Saturday 30 March 2013

30.3.13 Council Plan for Fiesta de la Vendimia

The next Fiesta de la Vendimia de Jerez (harvest festival) will take place between the 10th and 16th of September. With a view to this, Jerez City Council, through the department of Tourism, Culture and Festivals, is inviting a massive response from private business to join the event with proposals related to the viti-viniculture of the city.

Antonio Real, the Council's Tourism, Culture and Festivals delegate says that the purpose is to work in conjunction with private businesses to ensure that all those involved can benefit from the increased visitor numbers it will attract.

He also points out the importance of getting all events programmed as soon as possible to allow time to promote them and make them as profitable as possible. Any proposals can be added to the official programme as well as that of Turismo Jerez, but they must be submitted by the 16th April, however.

Palo Cortado Capuchino VORS 20%, Osborne

Copper tints in quite deep amber-mahogany with a touch of green at the rim, legs.
Full and richly complex with notes of toasted hazelnut, turron yema tostada (a bar of ground almond and honey with egg yolk toasted on top), honey, maple syrup, crema catalana (creme brulee), oak and that lovely bodega smell. Beautiful with plenty of that implied sweetness.
Fuller, still lots of toasted nuts, oak and bodega, but also that oxidative element, walnut, old barrels, slightly savoury with earthy truffley notes and a touch of austerity from its sheer age. Long oloroso-y finish.
Laid down in 1792, this solera has changed hands more than once. It came into Domecq's hands with the acqisition of Agustin Blazquez in the 1970's, and subsequently into those of Osborne when Pernod Ricard dismembered Allied Domecq. The wine is not adjusted to compensate for any astringency, and thus really shows how very old Sherry can taste. It is a VORS, which means it is at least 30 years old, but this is much older - as many are. It is wonderful!
A bargain at £33.95 from Drinkmonger, Edinburgh. UK importer Emporia Brands.

Tapas: Huevos a la Flamenca

This is an old dish and a simple one. There is no set recipe, and it varies from place to place, but it always contains eggs, jamon and/or chorizo and vegetables. In fact it can be a useful way to use up leftovers. The term “a la flamenca” is thought to refer to the dish’s bright colour, and it is tasty, hearty and nutritious.

Chorizo/morcilla                             Jamon Serrano                           peas/asparagus
Potato (optional)                                  tomato                                         onion
Pimientos red and green                        garlic                 eggs             pimenton, herbs

Fry the onion, garlic, potato and peppers till nearly ready, add grated tomato, peas/asparagus, pimento (paprika), herbs and any seasoning and fry in for a few minutes. Put a tablespoon of olive oil into a cazuela (a shallow earthenware ovenproof dish – see picture), add the mixture, add 2-3 slices of jamon Serrano and/or a few slices of chorizo/morcilla (morcilla is black pudding) and crack an egg or two over the top. Bake in the oven till the egg is cooked the way you want it – preferably leaving it a bit runny. Enjoy with a glass of dry Amontillado/Oloroso/Palo Cortado.

Picture: laalacenadelaabuela

Thursday 28 March 2013

PX Cardenal Cisneros 18%, Sanchez Romate

Very viscous, dense black through burnt umber and yellow to trace green at rim.
Deep, pasas, dried dates, figs, slight savoury note and traces of coffee, old barrels, raisin pulp - and stalk. Quite serious but more than anything, pasas, with hints of fruit cake and toffee, lovely.
Rich, full, intensely sweet and concentrated, similar to nose, but with lots of texture, almost like eating pasas soaked in molasses, velvety, quite delicious, and very long.
According to the bodega this is over 8 years old, coming from their Reservas Especiales range. Certainly it doesn't have the serious complexities of VOS or VORS wines, but it is outstanding for its age. Romate produce some really good Sherries, even if much of their trade is in brandy (Cardenal Mendoza). Cardinal Cisneros was a XV/XVI century reformer, regent, and confidant of Fernando II.
£21.95 at Drinkmonger (Edinburgh & Pitlochry), UK importer Eaux de Vie

27.3.13 Beltran Domecq in London

Beltran Domecq was in London last week and gave an interview to Drinks Business while tasting some good Sherries. He felt it was a shame that so many good Sherries are over filtered for long term stability and thus lack colour and flavour – what the bodegas have spent years creating. The “en rama” wines, however, with little or no “stabilisation” may have a shorter shelf life, but demonstrate just how good Sherry is. It is like tasting the wine direct from the butt.

He said that Sherry is moving from the mass market to its rightful place among fine wines. Newly available styles might complicate things in a little-understood market, but the producers are demonstrating individuality and making an effort to attract new “aficionados”. And it is not just with the finos that things are moving forward, but also with other styles and older wines. 

Tuesday 26 March 2013

Amontillado Principe de Barbadillo 19.5%, Barbadillo

Deepish amber fading through yellowy amber to some green at rim, legs.
Tangy, slightly saline, hazelnut, old solera barrels, traces of olive, dried fruit, aldehydes, walnut and a slight hint of fat which evolves into that classic Amontillado sweetness, old complex and refined.
Well rounded but tangy, saline, nutty with traces of acidity and tannin, those crisp Manzanilla characteristics lie just below the calm Amontillado surface. Very complex and interesting with a dry saline, nutty finish with just a trace of caramel.
Would really accompany food such as cured ham, cured cheese or game. The wine is bottled with about 15 years spent ageing in various bodegas according to its state of maturity, and could only be from Sanlucar what with its salinty and tanginess. It is a real character. The wine comes from the albariza vineyards of Gibalbin and Santa Lucia and is fermented in stainless steel tanks. It is aged for 8 years through 12 criaderas under flor, then a further 7 in 4 criaderas under oxidative ageing in butts which are filled to the brim. Originally the brand was known as "Amontillado del Principe Pio", but "Pio" disappeared somewhere along the line. With the change to the white label in 2016 it is now sold at 12 years old, though this tasting note refers to the older version.
About 18 euros, widely available

Fino Paquiro 15%, Bodegas Almocaden

Pale golden straw, golden tints, legs.
Lightly strawy, with fatty oily traces not unlike Montilla, traces autolised yeast and palomino fruit, very fresh and quite young looking.
Good and dry, fresh and well rounded by that fruit, then hints of flor in the shape of almonds, salinity and bitterness, good length.
Well made fresh young Jerez fino, not in the same league as, say, Inocente or La Ina, but for everyday purposes it's fine. I think the raw material is good, but it could be allowed to age a little more. Paquiro was a XIX century bullfighter from Chiclana who invented some of the techniques.
5 euros in Jerez, not sure if it comes to the UK

Bodegas: Almocaden

The story goes back to the end of the XIX century, but full bodega business began in 1915 when Don Jose Gonzalez Granados established his vineyards at Mesas de Asta, a village just outside Jerez where there are remains of an ancient Phenecian settlement called Asta Regia. Don Jose was a son of the soil and his wines bore the mark of the vineyard. 

Juan Gonzalez Sillero, his son, continued his father’s work, dedicating his life to the artisanal production of Sherry. He was a good businessman and felt it was better to have bodegas in Jerez, so he bought the old Rivelot factory which made bottle closures and tin cans, where he stored his stocks of wine. This building, bought in 1982, is in the old centre of Jerez, in the Calle Jardinillo in the heart of the neighbourhood of Santiago. At the entrance to the bodega is a notice which reads: “Please do not smoke. Your health will thank you for it. A glass of Fino Paquiro will be better for you. Thank you.”

Juan in turn left the business to his two sons, Jose and Juan Gonzalez Salguero, who continue the business today in the same artesanal spirit, along with the fourth generation, and not much has changed since Juan's days. Times have changed, however, and many bodegas have been lost, but a handful of small bodegas, mostly family owned, have survived without losing their essence.

The firm owns 40 ha of vineyards at Almocaden, situated between the legendary pagos of Carrascal and Macharnudo, on albariza soil and planted to Palomino. There are three vineyards: Matamoros, San Rafael and Matamoros Chico. "Almocaden" is an old arabic word for the captain of the troops who watch over the vines, something Jose certainly did.

The bodega even has a dog, a perro ratonero bodeguero called “Solera.” This is a Spanish breed of dog resembling a terrier, which is good at hunting down rats and mice in bodegas. It is recognised as a breed by Spain’s equivalent of the Kennel Club, the Real Sociedad Canina de Espana. If you have ever seen the superstar mice at Gonzalez Byass, you will know that they don’t have such a dog!

Almocaden (top) Range: Amontillado (@25years old),Oloroso, Cream, PX
Caletero Range: Amontillado, Oloroso, Cream, PX
Fino Paquiro (named after an early bullfighter who invented some of the techniques),
Manzanilla La Caletera
Also: very good Vinegar and Brandy

Visits:  Yes but call first.
Address Jardinillo, 16, 11404 Jerez, Cadiz
Tel: 956 185 324
Web: www.

Friday 22 March 2013

22.3.13 GB sponsor Holy Week Dessert Competition

The recent  I Concurso de Reposteria de Semana Santa, sponsored and organised by Gonzalez Byass, in collaboration with the great cake shop La Rosa de Oro and the local newspaper Diario de Jerez, has been won by Isabel Maria Rosendo with her Torrijas Rellenas and Rosco de Semana Santa.

Reposteria translates as pastry cooking, usually in desserts. Torrijas is a typical Holy Week dessert consisting of bread soaked in wine or milk with honey and spices, dipped in egg and pan fried in olive oil, in this case stuffed.  Roscos are a kind of doughnut made with flour, egg and anis or cinnamon, and are also typical in Andalucia at Holy Week.



The desserts had to contain wine from Gonzalez Byass such as Nectar Cream or Oloroso Alfonso. GB were delighted that not only was the competition a great success, but many old traditional recipes had reappeared from possible oblivion. The winner received a wooden box containing two bottles of Palo Cortado Leonor, two bottles of Oloroso Solera 1847 and 4 tasting glasses, as well as a basket of Holy Week cakes.

22.3.13 CAYDSA back in Members' Hands

The mayor of Sanlucar, Irene Garcia, has congratulated the Cooperative Virgen de la Caridad, better known as CAYDSA, on the successful outcome of its long drawn out battle to rescue itself from the Rumasa period during which it was re-names Teresa Rivero. (Teresa Rivero  is the name of Jose Maria Ruiz Mateos’ wife). The mayoress pointed out that the bodega’s recuperation was not only good for its members, but also for the very identity of Sanlucar.

Various branches of the Ruiz Mateos family had bought up the shares in the coop in 2009, but the money had never materialised. After endless court hearings, the coop members have now got back their shares as of the 11th March. But there is a lot to do.

This is the oldest coop in the Sherry zone, and counts 700 members. Their problems are not all behind them yet as there are still receivership matters to be dealt with, but the law is on their side. The management committee is now working hard to re-establish profitability, and with it, retention of jobs. They are also involved in trying to obtain payment for wines sold in 2007 and 2009 to Ruiz Mateos, amounting to 1.5 million euros. That will be fun.

Wednesday 20 March 2013

Oloroso Gobernador 20%, Emilio Hidalgo

Attractive amber-mahogany through amber to a green tinged rim, legs.
Complex yet restrained, damp old barrels, bodega, quite savoury and serious, traces of pickled walnut, pasa, dry scrub, truffle, aldehydes, even a faint trace of iodine.
Full, savoury, traces Marmite, walnut, some roundness balancing a hint of tannin, quite meaty with a trace of the burnt edge of a steak, tangy, balsamic, interesting and long.
This lovely wine averages about 12 years old, not bad in itself, but some wine from this solera goes into the criaderas of their older Oloroso, Villapanes. Emilio Hidalgo is a hands on, family bodega, very traditional, and bent on producing really classic Sherry, which they certainly do.
A rather expensive £21 from Harvey Nichols. UK importer Les Caves de Pyrene

Tuesday 19 March 2013

19.3.13 Sad News from El Puerto de Santa Maria

Luis Caballero, honorary president of the family bodega of the same name, has passed away at 78 years of age. He died in hospital in Sevilla of pneumonia, and will be cremated in Jerez. He rose to be president of the company after the death of his father in 1974, representing the 5th generation. Among his achievements was the promotion of the company’s Ponche Caballero to brand leader, but he did much more in his 34 years at the helm. He bought the prestigious firm of Emilio Lustau, as well as bodegas in Rioja and Rueda, not to mention 4 of the Domecq Sherry brands. He did whatever he could to help and promote his beloved Puerto de Santa Maria. He leaves a wife, Elma Gonzalez Gordon and three children, and will be sadly missed throughout the Sherry business and beyond.


Thursday 14 March 2013

14.3.13 New Tourist Map of Sherry Zone

Enomap will be launched in Sanlucar on Friday. It is an “enotouristic” map of the province of Cadiz which shows all the routes and things to see, especially vineyards and bodegas, wine museums, fiestas, bars restaurants etc. The idea is to promote all things wine-related in Cadiz, as much to the locals as to the tourists. It is the brainchild of a group of young business people coordinated by Armando Guerra.

So far there is no information on price or availability, but hopefully it will at least be available in tourist offices in the province. It's a good idea to have everything in one map, instead of separate maps for Jerez, Sanlucar etc. so let's hope it's good.


To get hold of a copy, e-mail

Lost Bodegas: JM Rivero

The history of this firm goes back to the XVII century. The Rivero family has documents going back to 1653, showing that Pedro Alonso Cabeza de Aranda y Zarco was already in the wine business. His initials CZ were to become the first ever Sherry brand name, though they were also used to brand the fine horses and cattle he bred on his property.

Pedro Alonso was succeeded by his son Antonio Cabeza de Aranda y Guzman, who was ennobled in 1755 as Marques de Montana. He ran the business along with Francisco Antonio de la Tixera, and the business was renamed Cabeza y Tixera. The latter continued to run the business after the death of Antonio Cabeza.

During this period, their wines were very highly regarded. They received a letter in 1757 from one Nicolas Anso of Cadiz saying please, “por Dios y mi dinero” (in the name of God and my money) would they do him the honour of sending him a butt of their wine. At the time of the battle of Trafalgar, a cargo of Sherry was captured and auctioned off in Tarifa. The Riveros eventually got it back and used it to create a solera called Trafalgar 1805.

A view of the bodega with its legendary vine (

The firm was very successful through the XIX century and in 1855 had 3,188 butts in bodegas in four streets; Antona de Dios, Valientes; Clavel and Roa la Bota (now disappeared) where some of the oldest and finest Sherries were stored. In Calle Antona de Dios there was an old vine of the Beba variety with a trunk 50 cm in diameter, and which was said to be 300 years old.

Vina del Barco in the pago Macharnudo

When Francisco died, the firm passed to his daughter and her husband Joaquin Maria Rivero y Gonzalez. In 1895 the trading name of the firm was changed to JM Rivero y Cia. The managing partners were Tomas and Federico Rivero O’Neale, father and uncle respectively of the next Joaquin Maria Rivero. King Alfonso XIII of Spain asked him in 1906 to visit the British king Edward VII to try and sell more Sherry, which he did. The king’s butler was obviously impressed with the wine he sold to the palace, writing later in appreciation. The firm had royal warrants with the royal households of both Spain and Portugal.

Joaquin Maria ran the firm till the end, which came when the bodegas were sold in 1991. The famous CZ trademark expired in 1994. Apparently Rivero was sold to Aceite Carbonell in Cordoba and later to Antonio Nuñez. Interestingly, his descendent, Joaquin Rivero Valcarce who is a construction billionaire, set up Bodegas Tradicion.

The Wines:
Solera Caveza 1770 (a tiny 100 arroba (1 arroba is roughly 16 litres) solera)
Marques de Montana Solera Tixera  1783
Trafalgar 1805 (a 2 bottle lot sold for £792 at Christies in 1999)
PX del Carnero
Moscatel Menudo
Finos Viña del Barco, Mantecoso
Viejo Oloroso CZ
Carrascal Cream
Brandies Montesion, Corregidor
among many others...

Tuesday 12 March 2013

Amontillado Very Old Don Jose Maria 20%, Vinicola Soto

Quite deep amber to mahogany through yellow to trace green at rim, legs.
Full, toasted hazelnuts, dried fruits, very slightly savoury, traces caramel, walnut, sweetness, more slightly commercial Palo Cortado than old Amontillado, definite Oloroso notes, some age though - maybe 10-15 years.
Full bodied, dry, has the hazelnutty Amontillado character, but the weight of Oloroso, quite strong too. Not the most subtle of wines, looks like some blending has been going on ... perfectly pleasant though.
According to the back label, this wine comes from the oldest and noblest soleras. Since the Rumasa take-over of Jose de Soto, many different labels have appeared and muddied the waters. For example the famous Garvey Manzanilla La Lidia is now in the De Soto stable in a tall wine bottle!! This wine is not mentioned in the Soto website, and I suspect it is named after Jose Maria Ruiz Mateos, and not any of the de Soto family. It appears to be a blend of various soleras, it is a bit odd, and seems stronger than likely. Still, it is cheap- surprisingly so - and as such, I suppose, very good value. (could have been a bin-end)
£8.50 from Raeburn Fine Wines, Edinburgh.

Monday 11 March 2013

Sanlucar se "Destapa"!

This is the clever slogan for the annual Sanlucar Ruta de la Manzanilla y de la Tapa, which has been running since 25th January. Some 20 bars and 4 bodegas are offering a glass of Manzanilla and a tapa for a reasonable 2.50 euros. Customers are eligible for a prize draw if they collect at least 8 stamps on their "passport", with prizes such as stays at hotels or a visit to the ducal palace of Medina Sidonia. If you'd like to participate, hurry, as the offer ends on 23rd March.

Sunday 10 March 2013

9.3.13 Vega Sicilia interested in Sherry; Rains

Pablo Alvarez, president of the legendary bodega of the Ribera del Duero, Vega Sicilia, has expressed an interest in producing Sherry, along with Galician wines and possibly Bordeaux and Burgundy. Purchasing vineyards in the latter two could be prohibitively expensive, however. He said that the wine of Jerez is “unrepeatable and uncopiable”.  The Vega Sicilia group, which owns bodegas Alion and Pintia in Spain, and makes Oremus Tokaji in Hungary, has a turnover of between 22 and 30 million euros annually. Their presence in Jerez might be welcome, given that quality is their only criterion.

A colder and wetter than usual February and early March have caused heavy rains to swell the river Guadalete to dangerous levels, however despite more rain forecast, it will be lighter and the water levels have already begun to subside. Flood alerts had been issued, but it appears that the danger is over.

Friday 8 March 2013

More on World Sherry Day

One of the Sherry Educators, Wolfgang Hess, has established World Sherry Day in the hope that Sherry lovers worldwide will celebrate their favourite wine with events worldwide. The chosen date, the 26th May 2013, coincides with the 80th anniversary of the Consejo Regulador, which has approved the initiative.

Throughout the world, restaurants and bars will promote Sherry and offer fantastic food pairings simultaneously, to demonstrate how well Sherry matches all sorts of food. Over recent years the Consejo has been working with bodegas to create an international network of ambassadors who, thanks to this initiative can spread the word even farther. Participation in the event is open to anyone who loves Sherry; bars, bodegas, restaurants, wine merchants, individuals, distributors – anyone – even bloggers…?

Anyone with events in mind should contact the World Sherry Day website for promotion of their event at and get involved. You can’t lose!

Wednesday 6 March 2013

Lost Bodegas: MacKenzie

Scotsman Kenneth MacKenzie came to Jerez about 1842 and in either 1852 or 1860 established a shipping business. The bodega, which was next door to that of Marques de Misa, once contained a pool with a pair of Mississippi alligators. The firm specialised in Amontillado and Cream styles, much destined for sale to Harveys in Bristol. The wines were good, winning various medals over the years, and a brandy was also produced.

MacKenzie was one of quite a few Sherry shippers who also had interests in Port, and he joined with one William Minchin Driscoll in 1870 to form the firm Mackenzie Driscoll in Oporto, becoming a private limited company in 1900. This lasted till the hard times of the post war era and was sold to Ferreira. The last MacKenzie Port shipped was the 1966. The old lodge at Vila Nova de Gaia now belongs to Andresen, and the name MacKenzie is now as lost in Portugal as it is in Spain.

His nephew, Peter MacKenzie, became the resident partner in Jerez and eventually succeeded his uncle. He never even bothered to learn Spanish. In 1958 the firm ceased supplying bulk wines to Harveys, who then made an agreement with Rumasa to supply them for 99 years,allowing for the enormous expansion of Rumasa. In 1966 Harveys were taken over by Showerings and they in turn by Allied Breweries in 1968.

Harveys scrapped their agreement with Rumasa, and with Allied finance went on a buying spree and bought MacKenzie in 1970 along with 4,000 butts of wine and 40 hectares of vineyard. They had for long bought wine from MacKenzie, so the circle was squared. They also bought Marques de Misa, Palomino and Vergara and Fernando A de Terry. At this time MacKenzie was run by Diego Ferguson from a family originating in Banffshire, Scotland, Maria Luisa Ferguson and Ramiro Fernandez-Gao who joined the firm as it merged with his own, Ramiro Fernandez-Gao. One of the seven old XIX century MacKenzie bodegas is now occupied by Emilio Lustau, and the rest of the complex is occupied by Harveys.


6.3.13 Various Items of News...

Gonzalez Byass has announced an increase in sales of 21%! This is due to increased business outside Europe, mainly in Asia and America. Turnover is now 193 million euros, up from last year’s 159 million. While Spain is still the single biggest market with sales of 77 million, foreign sales now amount to 60%.

Beltran Domecq recently gave a master class to 40 Masters of Wine and MW students from 20 countries at a training event In Bordeaux. Javier Hidalgo (La Gitana) was there, as was Jeremy Rockett of Gonzalez Byass. There was a wide range of Sherries from Finos through to VOS and VORS wines.

The Consejo Regulador has been hosting press conferences for artists participating in the XVII Festival de Jerez, as well as talks and discussions about Flamenco. One of these was a debate between Gonzalez Byass enologist Antonio Flores and flamenco singer Fernando de la Morena on the subject of the relationship between wine and flamenco. Many events take place at the Teatro Villamarta, where Sherry is dispensed to guests by vanenciadores.

Mari Pena and La Tana (Diario Jerez)

Unemployment in Jerez has now passed the 37,000 mark. The city’s total population is about 212,000. This shows the depth of the crisis, and how badly it has hit Jerez - and Andalucia as a whole.

Tuesday 5 March 2013

Vino Blanco Navazos Niepoort 2011 12.5%, Equipo Navazos

Bright pale gold, legs.
Ripe, lowish acid with slight hints of dry scrubland, bread dough, traces of apples, grapes, oxidation, flor bitterness but generally soft, open textured and fresh.
Quite low acidity but attractive texture, like a young Fino without being fortified, traces of flor but less than in the Fino, very soft and gentle with some Palomino fruit yet has subtle complexities, a "proto-Fino" perhaps, yet has certain similarities to a young, maybe southern, white Burgundy. Most unusual and interesting.
Dirk Niepoort (of Port fame) helped inspire it and Eduardo Ojeda made it for Equipo Navazos who are interested in the evolution of the Fino Sherry style: what it may have been like in the XVIII century. This is the 4th vintage of the wine. It is made at Valdespino from Palomino grapes, fermented in american oak butts, aged briefly (@ 9 months) under flor without fortification and bottled. At 12.5% vol it is really a table wine, but has many Sherry characteristics. Really interesting - and a useful way to convert your chums to Sherry! Nudge nudge!

About £ 20.00 at Drinkmonger, Edinburgh

Monday 4 March 2013

Amontillado VORS 19.5%, Bodegas Tradicion

Pure amber fading through yellow to a slightly green rim, legs.
Fresh, crisp and precise Amontillado nose; forthcoming, quite tight and very aromatic toasted hazelnuts and oak with that classic hint of apparent sweetness; clean with traces of dried fruits and supreme depth and finesse, it even still has traces of the flor salinity; quite beautiful.
Medium bodied but intense; dry, with all the above along with a gentle tang of acid and a trace of salinity which carry the amazingly complex flavour through; a touch of tannin from the wood is followed by a trace of marzipan, then it just relaxes into a harmonious and interminable finish. Lovely.
VORS wines must have at least 30 years' solera age, and this one has over 40 (43 to be precise) - there is no higher category. When the bodega was established, old soleras were bought, and this one is built from wines with origins in all three of the Sherry triangle towns. Now the scales have been run for a few years - in Jerez - the wine has harmonised, and this accounts presumably for its crisp zesty character. I feel the Sanlucar element most strongly - that tangy zip. Fabulous wine. This is (well, was, unfortunately) bottle number 10 from 650 from that particular saca, all of which are necessarily very limited. It is sealed with a high quality driven agglomerate cork with a wax seal.
£ 57.50 per bottle from importers Raeburn Fine Wines, Edinburgh. This seems expensive, but compared to fine Claret or vintage Champagne, it is ridiculously cheap. It's all about complexity for your money, and that's where Sherry scores, time and time again.

4.3.13 Ruiz Mateos wants to go to Prison

Jose Maria Ruiz Mateos is in the news again. The founder of Rumasa and Nueva Rumasa has asked to be imprisoned voluntarily to prove his innocence.  He says he is sick of all the accusations, treachery, persecution and lies about his affairs, and that all his investors can have “absolute certainty” that they will be repaid.  He is proud of the work he has done, the jobs he created and the amount of money he has donated to the Church.

Obviously what went wrong with his companies was everyone else’s fault.

Saturday 2 March 2013

2.3.13 Valdivia Sale; Ruta de la Tapa

The sale of Bodegas Valdivia has so far not aroused any interest. It had been hoped that the bodega complex and attached luxury hotel could be sold for 20 million as a going concern to protect jobs, but none of those who showed any interest made an offer in the 15 days the sale was open. If a buyer cannot be found, the complex may have to go to auction.

La Ruta de la Tapa con Pinchito has begun. The town council of Jerez has signed an agreement with the promotor, Zona 956, who will organise the event. 27 bars will offer a tapa and a drink for 2.50 euros until the 25th March. After the event, participants will be asked to vote for the best tapa and a prize will be awarded at a gala event. This is the second time the event has been held.

Manzanilla Pasada Barbiana 15%, Rodriguez La-Cave (Delgado Zuleta)

Clean mid strawy gold with burnished tints, legs.
Full and very complex, toast, oily nutty notes, slightly bitter, yeasty, hints of autolysis, dough and a slight trace of oxidation, hints of cereal, even beer. Most attractive and interesting.
Similar, pungent, very slightly oily feel, the complex bitter and autolytic flavours along with the trace oxidation give an impression of age beyond its 5-6 years, very long, lovely.
A beautiful Manzanilla Pasada - the ultimate expression of Manzanilla, exquisitely complex and subtle. This comes from the Rodriguez La-Cave soleras.
An almost ridiculously inexpensive 6 euros ex bodega.

Friday 1 March 2013

Bodegas: Tradicion

Bodegas Tradicion is at once very old and very new. The project is funded by three wealthy men, all with Sherry history coursing through their veins. One is construction magnate Joaquin Rivero Valcarce, a Sherry aficionado, whose family has a 350 year history of winegrowing in Jerez. He comes from the family of Bodegas JM Rivero, established around 1650. Another is Ignacio Lopez de Carrizosa y Domecq, whose family established bodegas Marques del Merito. Then there is Javier Domecq, whose surname you may have heard of.

In 1998 they bought a picturesque but derelict XIX century bodega from Fernando Carrasco Sagastizabal. It has links with the oldest of Sherry brands "CZ" (Cabeza de Aranda y Zarco - the old Rivero family business), and with the help of local experts, managed to buy old soleras, some from the now lost firm of Agustin Blazquez, latterly owned by Domecq (XVIII C Oloroso and Palo Cortado), and more old XIX C butts from Gilbeys /Croft (Oloroso, Amontillado, Palo Cortado), XIX C Osborne, Bobadilla, Delgado Zuleta (Amontillado), Paternina, XIX C Sandeman, and Harveys (PX) from which they assembled soleras. Wines of about 15 years of age are bought in to feed these soleras

Rivero took on Lorenzo Garcia-Iglesias as director, and Jose Blandino who once worked at Domecq before joining Tradicion as capataz. The first wines were released in 2003, all VOS (min. 20 years old) and VORS (min. 30 years old), which is unusual, especially as the bodega made no fino at first, though they produce an outstanding one now. Releases are very small, amounting to only about 20,000 bottles annually, 80% for export, and the bottling with driven corks and wax seals, labelling and individual numbering is done by hand. (If you think about it, 20,000 bottles a year is not likely to make a huge profit). The bodega has about 1,000 butts, and the scales are run using only the traditional hand tools, at least for the last couple of rocios. Filtration is kept to a minimum, and the wines are as natural as possible, all in the name of keeping everything as traditional as possible.

There are also a few butts of vintage (Anada) Sherry, which were bought from Croft: 1970, 1975, 1982, 1987, 1991 for example.  These wines must be sealed with ribbon and wax, and can only be bottled under the supervision of the Consejo Regulador. Naturally they are very expensive and very rare. (See post on Vintage Sherry)

As if all this wasn't enough, the bodega has another attraction, namely the Rivero family art collection housed here, which was added in 2002. It contains some 300 fabulous works of Spanish Art from the XV to the XIX century, and is a very important collection, with works by Velazquez, El Greco, Goya... There is an exhibition of XIX century photographs which recount the wine history of the city. Classical music concerts are held here from time to time, and the bodega is actively involved in marrying the wines with food.

A wonderful brandy is also produced here. It is made from old soleras from bodegas now gone, and the new spirit is distilled in copper pot stills to a maximum of 70% vol. This is known as "Holandas". No column stills here! As to the wines, there are not very many, but they are outstanding. The firm supplies Fortnum & Mason's own brand Sherry.

The firm's brands are:
Amontillado VORS (43 years old, 3,000 botts annually)
Palo Cortado VORS (32 years old, 2,500 botts)
Oloroso VORS (45 years old, 5,000 botts.)
PX VOS (over 22 years old, 1500 botts))
Fino (bottled en rama at about 12 years old, only 3,000 botts) Introduced quite recently.
There are/were also some Anadas (vintage wines): Olorosos and Palos Cortados from 1970, 1975, 1982 and maybe a 1985, 1987, 1981, 1998

Address: Calle Cordobeses, 3, 11408 Jerez de la Frontera, Cadiz
Tel: (+34) 956 168 628
Web: bodegas
Visits: Yes, but make an appointment. A really good visit.

1.3.13 Sherry Chocolates!!

Researchers at the University of Cadiz have found gastronomic uses for the leftovers of winemaking by producing jams and biscuits. The residues, which can reach 20 tons per harvest, contain high levels of antioxidants and fibre, giving them very healthy properties. Up till now disposal of the residues has been awkward and costly, although some can be ploughed-in as mulch in the vineyards.  

Another idea - an even better one - that the researchers have is to produce chocolates filled with wine essence. They would have all the flavour properties of Sherry but without the alcohol. The same could be done with Jerez brandy and even vinegar. Brilliant!!