Sunday, 16 December 2018

16.12.18 Jerez Feria Dedicated to Jabugo


The annual Feria of Jerez, the Feria del Caballo, is dedicated every year to another place, and for 2019 that place is Jabugo in the neighbouring province of Huelva. This small town located in the Sierra de Aracena happens to be world famous for its Jamón Ibérico de Jabugo, the finest of all, and has its own protected Denominación de Origen within the DO Huelva. There could be no finer accompaniment to a glass of Sherry. 




The dates for the feria have been announced, and they are: 11-18 May 2019. Naturally both Sherry and Jamón de Jabugo will be heavily promoted making this feria one not to be missed. This year´s feria poster was designed by the Jerez council´s own graphic designer, Juan Carlos Crespo, who has designed a few of them in the past. 



Saturday, 15 December 2018

15.12.18 The Consejo Wants to Speed Up the Changes to the Regulations


The process of adapting the Sherry and Manzanilla regulations to changing times is well under way, but still to be concluded. While Fedejerez, in their annual summing-up of the year on Thursday, asked the membership for patience to see the results of what is happening in the world of Sherry, the Consejo Regulador, in its own summing-up yesterday referred to it as one of the main projects in the sector.

There has not been enough time in 2018 to reach agreement on outstanding and important matters such as merging the production and crianza zones, the suppression of Fino from Sanlúcar and the incorporation into the DO of the new white unfortified wines and old native grape varieties among other matters which the commission appointed by the Consejo is looking into. However much groundwork has been done which provides a sort of road map for the direction Sherry will be going in for the coming decades and especially now since everyone seems to have taken on board that the times of BOB and volume at ridiculously low prices have gone.

The Consejo firmly believes that the changes to the regulations offer “a unique opportunity which cannot be missed to establish clear rules and focus on an image of quality“ says Consejo director César Saldaña, who is confident that these matters will reach a conclusión this coming year. He admits that the revision of the regulations has “not advanced as much as had been hoped” – Fedejerez had hoped it would be concluded before the end of 2018 – but he says that these are complicated matters which need much negotiation. As the work of the commission has now been done, the ball is in the court of the various trade organisations whom the Consejo is urging not to delay decisions.

The modification of the regulations indirectly affects the Bag in Box which has been in the limelight recently with the High Court ruling which backed the Consejo and Fedejerez by banning the sale of Sherry and Manzanilla in this container. If the merging of the crianza and production zones goes ahead, and assuming the appeal lodged by the Bodegas Artesanas of Sanlúcar and the Junta´s Agriculture Department is rejected, the ban on the use of the BIB would extend to the production zone which can currently use it. This is one of the incongruencies which it is hoped will be eliminated by the changes to the regulations.

Looking towards 2019, definitive sales figures for 2018 are not yet available, but will certainly reflect the continuing downward trend in export sales volumes particularly in the traditional markets like the UK, Holland and Germany, thanks to the gradual disappearance of BIB. While the Spanish market is holding its nerve, the Consejo is going to incorporate into the figures of wine leaving the bodegas new data on average price which will give a more approximate idea of the real picture in the sector in which there is a sense that falling volumes are being compensated for by increased value.

In his summing-up of 2018, Saldaña points out that the sector has reached concensus about the new promotional campaign for Sherry centred on Madrid and London in which the message will now be aimed directly at the consumer. This is not to say of course that those who promote the wine like sommeliers, chefs and wine experts, who have done much to recuperate the prestige image of Sherry, will be left aside. But the focus for now will be on the consumer with whom perseverance is needed to get the message through and so the campaign will continue for two more years, and in January the impact of the first two waves of the campaign will be revised.

Friday, 14 December 2018

La Bota de Manzanilla 82 Florpower MMXV 15%, Equipo Navazos

Appearance
Pale to mid brassy strawy gold with golden highlights.
Nose
Fresh and saline with some olive brine and light buttery strawy caramel notes with a trace of apple from slight oxidation which give it a fuller more serious savoury feel. Despite this it is still fairly crisp. Sherry has the unique capacity to have whatever degree of oxidation and taste better and more complex. And this one certainly does.
Palate
Fresh and very clean, and the oxidation doesn´t hide the Manzanilla character, rather it enhances it, allowing the zippy briny maritime notes to come through. It is a fascinating wine, beautifully balanced with some weight, real character and a long fresh finish with a dry slightly chalky texture. It is absolutely lovely, but perhaps best suited to those who have some understanding of Sherry.
Comments
Not only is this wine delicious, but it is very interesting. It is a single pago (Miraflores la Baja), single vintage (2015) Manzanilla. It was fermented and aged for roughly three years under flor in the same butts, but fortified to 15%, unlike the Florpower wines so far released which have all been vinos blancos. In fact it is exactly the same wine as Florpower 77 2015, but some of that wine was fortified, and released a year later, and this is it. It was blended with some more Florpower 77 which had aged unfortified but which was fortified at the last minute. It may sound a little complicated, but the end justifies the means.
Price
25 euros, Er Guerrita

Thursday, 13 December 2018

Barbazul Blanco Selección Especial 2015 12.5%, Huerta de Albalá

Appearance
Bright pale gold with golden highlights.
Nose
Fairly full and broad and quite soft, with hints of white flowers and herbs as well as hints of tropical fruits like banana, pineapple and mango. It is fresh yet has some depth, a light minerality and a gentle air of maturity, and it might mature happily for longer.
Palate
Despite the soft appearance, there is a reasonably racy acidity which highlights the fruity character, and as that subsides there is a soft chalky texture and a slightly more serious air, more feel. This wine could only come from albariza, and is an interesting alternative to Chardonnay from elsewhere.
Comments
The bodega Huerta de Albalá makes two white wines, both 100% Chardonnay, both Vinos de la Tierra de Cádiz and both from albariza soils in the pago Balbaina. The difference between them is that the standard Barbazul Blanco is simply made, stabilised and bottled to capture all its freshness, while the Selección Especial is aged on lees, presumable with a little battonage, which brings out a bit more depth, texture and complexity. Also the wine available is two years older than the standard Barbazul, consisting of extra time in tank on lees and a little bottle age. No wood is involved in either wine.
Price
11.75 euros, Licores Corredera

Wednesday, 12 December 2018

Vino Tinto Joven 2017 14%, Hermanos Holgado

Appearance
Very deep blacky red with a lovely deep red rim with a trace of brick, looks slightly older than a year.
Nose
Fresh and slightly wild, black fruits, plum mostly with hints of blueberry and cassis and a passing violet note. There is also a background trace of slightly smoky spice and herbs while there is very little oak. It is attractive and, as on the nose, appears quite mature for its age, which is fine.
Palate
Full bodied with a slightly lean, chalky mineral feel balanced by plenty of ripe black fruit. Structure-wise it has a fresh acidity and very little tannin giving it a certain lightness and perfect suitability for food, Pajarete cheese perhaps. There is a very natural, clean feel to it and it has decent length.
Comments
This wine, which is certified organic, comes from the Dehesa Palomino vineyard located in an area between the Sierra de Grazalema and the Sierra de las Nieves, in the protected natural park of Alcornocales. The beautiful landscape allows access to the Poniente winds which give the wine freshness. After the success of their Pajarete cheese, the brothers set up a small wine business and this is their young red. It is made from Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot and Syrah in roughly equal proportions though it varies slightly from year to year, all hand harvested and vinified using artisan techniques but modern equipment. It is aged briefly in barrel before sale.
Price
5.90 euros, Licores Corredera


Tuesday, 11 December 2018

Fino La Cala 15%, González Byass

Appearance
On the pale side, strawy gold with golden reflections.
Nose
Very fresh with attractive green herbal notes reminiscent of a young Manzanilla but the flor is comparatively restrained in terms of bitterness though there is a distinct yeasty doughy character. It is zesty with all the appeal of a younger wine but has some complexity behind. It is quite unlike Tio Pepe and gives an idea of the scope of the GB Fino soleras,
Palate
A little fuller on the palate and slightly more like Tio Pepe, yet fairly light, clean and bone dry, it still has that lovely herbal yeasty freshness while there is a hint more flor bitterness. There is a lovely chalky texture from the albariza and fairly low acidity making it dangerously easy to drink and it has very good length. A very attractive wine which really stimulates the appetite - which is exactly what Albert was looking for.
Comments
This delicious wine is a blend from the GB Fino soleras painstakingly created by oenologist Antonio Flores and the famous chef and cookery writer Albert Adrià, brother of famous chef Ferran who together with Juli Soler ran the now legendary triple Michelin starred restaurant El Bulli in Cala Montjoi (Gerona) which for some years was considered the world´s best restaurant. It closed in 2011 and Albert went on to other things including a gourmet tapas and aperitifs business in Barcelona called La Cala for which he needed own-brand high-end products. The blend consists of wines from sobretablas through to mature Fino, while the bottle´s design, which resembles a white wine and is sealed with a driven Diam cork, will hopefully attract those who are not too keen to try Sherry but who will be very pleasantly surprised if they do.
Price
19 euros ex bodega

Monday, 10 December 2018

Sparkling Vermouth Francisco de Cala 15%, Artesanos Jerezanos

Appearance
Mahogany brown fading to amber, great mousse at first but little bead.
Nose
Attractive bitter-sweet, wormwood or possibly gentian and quinine in similar proportions to Oloroso and PX, an attractively bitter Cream perhaps, but more complex, and just a shade less intense than the still version. There are notes of orange peel, cinnamon, clove and a faint note of toasted bread.
Palate
The bitterness of the herbs is assisted by the carbonic acid gas in giving it a welcome slightly drier feel, though there is certainly some sweetness, more noticeable as the mousse dies back. It has a very good balance between the bitter and the sweet and is clean without cloying leaving a lovely complex bitter finish of considerable length.
Comments

It took four years of experimental work by Genaro Cala and Luis Benjumeda to create this product which was finally launched in June 2018.  Genaro Cala, who runs Artesanos Jerezanos, is a descendant of Francisco de Cala who founded a bodega in Jerez in 1829, and already has a still vermouth, Duque de Diana, on the market. Luis Benjumeda, a pharmacist and researcher, runs Calas y Arrobas, a wine company in El Puerto. While Cayetano del Pino produced two sparkling vermouths (French and Italian styles) in the late XIX century, the production method is not known, and since this one uses the “traditional” or “Champagne” method of bottle fermentation, it is likely to be a first. The base wine is a blend of Oloroso and PX from the Francisco de Cala soleras and possibly some younger wine. The botanicals, which are secret but number up to 30, are cold steeped in wine alcohol for months to extract all the flavours and aromas, and this is then blended with the wine and aged in French oak butts for between 6 months and a year to marry. Next the wine is bottled with the addition of yeast and no additional sugar for a second fermentation under crown cap after which it undergoes remuage before being disgorged and sealed with a cork.
Price
20.40 euros, Licores Corredera