Thursday, 20 September 2018

Barbazul Rosado 2015 13%, Bodegas Huerta de Albalá

Appearance
On the dark side for rosé, a sort of pale plummy cherry red with a faint trace of brick at the rim.
Nose
Fairly full with both floral hints of rose and violet and fruity hints of plum and black cherry. There are also gentle notes of spices and herbs and a trace of smoke, one of the hallmarks of Syrah, and a refreshing trace of raspberry. Attractive and unashamedly southern.
Palate
Closer to red wine than white, there is no shortage of body and character here, one could say it is a rather masculine style. There is plenty of fruit , perfectly judged acidity and even a hint of structure: it has a mineral feel from the albariza soil probably, a dry texture with a faint trace of tannin and it is not low in alcohol, though all the components are well balanced. It has a long plummy, raspberry, smoky finish.
Comments
This full, no - nonsense rosado is made from 100% Syrah grown on the Huerta de Albalá estate near Arcos de la Frontera owned by Vicente Taberner. Making rosé requires skin contact with red grapes, but  how long that contact lasts is up to the winemaker, and obviously the longer it lasts the darker and more intensely flavoured and structured the wine will be. This wine bucks the current trend for super-pale anaemic salmon coloured rosés and gets a decent period of skin contact, so it is in the good old fashioned style and none the worse for that.
Price
7.50 Museo del Vino Málaga

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

Fino Ecológico en rama Añada 2015 (2) 15%, Williams & Humbert

Appearance
Brass tinged gold with a little depth and golden reflexions.
Nose
There is an interesting balance between faintly sweet traces of apple and quince puree and bitterness from the flor. It has some weight and depth as one might expect from a wine which has not been refreshed and there are some slightly herbal notes of esparto, sourdough and olive brine.
Palate
Quite full and intense for a Fino, perhaps less fruit now and more straw with  just the very faintest hint of oxidation. It is very stylish, assertive and serious, yet elegant with a pronounced texture, at once chalky and with a hint of grapeskin, and great length. Not only super interesting, but delicious.
Comments
Bottled on the 27th July 2018, this is a second saca of the first ever organic vintage Fino en rama from a single pago: Burujena in Trebujena. The first saca (qv) was bottled in March so there is around four months more crianza. As before, the must was fermented at 22° and fortified with organic spirit to 15.5° so the flor has consumed half a degree over around 3 years meaning it would have to be bottled before that level dropped to below 15°. Not all the Añada butts turn out to be Fino of course, so there is not much of this unfortunately.
Price
15.50 per 50cl Licores Corredera


Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Bodegas B Rodríguez La-Cave SA


Enrique Rodríguez Cabanzón, was a montañés from Mazandrero near Santander who emigrated to Sanlúcar where he was very successful in business. His son Joaquín Rodríguez Roldán who inherited part of what would become Bodegas Barbadillo, married Magdalena La-Cave Domínguez, related to the La-Cave family with bodegas in Cádiz, and their son was Benito Rodríguez La-Cave, 1871-1913.

Part of the old Bodega Trillo (foto:Aula Gerion)

Benito married his cousin María Concepción Rodríguez Terán in 1890 and thus they had a joint grandfather in Enrique Rodríguez Cabanzón. María Concepción’s other grandfather was Rafael Terán Carrera, another montañés who had made his fortune in Sanlúcar, mainly in the wine trade, like Benito’s other grandfather, José María La-Cave Gassin, who married an aristocrat and once served as the town’s mayor. The couple thus inherited considerable wealth and established bodegas based on what they inherited. Interestingly, María Concepción’s sister Caridad married into the Barbadillo family providing it with even more wealth. Benito and María Concepción had seven children.



Rodríguez La-Cave owned vineyards in the Pago Miraflores and bodegas in various streets of the Barrio Alto in Sanlúcar including the Calle Caballeros, Calle Monte de Piedad, Luís de Eguílaz and the XVII century morisco style bodega in Calle Trillo. Most if not all were inherited from Rafael Terán, and at one time the firm was bigger than Barbadillo. The bodegas are all now demolished except Calle Caballeros, which with its lovely house was converted into the hotel Posada del Palacio. There can have been few families so intimately related to the Sherry business.



After Benito’s untimely death, María Concepción ran Rodríguez La-Cave under the title of Viuda de B Rodríguez-Lacave until she retired in 1934. It remained a family business run by her children and grandchildren, who maintained the firm’s excellent reputation, until they decided to merge with Delgado Zuleta in 1978. In 1989 the firm began moving all the wines from the many RL and DZ bodegas into one perfect purpose - built bodega where they can all be in one place. It took 16 years, and a fortune was spent on repairing old butts.



While members of the Rodríguez family currently own some 40% of the combined firm and have occupied management posts, their name only appears on the three wines which are still faithfully produced from the original Rodríguez La-Cave soleras: Manzanilla Barbiana, Amontillado Goyesco and the Amontillado VORS Quo Vadis? The latter has an average age of over 40 years. It has always been fermented in new butts as the original wine had been. The story goes that it was fermented from Miraflores gapes in new butts, and as a buyer could not be found, it was locked away for decades, turning into a magnificent old Amontillado which scored 97 Parker points.



Monday, 17 September 2018

Brandy Lepanto OV Solera Gran Reserva 36%, González Byass

Appearance
Deep mahogany with copper highlights fading to amber with a trace of green at the rim.
Nose
Rich and fragrant with beautifully integrated notes of oak, Oloroso, walnut, praline and vanilla with  traces of dried fruit, a suspicion of orange and a gently sweet hint of brown sugar. This is a brandy with considerable class; it is complex yet fresh and open, and quite beguiling.
Palate
Full and rich and very smooth with no rough edges, it makes quite an impact at first then softens and rounds off with a faint bitter note, probably tannin from the wood, balanced by those brown sugar and orange notes, then hints of nuts and nut oil come through but the finish is dry. It is full bodied with lots of Jerez character and has terrific length.
Comments
Lepanto, which was launched in 1951 is the only brandy still distilled in Jerez and it is made from a base of Palomino wine made in Jerez. The wine is stored under inert gas while awaiting distillation to avoid any oxidation.The firm began distilling in 1844, and for Lepanto they use Charentais (Cognac) type stills which use the double distillation method. These have been replaced since then, of course - in fact the current ones date back to 1960 and each has a capacity of 25 hectolitres - but the method has not. The distillery is in the bodega Los Arcos in Jerez while the firm's other brandies are made in La Mancha. Only the hearts of the distillation, between 65 and 72% are used to make the holandas which then spend 12 years in ex Tio Pepe butts before being transferred for 3 years' finishing in butts which previously contained Matusalem 30 year old sweet Oloroso so the finished product has an average age of 15 years. The original Lepanto bottle was designed by the Real Fabrica de la Granja (est 1727) near Segovia. There are 3 versions of Lepanto: the standard 12 year old aged in Fino butts, this one, and the 15 year old PX finish. There was a limited edition (200 bottles) of Lepanto Aurum 30 year old, but that is now almost impossible to obtain.
Price
37.95 Roali


Sunday, 16 September 2018

Vibrations 2016 13%, Bodegas Muchada-Leclapart

Appearance
Very deep amber to old gold with ambery-golden highlights.
Nose
Intense and unique. Fascinating. The deep colour suggests oxidation or even sweetness but there is none; instead there are surprisingly fresh aromas of super ripe dried fruit like apricot, quince, apple and a trace of orange and their skins and a hint of quince preserve. It smells of a noble old wine with many years of bottle age not totally unlike a Sauternes, strangely, yet there are noticeable hints of salinity and hints of toast with apple jam. And some say Palomino is boring!
Palate
Full and dry with lots of character and texture which is a combination of the chalky feel one gets from albariza and the faintly tannic texture of the grapeskins, thanks to them having been macerated rather than being discarded. Mature fruit and acidity are perfectly balanced and there is even a faint background note of ginger. It has a very natural feel, as if nature has been allowed to just get on with a job she does so beautifully, but it takes skill and faith to keep an eye on how things turn out. A seriously interesting wine with real class and absolutely delicious.
Comments
Only 700 bottles of this amazing wine were made by an architect who fell in love with wine, and a Champagne producer. It is 100% old vine Palomino (over 60 years old) from the 1.7 hectare La Platera vineyard located in the Pago Miraflores and biodynamically cultivated. The must is fermented in ex Manzanilla butts on the skins like red wines, which is unusual for white, but it gives much greater intensity of flavour and texture. (Red wines have to ferment on the skins to extract colour, but white wines, obviously, do not). Temperature control is minimal with only a couple of air-conditioning units in the bodega. The absolute minimum sulphur is added and the wine is neither fined nor filtered before bottling and simply spends 18 months or so in bottle before release. While it  is as natural as possible it is not called "natural" because some don't understand the concept, and, being unfiltered, the bottle contains some fine lees, both of which put people off, but it shouldn't as they are perfectly harmless and simply add to the flavour. If need be one can decant through a cloth, but it's not worth the hassle. It is not a cheap bottle of wine and far from conventional but it is a very rewarding experience.
Price
37,50, Licores Corredera


Saturday, 15 September 2018

Manzanilla San León White Label 15%, Bodegas Argüeso

Appearance
Fairly pale golden Straw with bright golden highlights.
Nose
The super fresh and fairly intense maritime aromas are not surprising as the bodega is among the closest to the estuary. They are strongly saline with very pungent flor, bitter almond and dry scrub along with faint notes of seaweed and esparto in the background.  Cracking nose.
Palate
Intense and full of character, it is a big Manzanilla with considerable concentration and yet there are only faint notes of cabezuela; the bitter yeastiness is mostly – but not all - from the wine’s surface, and there is no shortage of that. It epitomises the Spanish word “punzante” (sharp) but in a wine context, meaning up-front, crisp, incisive, pungent. In the very long finish there are briny notes of sourdough and cabezuela and a dry chalky texture. It is amazigly complex for wine which is not yet really a Manzanilla pasada - though it is getting close.
Comments
This wine was launched comparatively recently and fairly quietly – until it won the Manzanilla Trophy at the International Wine Challenge 2017. It is a blend of selected butts in the Manzanilla solera which dates back to 1822 and it has an average age of over 6 years. Back in the day Don León de Argüeso separated out some particularly good butts to form his own private stock and that is now sold as Reserva de Familia, the firm’s top Manzanilla. This wine however, is arguably better still – I tasted them side by side, along with the standard San León, and while there are obvious similarities, this one is darker in colour - probably en rama but there's no mention of this - more intense, bitter and wild, possibly at the expense of elegance, but certainly not class. The label resembles one used in the past. Most of the firm’s production is Manzanilla with the wine being sold at various ages under various brands: Fina, La E (draught only), Medallas, San León and Reserva de Familia, and frankly they are all excellent. Judging by the quality of this wine I reckon even more interesting Manzanillas could yet be to come from this revitalised bodega. Great price too.
Price
5.95 euros per 50cl, De Albariza


Friday, 14 September 2018

Atlántida 2014 13.5%, Compañía de Vinos del Atlántico

Appearance
Bright deep blacky ruby red, still with some pink at the rim.
Nose
Very attractive with lots of perfectly ripe - but not overripe - fruit. There is a distinct and very slightly yeasty, almost creamy, aroma of sappy black cherry with a hint of loganberry backed up by restrained hints of toasty French oak. There is a faint balsamic hint which is all that gives away the heat of the vineyard - even the alcohol is restrained.
Palate
The almost crisp sappy black fruits predominate while gentle notes of oak and a certain minerality add complexity and freshness. The structure is medium with unaggressive tannins and perfect acidity giving very good, almost zippy balance and long tangy fruity finish. This wine is delicious and would repay keeping for up to five years.
Comments
The Compañía de Vinos del Atlántico produces and distributes fine quality wines all over Spain and Portugal, and also exports them. This is one of their best, made by Alberto Orte from 100% old vine Tintilla grapes grown organically on albariza soil in a single 1 hectare vineyard in the pago Balbaina. The bunches of grapes are harvested at night, by hand, and only 10% are de-stemmed. During fermentation there are two daily pump-overs and afterwards the wine is pressed and put into used 500 litre French oak barrels where it remains for a year, going through the malo-lactic and depositing sediment before being racked into used 225 litre barriques where it ages for 16 months before bottling. The result is superb and shows what a great grape the Tintilla is.
Price
25 euros, Er Guerrita


Thursday, 13 September 2018

Amontillado Castillo de Guzmán 17.5%, Coop Albarizas Trebujena

Appearance
Deep amber fading to light amber to gold at the rim with coppery glints.
Nose
Young with all the hallmarks of the fairly early stages of oxidation, still with fading hints of overripe apple plus lots of salted caramel and the toasted hazelnuts beginning to make an appearance. It is fresh and fairly soft and still without some of the complexity and sharp focus that will surely come, yet it is at a lovely stage where you can see tantalising glimpses of the future. 
Palate
Very round and smooth, soft and dry, the crisp nuttiness is still in its infancy and that slightly sharp "punzante" character is yet to evolve as it sheds puppy fat, but it is still a lovely glass of wine; easy (perhaps too easy) and satisfying. It has really good length too.
Comments
Made in Trebujena, in the production zone, and therefore not bearing the magic word "Sherry" on the label, this wine is made by the Albarizas Cooperative, and this is the first ever bottling of it (along with various other wines they make) to celebrate their 40th anniversary in 2017. It is a limited release and is a blend of wines selected from various butts. The coop sells nearly all its production to the big bodegas or local bars and restaurants, but has seen the possibilities of selling its own wine in bottle, and has opened a "despacho de vinos" or wine shop where one can buy bottles or bulk. As the wine is only 17.5% it is not too strong, and in fact that is pretty well the minimum one could expect it to be. All in all a charming and interesting wine of perhaps a bit more than 10 years of age for a bargain price - if you scale up the 50cl to 75 cl it would still only cost 7.30 euros.
Price
4,90 per 50cl, Licores Corredera





Wednesday, 12 September 2018

Desvelao 2017 12.5%, Cuatro Ojos Wines

Appearance
Bright pale golden straw with the faintest hint of green and golden highlights.
Nose
Intense and super fresh aroma of Moscatel with lots of fruit notes like mandarin, kiwi and peach with hints of white flowers and tea. There is a faint mineral note and a trace of flor which add a balancing and slightly more serious note, but all told, a lovely nose.
Palate
Clean, fresh and zippy with an attractive tangy yet balanced acidity, and there is lots of that mandarin fruit along with a slight apple note and a very slightly bitter edge and a dry chalky texture. This is delicious, pure and very refreshing with good length.
Comments
This is the second commercial vintage of Desvelao, a wine  made the artisan way by the three Cuatro Ojos girls in their small bodega in El Puerto de Santa María. It is a fairly unusual style of wine being 100% Moscatel de Alejandría but fermented dry, and it works really well. The grapes come from the albariza soils of Finca La Blanquita in the pago Balbaína where they are hand-picked and pressed, and the must is then taken to the bodega. This must is used to make 3 wines: Contra Tiempo, Molinero and Desvelao, but they are made in slightly different ways. It is fermented at low temperature with natural yeast for a couple of days before the addition of selected yeast and Desvelao has the added flavour imparted by flor yeast during 3 months of ageing in tank on the lees. The wine is bottled without filtration and rested in bottle for a couple of months before sale. Only around 400 bottles produced. I do wish they would put the vintage on the label, albeit this one is different to last year's.
Price
15.50, De Albariza


Tuesday, 11 September 2018

Manzanilla Pasada en rama Solear saca Verano 2018 15%, Barbadillo

Appearance
Bright amber-tinged gold with golden highlights.
Nose
Intense and attractive, very yeasty and fresh with hints of sourdough, straw, esparto and dry grassy scrubland with some herbs, yet there is a slightly saline humid air about it and a hint of autolysis from the cabezuela balanced by a lovely bitter flor note. It is complex, homogeneous and lovely.
Palate
It starts off big and rich yet becomes elegant and dry, it has good acidity yet also a certain creaminess which along with that flor bitterness excites the palate splendidly. There's a faint strawy almond  pastry note, traces of herbs and dough, but above all yeast. This is a lovely wine.
Comments
As usual, the wine comes from the firm's own vineyards in Gibalbin and Santa Lucia and has an average age of about 8 years. It was selected from 15 butts in the 550 butt intermediate solera in the bodega El Potro, about 100 litres from each, and filled into 4,000 half bottles in early June with the minimum possible of filtration and a decent quality natural cork. The solera was then topped up with Solear aged about 6 years. The summer saca naturally shows the state of the flor during the preceding 3 months of spring when the flor is at its thickest, and this year spring was comparatively cool making the wine so delightfully yeasty.
Price
14.30 euros per half bottle Licores Corredera



Monday, 10 September 2018

The Oldest Bodega in the West


At a Fiestas de la Vendimia event at the Consejo Regulador last week, professor of prehistory at Cádiz University Diego Ruiz Mata discussed his discovery of an ancient bodega at Doña Blanca. The ruins of this walled Phoenician town lie a little east of El Puerto de Santa María, in the Sierra de San Cristóbal. It dates back to the third millennium BC, during the Bronze Age, and in those days dominated the Guadalete estuary, a perfect site for defence, fishing and trade. The estuary began to silt up however and after the Roman victory in the Punic Wars the town, now lying a bit over a mile from the river, was only inhabited again sporadically till the Middle Ages and eventually abandoned.



In 1991 Ruiz Mata and his team excavated a 2,000 metre area just below the top of the hill and discovered the remains of a winemaking site dating from the fourth century BC, the only one of this age to be discovered preserved in its entirety, and the oldest in the West. There are two troughs for treading the grapes, another to receive the juice, a storage area for amphorae of wine, ovens for making sweet wine and three temples which have caused a bit of a sensation in the scientific world as they reveal a religious connection to wine.



From its beginnings, wine was highly valued for its flavour and its psychotropic properties which quickly found religious uses as its effects were thought to bring people closer to a divinity and these “libations” soon took over from psychotropic herbs. It naturally had other social and commercial uses, but was always a very exclusive drink as the technology did not then exist to produce large quantities, so it was rare and extremely expensive, being used only at special events. One of the temples has a pit for offerings from which numerous broken cups and amphorae have been recovered, thrown there during ritual feasts. Sacred stones were also discovered which refer to the presence of a divinity. 



After examining the site in minute detail, the archaeologists had the site re-buried as without proper protection it would end up being destroyed since, as Ruiz Mata says; it is lamentable how Spain neglects important parts of its heritage. (Only last week part of the Medieval Torre de Melgarejo near Jerez – which is a protected building – collapsed). Doña Blanca gets its name from a medieval tower near the Phoenician remains and where Doña Blanca de Borbon was imprisoned by Pedro I in the XIV century.

Sunday, 9 September 2018

Whisky from the Marco de Jerez?


Towards the end of the XIX and beginning of the XX centuries the bodegas were selling all sorts of products as well as Sherry. The wine of Jerez was beginning to recover after the Phylloxera crisis had forced them to sell other products to survive. All sorts of drinks were produced like Ponche, Quina, Vermouth, Brandy, Gin, Anís etc., and in the days before DOs, many had very questionable labelling, such as “Cognac”, “Ojén” and “Rum”. Two even produced “Whiskey”.

José de la Cuesta (est. 1849) El Puerto de Santa María



Not only can it not “Scotch” being, as the label says, “Spanish produce”, but it is wrongly spelled for Scotch. In Scotland it is always spelled “Whisky”. Whiskey is the Irish and American spelling. Whisk(e)y can be produced anywhere, but “Scotch Whisky” can only be distilled, aged and bottled in Scotland. Furthermore the label clearly states that it is made from rectified alcohol (ie distilled to within an inch of its life in a column still) produced from grapes, as opposed to the cereals used to make Whisky. Its only saving grace would have been the seasoned Sherry barrels it was aged in. So as fakes go this one was not difficult to spot. The firm is now part of Luis Caballero.

José de Soto (est. 1793) Jerez



In the mid 1930s this very reputable bodega introduced its own “Whiskey” at the reasonable price of 6.50 pesetas the bottle.  It was “specially made and aged in rigorously selected oak barrels which had contained the oldest Sherries”. The brand was offered in two versions: the standard “Tip Top Choice old Whiskey” with a gold label and the black-labelled version which was supposedly better still. Unfortunately, by the time it was launched the Civil War was at its height, and the product was soon dropped. What it was made from is a mystery, but it is highly likely that, like the Cuesta “Whiskey”, it was in fact brandy. At least Soto did not have the temerity to call it “Scotch” and made much of the fact that it was Spanish.


In both cases, the product probably never left Spanish shores, and has long since disappeared, which is just as well, but from an academic point of view it would be very interesting to taste them. Nevertheless, some very good and perfectly genuine Whisky is produced in Spain nowadays. The big one is DYC (Destilerías y Crianzas del Whisky) which was established in 1955 near Segovia, and has successfully produced Malts and blends since then.  It now belongs to Beam Suntory. Then there is Destilerías Liber in Granada who distil various spirits including the Single Malt Embrujo. Last but, I’m afraid least, is Pernod Ricard’s Doble V distilled near Tarancón and also Argentina. It was set up by Hiram Walker in the early 1970s.


Friday, 7 September 2018

Brandy Conde de los Andes Solera Gran Reserva 40%, Marcos Eguizábal

Appearance
Deep brown to mahogany to amber at the rim with cooper highlights.
Nose
Full and quite intense with strong Oloroso notes and perhaps a little PX. You can smell the texture imparted by old Sherry barrels along with hints of vanilla, walnut and toasted almonds. It is rich and generous with hints of antique furniture, brown sugar, caramel and oak, but all in harmony.
Palate
Again full bodied, rich, and fairly powerful, with all the above and mellowed only slightly by gentle sweet notes of caramel, cinder toffee, dried fig and date. It really speaks of the quality of the butts it has been aged in; you can almost chew the oak, yet it is not particularly tannic and leaves a concentrated  Sherried intensity which lasts for ages. Impressive stuff.
Comments
The title Conde de los Andes was granted in 1824 by King Fernando VII to reward the work of the viceroy of Peru, José de la Serna y Martínez de Hinojosa, who came from Jerez. In 1924 the title was elevated to Grande de España, the highest level of nobility below royalty. Unlike this noble lineage, the brandy of that name has a complicated history. It was originally a fine brandy solera, established in 1819 and bought by Díez Hermanos which itself was bought by Rumasa in 1972 and later bought Marqués del Mérito. It was then merged with Zoilo Ruiz Mateos in 1984. When the Spanish Government sold off the various parts of Rumasa in 1985, a Riojan businessman called Marcos Eguizábal bought Díez Mérito, Bertola and Pemartín as well as the once great Rioja bodega Federico Paternina. He re-named the top Rioja wines and the top Jerez Brandy Conde de los Andes. There was also once a Conde de los Andes Brandy Liqueur which was a solera-aged blend of Brandy and PX presented in a similar bottle but with a white label and silver capsule. After Eguizábal’s death his family sold the Jerez interests to the local Espinosa family who have dropped the Conde de los Andes name and now sell the brandy at 15, 25 and 35 years of average age along with a tiny release (100 bottles per annum) of it at 100 years from 14 selected botas “no” and called Reserva Especial.
Price
45 euros, Mantequeria Jerezana


Thursday, 6 September 2018

Blanco Hornillos 2017 12.5%, Viña Callejuela

Appearance
Paleish strawy silvery gold with golden glints.
Nose
Fresh, pure and faintly yeasty with delicate apple, pear and apricot fruit and traces of fresh herbs like camomile, and white flowers, almost like walking through an orchard to a meadow in fresh slightly maritime air. There are hints of salinity and chalky soil too. Attractive, delicate and refined.
Palate
A little more weight now, and some more apple, there is a decent refreshing acidity making it almost crisp and plenty of tangy fruit flavour along with a hint of salinity and a slight chalky feel which slightly blunts the acidity, and a faint bitterness at the long clean finish. A charming and very drinkable wine.
Comments
This is a straightforward white wine from Callejuela's Hornillos vineyard in Sanlúcar which surrounds the bodega. It is 100% Palomino fermented in tank where it is allowed to decant after the malo-lactic. It has no flor, no oak, no ageing, as none of these are necessary to produce a decent white wine. What it does have is a certain flavour of the albariza soil and the environment of the Guadalquivir estuary along with the fruit of perfectly ripened grapes. The Blanco brothers are "mayetos" as they call growers in Sanlúcar, and want their wines to reflect the vineyards they are so proud of. Good price too for a wine with real character.
Price
6.95, De Albariza

 

Wednesday, 5 September 2018

Bodegas: José de la Cuesta


José de la Cuesta y Gómez del Corral was born in Torrelavega near Santander in 1824. In search of his fortune, he moved to El Puerto de Santa María and set up a wine business in 1849 which would become very successful. His son, Luís de la Cuesta, later took over the business and in 1894 bought the bodegas of Englishman John William Burdon, established in 1821, when Burdon, who had no children to leave his business to, retired back to England. Cuesta maintained the bodegas and their brands.



José Cabaleiro do Lago, also from the North of Spain, Galicia in fact, established wineries in Chipiona as an offshoot to the family oak timber business in Galicia but gradually became more involved with vineyards, Sherry and distillation. His firm, now called Luis Caballero, decided to move to El Puerto during the early XX century, and the simplest means of doing this was to buy existing bodegas, so in 1932, the firm bought those of José de la Cuesta, located not far from the Castle and those of John William Burdon, already owned by Cuesta.

A bottle from the 1960s
This move gave Caballero considerably increased stock and allowed him to export in a bigger way. Apart from its own Fino Pavón, Caballero has continued selling Burdon and Cuesta brands to this day but effectively as sous-marques and on certain markets. Burdon is available in Taiwan and Luxemburg while Cuesta is available in markets like Germany and Ireland, simply labelled Cuesta. In 1990 what was by now Grupo Caballero bought Emilio Lustau, based in Jerez, who market Puerto Fino from Burdon/Cuesta soleras and Fino del Puerto from an old Cuesta solera of 183 butts in the Lustau Almacenista range.

Cuesta was well known for its Troubadour range and also sold Oloroso Melisa, Cream Preferido, Amontillado Queen, Cuesta Moscatel and Vasco Pale Sherry, Ponche Cuesta, Anís, Quina and even a “Scotch Whiskey”. They also did quite well for a while with that British fascination with ceramic Sherry “barrels” with a tap, which could be kept on the sideboard or in the kitchen and which held around 2 gallons (equivalent to 12 bottles). Thankfully they are now consigned to antique shops.

A bottle from the current range




Tuesday, 4 September 2018

4.9.18 González Byass Restoring PX Lagar


González Byass has decided to make its own Pedro Ximénez again and to that end has embarked on a project to refurbish the old winery at their Viña Canariera in the pago Carrascal which hasn’t been used since the 1980s. The firm has some 27 hectares of PX in its Viña Esteve and Viña Canariera vineyards and, along with Ximénez Spínola, must be almost the only producers of it left in Jerez. GB expects to process 10,000 kilos a day of sunned PX grapes over which they will have 100% control from vine to glass.




PX has been grown in the Marco de Jerez for some 500 years, usually on the lower albariza slopes. While it has been used traditionally to make dry wines as well as sweet (though mostly the latter), it requires more work and gives lower yields than Palomino which, along with falling demand for sweet wines has led to its decline, and it now accounts for only about 3% of the vines planted on albariza. The climate in Jerez is a little too humid for PX, and growers have to worry not only about the weather during the growing season, but also that during the sunning of the grapes which can last up to three weeks.

For many years now, the tradition has been to buy young PX wine from Montilla-Moriles and age it through soleras in Jerez, and the longer the ageing the more different the wine becomes,  so this is permitted by the Consejo Regulador. Montilla-Moriles is in the province of Córdoba where the climate is drier and hotter and the soils are also albariza, so it is the perfect place to grow PX. These days many are thinking however, that Sherry should be 100% Jerez, hence the talk about a distillery.


Sunday, 2 September 2018

2.9.18 Exciting New Launches from Fernando de Castilla and González Byass

Some cracking new releases are due in the near future, hopefully in time for the Christmas season. No photos are available yet I'm afraid.

Bodegas Fernando de Castilla have managed to obtain very small quantities of a couple of very old wines. There are only three butts of each, so the wine will be sold in half bottles made from heavy black glass and will be marketed as The Singular Collection. They will probably be launched in September. These stunning wines, which are both over 80 years old, are an incredibly aromatic and concentrated Oloroso Viejísimo which colours the glass for a while, and a Pedro Ximénez Viejísimo which colours it for even longer. It has 650 g/l sugars yet is beautifully balanced.

González Byass will be launching two vintage (añada) Finos in the near future. No launch date has yet been set as there still matters to be seen to, but the wines will be from the 2010 and 2011 vintages; one from the pago Carrascal and the other from the Pago Macharnudo. This will offer consumers an insight into variations in character created by the different vintages and the different terroirs of the vineyards. The wines will be released in pairs of half bottles, one of each, in a pack containing information about the harvest conditions of each year. The pack will form part of the recently launched Vinos Finitos range of wines which are irrepeatable, spearheaded by the Oloroso Alfonso 1/6 and the ancient Moscatel Pio X. Only 700 packs of the Finos will be released.


Friday, 31 August 2018

Burbuja Blanc de Blancs 2017 12.5%, Bodega Forlong

Appearance
Pale strawy gold with yellowy gold highlights and good mousse with a gentle bead.
Nose
Fresh, forthcoming and fruity; naturally the appleyness of the Palomino predominates, but there are aromas of the orchard and a meadow with wild flowers and hints of pear and a trace of sweeties. There is a clean natural air to it making the whole most attractive.
Palate
There is just a hint of residual sweetness which balances the fizz (carbonic acid gas or CO2) and adds to the fruitiness yet the wine finishes dry. There are lots of orchard fruit notes and there is a certain attractive weight or presence to the wine, while the acidity, which is comparatively low is perfect, just enough and the length is good and the fizz lasts, leaving a strong appetite for another glass - or two.
Comments
Burbuja is the Spanish word for "bubble" and this is Forlong's latest in an ever growing list of really exciting wines: a sparkling wine, and a good one at that. Their 11 hectare vineyard lies in the pago Balbaina Alta near El Puerto de Santa Maria and is farmed organically, verging on bio-dynamically, so the wine is certified organic and has no added sulphur. It is 100% Palomino and comes in hand-numbered bottles - only 530 of them, I'm afraid. The French term "Blanc de Blancs" originates in Champagne where the great majority of wines are made using both red and white grapes, so they came up with the term to differentiate a white wine made only from white grapes from a white wine made only from red grapes: a "Blanc de Noirs". Burbuja is made totally by hand using the metodo ancestral, the original and simplest method which dates back some 500 years, whereby the wine is simply bottled half way through fermentation which then continues in the bottle till the remaining yeast expires. The pressure will obviously be lower than that found in the much more complicated Champagne Method (Metodo Tradicional) wines, and there may be some light sediment and residual sugar; it all depends on when the wine was bottled, but in skilled hands it is amazing how good these wines can be - and indeed are.
Price
19.00 euros, Licores Corredera


31.8.18 The Harvest Begins at Las Angustias


The Jerez Cooperative Nuestra Señora de las Angustias, the largest in the area, has begun harvesting an estimated 14 million kilos of grapes from 200 growers and 1,200 hectares of vineyard from all over the Sherry region. This represents about 18% of the total harvest. The 25 staff at the winery have been working to ensur everything is clean and working correctly in preparation for the “avalanche” to come.

The presses being prepared at Angustias (foto: MAGonzalez,Diario de Jerez) 

Since the weather has been rather odd this year, the grapes took ages to ripen and then ripened rapidly causing a slight worry about higher than usual acidity. The principal parameter for the decision to pick is the Beaumé reading which is fine, but acidity levels have delayed picking. The harvest is expected to last till 15th September approximately and be around 10% bigger than last year.

Throughout the region, over 7 million kilos have already been picked, roughly 6 million in Jerez with an average Beaumé reading of 11.45° and 1 million in Trebujena, averaging 10.72°, but these readings will rise as the harvest progresses. The cooler coastal areas are still waiting.

Thursday, 30 August 2018

Manzanilla 2a Saca 2016 15.5%, Sacristía AB

Appearance
Mid amber with brassy gold coloured highlights.
Nose
Intense and forthcoming. It has that sightly wild and salty maritime aroma one would expect, along with notes of rope, flor and  dried flowers, yet the effects on the wine of nearly two years in bottle are noticeable; it has evolved somewhat with hints of oxidation, esparto and caramel adding considerable depth. This is not some fresh zippy Manzanilla, but one which has developed considerably, with young Amontillado-like characteristics of almond, butter and salted caramel. Very complex.
Palate
There is quite a bit of zip up front with decent acidity and salinity and that tang and the chalky mineral texture remain while the more developed,fuller-bodied mature notes come through. There are hints of Madeira cake, apple, rancio, almond, caramel, straw all coming together to create a wine which resembles young Amontillado in a way but is still Manzanilla. Amazing wine.
Comments
This is another cracker from Antonio Barbadillo. For some reason I missed it when it was first released, so here it is with around a year and a half of bottle age, and so much the better! It was bottled en rama in December 2016 after being selected from the Manzanilla soleras of Francisco Yuste, an excellent source. Antonio selected wine from 31 of the 119 butts in the solera and the saca came to 6,000 1/2 bottles. The gold medal sticker on the bottle was awarded by the Spanish Association of Wine Writers and Journalists as Best Fortified Wine 2016.
Price
14.90 euros per 1/2 bottle, De Albariza


Wednesday, 29 August 2018

Tinto Joven 2016 13%, Bodegas Rivero

Appearance
Deep picota cherry red fading to pink at the rim, still showing an appearance of youth.
Nose
Attractive nose which seems very clean and natural with lots of cherry and plum and hints of toast and a faint vanilla note from the oak. It is an unpretentious wine but good for what it is, and while there is a faint whiff of Syrah smoke the Tempranillo and Cabernet predominate with crisp red/black fruit, and even a faint and passing trace of mint.
Palate
Medium bodied yet quite well structured, it has a very ripe feel yet there is a decent level of acidity. The tannins are not at all bothersome and balance is good with an overall impression of fruit, yet it is better than some wine of the year and a little more serious. An honest, enjoyable and versatile wine.
Comments
Bodegas Rivero were founded in 1864 at Prado del Rey, where Pajarete came from, not far from Arcos de la Frontera in the foothills of the Sierra de Cádiz. Here the soils are very similar to albariza and most of the vineyards are in family hands. The fame of Pajarete may have waned, but the bodega is still very much alive making table wines. They grow Moscatel, Merlot, Tempranillo, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon, and the latter three are used to make this young red (tinto joven). It is sold as a "segundo año", an old term which means it was bottled in the year following vintage, in this case 14/1/17. It spent up to about 4 months in a mix of used French and American oak, not enough to be called a "crianza"which demands 6 months, but enough to keep a balance of youthful fruit and a hint of seriousness at a very reasonable price.
Price
4,95, Licores Corredera

 

Tuesday, 28 August 2018

28.8.18 The Harvest is Beginning to Gather Pace


So far González Byass, Estévez, Williams & Humbert and Fundador have already begun, with Beaumé readings of about 11°. Barbadillo and the two Trebujena cooperatives, Palomares and Albarizas, whose Beaumé readings are around 12°, will start tomorrow. On Friday the Jerez coop Angustias will start the “pies de cuba” – small fermentations of 3-5,000 kilos of grapes which ripened earlier which help get the main fermentations off to a good start by increasing the yeast population – and they anticipate starting to pick on Monday. So the bigger players have begun, at least in Jerez; Sanlúcar will need to wait a little longer.


There is a slight worry about rain. Yesterday was very cloudy and a few drops fell, but the forecast looks clear with a 20% chance of rain on Monday and temperatures in the mid 30s till then. While it is unlikely, a downpour would cause problems and require the harvest to be accelerated. It would dilute the grapes’ sugar content and the humidity could cause cryptogamic problems, of which there have already been more than enough this year. Meanwhile the Consejo’s prediction of a crop 10% bigger than last year holds good, and hopefully the harvest will be in full swing by Monday.

Monday, 27 August 2018

Manzanilla Zuleta 15%, Bodegas Delgado Zuleta

Appearance
Pale strawy gold with golden highlights and the faintest trace of green.
Nose
Fresh, clean and fairly zippy notes of straw and grassland along with gentle hints of flor - certainly noticeable but not overpowering - dry herbal tea and seaside salinity along with faint hints of apple and apricot fruit. Young, but remarkably well developed for its modest age.
Palate
Crisp and fresh with a certain raciness, tangy and light, there is a gentle green herbal note along with apple and hints of yeasty bread, pastry and a trace of almond. The finish is reasonably long with an attractive gentle bitterness from the flor. The perfect everyday Manzanilla; fresh crisp and clean.
Comments
The Zuleta range is the bodega's entry-level wine, but pretty good nonetheless, and very good value. This Manzanilla has an average age of between 2 and 3 years so it is quite young and still shows hints of the fruit the wine had before the flor began to dominate. The bodega's prominent position in the Barrio Alto allows for all the benefits of the Poniente giving the wine great freshness.
Price
4.35 Licores Corredera


Sunday, 26 August 2018

Brandy Luis Enrique Solera Gran Reserva 38%, Bodegas Dios Baco

Appearance
Very deep blacky walnut brown fading to amber with copper glints.
Nose
Full, forthcoming, quite complex and characterful with pronounced oak notes and lots of super ripe fruity PX fig, date and raisin aromas, yet it doesn't smell dramatically sweet - rather one gets the raisin smell and texture which is nicely melded with the oak and the spirit. There are aromas of nuts toasted in caramel, walnuts, toffee, chocolate and a balsamic hint. A really good nose.
Palate
A little more sweetness now, that of dried fruit but much less tannin than expected. It is super smooth and very rich with a gentle bite from the spirit, feeling more viscous than many brandies, but very tasty. There are traces of liquorice along with the dried fruits and hints of nuts, and it lines the palate with flavour and texture which lasts for ages.
Comments
The Moors occupied Jerez for 553 years and inevitably the locals learned a few things during that time. One was distillation, an art which would later spread throughout Europe and perhaps reach its zenith in Cognac. This brandy is named after a French general, simply known as "Louis GS", who came from Cognac and fought in Spain in 1809 during the Napoleonic wars. It seems that he passed on some of his wisdom and experience to the locals which helped improve the quality of their brandy.  If only more French soldiers had been so philanthropic! It is a good story, but this brandy could not be more Spanish. It is basically the same spirit as the Dios Baco Solera Gran Reserva which is aged in Oloroso butts, but for Luis Enrique some of this goes on to be further aged in butts seasoned with Pedro Ximénez from the excellent Oxford 1970 solera. This results in two completely different brandies, this one being available only in limited quantities.
Price
37.50 Licores Corredera


Saturday, 25 August 2018

25.8.18 2018 Sherry Harvest Under Way


The Sherry grapes are now arriving at the presses, at least those from the inland vineyards. The abnormally low incidence of the hot Levante wind, moderate temperatures and above average rainfall have caused the grapes to ripen more slowly than usual, but that is no bad thing. A harvest of over 80 million kilos is expected, some 10% higher than last year. González Byass and Grupo Estévez, among others, have been granted permission to start picking by the Consejo Regulador.

Grupo Estévez started picking at their 50 hectare Tio Mateo vineyard near Trebujena at about 7 o’ clock last night using a harvesting machine. The firm owns a total of nine machines because they own over 800 hectares of vineyard, making them the largest wine producer in Andalucía, and the machines are much cheaper and quicker than human pickers and can pick up to half a million kilos a day. 80% of the firm’s grapes will be harvested by machine.


The machines discharge the grapes into lorries which take 14,000 kilos of them at a time to the winery where the grape reception system can deal with 25,000 kilos an hour. The grapes are pumped to huge tanks which use gravity to separate out the “mosto yema” or free-run juice which is the best quality. After correction of pH and acidity, it is pumped to the fermentation tanks, while the rest goes to the pneumatic press where two further qualities of juice will be produced: the “segunda yema” and the “prensa”. The mosto yema will be used to make Fino or table wine; the segunda yema will be used to make Oloroso while the prensa will be used for distilling or vinegar. The entire system is controlled by an electronic panel.

Friday, 24 August 2018

On the Possibility of a Distillery in Jerez


In recent years the Sherry world has been focusing more on the importance of the origin - the vineyards, and naturally the question of the origin of the alcohol used for fortification and brandy production has cropped up. Currently all spirit for fortification or for brandy (except Lepanto), liqueurs etc. is distilled in La Mancha, and a little in Extremadura, as there is a plentiful supply of grapes, mostly Airén, since the approximately 7,000 hectares of Jerez vineyards can’t produce nearly enough to supply Sherry and brandy. Once, most of the bodegas had their own small distilleries, but as sales of brandy boomed neither the vineyards nor the distilleries could cope with the quantities needed.



For a while now the idea of a distillery in Jerez has been discussed, and everybody, except the bodegas which own distilleries in La Mancha, is in agreement. While funding would appear to be reasonably straightforward with money available from the Junta de Andalucía and the EU, there would still be considerable problems.  New vineyards would need to be planted - some 5,000 hectares according to estimates based on current sales - and it would take at least four years for them to come into production. There are worries also that the price of the Jerez spirit could not be competitive with that of La Mancha.

Then there is the question of who would run the distillery. The obvious choice would be a cooperative, and the ideal choice would have been Aecovi, a grouping of four Jerez coops, but it went bust three years ago. So far none of the individual coops has expressed interest. It is to be hoped that something can be worked out however, as the project could provide 500 jobs in the vineyards alone, and more in the distillery itself and further down the line. Sherry could be 100% Jerez, and eligible for the DOC it richly deserves and the brandy could change from being a Denoninación Específica to a Denominación de Origen, all of which would add to the prestige, and hopefully profitability of all concerned.

Thursday, 23 August 2018

Fino en rama Peña del Águila Saca 2018 15%, Bodegas César Florido

Appearance
Pale to mid brassy gold with golden highlights.
Nose
Full, forthcoming, almost pungent maritime aromas; ozone, beach and even a trace of iodine. Along with a briny, yeasty, bitter flor there are background herbal notes of scrub, esparto and a trace of camomile. It is as elegant as it is complex and harmonious, and speaks of its origin.
Palate
Full of flavour, subtle and beautifully balanced. There are hints of sourdough, crusty bread, oak, almond and olive brine as well as a yeasty character as much from the bottom of the wine with its hint of buttery autolysis as from the surface with its more bitter tang. This is delicious.
Comments
This is  excellent Fino, and it comes from the production zone, Chipiona to be exact, which is right on the Atlantic coast and is best known for Moscatel. César Florido, a family business, is the oldest bodega in the area, and by far the most interesting. Most are happy with basic wines and Moscatel, but  César has some very classy wines, and the two most oustanding (non Moscatel) are his rare Peña del Águila Fino and Palo Cortado, which are the equal of anything in Jerez. The Fino is made from grapes from the pago Miraflores and is aged through 5 criaderas and a solera, and in Chipiona the flor lasts all year round. When it is time to make the annual saca each spring, César tastes every butt in the solera which is located in the Cherra bodega, some 25 metres from the sea, before choosing just one for bottling, in this case butt no.1 which yielded 1,200 half bottles. This (annual) saca was bottled en rama in April 2018 and is somewhere between Fino and Manzanilla in style but as the bodega is outside the DO area, while it can be called Fino, it can't be called Sherry. It seems really unfair.
Price
11 euros per half bottle, Licores Corredera



Wednesday, 22 August 2018

22.8.18 The Harvest is about to Begin; Latest on Mystery Fungus


Lots of people are out in the vineyards with refractometers checking sugar levels in the grapes. In the inland vineyards, many have reached the required 10.5° Beaumé. González Byass and Grupo Estévez have already requested permission from the Consejo to start picking tomorrow, and the Coop Nuestra Señora de las Angustias and Barbadillo will probably start on Friday. The press houses are spotless and ready to receive the first grapes of 2018, most of which will be picked by machine and at night. Thirty-one press houses will process the grapes throughout the nine municipalities in the DO, the same as last year. As to the table wine producers, most are already well underway with their harvests, especially white grapes and Pinot Noir.

Grape reception and fermentation tanks at Grupo Estevez (foto:MAGonzalez,diariodejerez)

Meanwhile the Partido Popular in Cádiz has called on the Junta de Andalucía’s agriculture minister, Rodrigo Sánchez Haro, to provide more details of the mystery fungus which is causing devastation in some vineyards and which has already spread from Sanlúcar to Jerez. They want to know what the Junta is doing and what it will be doing to combat this plague without a name which is causing panic.

It seems, however, that the Junta has been working on the problem for the last year after being alerted by growers to the high mortality rate in their vines, particularly young ones of about 3 years of age especially in vineyards which had been restructured (replanted, change of grape variety or change in vine management). Many samples were taken and analysed and found not to be infected by Xylella Fastidiosa so they were sent to the Plant health Laboratory in Sevilla, where many were found to be infected by fungi of the genus Cilindrocarpon (or Pie Negro), a pathogen which causes disease to the wood of the vine and kills it. The fungus seems to like alkaline soils - like albariza. Now that it has been identified, hopefully treatment with phyto-fortifiers will eventually help.

Tuesday, 21 August 2018

Pedro Ximénex 2017 12.5%, Bodegas Faustino González

Appearance
Bright strawy gold with golden reflections.
Nose
Quite a striking nose; full and characterful with vibrant fruit such as quince, yellow plum, ripe apricot and white peach backed up by a hint of blond tobacco. There are only gentle hints of the yeasty flor bitterness or of lees, but they do add something to the wine's complexity along with a  clean natural impression of a wine made without need of all the artifice available to a modern bodega.
Palate
There is a certain intensity which is highlighted by a refreshing and balancing acidity which carries the clean, ripe fruity flavour across. The wine has some weight and presence and there are noticeable hints of flor and a chalky texture which dry out the sweetness of the fruit. There is a lot going on here and it is quite unlike the PX one usually sees which shows just what a versatile grape it is. This is a very good wine with character and length. 
Comments
The excellent family Bodega Faustino González decided to experiment with table wine, and since they grow not only Palomino but also PX in their El Carmen vineyard in the pago Montealegre, they decided to make two. This PX is interesting because very few in Jerez grow PX, and nobody as far as I know makes a dry table wine from it. The bodega works in a very artisan way and the grapes were hand harvested on 30th August and the must was fermented with natural yeast in just two butts, and there it remained ageing on its lees and under flor for 6 months before bottling on 16 May 2018. So one would expect a very interesting wine, and it certainly is. Palomino works best on the purest albariza, but PX is less fussy being perfectly happy on the browner albariza parda in a different part of the vineyard which has a little more iron and a slightly higher organic content. The wine is quite delicious; it has real character and is very much an individual. The only problem is availability as they only produced 1,200 bottles.
Price
9.20 Licores Corredera



Monday, 20 August 2018

Amontillado El Neto 18%, Bodegas Manuel Aragón

Appearance
Deep amber with golden highlights.
Nose
Fresh and fairly young, it has all the almonds and hazelnuts, toasted bread and a hint of caramel one would expect but there are still faint traces of the Fino it once was in the form of a very slight  bitterness and an attractive lightness. It is elegant and quite refined.
Palate
The same holds true on the palate. It is moderately crisp, quite light and has a pleasant tang which brings out that nuttiness and a hint of salted caramel. It is at a nice stage of development and is good and dry leaving a sort of Fino/Amontillado character on the long elegant finish.
Comments
The origins of Bodegas Manuel Aragón, known after its despacho (wine shop) as “El Sanatorio” (hospital or clinic), go back to the XVIII century. This family firm is in Chiclana in the production zone and so cannot use the word “Sherry” on its labels –even though two of their wines bottled by Equipo Navazos scored almost maximum Parker points: Palo Cortado La Bota 62 (98) and Oloroso La Bota 63 (99). Anyway they have their own vineyards and make red, white, rosé and vermouth as well as the various Sherry styles. This is their standard Amontillado which is somewhere around 10-12 years old and is very good value for money. The word “neto” is an old word for a cart driver.
Price

6.20 euros, Licores Corredera


Sunday, 19 August 2018

19.8.18 Unknown Fungus Spreading Panic in the Vineyards


The fungus, which dries out and kills affected vines, was first detected in Sanlúcar two or three years ago and has already reached Jerez. It has been detected mainly in the wood of the rootstock most commonly used in the area, 161-49 Couderc, onto which Palomino scions are grafted, and is concentrated in new plantings or replacements from their second year. The first hypotheses being considered by vineyard experts trying to determine the origin of the problem point to the nursery but it is only a suspicion so far. Other less probable hypotheses like exhaustion of the vineyard due to climate change or another: the feared Xylella Fastidiosa which has wreaked havoc in some areas of Spain, particularly in olive groves, seem to have been discounted.

Comparison between healthy and affected vines

Vara y Pulgar, a firm specialised in technical vineyard advice, released a report last July titled “Loss of Vines in new Plantations” in which they gathered data on the affected vineyards in Sanlúcar which on a visit with the vineyards’ owners “growers with huge experience of vineyard husbandry”. Samples sent to the laboratory showed a lack of incidences, so Vara y Pulgar conclude in their report that “we don’t know yet what is happening, only where and to whom”, alluding to the location of the problem in plantings of 161-49 in the Sanlúcar area “a privileged area for vine growing” and in which the rootstock used is “a guarantee for that type of soil”.  According to the report, the damage is centred in the pagos Miraflores and Carrascal and there is a “surprising lack of symptoms in new plantings in Jerez and other areas of Sanlúcar such as Mahina, Cabeza Gorda and Callejuela”. It was probably happening in 2017 and according to the president of the independent growers’ association Asevi-Asaja it has already extended to Jerez but there fewer have noticed it, either because the vineyards are more extensive or because they have paid less attention so far.



The Consejo Regulador has no record of the problem, but the Rancho de la Merced, the Junta de Andalucía’s agricultural research station is in continuous contact with Vara y Pulgar and they will get down to work as soon as the harvest is over. Both men recognise the growers’ fear of a disease they don’t know and therefore have no answer to. Conventional treatments which work on mildew and oidium whose spores are windblown don’t work on this.



The first trials of ozone treatment took place recently and gave good results but the jury is still out as the vineyards used in the tests had already been treated conventionally. In their report, Vara y Pulgar note a growing incidence of chlorosis in new plantations which does not respond to the normal treatment with iron, and also a lack of vigour in cuttings and fewer buds during flowering, symptoms only found with the 161-49 rootstock, although Asevi  say they have observed the problem in others. According to the Vara y Pulgar report, the symptoms are mostly to be found in two to three year old plantations – in younger ones they are more difficult to spot – and to a lesser extent in four to five year old plantations. One affected vineyard they visited had looked great just last year.


Friday, 17 August 2018

Palomino 2017 12.5%, Bodegas Faustino González

Appearance
Mid strawy gold with bright golden highlights.
Nose
Forthcoming, fairly generous and pure Palomino with lots of ripe apple and faint traces of cider and apricot and grassy green herbs. It is quite fruity and naturally smells like mosto only it is more sophisticated. There are faint flor notes which barely intrude but add a certain complexity along with some distinct Fino characteristics which give the wine real appeal.. 
Palate
Quite full and very tasty. It has a good level of acidity which keeps it fresh, and balances the gentle chalky, appleskin texture and the ripeness. It is a style that could only come from the south and that appley flavour and faintly bitter edge would take one straight to Jerez. The flor is more noticeable on the palate which, added to the nicely judged acidity, makes it reasonable lively. It is an open, honest well-made wine with good length which speaks of its place and which I really enjoyed.
Comments
The Faustino González family have their own 7 hectare vineyard, Viña El Carmen, in the Pago Montealegre in Jerez. Here they grow Palomino and also a little PX and have just released their first table wines made from these grapes, but in very small quantities: 600 bottles of this Palomino and 1,200 bottles of the (dry) PX ie one and two butts respectively. The Palomino is grown on albariza of the tosca variety and was hand harvested on the 28th August. The must was fermented in butt with natural yeast and left in the butt for 6 months on its lees and under flor. The bottle is sealed with a Diam cork.
Price
9.20, Licores Corredera