Wednesday, 31 January 2018

31.1.18 Consejo Meeting Fails to Solve Issues

Hopes of a solution being hammered out to the vexed questions of extending the crianza zone to include the whole of the production zone and whether or not Sanlúcar can produce Fino were effectively sidestepped at yesterday’s plenary meeting at the Consejo Regulador. In the end the expected intense and heated debate was avoided, and it was decided to set up a commission representing all points of view to examine these contentious issues – along with that of Bag in Box – and hopefully the commission’s findings will be accepted by all parties and the regulationscan be adjusted accordingly and peacefully. It has to be said that an earlier commission was unable to reach a conclusion, so let us hope that the new one can. Procrastination does not make problems disappear, but rather makes them harder.

Consejo director Cesar saldana was interviewed on TV

The sales figures for 2017 were also covered, and they were down in terms of volume by 5% - less than previous years - due to a decline in exports, mainly in the cut price BOB market, mainly in Holland and Germany, and a slightly over 1% drop in the home market. Luckily sales of quality wines are increasing and a new younger consumer is emerging. Meanwhile sales of Jerez Vinegar are up 3.7% and producers are worried there will not be enough raw material, and prices may have to rise.

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Manzanilla Pasada Saeta 15%, CAYDSA

Appearance
Bright pale, lemon colour with silvery gold highlights.
Nose
Very Sanluqueño; fresh briny maritime notes with a faint hint of almond and herbal aromas like camomile and elderflower possibly. It is fairly saline, tight and quite subtle with a little more seriousness coming out as it warms up. Elegant and clean.
Palate
Quite crisp with decent acidity and that slightly saline marine note. It is fairly light and evidently not quite as mature as some Manzanillas Pasadas, yet it is good, and good value, with clear hints of what it would be like with a bit more ageing and clean crisp decently long finish.
Comments
The wine is made by the Cooperativa del Campo Virgen de la Caridad. The bodega was founded by Italian Esteban Bozzano in 1853 and was later run by his son Francisco and later by his son Esteban who bought the old Luis Bache bodegas in Calle Puerto. The bodega was finally sold to CAYDSA which was taken over by the Coop in 1980, though the name is still used. A Saeta is a flamenco-influenced lament-like religious song usually sung during Holy Week, and this brand name goes back to the Bozzano days.
Price
5.45 ex bodega

Monday, 29 January 2018

29.1.18 Contentious Issues for next Consejo Regulador Meeting

The order of the day for the next plenary meeting of the Consejo Regulador contains two matters which have long been contentious and need resolution. Item 4, headed “Applications in Relation to the Zona de Crianza” begins with section 4:1 in which bodegas in the production zone wish to extend the crianza zone to cover the totality of the production zone. At present, the crianza zone only includes the towns of Jerez, Sanlúcar and El Puerto de Santa María. Bodegas there can buy wine or mosto from bodegas in the production zone, age it in the crianza zone and sell it as DO Sherry, but the original producers can’t sell what is pretty well the same wine directly as DO Sherry because they are not in the crianza zone. Some great wines from places like Trebujena, Chipiona and Chiclana cannot, therefore call themselves DO Sherry.


Section 4:2 covers an issue has been debated for at least a decade, which is the desire of the bodegas in Jerez and El Puerto to put an end to Fino from Sanlúcar. Their argument is that Sanlúcar has its own wine: Manzanilla, which can only be produced there, so it is unfair that it can also produce Fino. If bodegas in Jerez and El Puerto want to sell Manzanilla, they either have to buy it from bodegas in Sanlúcar or have their own bodega there, which adds considerably to their costs.


As things stand, while both Fino and Manzanilla can be made with the same grapes from the same DO vineyards, the only real difference is that Manzanilla must be aged in Sanlúcar where the flor is permanent all year round. The result is Manzanilla though, not Fino, according to the Jerez and El Puerto Bodegas who object to the fact that they can’t produce Manzanilla, but Sanlúcar can produce Fino. The sanluqueños, however, feel that they could be deprived of a historic right, and that they can indeed produce Fino, even though not a great deal of it is actually produced, and most of that is for BOB – and they don’t have to buy it in, making them competitive. Having consulted independent experts on the subject, Fedejerez has prepared a report which will no doubt be produced at the meeting.

Saturday, 27 January 2018

Vermut 17%, Fernando de Castilla

Appearance
Deep blacky walnut brown fading to amber.
Nose
Rich and bitter at once, there is a nice balance between Sherry - particularly the PX - and botanicals. It is an interesting and different nose and up front are wormwood and cinnamon along with  citric notes, even a hint of resin, and quite a sweet note of raisin leading one to think it will be rather sweet.
Palate
It is not really any sweeter than its competitors as the bitterness of the botanicals balance it out giving an alluring almost velvety bitter-sweetness. There is a trace of tannin, from both wine and botanicals one imagines, but no problem, it helps give this fully flavoured vermouth a nice dry, and long finish.
Comments
Launched in 2016 this excellent Vermouth is made in the classic Jerez style with a blend of Oloroso and Pedro Ximénez which are around eight years old. No fewer than 27 botanicals which are totally natural - no essences - and where possible locally sourced, include wormwood, rosemary, cinnamon, lemon and orange peels and clove, (naturally the formula is a secret) are then macerated in the blend for many months in seasoned butts and it is aged for 8 years. Unlike the long established bodegas with their revived historic formulas, Fernando de Castilla (est.1972) has come up with a new one, and it is very good.
Price
13.50 Birdie Vinos, Mijas

Friday, 26 January 2018

Bodegas Luis G Gordon & Doz

The Gordon clan was very numerous in Jerez. As Catholics they had been compelled to leave Scotland after the Battle of Cullodden in 1746 and Arthur Gordon had established a very successful Sherry business in 1754. The business passed down through the generations as they intermarried, often with other bodega families, forming various other splinter firms on the way such as Gordon Beigbeder, CP Gordon, DG Gordon and Alexander Gordon.



Luis G Gordon & Doz was established as a grower and exporter following the merger in 1896 by Luis Gonzalo Gordon Dávila of his company Luis G Gordon & Co with Doz & Co. On reaching majority, his son, Luis Gonzalo Gordon Isasi, who was born in 1898, joined the firm. The main bodegas were in the Huerta Pintada in central Jerez, with other installations in Calle Cartuja, where they also had a distillery. They had warehouses in the Segunda Aguada in Cádiz to facilitate shipping until they sold them to Ford in the early 1920s.



In 1906 the firm’s name changed to Gordon y Doz Hermanos, and the address changed to Calle Don Juan, changing again in 1908 to Calle Jardinillo, and in 1939 they cease to be registered exporters. The firm was still going however, owned since 1940 by Alejandro Gordon, Marqués de Irún, who worked from Calle José Antonio Primo de Rivera. In 1945 he moved to rented first floor offices in the bodegas of Palomino & Vergara before returning to Huerta Pintada in 1964. In 1971 his son, Luis G Gordon took over the firm, largely now an agency business, till it closed in 1986.



The firm also had offices and cellars in London as Luis Gordon & Sons Ltd at 48 Mark Lane, home to so many wine merchants over the years, and shipped other types of wine as well, such as Smith Woodhouse Port. For many years they were very successful UK importers and agents for Pedro Domecq and were pioneers of the wine trade “jolly” taking clients to Jerez where Domecq would entertain them with bodegas, wine and bulls.



After retiring as chairman of the firm and selling the London end of the business, Luis Gordon (1933-2002) bought Gordon’s Wine Bar (no relation) in Villiers Street, London, said to be the oldest in the city and established in 1890 on a much older site. This cellar bar had attracted the leading literati including Tennyson, Chesterton and Kipling, not to mention later stars such as Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh. Luis Gordon & Sons is still registered, albeit in the Channel Islands, but is no longer involved in the wine trade.




The principal brands were: Manzanilla La Giralda, Amontillado Fino Manola, Oloroso Creso, Solera 1857, Quina Irún, Brandy Almogávar, Ponche América, Anís Galicia.


Thursday, 25 January 2018

Miquichote Syrah 2016 11.88%, JJ Timermans

Appearance
Almost opaque black cherry with a fairly tight rim, still with some purple in the red.
Nose
Full and forthcoming with good varietal character; a mix of well ripened black and red fruits with faint spice and smoke notes and a very clean trace of mineral. There is a certain balsamic plumpness about it and slight hints of dusty oak. 
Palate
Fairly full bodied with plenty of fruit and perfect acidity. There is less plumpness now and the mineral note is more pronounced along with a slight dryness which is not tannic. There is a little ripe tannin which is not at all aggressive, simply giving a little structure. The vineyard has definitely left its mark on the wine and it is most attractive.
Comments 
This wine is made by Juan Jerónimo Timermans Parra one of the many smallholders who grow grapes in Trebujena. Juan's vineyard sits on various forms of albariza in the Pago El Duque. Here he grows Palomino, some Perruno and a little Syrah and he supplies mosto to Bodegas Urium. Miquichote is made from 100% Syrah and is aged for two months in French oak and six more in bottle. Just one barrel was made and 100 bottles released.
Price
5.50 euros, De Albariza



Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Zerej II Amontillado 19%, Barbadillo

Appearance
Pure golden amber with bright golden highlights.
Nose
Beautiful. Almost exactly half and half Manzanilla and Amontillado. There are still distinct yeasty, bready biological ageing notes with hints of seaweed, butter and almond and then there is the weightier oxidative side with slightly more toasted hazelnut and almond and a trace of glyceric sweetness trying to convince you it is a fine light Amontillado. That is definitely where the wine is going, but it isn't there yet. A true Manzanilla Amontillada. It is fragrant, nuanced, clean, long and endlessly fascinating with a great deal of charm.
Palate
There is a certain tension between  the crisp Manzanilla and the rounder Amontillado, and it is neither full nor light. Either way, it does not hide its Sanlucar origins; there are gentle salty marine notes and a certain leanness. There is more glycerine than in a Manzanilla, giving it an attractive roundness without a hint of sweetness, and there is a gentle texture as well as perfect balance. Slight buttery, nutty notes add to the complexity and sheer finesse. Delicious.
Comments
Left to its own devices, this delightful wine would have become Amontillado Principe, but in its present intermediate state - Manzanilla Amontillada - it must legally be sold either as Manzanilla or Amontillado. At 19% it has already been fortified up and is technically more Amontillado than Manzanilla, but still retains lots of lovely Manzanilla character. It is at a beautiful stage. This wine began as Manzanilla Solear then went to the 307 butt intermediate solera between Solear and Amontillado Principe (the solera from which Barbadillo selects the Solear Pasada en rama) and then came from one butt in the Principe criaderas. It has an average age of about 9-10 years while Principe is sold at 12.
Price
As this wine is one of a set of four magnums which cost 180 euros, there is no individual price. It might sound expensive but if you divide it up it averages at 22.50 per 75cl bottle, which means that this is exceptional value.


Tuesday, 23 January 2018

23/1/18 Sherry is Becoming Fashionable in Britain Again

It looks as if 2018 will be the year Sherry will take off again in the UK if distributors’ sales and the amount of press coverage are any indication. Specialist retailers have seen considerable growth and Majestic, the largest with 200 stores, has seen sales grow 25%. Customers are younger, between 20 and 30, and hopefully the notion of “a granny wine” will finally disappear as these new consumers are buying the dry styles, mainly Fino, Manzanilla, Amontillado and Palo Cortado. This new interest in Sherry is put down mostly to the explosion of Sherry bars and tapas bars. Sales of the better quality wines are growing fastest and in the £10-15 range sales at Majestic are up 71%. It is gratifying to see, but while about 10 million litres were sold in the UK last year, in 2005 it was 22 million, so there is still much work to be done.

London's Bar Pepito (foto:pinterest)

Monday, 22 January 2018

Fortification of Sherry

What is fortification? In the case of Sherry, it is simply the addition of small amounts of alcohol to a fermented wine in the case of the dry wines and to partially fermented wine in the case of PX and Moscatel. The Spanish word for fortification is "encabezado".

Why is Sherry fortified? Sherry has been a fortified wine, at least for export purposes, since the Middle Ages. The Moors introduced the art of distillation sometime before 900 AD and it was found that adding a little alcohol to the wine gave it better stability. There are two reasons for fortification: firstly it was an effective technique employed to ensure the arrival in sound condition of wine subjected to long sea journeys to the export markets. In the days when Sherry was shipped in butt on sailing ships, bacterial spoilage, acetification and oxidation were serious risks. Wines were sometimes dispatched while still fermenting in an attempt to prevent this. The second reason, and why it is done today, is that by varying the amount, and the timing, of added alcohol, different styles of wine can be produced efficiently and predictably.

Does it need to be fortified? While it is possible to produce unfortified Sherry – and there are now one or two with the DO - it is more difficult and hit-and-miss. Flor is happy at lower strengths but requires great care to manage its stability. In the old days the grapes were often harvested later and/or sunned for a few days to raise their sugar – and therefore alcohol – content, but that can give the wine a slightly richer more glyceric character than may be desired. It is generally agreed that a strength of about 15ᴼ is required to combat undesired microflora while still allowing the desired microflora to do their work.  EU rules covering "Vinos Generosos" require a minimum of 15ᴼ and that the wine is fortified, but on 1 February 2017 the Consejo Regulador asked Europe for a relaxation of the need to fortify in the case of Finos and Manzanillas which reach 15% naturally. Many modern oenologists prefer the flexibility and precision offered by careful use of fortification. In this commercial world there is unfortunately little room for the often sporadic nature of Sherry’s development. There is no longer time to wait until a Fino decides to become an Amontillado by itself; it is simply re-fortified to over 17ᴼ to kill off the flor and start the oxidation process. The same happens with Palo Cortado but earlier.

When is it fortified? Vino Generoso, or dry Sherry, is fortified after the wine has been classified as to whether it will age biologically or oxidatively. The former will be fortified till its total alcohol content reaches 15-15.5ᴼ (Fino and Manzanilla) and the latter, Oloroso, to 17ᴼ. With its higher strength the Oloroso will not change and is ready to go to the criaderas when required. At a lower strength, the Fino and Manzanilla might well change, and they are kept back for 6-12 months in sobretablas. When they are re-classified, any wines which have developed fuller characteristics yet retain some elegance and perhaps even a little flor will be re-fortified to 17ᴼ and marked as Palo Cortado and will continue ageing oxidatively. Any which are less elegant and lack a viable amount of flor will also be fortified to 17-18ᴼ and become Oloroso. In the case of PX and Moscatel, they are usually allowed to ferment a little before fortification, so less spirit will be needed.

What kind of alcohol is used? In the past most bodegas distilled some brandy, generally for personal use, but when Jerez Brandy took off in the late XIX century it soon became apparent that the vineyards of the Marco de Jerez could not supply nearly enough grapes to produce the volumes required, so distilleries were built in Tomelloso, La Mancha, where there was a plentiful supply of suitable grapes.  Wines for the best brandy were distilled in pot stills producing "holandas", but using column stills, the wine could be distilled to 95ᴼ stripping any flavour and producing what was effectively neutral spirit or "aguardiente" which would not change the Sherry’s flavour profile. All spirit must originate from grapes, but those grapes are normally the Airen of La Mancha. This tiny addition of spirit which is not from Jerez is allowed by the Consejo, but there are moves to produce that spirit locally so that Sherry is 100% Jerez. Grupo Estévez send Palomino from Jerez to La Mancha for distillation.

How is the alcohol added? The method employed is known as “miteado” or “mitad y mitad” (half and half). Adding such strong spirit to young wine upsets its constitution and would surely damage any flor, so some similar but as yet unfortified mosto is mixed with a measured quantity of spirit and then added to the young wine. Even using this method the wine is out of sorts for a few months, tasting rather dumb, but it does recover. This is one reason that the wine must have a minimum average age of two years before sale.

How much alcohol is added? Not a great deal. The rule of thumb is 5-6 litres per degree. After normal alcoholic fermentation Sherry wine will, depending on vintage, harvest dates and vineyard location, contain between 11.0ᴼ and 12.5ᴼ. So as an example a butt containing 500 litres of wine at 12ᴼ will require about 18 litres of spirit to be added to bring it up to 15ᴼ, while a butt with 500 litres of Oloroso at 12ᴼ will need around 38 litres of spirit to raise it to 18ᴼ. There are other factors to take into account, however. For example, flor yeast consumes alcohol, so it is possible that a Manzanilla, say, could lose up to 1½ᴼ, leaving the solera wine as low as 14ᴼ and may need further fortification before bottling simply to comply with the regulations. In the past Finos and Manzanillas for export tended to be fortified to about 17 or 18%, but with better stabilisation and faster transport facilities that is no longer necessary and the wines are correspondingly more elegant. Oxidatively aged wines, on the other hand, can gain up to 5ᴼ alcohol as water content is lost through transpiration and there is no flor involved. Actual quantities lost or gained naturally depend on the ageing period and the microclimate of the individual bodega. It should be remembered that under EU law alcohol statements on labels are allowed a tolerance of  +/- 0.5% by volume, however Finos and Manzanillas must have at least 15% at bottling.



Sunday, 21 January 2018

Brandy Conde de Osborne Solera Gran Reserva 40.5%, Osborne

Appearance
Fairly deep mahogany with bright copper highlights and a faint green tinge to the amber rim.
Nose
Full and quite rich with a hints of brown sugar sweetness, walnut, caramel, vanilla, dried fruits and a hint of leather. There are slight toasted notes of oak and coffee as well as some PX, and everything is very well integrated into a fine and fairly complex bouquet.
Palate
Big and bold up front, then it softens into a complex and stylish mix of all the above. There is some grip but no aggressive tannin allowing the richness to come through. Lots of classic toffee, fig and date from the PX butts but not over sweet, with a drier than expected and very long finish.
Comments
This classic brandy is made from holandas distilled in pot stills at Osborne's own distillery in Tomelloso, la Mancha, established in 1880. The brand was launched in 1965 and has an average age of over 10 years which it has spent in butts seasoned with Pedro Ximénez at the firm's bodega El Tiro in El Puerto de Santa Maria. In 1869 Don Juan Nicolas Osborne was awarded the hereditary title of Conde de Osborne by Pope Pius IX for services to diplomacy. The brandy is available in a choice of two bottles; this one and the famous one commissioned from the surrealist painter Salvador Dalí in 1964. This glass bottle is blown by hand one at a time at a glass works in Barcelona. There is inevitably a big difference in the bottle prices for the same brandy, with the collectable Dalí version costing double.
Price
22.95, Roali



Saturday, 20 January 2018

Amorro Blanco 2016 11%, Bodega Vinifícate

Appearance
Bright clean pale gold with golden glints.
Nose
Fresh, fairly full and appley with pear and floral hints, a slight trace of cider and a distinct saline mineral character. There is a teasing slight flor note, but flor wasn't involved. There is a decent degree of ripeness and a feeling of substance, making it rather interesting.
Palate
A reasonably crisp start leads into a broad, very slightly buttery and quite pronounced tangy apple/pear/quince flavour. Balance is good and there is a slightly chalky texture and a faint trace of bitterness which works well and leaves a very tasty and long finish.
Comments
Another lovely Vino de Cádiz wine from the Gómez Lucas brothers in San Fernando. It is made from Palomino grapes grown in Chiclana on both sandy and albariza soils which were harvested at night to keep them cooler. Once back at the bodega they were fermented naturally, using only local yeasts and without the addition of anything,  under controlled temperature. The wine was racked into fibreglass tanks where it rested for eight months before bottling without any filtration or clarification. Only about 5,000 bottles were produced for this first release. Amorro means a wine which can be enjoyed in quantity, and this certainly can. 2016 was not an easy vintage as after a long dry period there was heavy rain in late spring followed by lots of Levante, so careful grape selection was necessary, but the result is very good.
Price
8.80 euros, Licores Corredera


Thursday, 18 January 2018

Cream 1886 18%, Infantes Orleans Borbón

Appearance
Deep mahogany fading to an amber rim.
Nose
Quite serious with a nice integration and balance between the Oloroso and PX. There are aromas of old barrels, traces of exotic woods but principally oak, spice and decent Oloroso with more muted notes of raisins and dates. It smells a little drier than it is.
Palate
The fruity PX notes are more to the fore followed by those of the Oloroso with some sweetness coming through, but it is not excessive and finishes fairly dry, just what a good Cream should do. There is a decent grapeskin texture and a gentle grip, and the palate is left with flavour like a faint trace of coffee and fine oak rather than cloying sweetness.
Comments
The Duc de Montpensier, son of the French King and (failed) pretender to the Spanish throne fell in love with Sanlúcar when he visited Andalucía in 1849. He later planted the famous Torrebreva vineyard but rented it out. It wasn't till 1943 that his descendants set up a bodega, in the impressive stables of the Duke's palace. They had bought old soleras and the wines were good, but unfortunately there doesn't seem to be much happening these days. 
Price
10.95, De Albariza


Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Table Wine Bodegas: Compañía de Vinos Entre Dos Aguas

Miguel Flores Toscano and Francisco Coro Leveque are old friends who share a passion to make wine by traditional methods which bring out the character of the vineyard. Miguel Flores is the nephew of Antonio Flores, the oenologist at González Byass. They work with fellow enthusiasts Ignacio Soto and José Andrés Lucena as well as a few helpful friends, and have been producing handmade unfortified organic wines with minimal resources and maximum enthusiasm since their first release in 2016. Interestingly the 2015 vintage was buried in the vineyard in 2016 to see how it evolved one and a half metres underground. It was dug up in May 2018 and results are keenly awaited!

Miguel Flores Toscano with Aminea (foto:Manu Gracia)

The expression “entre dos aguas” (between two waters) implies indecision and is also the name of a spectacular guitar piece by Paco de Lucía, while a techo de dos aguas is a pitched roof of the type commonly used in bodegas. The name of this venture however, comes from being between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean. The lads are refurbishing a bodega near Mesas de Asta between Jerez and Trebujena which used to belong to Almocadén.

Miguel in the vineyard

Here completely artisan methods are used. Grapes are destemmed by hand, trodden by foot and pressed in an old hand operated basket press while the must is fermented in old butts. They make white wine from Palomino grapes from the classic pagos of the Marco de Jerez; Añina, Balbaina, Miraflores (Viña El Armijo) and Macharnudo, a project they call Los Cuatro Pagos. The only difference between these wines is the vineyard. They also make a sparkling Gewürztraminer (you read that right!) completely by hand and with very basic equipment either by the traditional method using organic cane sugar for the licor de expedición or the ancestral method using concentrated PX must. It is called Aminea and only 100 bottles were produced. Another project is a sweet late harvest Tempranillo picked in the third week of October. This innovative and enthusiastic bodega will surely earn great success.


Tuesday, 16 January 2018

16.1.18 High Parker Scores for Williams & Humbert

Luis Gutiérrez, the Wine Advocate’s Spanish wines specialist, has given some very high scores to Williams & Humbert. Wines scoring 90 to 96 points are “Outstanding wines of exceptional complexity and character, in short, these are terrific wines”. The firm’s Don Zoilo Amontillado and Oloroso scored 90 while Canasta 20 years old, launched at the end of 2016 scored 91. But more exciting still, were the excellent scores achieved by the Añada wines which oenologist Paola Medina has been working on since 2000. The Fino en rama Añada 2012 scored 94 and the Fino en rama Añada 2007”Tiento” scored 93. The Amontillado Añada 2003 scored 92+ while the Olorosos en rama Añadas 2001, 2003 and 2009 scored 92, 91+ and 90 respectively. These very high scores have given great recognition and encouragement to Paola’s pioneering work with single vintage wines, especially in the field of biological ageing, and she is to be congratulated.



Monday, 15 January 2018

Palo Cortado Los Caireles 19%, Portales Pérez

Appearance
Chestnut to mahogany to amber with bright copper tints.
Nose
Fresh and very nutty with lots of toasted almond and slight hints of turron, caramel, orange peel, cinnamon, and fine oak. It is very elegant and fairly tight with a faint saline twist reminding one of its Sanlúcar origins, but above all it has real charm.
Palate
Generously flavoured and clean, again with lots of nuts. It is medium bodied and dry but nicely rounded and again with that faint bitter saline note. It is a most attractive wine, beautifully balanced and with a little of that Sanlúcar verve and a very long clean finish.
Comments
This lovely wine was bottled from a small solera in early December as a special edition of just 500 bottles which will surely sell quickly as it is not only excellent but also well priced. The average age is over 15 years. This family- run bodega makes very good wine and deserves to be better known, and this could be the wine to give them the publicity they need.
Price
19.50, De Albariza

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Amontillado Perpendicular 18%, Las Botas

Appearance
Mahogany fading to amber with copper glints and the faintest trace of green at the rim.
Nose
Attractive, fairly intense and unusual with a distinct note of bitter orange along with toasted hazelnuts and almonds and gentle spice notes like vanilla and cinnamon. There are all sorts of nuances like pipe tobacco and oak.
Palate
It starts off quite full but soon displays considerable elegance, being well rounded and dry yet without any aggressive tannin. That orange character is still there but the nuts come through as it develops on the palate. There is a passing note of antique furniture as it fades, long and elegant
Comments
This wine is from the first saca of 700 bottles which comes from Bodegas Urium in Jerez. It is a blend of varying proportions of wine with a long period of biological ageing from four selected butts in the firm's Amontillado solera, and has an average age of over 20 years. The wine is bottled unfiltered. The name Perpendicular alludes to the two types of ageing involved; biological and oxidative. The Las Botas range is the brainchild of sommelier Raul Villabrille and César Velazquez of Balandro Vinos in Sevilla. Their first releases have been extremely good and the project augurs very well.
Price
29.80 euros per 50cl, La Tienda del Jerez


Saturday, 13 January 2018

Tinto Roble No Ni Ná NV 13.5%, Barbadillo

Appearance
Deep blacky red with a reasonably tight young cherry red rim.
Nose
Forest fruits: lots of berries like blueberry, bramble and raspberry with faint lactic and balsamic notes and a trace of Parma violet. There is a youthful jammy character with background traces of toast and spice from the oak giving it a touch of balancing seriousness.
Palate
Big and very fruity on entry, with all those fresh forest berries. Acidity is on the low side but it balances well and there is a faint ripe tannin undertow. It is on the commercial side but is rewarding easy everyday drinking and has lots of charm and general versatility.
Comments
The Spanish supermarket chain Mercadona is selling a new red Vino de la Tierra de Cádiz exclusively in all its branches in the province. It comes from Barbadillo’s Gibalbín vineyards and  is a blend of Tintilla, Merlot, Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah with two months ageing in a mix of American and French oak barrels. No vintage date is given, but according to the lot number on the back label it was bottled on November 23 2017, so one assumes it is from the 2016 vintage. Mercadona runs no fewer than 1,624 supermarkets throughout the country and has been highly successful thanks to its efficiency, partnership with suppliers and its willingness to react to feedback from customers whom it regards as its “bosses”. The majority of their wines are pretty pedestrian, but this - especially for the money - is better. The expression “no ni ná” is used in Cádiz to mean “yes of course”, the triple negative meaning affirmative. The province virtually has its own language.
Price
2.50 euros






Friday, 12 January 2018

Vermouth La Copa 15.5%, González Byass

Appearance
Deep mahogany fading to amber with copper highlights.
Nose
Aromatic with wormwood and quinine to the fore with raisin note from the PX behind, then come hints of Oloroso and orange before the whole ensemble comes together as an appealing bitter-sweet whole. It all seems perfectly balanced.
Palate
Initial sweetness gives way as the bitterness comes through but never takes over, it just balances nicely. There is a fullness, even a trace of viscosity which is kept in check by the bitter botanicals and it has a very long finish which dries a little leaving pleasant sensations.
Comments
In line with the resurgence of the popularity of Vermouth, González Byass re-launched its La Copa brand in spring 2016. The formula, which dates from 1896 and had been preserved in the bodega's historic archive, is exactly the same, as is the label. The brand "La Copa" or the glass was also used to brand the horses bred by the son of the firm's founder, the Marqués de Torresoto. The vermouth is made from a blend of Oloroso and Pedro Ximénez of at least eight years of age and the botanicals include wormwood, savory, clove, orange peel, cinnamon, nutmeg, angelica and quinine.
Price
7.99 euros, El Corte Inglés

Thursday, 11 January 2018

Mon Amour 2016 13.5%, Bodega Forlong

Appearance
Paleish bright lemony gold with golden reflections.
Nose
Very attractive, fragrant yet serious. There is plenty of fresh Palomino fruit with stewed apple, pear and hints of glacé fruits, lemon perhaps, even a tropical, floral note, and the oak is very subdued - effect rather than flavour. There is a trace of camomile and a creamy, almost buttery note along with a feeling of gentle texture. It is still very young and more bottle age will surely reveal more.
Palate
Very fresh and bursting with Palomino character - and a bit more. It is perfectly balanced and extremely elegant with all sorts of subtleties: traces of pineapple and banana, lemon fondant and apple with a faint saline mineral note along with a gentle grape skin feel. Long clean finish, lovely.
Comments
Another lovely wine from this bodega which always seems to have something new and exciting. This is made from 100% Palomino grown organically in the historic Forlong vineyard in the pago Balbaina Baja near El Puerto de Santa María. The grape bunches were picked at night to keep them cooler and sorted by hand, and on arrival at the bodega they were put in a cool chamber for 24 hours to reduce the temperature further - down to 5°. Next they were sorted again and de-stemmed before going to a pneumatic press under dry ice to minimise oxidation. After pressing, the must went to a rapid cooling tank where the temperature was held at 3° for 24 hours for decantation. It was then filled into used French oak barrels for fermentation. After fermentation the barrels were topped up and sealed, only being disturbed by some bâtonnage every 2 or 3 months over a period of 10 months to increase complexity by maximising contact with fine lees. Total production was 1460 numbered bottles. It took a lot of effort to make this wine, and it was well worth it.
Price
17.50 euros, Licores Corredera


Wednesday, 10 January 2018

10.1.18 Sanlúcar to Produce Whisky

A new project to distil whisky in Sanlúcar is under way run by the team which, among other things, operates the Weisshorn restaurant in Calle Sevilla, just opposite the Barbadillo bodegas. The restaurant specialises in North African cuisine, while they also make hand-made electric guitars and gin. The name Weisshorn refers to a ship which ran aground in 1994 carrying 6,000 tons of rice, which when soaked in sea water expanded till it broke the ship in two.

Distilling in the area has a long history dating back to Moorish times and most bodegas had stills, but the last one fell silent in 1970, leaving only its chimney as a reminder. It wasn’t only wine leftovers which were distilled; rice was also used, and a form of rice whisky accompanied Magellan on the first circumnavigation of the globe in the early XVI century. Roberto Payá of Weisshorn has already had success with Luciferi and 1522 gins and has now secured adjacent premises to distil the whisky with production expected to begin sometime later this year and a finished product on the market in 2022, the 500th anniversary of the return of what remained of Magellan’s fleet.

The definition of whisky is rather vague, being a distillate produced from cereals which must be aged for a minimum of three years in oak barrels, so rice can be used and that’s the plan. It will come from the Coto Doñana and the spirit will be aged in Sherry casks naturally, so it will be 100% Sanlúcar.

This is what it will look like

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

9.1.18 Sherry Marathon 2018

After the success of last year’s inaugural marathon, which attracted no fewer than 600 entrants, the 2018 edition will take place on 29th April. The event covers two stages; one in the historic city of Jerez and the other in the surrounding vineyards, and is open to anyone, with inscriptions open now. Runners will begin outside the Alcázar in Jerez, run through the city’s historic centre and then out through the vineyards and back to the finish line at the Alameda Vieja, close to the start line. In fact there are three events; the Sherry Marathon proper at 42 kilometres, the 22km Sherry Media run, and the 13 km Sherry Promo run, the latter two being through the vineyards only. There will also be a version for ramblers who can take their time and stop for a glass and a bite at the various “refuelling” points along the course run by the leading bodegas. There will also be a huge number of parallel events, so it is well worth coming even if you are not a runner. For full information:
www.sherrymaraton.com and here is a promotional video: http://www.sherrymaraton.com/video-ing




Monday, 8 January 2018

Zerej II Vino Blanco 2014 14.5%, Barbadillo

Appearance
Strawy gold with golden reflections.
Nose
Attractive, elegant and fairly serious with lots going on. There is a certain ripeness along with slight traces of flor and delicate floral notes with distinct aromas of camomile, then there are hints of stewed apple, apricot and even a creamy note, and it is all developing nicely into a lovely bouquet.
Palate
The wine has a certain presence with a gentle texture and perfect acidity. Despite the impressive floral and fruit flavours and a passing white Burgundy note, there is no getting away from the strawy chalky appley mineral backbone which reminds one of Manzanilla. Delicious.
Comments
!00% Palomino grown in the Cerro de Leyes parcel of the the firm's Santa Lucía albariza vineyard near Jerez. A few years ago, Montse Molina, the Barbadillo oenologist, decided to do something more with the plot and make something special. After some years of experimentation she came up with Mirabrás, a high quality white table wine, already released. The grapes were hand picked and briefly sunned, and after fermentation in ex Manzanilla butts and natural decantation, the wine was left on fine lees and briefly aged biologically. It was then stored in stainless steel tanks until ready for bottling without fortification. Interestingly, while the wine spent a brief period under flor, there is a slight oxidative element too. A complex and interesting wine which could be considered as an unfortified sobretablas of very fine quality.
Price
No individual price as this is part of a set of four magnums which cost 180 euros. Naturally the individual wines will have different prices.


Sunday, 7 January 2018

Manzanilla Apartada 15%, Las Botas

Appearance
Bright gold with a faint amber tinge and golden highlights.
Nose
Beautiful and intensely aromatic - more so than the colour would suggest, and hugely complex with all sorts of nuances. There is plenty of bitter yeasty flor and lots of salted almond up front with slight herb and dried flower notes along with sourdough and olive brine behind. Then there are subtle notes of oxidation and cabezuela - there is so much going on and it is all tightly packed into a super fresh wine which is still very much Manzanilla. Lovely!
Palate
Intense, beautifully balanced and so very clean. It is huge on entry with lots of flor, nuttiness and oxidation and then calms down a bit, offering tangy yeasty doughy saline marine notes. Then all the multifarious flavours seem to join together in a flourish into one super tasty wine with terrific length which just keeps on giving. Superb!
Comments
This outstanding Manzanilla is one of 2,000 bottled with no clarification whatsoever in September 2017. It was sourced from a few butts which showed the desired characteristics of biological influence, salinity and bitter almond in the very old San León Reserva de Familia solera in Bodegas Herederos de Argüeso in Sanlúcar. The grapes came from Miraflores and Balbaina and the wine has an average age of between 12 and 14 years. Different quantities were withdrawn from different butts to create a blend with all the characteristics mentioned above and a little oxidation as well. The Las Botas range is selected by sommelier Raúl Villabrille and César Velazquez of Balandro Vinos in Sevilla, and the name "Apartada" refers to that oxidation which sets the wine apart from just biological flavours. These wines offer exceptional value.
Price
15 euros per 50cl bottle, La Tienda del Jerez



Saturday, 6 January 2018

Brandy Solera Reserva 36%, Sánchez Romate

Appearance
Deep mahogany with copper highlights and a trace of green on an amber rim.
Nose
Full with plenty of Oloroso and vanilla with a hint of dried fruit and faint traces of cinnamon, orange peel and oak. There is an element of class with delicate hints of polished furniture and there is an attractive freshness.
Palate
Oloroso and caramel at the start then those warm spices and a trace of pipe tobacco follow through. It has a lot of flavour and a hint of sweetness which is quite tightly packed without any aggressive tannins and it has a long clean finish.
Comments
Sánchez Romate are the producers of one of the finest Jerez Brandies, Cardenal Mendoza, so even with their more basic Solera Reserva they don't mess about. It has an average age of about two and a half years. The minimum age for a Solera reserva is one year and that for Solera Gran Reserva is three, so this is upmarket for a Solera Reserva. It is aged in  a solera whose butts previously held Oloroso and is very good value. 
Price
9.95 euros, Licorería La Latina


Friday, 5 January 2018

Bodegas: Viña La Zarzuela

José Manuel Bustillo Barroso, known to his friends as “El Busti”, comes from a long line of vine growers in the Marco de Jerez where he was born in a vineyard and has lived in one ever since. For much of his life he was a capataz de viña, or vineyard manager for one of the big Sherry firms as well as working with the Rancho La Merced, the research and training institute of the Junta de Andalucía, all the while looking after the family vineyard. He has also been working on wine tourism with Spirit Sherry and helping oenology students with vineyard visits. Now “pre-retired”, he has been devoting more of his knowledge and experience to his dream: making his own wines.

Vina La Zarzuela (foto:tripadvisor)

He owns the Viña La Zarzuela a 4 hectare vineyard in the pago La Zarzuela between the famous pagos of Balbaina and Añina, not far from Las Tablas which borders on the Las Conchas vineyard of Williams & Humbert. The vines are planted half way up a gentle slope which faces west giving it good exposure to the Poniente winds. It is mostly planted with Palomino but there remain a few old varieties: Perruno, Castellano, Mantua Pilas, Barcelonés, Cañocazo, even red varieties. Some believe it was these old varieties which propitiated the appearance of Palo Cortado. José Manuel sells most of his Palomino grapes to Williams and Humbert and has fun with the rest.

Jose Manuel Bustillo
Anyway, El Busti produces tiny quantities of wine including a Palo Cortado, but it is mostly for the use of family and friends. A very little Palo Cortado Viña la Zarzuela is bottled by the online wine shop La Tintoreria under their “El Marginal” label. The grapes are sunned for 3-4 days in the almijar, or yard, outside the vineyard house and only mosto yema – the first pressing – is used. The wine is not subjected to any treatment whatsoever, even fortification. It is an añada of some 20 years of age and bottled en rama with a wax capsule. Needless to say it is hard to find but worth the effort.




Address: Autovia A-480 Jerez-Sanlúcar, salida 21, carretera hacia Las Tablas
Telephone: 625705236

Thursday, 4 January 2018

Arroyo Alquitón 2013 13.5%, Hacienda Parrilla Alta

Appearance
Dense opaque black red with a tight rim which has turned a youthful red.
Nose
Cracking nose; fresh, aromatic and attractive with lots of black cherry, plum and bramble fruit and just a trace of violet. There is still some youthful padding with some faint balsamic, lead pencil and spice notes from the French oak, all beautifully integrated. The overriding impression is of zesty fruit with a slightly more serious background. Great start.
Palate
Lots of upfront black fruit with a refreshing acidity which keeps it lively and the alcohol is not over the top and is nicely integrated. There is a decent structure without excessive tannin and the palate is round, balanced, almost zippy and elegant, substantial but not too strong or heavy. This is a classic example of how just good Tintilla can be.
Comments
This classic Tintilla comes from a steeply sloping west facing albariza vineyard with an altitude of over 180 metres near San José del Valle, south east of Jerez. This vineyard is ideal for the slow ripening of Tintilla, and yields are kept low. It is the estate's star wine but production is limited to around 2,000 bottles. The grapes are picked and de-stemmed by hand before undergoing a 7 day cold soak. The wine is fermented in oak using natural wild yeasts and the malo-lactic fermentation also takes place in oak before racking into French oak for 12 months ageing. The wine is subjected to the minimum filtration and was bottled in spring 2015 with a very good quality cork.
Price
15.90 euros, La Tienda del Jerez


Wednesday, 3 January 2018

Manzanilla Superior en rama 15%, Elías González Guzmán

Appearance
Bright deepish amber tinged gold with golden highlights.
Nose
Full and rich with lots of briny saline bitter flor, scrub, straw, wax and traces of butter and faint traces of oxidation. There is a lot of complexity here yet it is extremely fresh with loads of character.
Palate
It has lots of flavour too. Quite intense and dry with attractive briny bitterness balanced by notes of sourdough, almond and butter. This is virtually Manzanilla Pasada, though it doesn't say so on the label, and is delicious with a lovely long clean finish.
Comments
This bodega is located on the broad Avenida Quinto Centenario, open to the Poniente and only a few hundred yards from the beach, which explains its classic Manzanilla character. The wine is from an old solera made up of toneles, which are double sized butts and not uncommon in Sanlúcar. It is bottled en rama at about seven years old. This excellent and quite sophisticated wine would develop really well in bottle.
Price
12.95, De Albariza




Tuesday, 2 January 2018

2.1.18 González Byass Launch Solera Reservada Club

GB has launched an online club selling an exclusive selection of special Sherries which are not generally available. Membership is free - you just need to buy the wine - and offers various benefits which include 15% discount on GB products; auction of historic bottles from the firm’s cellar; two free visits to the bodega per year; 20% discount on tickets for the Tio Pepe Festival and direct access to the winemaker. There is an annual saca and the Sherries (and a fine vinegar) come in a set of 21 which includes:

3 x Fino Almendroso: selected 4 year old Fino en rama
3 x Amontillado: Over 40 years old, selected from 3 butts still showing traces of Fino
3 x Palo Cortado: Over 20 years old, selected from 4 butts
3 x Oloroso: Over 40 years old, selected from 4 butts for their elegance and complexity
3 x Dulce Palomino: Over 31 years old, made from overripe Palomino sunned at the vineyard
6 x Jerez Vinegar: Gran Reserva which has well over 10 years of solera ageing (half bottle)

Also included is a polished wooden cabinet to store the bottles. The complete set costs 1,950 euros including delivery. http://www.lasolerareservada.com/la-solera-reservada





Monday, 1 January 2018

Manzanilla 15%, Covisan

Appearance
Bright pale golden straw with golden highlights.
Nose
Fresh and attractive with lots of gentle strawy grassy herbiness and a note of camomile - even a faint trace of lemon peel - up front followed by some sourdough then some salty olive brine. This is not a particularly old wine, and while there are some light flor notes they are not especially pronounced.
Palate
Broadly similar on the palate and there is a certain zestiness helped by a yeasty saline minerality. The faintest oxidative note is there, giving a very gentle savoury character, and there is a certain flor bitterness. There can be no doubt that this comes from coastal vineyards.
Comments
This wine, which has a lot of character for the money, comes from the well-equipped Cooperativa del Campo Vitivinicola Sanluqueña or Covisan, which is next door to La Guita's installations at the Pago de Sanlúcar Viejo in the Barrio Alto. The cooperative, which was established in 1968, supplies some of La Guita's grape requirements, and of its own production, over 80% is Manzanilla. Most of this is sold on draught to people bringing their own containers, but they also bottle some.
Price
2 euros per half bottle ex bodega