Thursday, 19 July 2018

19.7.18 Harvest Latest


This year’s harvest will be very different to last year’s which was the earliest on record with grapes being picked from 1st August. It looks like being more than a month later, more like it used to be, and right now the grapes are going through the “envero” or colour change which is a key point in ripening. But it has been noticed that some vinifera scions have been putting out roots into the air at grafting points, something which only happens in the tropics and is associated with excess humidity. Certainly winter and early spring brought record rainfall, but this is unheard of. Also virtually unheard of is the appearance of botrytis so early in the season, before the envero, but it too is the result of excess humidity.

Bunches just before envero when the grapes turn golden (foto:Vanesa Lobo/Diario de Jerez)

The grapes are ripening more slowly than usual due to relatively mild temperatures with overnight dewfall and there has so far been no sign of the hot dry Levante wind to dry things out and stop the fungi which cause botrytis, oidium which is widespread especially near the coast, and mildew, which is largely under control. It is turning out to be an expensive vintage in terms of both hours worked and treatments used. What at first looked like being a huge harvest is now looking more like last year’s 75 million kilos or slightly less. While the torrential rain guarantees a large crop, it does not guarantee a healthy one. It looks like the harvest will have to be manual wherever possible as selection will be required, which adds to costs but is something harvesting machines can’t do. So as things stand only a good Levante can help, along with some leaf pruning to better  expose the bunches to the sun.

Wednesday, 18 July 2018

Vino Blanco La Riva 2016 13.5%, M Ant. De La Riva

Appearance
Mid strawy brassy gold with golden highlights.
Nose
The first thing you notice is seriousness: depth and a good degree of ripeness; most Palomino table wines are 12% and lack this depth and intensity. It reminded me slightly of a fine Burgundy, Meursault possibly - it certainly has that level of class, and faint oxidative nuttiness. There are as many fruit notes as those of flor with very ripe/stewed apple and quince balancing the bitter ones of the flor. It has a slight orchard air about it with some wild herbs growing nearby, and also a distinct nod to Fino. It is very complex, intense and beautiful.
Palate
This is way more complex and concentrated than any white table wine I have come across so far in Cádiz. It has a lovely chalky grapeskin texture and a gentle tension between that lovely ripe fruit and just a little bitter flor edge. It is clean with reasonably low acidity and lingers for ages. No new French oak barrels necessary for complexity here, just outstanding grapes and winemaking - the way it was done in the past. It makes you realise how much has been lost, and how important Ramiro's and Willy's work is in recuperating it. This wine is utterly superb.
Comments
This stunning wine was made by Ramiro Ibáñez and Willy Pérez for their new brand, M Antonio de la Riva, for which they bought the rights. The original firm was famed for quality and they want to maintain that, and have got off to a great start with Oloroso and Moscatel (just 90 half bottles) Viejisimos and an outstanding Fino. This white wine is made from old Palomino 84 vines grown in the Viña El Notario, located in the northern part of the Viña El Majuelo, owned by Fundador, in the Macharnudo Alto. It is well inland with a warmer climate but has a decent altitude of some 115 metres and fantastic albariza soil composed of tosca cerrada and barajuela. The grapes were harvested by hand in mid September and sunned for 8 hours, as was the original La Riva practice, which increased the must weight by 1.2 degrees. The grapes were very lightly pressed for maximum quality and the wine was fermented in butt at ambient temperature using flor yeast, and remained in the butt under the flor for 10 months before only 400 bottles were filled in October 2017 en rama and under a fine quality 2 inch driven cork. If you manage to get hold of a bottle, don't over chill it.
Price
35.50 (and worth every centimo) Guerrita


Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Fino 9/65 15%, Alexander Jules

Appearance
Deep golden amber with golden glints.
Nose
Big, generous and rich with lots of yeasty flor and notes of sourdough balanced by a slight strawy buttery note and a hint of almond. There is a fine mineral backbone with a faint trace of apple and a feeling of weight and seriousness. Oxidative notes are just beginning to make an appearance through what must now be pretty weak flor. Most attractive.
Palate
Again, full, almost powerful for a Fino which is approaching the crossroads towards Amontillado, but still very much a Fino. Acidity is on the low side, but the bitterness from the flor compensates and is augmented by autolytic notes, faint oxidation and concentration. There is loads of flavour and it carries through to a very long finish. Excellent.
Comments
This outstanding Fino comes from the "other" superior Camborio solera which consists of 65 butts selected for their quality and allowed to age longer than the 9-10 years of the normal - and excellent - Camborio which comes from Juan Piñero's Jerez bodega. I think this was the idea of the brilliant oenologist Ramiro Ibáñez, who acted as a consultant. He spotted that some butts had flor of different strains from others and made a feature of it. This wine, then, is a blend composed of a selection from 9 butts in this solera and blends the different yeast strains giving amazing complexity. It was bottled en rama in June 2017 and sealed with a Diam cork.
Price 
15 euros per 50cl, Er Guerrita





Monday, 16 July 2018

González Byass and Sustainable Viticulture


This interesting article from horsepress.es was written by Raquel Benjumeda

González Byass is working towards sustainable viticulture and their weapons of choice are biological: roses, woodland daisies, lavender, rosemary, oleander, jacarandas and pheromone diffusers. The latter attract male moths into traps so they can't breed, obviating the need for insecticide, and the others protect the vineyard from mosquitos, spiders and fungi. This is what has been happening at the firm’s Viña La Canariera in the pago Carrascal.

Roses are planted at the ends of the rows of vines for the early detection of diseases which can be lethal to the vines such as oidium, a virulent fungus whose spores blow in the wind. It is attracted to the humidity of the rose petals and in a few days it can cover the leaves in an ash-like powder, killing them off. Once alerted, the vineyard staff can spray the roses and the vines with sulphur, a natural antiseptic.

Rose bushes

The woodland daisies which share soil with the vines begin to feed the mosquitos at the most sensitive stages of the vineyard cycle, the flowering and fruiting. There are referred to as weeds but those which grow spontaneously do not affect the vine’s yield. Lots of flowering oleanders will take over the provision of nectar for the mosquitos from the nearby sunflowers when they wilt offering an alternative to vine sap.

This combination of species protects the vines while avoiding the use of contaminating chemicals and is the method used in so called “integrated production” which has been successfully used for many years with positive results for the company and the environment. Integrated production is an intermediate step between traditional and organic viticulture according to the firm’s agronomist Manuel Delgado.

Jacarandas

All the firm’s 414 hectares of vineyards are now managed this way, including the ones near Arcos where they make red wine at Finca Moncloa. There a project is under way to plant trees and shrubs to attract useful wildlife. At the 12 hectare La Canariera vineyard the organic conversion has begun, with no chemical products used for over two years. Next year the official green seal will be issued making it one of few organic vineyards in the area.

Along with the careful plantings in the vineyard, the winemakers will install advanced applications which will provide climatic and agricultural data throughout the seasons in real time so they can predict the conditions which might lead to the presence of fungi and insects and be able to act quickly. The idea is to use chemicals only if absolutely necessary.

Oleanders

There is now more colour in the vineyard than in the days when chemicals were used. Manuel Delgado says “we believe that as well as protecting the vines, this new bio diversity will favour an increase in other species which will fill the vineyard with life and colour. Already there are lots of quail and rabbits which live among the native shrubs which are being planted between the rows of vines. It all adds up to a healthier vineyard and a better product”.

This environmental conscience which distinguished Manuel María González, the firm’s founder in 1835, has been passed down the generations of both family and employees. The principle of responsible use of natural resources has resulted in the firm’s ten point sustainability plan “5+5 Caring for the Planet” created by the first five generations and dedicated to the next five. 


These are the firm's "Ten Commandments":

1 Reduce atmospheric emissions by reducing the use of fuel and increasing the use of electric vehicles in the bodegas and the planting of 10,000 native trees in the vineyards over the next 10 years.
2 Reduce the use of lights by installing high efficiency motion sensor bulbs, conduct audits of energy use periodically and harvest the grapes at night.
3 Increase the use of clean energy. Change from biomass boilers to solar panels for heating water in the bodegas.
4 Save water by using rainwater collection ponds, use controlled deficit irrigation and clean used water using specific algae in the firm’s own water purifying plants.
5 Reduce waste from bodega activity by recovering by-products from winemaking and distillation, production of organic fertiliser from cattle manure and 100% re-cycling of paper, cardboard, glass and plastic generated in the bodegas.
6 Change to eco-design, reducing the weight of glass in bottles, using re-cycled containers and packaging, buying cardboard and wood from certified forests, supporting and educating suppliers to achieve better results.
7 Test sustainable agricultural practices in the vineyards with integrated ecological production, substitute chemical treatments for biological ones wherever possible.
8 Conserve the biodiversity of the environment, protect fauna in danger of extinction, and conserve gardens and native species.
9 Undertake to offer people a range of products which are sustainable and respectful of the environment.
10 Social commitment to employees.

Sunday, 15 July 2018

Vermouth Rojo Premium 15%, Bodegas Osborne

Appearance
Deep orange tinged brown with coppery glints.
Nose
Bright and bitter at first, it really catches the attention with wormwood and quinine, and then notes of bitter orange peel and hints of cinnamon and sweetness from the Sherry come through and it starts to form a whole. It has an attractive tang and is very appealing.
Palate
The Sherry is a little more apparent and that up front bitterness subsides a bit. It is not over sweet and has a smooth gentle texture which is lifted by a light, elegant bitterness which imparts a sort of freshness. This is great vermouth, a little different and full of character.
Comments
Although originally launched in May, the new Osborne Vermouth Rojo Premium got a bigger and more official launch at Vinoble 2018. The label is striking and the quality is excellent. It is based on a blend of Medium and PX which give it a very smooth character while the botanicals used, which include wormwood, hierba gitanera (dittany), cinnamon, nutmeg, bitter orange peel are mostly locally sourced and typical of the area giving it a good bitter-sweet balance. 
Price




Saturday, 14 July 2018

Atuna 2017 14%, Santiago Jordi

Appearance
Bright pale lemony gold with golden highlights.
Nose
Forthcoming zippy and quite fragrant. Chardonnay can often be a little vegetal with added oak for flavour, but this wine seems not to have any oak and instead has slightly tropical fruity aromas of lemon icing, pineapple and kiwi, very appealing.
Palate
It has a lively refreshing tartaric acidity and plenty of those tropical fruit flavours which give it a slightly New World character which is slightly at odds with its Cádiz origins. Nonetheless, it is elegant and fresh and would be perfect for casual summer drinking.
Comments
Santiago Jordi Martín is a consultant oenologist and president of the Federation of Associations of Spanish Oenologists. His philosophy is to make interesting wine from small vineyards on poor low fertility soils using traditional methods and varieties with minimal intervention so that the vineyard character can shine through. This 2017 is the first release of Atuna, which is made from 100% Chardonnay, is a Vino de la Tierra de Cádiz. The label illustrates the various cuts of tuna, which the Cádiz coast is famous for, and he produced the wine with accompanying tuna very much in mind. "Bottling the power of the sea of Cádiz, the personality of its aromas and the character of its seafood" as he puts it. Only 6,500 bottles have been produced.
Price
8,95, Licores Corredera


Friday, 13 July 2018

Manzanilla Pasada La Gallarda en rama 15%, Bodegas Covisan

Appearance
Bright mid gold with golden highlights.
Nose
Very fresh and at first on the light side but it grows as it opens out and there are some gentle buttery briny hints along with some fresh herbs including camomile and of course some gently bitter flor and the faintest trace of oxidation. It is a very attractive wine with lots of gentle complexities, all nicely balanced and well integrated.
Palate
Fairly crisp and very clean and fresh yet it is a bit more serious than first appears with a noticeable minerality and salinity and traces of buttery cabezuela and flor bitterness showing through. It has a slightly chalky texture and a relaxed complexity with a good feel and length. It starts by refreshing the palate and then leaves a long, more complex aftertaste. Good.
Comments
Gallarda means elegant, fine, dashing, which suits this wine. It comes from the cooperative COVISAN in Sanlúcar, established in 1968. IThe brand was introduced recently to respond to the pasada en rama fashion and to celebrate the coop's 50th anniversary. The wine has about ten years solera age. There used to be a Manzanilla Amontillada Gallarda many years ago, but they are not related as the other pre-dated the establishment of the coop.
Price 
6 euros per 50cl  ex bodega


Thursday, 12 July 2018

12.7.18 Latest Figures for Brandy de Jerez


Brandy de Jerez did not have a good 2017. Despite the strong sales growth noted by the Consejo Regulador in the first quarter of 2018, Ministry of Agriculture figures for spirits with a geographical indication (IG or quality spirits) for 2017 show a 14% fall in both volume sold and income. Sales were below 10 million litres for the first time at 9.2 million litres with a value of 69.2 million euros, as against the 2016 figures of 10.7 million litres and 80.2 million euros.

However the product of Jerez is still far and away the leading Spanish spirit with 53% of total spirit sales, which in 2017 were 17.4 million litres, and 58% of total value which was 19.5 million euros. The 19 Spanish IG spirits are produced by a total of 238 companies, and they saw a drop in sales in 2017 of 10.8% and a drop in income of 11.7%. The IG spirits represent about 8% of total Spanish spirits production which totals 218 million litres.



60% of the IG spirits were sold on the home market. The Ministry’s figures highlight “the great social and economic importance” of Brandy de Jerez which maintains its leadership in exports with a share of 88.4% and a volume of 6.2 million litres. 72% of all IG spirits exports go to countries outside the EU with Asia buying 29%, mainly Brandy de Jerez for the Philippines. In Spain Brandy de Jerez is the second biggest selling spirit with a market quota of 30%, just 1% behind Pacharán de Navarra, but it has a much larger economic value with 58% compared to the 16.2% of Pacharán. Let us hope that the promising figures for 2018 continue.

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

11.7.18 IWC Champion Trophy Results


Last night’s gala dinner in London saw the presentation of the top IWC awards. Fortified Winemaker of the Year went to Sergio Martínez of Bodegas Emilio Lustau, who seems to be keeping this award at the bodega as successor to Manuel Lozano who won it seven times. This is Sergio’s second. Ironically the Manuel Lozano Trophy for Fortified Wine went to a Madeira, Justino’s 50 year old Terrantez.


The top awards given to Sherry as a whole were as follows:

Pedro Ximénez Trophy: Harveys PX VORS
Oloroso Trophy: Lustau Almacenista Oloroso González Obregón
Palo Cortado Trophy: Harveys Palo Cortado
Amontillado Trophy: Harveys Very Old Amontillado VORS
Manzanilla Trophy: Booth’s Manzanilla (Williams & Humbert)
Fino Trophy: González Byass Tres Palmas
Cream Sherry Trophy: González Byass Matúsalem VORS
Sherry Trophy: González Byass Tres Palmas
Best Value Champion Fortified: Booth’s Manzanilla (Williams & Humbert)

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

10.7.18 International Sherry Week: Event Registration Open

The 5th edition of International Sherry Week will run from 8th - 14th October and is now open for the registration of events. This international event gets bigger every year and there are now events in over 30 countries around the world. It could be pairing Sherry with food, a tasting, tapas, cocktails, a lecture from a Sherry Educator for shop or restaurant staff or simply a party. All sorts of useful material can be downloaded from the official website, where you can find out more and register your event. The best event could win 1,000 € worth of Sherry, so it’s time to start organising yours!



Sunday, 8 July 2018

8.7.18 Prediction for the Harvest 2018

Asked for predictions for the 2018 harvest, Consejo Director César Saldaña said the following: “It is still too early to say but so far everything indicates that the harvest will not begin as early as last year, which was a historic record. The first grapes of 2017 were picked on the 1st of August, something quite exceptional. It is tempting to make predictions, but July and August are the key months. Things are still moving slowly in the vineyards and we don’t see a likelihood of grapes being picked until the middle of August in the interior vineyards, but as everyone knows, it is a lottery. Everything points to a larger crop because we have had plenty of rain. Rainfall is a key factor in the capacity of the vines, and this year we have had much more than the average of 620 litres per square metre in some areas, so the albarizas there are saturated. However, the Levante winds are yet to come and they reduce the water content of the grapes, but for the time being it looks like being a large harvest. In terms of quality, no problems have appeared other than the odd thing which has been dealt with quickly, but nothing like the problems we had in 2016 which were very serious. As always, we will find out for sure when we start to pick”.



Saturday, 7 July 2018

Peach Brandy 28%, Bodegas Orleans Borbón

Appearance
Very deep brown like a Cream Sherry with copper highlights, quite viscous.
Nose
Intense aromas of super ripe yet tangy peach with fruity background PX notes. It is very rich and full and the brandy used seems to be of very good quality. Naturally it smells sweet and there is a hint of caramel, yet despite the rich sweetness it smells very fresh and appealing.
Palate
Sweet up front with soft almost creamy, caramelly PX balancing with that tangy peach. The 20 year ageing has brought all the nuances into harmony giving a very sophisticated product which despite its sweetness finishes clean, and very long. Best enjoyed on its own either straight from the fridge or with some ice.
Comments
This delicious, different and highly regarded peach brandy comes from a recipe brought by Princess Beatrice of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha to Sanlúcar from England in 1943, the year the bodega was established. She was a granddaughter of Queen Victoria and wife of Alfonso of Orleans Borbón, an Infante of Spain and unsuccessful pretender to the throne.The recipe was slightly adapted and improved to work well with the brandy from the Orleans Borbón soleras. Specially selected peaches are steeped in brandy before some sweet PX wine is added and the result is aged for 20 years. This liqueur has much greater colour and depth and a higher strength than most of the others, not to mention much greater age, which makes it far superior. Most after all are just white spirit with concentrated peach flavouring. This is real. Production is very small and interestingly, but oddly, the RE bottler code is that of Pedro Romero who went bust two years before this was bottled.
Price
30 euros, Guerrita



Friday, 6 July 2018

6.7.18 Fiesta de la Vendimia 2018

The poster and programme for this year’s Fiesta de la Vendimia have been announced. The dates are 1st – 16th September and the Fiesta is dedicated to the town of Rota. The art of cooperage will be featured, with an art exhibition, guided visits, a round table and lectures. This ancient office has seen many ups and downs and has come from almost disappearing to huge growth thanks mainly to barrel seasoning for the spirits industry.

The press announcement at the city council's Bodeguita.

As always the first and most symbolic act will be the treading of the grapes at the Cathedral but there will be all sorts of other activities including concerts, flamenco, exhibitions, guided walks, bodega visits and activities for children such as learning to use a venencia. The popular De Copa En Copa tasting event will take place at the Claustros de Santo Domingo. Horses will also feature as the 9th September is the European Day of the Horse.

The full programme (in Spanish) can be found here: 

https://www.diariodejerez.es/2018/07/06/20180706083835PROGRAMACION_FIESTAS_DE_LA_VENDIMIA.pdf?hash=a31dec98950d6dd4241b7557249af6c45f708366


Thursday, 5 July 2018

Palo Cortado Cardenal VORS 22%, Valdespino

Appearance
Beautiful bright mahogany with coppery glints and a trace of green at the rim.
Nose
Aromatic, sophisticated and fresh with notes of polished antique furniture made from exotic woods, lots of toasted almonds and hazelnuts. The years have converted many nuances into a magnificent bouquet. It is hard to pick out individual aromas as they have all harmonised into an extremely elegant whole, not too powerful but very refined, a " vino de pañuelo" if ever there was.
Palate
It certainly has structure with its 22% alcohol, 8.5 g/l total acidity (expressed as tartaric), and there is naturally a certain level of volatile acidity, not to mention traces of oak tannin, but none of this can spoil such a joyful experience. Yes it is tangy but it has an elegant texture and while intense it is perfectly behaved with incredible balance and that lovely lingering exotic polished nutty flavour.
Comments
This absolute gem is made from vines of over 50 years of age in the pure albariza soils of a single vineyard in the pago Macharnudo Alto. Everything at Valdespino is about continuity and this wine started out either as Fino Inocente or AmontilladoTio Diego. Through extremely careful selection of butts, suitable candidates were selected for the first Palo Cortado, Viejo CP. After ageing there through 4 criaderas and the solera the wine comes out with some 25 years of age. The best butts then go through another 4 criaderas and a solera to finally emerge with over 50 years of age. Valdespino don't mess about; only the best will do, and this wine is magnificent. 99 Parker Points.
Price
85 euros per half bottle, Licores Corredera



Wednesday, 4 July 2018

La Encrucijada (the Crossroads) By Willy Pérez

This interesting article article by Willy Pérez appeared recently in the Diario de Jerez 

Jerez enjoyed one of its golden ages after the victory of Juan Haurie (over the Gremio de la Vinatería) in 1778. Increasing sales and prices of our wines during the XIX century enriched the city but inevitably ended in a period of overproduction and speculation which resulted in the crisis of 1870. Lower quality French sweet wines took over from ours which were accused of no longer having their former quality.

This poor image of Sherry led a group of varied personalities of the era, led by the Marqués de Casa Domecq, the Conde de Aldama and Gumersindo Fernández de la Rosa, to promote Sherry as not simply a sweet wine blended in the bodega with arrope or vino de color. They looked to the vineyard in search of inimitable products and launched their own crusade to promote styles of Sherry which were less well-known abroad but of the highest quality: Finos, Amontillados and Olorosos. Samples were sent to the big world wine exhibitions and these Sherries triumphed. In the 1920s Sherry at last began to grow again. The city had passed a crossroads and began to enjoy another golden age which would last until the end of the 1970s. You probably know the rest of the story.

Obviously there were different reasons and different people involved, but essentially what happened was the same as a century before: it all got too big, speculation was rife and in the end the vineyard was abandoned to make bodega wine. Now, almost 40 years later we are trying again to connect Sherry to the vineyard and to its albariza soil, a unique link with the wine of past generations. There are now many oenologists starting up very visible and expensive projects making wines with short ageing periods but with the unmistakeable identity of Jerez. These high quality white wines are not a substitute for the traditional fortified wines, like the Finos were for the old sweet wines. And they are being sold for a sensible price. Once these new wines have formed the base of the Jerez pyramid, the traditional fortified wines will be able to raise prices and find the position they deserve.

In the crisis of the XIX century it was not easy to get all parties to agree and it is not easy now. There are many parties involved in a denomination with such a long history, and we don’t yet know how this new crop of white wines will take shape. However I am certain we will be able to pass the crossroads again.

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Oloroso en rama Añada 2009 19.5% Williams & Humbert

Appearance
Bright polished antique chestnut to deep amber with bright brassy glints.
Nose
Full, assertive and quite rich with lots of walnut and toasted almond and traces of raisin, maple syrup and moist pipe tobacco along with a faint traces of cigar box, caramel and a distant orange note. It smells quite young still with that fruity note and not a great deal of wood, but it certainly has some elegance and complexity, which can only develop further.
Palate
Big at the start with a good firm structure, then it mellows and softens into a mouth-filling super smooth Oloroso, still quite young with its hints of dried fruit. There is also walnut and a hint of caramel and it has a really attractive texture aided by glycerine. It is a extremely satisfying wine, intensely flavoured and with terrific length.
Comments
This is essentially the same wine as that bottled in February 2016 and in my notes of September 2016. It is now just over 8 years old, this example having been bottled in October 2017, and has developed ½ degree more alcohol and further complexity. The grapes came from old vines in the firm’s vineyards in the pagos Añina and Carrascal and only mosto yema was used. The wine was fortified to 18° and aged statically – not in solera – and sealed by the Consejo Regulador in butts of both 500 and 600 litres capacity. It scored 90 Parker points, but might well earn more for a later saca or after a few years in bottle.
Price
13,95 per 50cl, De Albariza


Monday, 2 July 2018

2.7.18 Independent Growers Forced to Join Cooperative

Independent growers are seeking refuge in the cooperatives as they find it increasingly hard to make a profit. The co-op Virgen de las Angustias (Covijerez) now has a waiting list of growers who have been selling their grapes directly to the bodegas but are now seeking to join the coop because of the desperate situation caused by the bodegas’ resistance to paying more for the grapes.

Last year Covijerez incorporated growers with 50 hectares of vineyard, and according to the co-op president Salvador Espinosa this year they are expecting growers with another 150 – 200 hectares owned by four or five growers who can no longer manage alone with the costs of cultivating a vineyard, especially in a year when more treatments are needed to keep the grapes healthy. The coop cannot take any more growers as it is almost at capacity.

The association of independent growers Asevi-Asaja has long been complaining about the complicated situation which growers are suffering because of low grape prices in one of the few areas where they are still paid by weight rather than quality leaving growers to abandon the vineyard or join a cooperative as their only possible alternatives.



“More and more growers are joining the cooperatives which can defend themselves better than individuals” says Asevi president Francisco Guerrero, pointing out the advantage of transforming the grapes into must instead of delivering grapes directly due to their perishability, and offers co-op members more room for manoeuvre when negotiating prices. Currenly the price is a ridiculous 0.35€ per kilo where in Champagne it is 6€ per kilo, and there, unlike Jerez, they have a quality scale according to vineyard classification.

The independent grower makes a contract with the bodega before the harvest in case of losing the crop and is handicapped by the severe sanctions imposed by the Competition Commission some years ago on the practice, then widespread, of fixing the price of grapes and must.

The Consejo Regulador has declared itself on repeated occasions to be in favour of the now longstanding claim of the growers to determine the grape price in terms of quality and not the weight so that standards could be established in function of sugar content, ripeness, acidity etc. But with few exceptions, the bodegas are not in favour of paying extra for the quality offered by a particular pago or parcel, and are thus running against the current trend highlighting the importance of the soil, which some say is just hot air saying that the wine is made in the bodega and the origin of the raw material is of no importance.

Some oenologists openly admit that these wines “in white lab coats” along with other practices which have done so much damage to the trade have not been produced for some time and many well –known Sherry winemakers are saying that the vineyard and the bodega are equally important in the singularity of these wines.

When playing to the gallery, all the bodegueros of the area sing the praises of the wonderful quality of their wines, but behind closed doors the quality seems to matter little when they argue that the wine is born in the bodega and that the origin of the grapes doesn’t matter too much as they stick to the custom of quantity over quality.

The paradox, according to Guerrero, is that the few bodegas which buy grapes continue to insist on quality despite being unwilling to pay for it. And then there are the firms with interests in the BOB market, the own brands which can be found on the supermarket shelves sometimes for less than two euros. These represent the worst of the legacy of the times when the area backed volume sales at the expense of the price and prestige which is costing so much to restore.

Salvador Espinosa says that the bodegas must take note that the vineyards have to be profitable, “not so that the growers can grow rich, but so that they can offer quality and afford the necessary investment in their vineyards”. In his judgement the problem is that “we have to arrive at a price for the wine on the shelf with the price of the grapes already built in”, something which simply doesn’t happen in the area where the grower looks for volume as the lesser evil to make the most of the harvest and keep going.

Paradoxically, the wines from the historic pagos of Jerez where the soil is the philosopher’s stone, are contributing decisively to the recuperation of prestige and the increase in the price of Sherry. Flying the flag for this new movement are the young winemakers and a few small and large bodegas, and the possibility of changes to the regulations to accommodate these practices which bring value and prestige to the DO is at last being debated.

Sunday, 1 July 2018

The Satellite that was too expensive for Jerez

Since the recent defeat of Mariano Rajoy’s government we now have a new one under Pedro Sánchez. The new minister for science and technology, Pedro Duque, was perhaps an obvious choice as he was Spain’s first astronaut. Back in 2007 he visited Jerez where he signed a butt at Fundador “Tecnología espacial para un vino especial” (space technology for a special wine – it works better in Spanish). The reason for his visit, at the behest of the Consejo Regulador, was that he was promoting Deimos Imaging, a company specialising in observing Earth from a satellite with multiple applications to benefit agriculture and vineyards by monitoring things like disease, ripeness and soil humidity. He gave a presentation to bodegueros and growers at the Consejo, but the cost of using the system was, well, exorbitant, and nobody could afford it at a time when Sherry was still enduring its long crisis and the world financial crisis was just beginning.

The Deimos 2 satellite launched 2014

The project was never going to work in Jerez. It cost 30 million euros for the satellite, its launch and a reception station on earth, so for a vineyard of between 20 and 100 hectares the price for a report varied between 3-5,000 euros - and two were needed per season. Despite a special introductory offer price none of the bodegas signed up. The satellite was eventually launched in 2009 and provided information for other wine regions and crops. In 2014 a second satellite was launched which had to offer a more comprehensive range of services as by now drones were available at much more affordable prices. Pedro Duque left the company in 2011.

Saturday, 30 June 2018

Cara Cepa 2017 14%, Santiago Jordi

Appearance
Very deep blacky cherry red with a youthful splash of purple at the fairly tight rim.
Nose
Vibrant, super fresh and forthcoming with lots of soft almost yeasty perfectly ripe jammy fruit. The faintest traces of wax, spice and smoke hide behind juicy plums and black cherries and there is a definite hint of carbonic maceration. 
Palate
Medium to full bodied with a faintly dry feel from well ripened and unaggressive tannins, acidity is perfect and the alcohol shows good ripeness. This structure is nicely balanced by all that lively fruit and the wine is delicious for drinking right now. It is remarkably forward for its young age but should still develop nicely over the next 2-3 years.
Comments
Santiago Jordi Martín is a consultant oenologist and president of the Federation of Associations of Spanish Oenologists. The fruit for this wine comes from a vineyard at Prado del Rey where Syrah, Petit Verdot, Tintilla and Chardonnay are grown. His philosophy is to make wine from the small vineyards on poor low fertility soils using traditional methods and varieties with minimal possible intervention. This 2017 is the first release of Cara Cepa and it is a Vino de la Tierra de Cádiz. It is made from Syrah (60%), Petit Verdot (30%) and Tintilla (10%) approximately - a really nice blend - and he makes the wine in such a way as to let the grapes and vineyard shine through. Good wine with loads of up-front fruity charm and good value. Production is 8,500 bottles.
Price 
8,95, Licores Corredera



Friday, 29 June 2018

29.6.18 VIII Edition of the Copa Jerez Begins; New White from Obregón


The Consejo Regulador has officially announced inscription dates for the Spanish round of the prestigious food and Sherry matching competition, which is open to applications at www.copajerez.com till the 1st September. Teams of chef and sommelier will compete to represent Spain against the national winners of seven other countries in the international final which will take place in Jerez in 2019. The VII edition introduced the very successful Forum which included lectures, tastings and show cooking featuring some of the top names in the worlds of Sherry and gastronomy. This is an unmissable event.



Bodegas Manuel Obregón in Chiclana have launched a new and very interesting white wine. Named Retallo (meaning a wooden wedge used to mount barrels), it is made from 100% Pedro Ximénez grown in their own vineyards and harvested earlier than usual so as to produce a dry wine. It comes in at 12 % alcohol and is aged under flor before bottling en rama. Just over 1,000 bottles have been produced.



Thursday, 28 June 2018

Atlántida Blanco 2016 12%, Compañía de Vinos del Atlántico

Appearance
Bright mid gold with the faintest tint of brass.
Nose
Forthcoming and very attractive it immediately appears sophisticated. The French oak is well integrated with fresh crisp aromas of pear and apple with a slight hint of lemon. It has considerable presence even a little weight, largely from the oak, drawing you in, and rewarding you well.
Palate
Up front it is fresh and quite crisp (Vijiriega always has good acidity) with lots of tangy apple and pear fruit, and a soft very faintly buttery character from the lees blends seamlessly with the oak which has been beautifully handled - ie not excessive. There are faint background traces of green fruit, straw, even wax, so it is complex, with an attractive hint of bitterness, and overall it is a serious, versatile wine, but with a sense of fun.
Comments
Compañía de Vinos del Atlántico started making wine in Cádiz in 2011 and had great success with Atlántida Tinto and Vara y Pulgar, both Tintilla. They own 16 hectares of albariza in the pago Añina split into 3 different vineyards: San Cristóbal, El Aljibe and San José. In San Cristóbal they have been planting various indigenous varieties since 2002 and have been working on clonal selection. They now have 21 grape varieties and more than 200 clones growing in 30 different plots, including old varieties of Palomino taken from vineyards planted over 60 years ago and from these they select the most promising to plant in greater quantity. Their entire vineyard is organic and respectful of the traditional ways, for example using vara y pulgar training and marco real plantation.

Atlántida Blanco 2016 is their first white from Cádiz and is made, like the reds, by Alberto Orte. It is also a first in the province for being made from Vijiriega, a grape variety which was once widespread in Andalucia but almost died out after Phylloxera, with only a few plots in Granada, Cataluña and the Canaries surviving. The grapes are foot trodden and the wine is fermented in barrel using native yeasts without temperature control. It is aged for 12 months in French oak demimuds (600 litre barrels) and a further 6 months in stainless steel tanks to allow solids to settle out. Only 1,100 bottles were produced, and I urge you to get two - one to enjoy now and another to keep for 2-3 years.
Price
25,90, Licores Corredera


Wednesday, 27 June 2018

27.6.18 New Fundación de la Manzanilla Established

The city council building of Sanlúcar, formerly the Orleans Borbón palace, was the scene yesterday of the act of constitution of the Fundación Manzanilla de Sanlúcar de Barrameda and the signing of a collaboration agreement with the council. Representatives of all the bodegas and cooperatives were present, along with Consejo president Beltrán Domecq, Sanlúcar mayor, Víctor Mora and José Manuel Miranda of the Junta de Andalucía. Claudio Araño, commercial director of Barbadillo, is the president of the newly formed foundation. It aims to bring all parties together to promote every aspect of Manzanilla, while the agreement with the council provides a place to do it: Las Covachas which will be the new centre for interpretation of Manzanilla. The date is significant as 26th June is El Día de la Manzanilla, the date the European Union recognised that Manzanilla can only be produced in Sanlúcar.



Las Covachas, which are a national historic monument, are near the foot of the Cuesta de Belén, a steep street which runs from the Barrio Bajo to the Barrio Alto. They were built in the late XV century by the Duke of Medina Sidonia, whose palace sits right above them, and they were once shops. The market which was built next to them in the XVIII century has just been totally restored and reopened. The Orleans Borbón Palace where yesterday's events took place is at the top of this hill.


Tuesday, 26 June 2018

26.6.18 González Byass Release Healthy Figures

The firm has released excellent results for the tax year September 2016 to August 2017 which show that their strategic plan is working with net income at 260.5 million euros, a sales growth of 25%. The previous two tax years saw drops in turnover of 15.4% and 1.3% respectively because of the purchase in 2016 of the bodega Veramonte in Chile and that of the Pedro Domecq brand in 2017 in partnership with Fundador. Export sales have increased, generating 65% of turnover, while the domestic market has been consolidated. Even after considerable debt repayment, pre-tax profit was 12.6%, 9% up on the previous year.


The best performing brands have been Tio Pepe, Beronia Rioja and the London No.1 Gin, and the firm now makes wine in eleven regions of Spain, Chile and Mexico, while it has three distilleries, two in Spain and one in Mexico. It owns subsidiaries in Spain, Chile, the USA, Mexico and the UK and has offices in various other countries. In fact 40% of the company staff lives outside Spain. Current projects include the new bodega in Rueda, the Sherry Hotel in Jerez and a new bodega in Rioja for Beronia, sales of which have grown by 10% over the last year. There is also Viñedos del Rio Tajo, a joint venture with Fundador near Toledo with 440 hectares of vineyard for the production of grapes for distilling.

Monday, 25 June 2018

Bêtanu 2011 15%, Bodegas Ibargüen

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


Sunday, 24 June 2018

A Plea for Vintage Dates and Batch Numbers on Labels

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

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

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


Saturday, 23 June 2018

Oloroso Añada 1998 20.5%, Bodegas Lustau

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


Friday, 22 June 2018

Brandy Solera Gran Reserva 38% Marqués del Real Tesoro

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

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




Thursday, 21 June 2018

Harveys Signature Cream 12 Years Old 19%, Bodegas Fundador

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


Wednesday, 20 June 2018

La Riva Fino 15%, M Antonio de la Riva

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


Tuesday, 19 June 2018

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

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


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.