Sunday, 21 October 2018

Chardonnay-Sauvignon Blanc 2017 13.5%, Cortijo de Jara

Appearance
Very pale bright clean silvery gold with pale gold highlights.
Nose
There is plenty of clean fresh fruit here with mostly Sauvignon notes up front with their green kiwi and gooseberry fruit with a softer, fuller more floral Chardonnay following through. There are traces of confectionery and orchard aromas and the whole needs a little more time to harmonise, but it will.
Palate
Quite assertive with lots of zippy vibrant fruit, decent acidity and a gentle texture. A slight worry was that the grapes would need to be picked early to retain acidity and thus possibly lose out on full maturity, but they seem to have got it right. It could do with a little more bottle (and vine) age though just to harmonise everything, but for the first release it is impressive, long clean and fresh.
Comments
The wine from the highly commendable firm of Cortijo de Jara, which grows chickpeas, sunflowers, olives and wheat as well as wine in the countryside between Jerez and Medina, just seems to keep getting better. They have already won two prizes this year for red wines. This is the first release of the new Chardonnay-Sauvignon Blanc blend which amounts to only 2,500 bottles. The bunches were selected in the vineyard before hand picking. After pressing the must was fermented at a controlled temperature in a stainless steel tank to optimise primary aromas and flavours. I confess that I had some doubts about this blend, mixing the Loire with Burgundy one could say, but it is interesting and works really well.
Price
6.30 euros, Licores Corredera




Saturday, 20 October 2018

20.10.18 Beltrán Domecq Joins Calls for Increase in Grape Price


The independent growers of the Marco de Jerez have long been calling for a fair price for their grapes, as the current 0.36€/kg, the cheapest in Spain, is completely unsustainable. Since no grower is making a profit there can be no investment in updating or maintaining machinery or replanting vineyards, save for replacing sick or dead vines. Furthermore the next generation sees no future in growing vines other than those for the table wine sector which is taking off, and at profitable prices but reducing the amount of grapes available for Sherry. According to the grower´s association Asevi-Asaja 0.45/kg (a 125% increase) is the mínimum price required or vineyards will simply be abandoned. Thankfully, the president of the Consejo Regulador, Beltrán Domecq shares this view saying that the grape price must increase and has called on growers, bodegas and cooperatives to work out a deal to establish reasonable prices and guarantee the future of the Marco de Jerez. Let us hope his words have the desired effect.


Friday, 19 October 2018

Vermouth La Copa Blanco 15%, González Byass

Appearance
Pale to mid bright golden straw with golden highlights.
Nose
Pronounced sweetish citric notes up front, mainly lemon and perhaps a hint of tangerine followed by the classic bitter herbal notes one expects in vermouth with suggestions of rosemary and thyme, and possibly gentian. The overall aroma is reasonably complex, lively, and inviting, and very fresh.
Palate
The story is much the same on the palate, starting fresh and citrussy then getting more bitter with the wormwood and green herbs, but that is balanced by a certain sweetness, (perhaps just a little too much if compared with French vermouth like Noilly Prat or Chambery) and a certain viscosity. Nonetheless, this mixes well with a good dry gin and is lovely on its own with ice and a slice of lime.
Comments
This vermouth is the comparatively recently (re) released white partner for the red La Copa. It is, of course, based on selected Fino in which is steeped a range of  secret botanicals which include wormwood,  savoury, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove and lemon and bitter orange peel. GB first made red and white vermouth back in 1896, and in those days vermouths were often called "Italian" ("I´ll have a gin and it") for sweet red, also used for example in a Manhattan, or "French" for fairly dry white vermouth used in cocktails like the Dry Martini or Gibson. This will be welcomed by the growing number of barmen making cocktails using Sherry as a base.
Price
8.65, Licores Corredera

Thursday, 18 October 2018

Fino en rama Arroyuelo saca 2018 15%, Bodegas Primitivo Collantes

Appearance
Bright, strawy gold lightly tinged with brass and old gold highlights.
Nose
Beautiful nose, quite full with yeasty flor on the surface and serious Fino behind. There are all sorts of nuances like wax, straw, sourdough, hints of minerality, briny salinity and traces of cabezuela coming together to make it remarkably complex for its age.
Palate
Again quite full, and very tasty. Acidity is fairly low but there is enough flor bitterness, mineral and salinity to compensate, and with the body and roundness provided by that slightly buttery touch of cabezuela, balance is perfect. It also has terrific length.
Comments
This excellent Fino is made from a careful selection of just three of the best butts (numbers 3, 5 and 11 to be exact) in the Arroyuelo solera which it leaves with an average age of 5 years. It was bottled on the 9th July 2018, the annual saca, without any treatment whatsoever. The firm, established over 100 years ago is still in family hands and has two bodegas and over 50 hectares of land all located in Chiclana, which is, of course, in the production zone. It seems so unfair that wines of this quality can´t call themselves Sherry; they are every bit as good.
Price
12.85, Licores Corredera



 

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Oloroso El Corregidor 19%, Sandeman

Appearance
Beautiful light patinated mahogany fading through amber to trace of green at rim, copper gold glints.
Nose
Forthcoming, fragrant and super elegant. Some Oloroso can be a little hefty yet this is lighter and intensely aromatic, the result of a good many years of careful ageing. Notes of walnut and toasted almond, fine old oak - almost exotic woods, and a slightly balsamic volatile acidity are balanced by a suggestion of sweetness. Innumerable nuances have combined into a sumptuous bouquet.
Palate
Light, supremely elegant and bursting with flavour. It is super smooth with just enough glycerine to round it off and barely a hint of tannin yet it has grip. There are lots of nuts and the oxidation is elegant and not excessive, while the acidity is not at all aggressive. This wine is absolutely delicious, intense, refined and charming with terrific length, superb!
Comments
El Corregidor is the name of a 60 hectare vineyard in the Carrascal which dates back to at least 1414, though the large cortijo building is from the early XIX century. Sandeman used to own it having acquired it when they took over Pemartin in 1879. Thus all the Sandeman wine was originally Pemartin until they bought 800 butts of already old Oloroso from Antonio Bernaldo de Quiros in 1894. This consists of a solera of 14 scales, most unusual for Oloroso but full of possibilities, and this particular wine, El Corregidor, a dry Oloroso comes from the seventh criadera. Royal Corregidor VOS is a slightly sweetened version (using 10% PX from the Royal Ambrosante solera) while Imperial Corregidor is an older sweetened version, and very rarely bottled. El Corregidor dry Oloroso is no longer offered, and this bottle probably dates from the 1950's or 60s. Bodegas Luis Pérez bought the vineyard in 2013, from the sell-off of Nueva Rumasa which had owned it since 2004, and they are using it to produce grapes from its low yielding old vines for his Barajuela Sherries, having changed the vine training back to vara y pulgar. There are currently some 30 hectares of Palomino and the other 30 comprise a mix of Tintilla, Vijiriega, PX and Cañocazo.They are using the almijar for sunning the grapes to avoid the need to fortify. The bodega has 10 lagares or pressing troughs and they are considering building an underground bodega to press, ferment and store the Sherry wines. There is so much interesting stuff going on here.
Price
100 euros, Licores Corredera


Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Vino Blanco Viñalquivir 2017 12%, Coop Virgen Palomares

Appearance
Bright pale silvery gold with the faintest trace of green.
Nose
Young, fresh and moderately exuberant in its youth with lots of orchard aromas like apple, pear and a suggestion of herbs and flowers. There are also faint traces of confectionery and a gently appealing rawness of youth: faint notes of apple or pear skin.
Palate
Again that confectionery note, it is very soft, fruity and light with low acidity and a little bit of residual sugar. It is dry but not 100% dry, and just a little more acidity would have helped by giving it extra zip. Still, while the fruit lasts it is very attractive. It is a year old already and holding up well.
Comments
This is one of the two white table wines produced by the coop (the other is the annual mosto which is sold as soon as it is made, from November, mostly in the bars and tabancos of the area. There is a prize for the best, and Palomares has won it). Viñalquivir is the more serious of the two. It is made from members´ grapes, grown on albariza, which are mostly Palomino (over 90%) but not all, the rest being "vidueño" or a mix of usually older varieties still grown in the area. It is cold fermented using selected yeasts in stainless steel tanks, and after malo-lactic and a period of setttling it is filtered and bottled, young, fresh and perfect for vegetable and seafood dishes. It is a Vino de la Tierra de Cádiz.
Price
3.95 euros, De Albariza

Monday, 15 October 2018

La Cartuja of Jerez, its Bodega and Horses


La Cartuja, or to give it its full name, El Monasterio Cartujano de Santa María de la Defensión, was founded in 1476 at the behest of the pious knight Álvaro Obertos de Valeto, (who was distantly related to Innocent IV, the Pope who authorised the torture of heretics by the Holy Inquisition). Don Álvaro, a bachelor, gave all his wealth to the Cartuja of Sevilla so that they might create one in Jerez. The story goes that on looking for a site, Don Álvaro and priors from the Cartuja de Sevilla were on the spot where the Jerez Cartuja now stands when they met an old man who told them this was the place. They believed he was none other than St. Peter, and since there had been an old hermitage on the site, this would be the place. It is thought that somewhere near here the Battle of Guadalete was fought in which the Moors defeated the Gothic King Rodrigo in 711 or 712, gaining a decisive foothold in Spain and changing its history.


The Carthusian monks bought, for what was regarded as a hefty sum of 90 Maravedís (the currency at the time), land which included vineyard, woods, an olive grove and a dovecot, and they lived in humble dwellings on their land until construction, which began in 1478, was complete. Various extensions and revisions were carried out up till the XVIII century and the architecture, while mixed, is magnificent. It was declared a Historic and Artistic Monument in 1856. The building is located about 4 km outside Jerez at the side of the southeast approach to the city, overlooking the flood plain of the river Guadalete and the lovely old bridge, the Puente de la Cartuja, construction of which was completed in 1541. 

An old tinted engraving of the Cartuja

By now the Monastery owned some 55 aranzadas (@ 20 hectares) of vineyard, including two plots of 15 aranzadas (7 hectares) and 25 aranzadas (11 hectares) in the pago Macharnudo. By 1620 the monks also owned vineyard in the pago Montealegre not to mention various orchards, olive groves, houses which were rented out, and cortijos where they grew wheat and other crops. These properties and vineyard holdings were largely gifted to the monks, and the Cartuja became very rich. It had its own stone-built low-roofed bodega, typical of the time but large enough to accommodate 1,000 butts of wine; more than enough for their production. 

The bodega in disrepair, from Vizetelly, 1876

Being well educated, monks did much over the centuries to develop viticulture and founded many of the world’s famous vineyards. Naturally they did not confine themselves only to prayer and winemaking, and another activity was the breeding of horses, for which they established the stud La Yeguada de la Cartuja which survives to this day. The horse has existed in Spain for millennia and the Moors recognised the qualities of the Andalusian breed which has been improved ever since into a versatile and beautiful creature. One of the most respected breeds is the Cartujano.

A list of the monks´possessions dated 1620

The monks in Jerez prospered until 1835 when their Monastery was expropriated by the State in what was known as the Desamortización de Godoy, by which the State confiscated land and property, much belonging to the Church and the Monastic Orders, and resold it to boost its coffers after the loss of most of the Colonies. The Cartuja was consequently abandoned by the monks, who would not occupy it again till a brief period between 1948 and 2001. They are only occasionally there now, but there are regular masses. There are regular visiting times if you want to visit.