilled on its own or mixed in all sorts of drinks. As Eddie Cochran would have said, "it's something else".
Comments
An Ataman is a Cossack leader or fighting horseman of the Caucasus where Russia meets Turkey, and perhaps this fierceness has something in common with the name of the brand. Certainly those at the bodega nowadays can find no reason for Manuel Barbadillo to choose this name for the brand he launched in 1943. After over four decades languishing in butts and demijohns at the firm's Angioletti and El Toro bodegas, it has now been re-launched, on the 75th anniversary or the original launch, as Barbadillo's unique contribution to the Vermouth revival. First the bodega launched tiny quantities of the original in half bottles (at 50 euros each) but has now launched a new version. Since the original recipe has disappeared, a lot of work has gone in to recreate the vermouth, which is sold using the original logo. It is made from a base of Manzanilla and Oloroso infused with a secret mix of herbs and botanicals which include wormwood, cassia (a kind of cinnamon), bitter orange peel, rosemary and elderberries, macerated in butts. Only small batches of 1,500 bottles are being released. It is a little more bitter than most vermouths and could almost be called a bitters, so it has infinite mixing and cocktail potential.
Price
14,95 per 50cl, De Albariza


Tuesday, 29 May 2018

29.5.18 Filipino Businessman Invests in Williams & Humbert


The Medina family, which has owned Williams & Humbert outright since 2013, and has some 30 brands sold in over 70 countries, has sold a significant stake in the company to the Filipino businessman Lucio Co. This investment will allow the company to consolidate existing business and help to develop the strategic plan for further expansion. Lucio Co is the founder and chairman of Cosco Capital, a publicly traded holding company with diverse business interests such as distribution, energy, real estate and retail (he owns Puregold Price Club, the Philippines’ largest retail chain). He is one of the world’s largest buyers of the products of the Marco de Jerez, and has earned a good reputation with Jerez City Council and the Consejo Regulador Brandy de Jerez. The Medina and Co families have enjoyed good relations for some 20 years starting with Co’s importation of the W&H brandies “1877” and “Alfonso I” which is now one of the brand leaders in the huge Philippines brandy market. Another brand, “Alhambra” was launched there in 2016. The new deal between W&H and Cosco was signed by Lucio Co and Jesús Medina Garcia de Polavieja in a ceremony held at the residence of the Philippine ambassador to Spain, Phillippe Lhuillier, in Madrid.



Monday, 28 May 2018

Table Wine Bodegas: Bodega Tesalia

Ex top international marketing executive Richard Golding fell in love with the Arcos de la Frontera area and decided to make a wine of outstanding quality there on a 160 hectare estate he bought in 2008 in the foothills of the Sierra de Grazalema. It started as virgin land but now 11 hectares are planted with vineyard in 10 north facing blocks carefully selected according to soil, while the rest is given to horse breeding and farming. The soils are not particularly fertile being mostly clay over chalk but that is perfect for the grape varieties planted which are Petit Verdot, Tintilla, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. 



The climate is tempered by both the Mediterranean and the Atlantic as well as the hills of the sierra and the nearby water reservoirs. Irrigation is used if necessary and harvesting is manual and is done at night. Two wines are produced, both red and launched in January 2018: Tesalia, the flagship wine is a blend of all the grapes planted and Arx (from the Latin Arcis or fortress - hence Arcos) is a blend of Syrah, Tintilla and Petit Verdot. Both are Vinos de la Tierra de Cádiz. The wine team consists of Richard’s daughter Natalia who has a Masters in Oenology and Viticulture, oenologist Ignacio de Miguel, Agricultural Engineer José Ramón Lissarrague and the consultant is Dutchman and Master of Wine Cees Van Casteren.



No expense has been spared to produce an Andalusian Grand Cru so state of the art equipment and techniques are used at this Château-like estate. Bunches are selected both at the vineyard and on arrival at the winery, while fermentation takes place in gravity-fed stainless steel and wooden tanks and the wines are aged in mostly French oak. Production is limited with only 6,000 bottles of Tesalia.



Address: Carretera de la Perdiz a las Abiertas, km 35
11630 Arcos de la Frontera, Cádiz
Telephone: 669 434 719
Website: www.bodegatesalia.com