Tuesday 30 September 2014

30.9.14 Update on Film on British in Jerez

Here is the latest on the documentary about the British in Jerez. Filming is currently taking place in Jerez. The motivation for the film was the city’s election as European City of Wine, and the project is in the capable hands of veteran Andalusian filmmaker Nonio Parejo.

The British have had a strong presence in the Sherry zone since the XV century, but especially in the XIX, leaving a profound mark not only on the wine trade, but also leaving certain customs such as clay pigeon shooting, football, tennis, polo and horse racing.

The British community had its own cemetery and a chapel, since most were English Anglicans, and a vice consulate was established in the XIX century.  Many of their names live on in one form or another: Garvey, Sandeman, Williams & Humbert, Wisdom & Warter, MacKenzie, Ivison, Terry, O’Neale, Gordon, Davies, Gilbey, Suter, Ferguson, Osborne etcetera.

Nonio Parejo (top left) interviews Jose Luis Jimenez (foto + Jerez)
It is surprising, however, that this aspect of the trade has not been studied in any depth, so the documentary will look at providing information with new contributions from experts, historians, researchers, historians, bodegueros and family members. Nonio Parejo will be counting on assistance from local academic and contributor to Mas Jerez, Jose Luis Jimenez.

This new documentary, which has a duration of an hour, is related to one Parejo made in 2009 called ”The English in Rio Tinto”. He began making documentary films in 1976 and has produced great work, above all his series dedicated to Andalucia for Canal Sur TV.

Translated from an article by Jose Luis Jimenez in Mas Jerez.

Monday 29 September 2014

Amontillado 12 Years Old 18%, Bertola/Paternina

Golden to light amber, legs.
Classic Amontillado nose: elegant with lots of hazelnut, slight hints of honey, vanilla and a trace of bitterness in the background relating to the flor, nutty gentle and persistent.
A well textured, well balanced friendly wine, dry with notes of honeyed nuts: almonds and hazelnuts, and American oak. There is that classic appearance of sweetness from the glycerol. Twelve years is no great age for an Amontillado, but this is genuine, elegant and attractive.
A well made wine, aged for three years as a Fino before being fortified to 17% and converting to Amontillado over 9 years in a five criadera solera, where it develops that extra degree of alcohol.
£ ? Not widely available in the UK but imported by Peter Watts Wines of Coggeshall, Essex.

29.9.14 Gonzalez Byass Best Spanish Bodega & 6th inWorld

Gonzalez Byass has been voted best Spanish bodega and 6th in the World’s top hundred by the WAWJW. The World Association of Writers and Journalists of Wines and Spirits (WAWJW), which consists of journalists, authors, bloggers, and social writers from all over the world took account of GB’s successful results in many international competitions as well as the visitor experience, which demonstrate the bodega’s commitment to quality and sustainability, reflecting the birthplace of these great Sherry wines.

Add captionTourists visit GB (foto: reporteros jerez)

Saturday 27 September 2014

27.9.14 Delgado Zuleta Launch Table Wine

Bodegas Delgado Zuleta of Sanlucar has presented its new table wine, Viña Galvana. It is a white wine made from Palomino and Moscatel grapes and has 11.5% alcohol, which according to their oenologist, Salvador Real, “transmits light”. It is fresh, smooth and fruity with floral notes and well balanced acidity. Only 20,000 bottles will be available.

Thursday 25 September 2014

25.9.14 Jerez Triples Press Presence

Sherry has tripled its presence in the press in the first 8 months of this year compared to the same period last year. After monitoring 7,000 news items in 40 magazines and 96 newspapers, Sherry, which was the fifth Spanish Denominacion de Origen in terms of press presence, is now in second place with 10% of the total. This implies a monthly average of 10 million readers, and that only covers the printed press. Television has also been a big factor covering news of the City of Wine locally and nationally along with documentaries.

Tuesday 23 September 2014

23.9.14 Sanlucar Students Tread the Grapes; Spain on Weather Alert

Sanlucar Students Tread the Grapes
Students of the school/workshop “Viñas de Sanlucar” have been treading the grapes at bodegas Caydsa under the watchful eye of provincial deputy Juan Jose Marmolejo. The students, aged between 16 and 25 are studying three modules: viticulture, winemaking and cooperage. Let’s hope they will keep up the good work of the current bodegueros.

Students learn the art of treading (foto:sanlucardebarrameda.tv)

Spain on Weather Alert

Half of Spain, 28 places in 13 communities, is on weather alert. Storms and heavy rain are predicted, and a tornado blew across the bay of Cadiz yesterday. This picture was taken at Puerto Real.


Oloroso VORS 20%, Bodegas Tradicion

Mid depth amber mahogany with reddish tints through yellow to a touch of green at the rim, slow legs.
Absolutely pure Oloroso in its true sense - fragrant. And complex, yet so beautifully integrated it is difficult to separate all the aromas. Open, enticing, sweet and very nutty, hazelnuts, turron yema tostada, crema catalana and spices like cinnamon, vanilla and old butts and a trace of walnut in syrup, all that and amazingly fresh.
Nicely rounded with that sweetness carrying through round the edges balancing a touch of tannin from all those years in wood leaving the wine dry. Delicious, very nutty, and that cinnamon hint and glyceric almost marmalade and caramel sweetness provide a perfect counterpoint to the dry tannin and walnut shell bitterness in the background. Fantastic balance, very long and clean with a nice tangy finish leaving you yearning for more. And some old cheese and Jabugo ham...
Seriously fine old Oloroso from a 7 criadera solera established in 1850 by Agustin Blazquez, later taken over by Domecq, from whom it was bought in the late 1990's. Tradicion's capataz, Jose Blandino worked these soleras at Domecq and later joined Tradicion. The wine is of course well over 30 years (about 45 in fact), but 30 years is the highest classification available. At 20% alc/vol the strength is comparatively low for a wine of this age, presumably because of the higher than average number of criaderas and more frequent movement of the wine. This is from a lot of 1800 bottles.
£ 58.50/75cl from Raeburn Fine Wines, Edinburgh who are UK importers.

Sunday 21 September 2014

20.9.14 Jerez Feria Dates Announced

The Feria del Caballo, or the Feria de Jerez will take place next year from the 10th till the 17th of May. It will begin as always with the switching on of the lights on the evening of Sunday the 10th and will finish at 10.00pm on Monday the 17th. The dates have been carefully chosen to avoid clashing with the Feria de Sevilla and the Motorcycle Grand Prix (2nd and 3rd May). Also, spreading the dates means more tourists for longer.

The spectacular Feria lights (foto+jerez)

Friday 19 September 2014

18.9.14 Great Sherry Tasting Huge Success; Sherry Festival 2014

The Great Sherry Tasting held in London on Monday has been a great success. Organised by the Consejo Regulador and Fedejerez, over 300 members of the wine trade, catering trade and press attended the biggest Sherry tasting ever. No fewer than 203 wines were shown.

(foto: mas jerez)
Beltran Domecq, Consejo president, presided and gave three masterclasses, which were so popular that the capacity needed to be doubled, while many wines were shown in Britain for the first time. Such is the interest in this tasting that it is now the most important Sherry event in the world, firmly in the UK wine trade calendar. The UK now boasts 28 importers of 40 bodegas.

The forthcoming Sherry Festival was announced at the Great Sherry tasting, and will take place between the 17th October and the 2nd of November throughout the UK. Wine merchants, wine bars and restaurants will be promoting Sherry in an extensive campaign of promotions and tastings aimed at spreading Sherry culture and promoting sales.

Wednesday 17 September 2014

Vieja Solera PX VORS 16%, Diez Merito/Paternina

Glass-tinting intense blacky brown to yellow rim, very viscous.
Deeply aromatic, lots of well sunned pasas, very fruity with notes of dried fig and date as well, then there's the phenolic side with hints of American oak, raw chocolate, coffee and caramel, all well integrated over time.
Very rich, unctuous and intense. The wine is nicely balanced between massive raisiny sweetness and the bitter phenolic feel of coffee, traces of chocolate and oak, giving it character and amazing length. It is pretty full bodied, but extremely elegant and nuanced.
A delicious wine which comes from the former Bertola bodegas (est. 1919). The must was fermented to about 9%/vol and then fortified to 16%, and the next 30 years were spent ageing, concentrating into this intense wine which has dried a little in all those years.
About 80 Euros in Spain, not available in the UK unfortunately.

Monday 15 September 2014

15.9.14 First Organic Sherry in 2015

The first organic Sherry will be released in 2015. The cooperative AECOVI buys all the organically produced grapes in the region, and in a few months will release a late harvested wine from the 2014 harvest. AECOVI is a group of cooperatives: COVISAN in Sanlucar, Nuestra Señora de las Angustias in Jerez, Catolico Agricola in Chipiona and Union de Viticultores Chiclaneros in Chiclana.  Most of the AECOVI vineyards belong to over a thousand smallholders who pick manually and deliver the grapes to four big lagares (presshouses).

The harvest of organic Palomino was some 140,000 kilos, which were pressed and fermented separately. Some of this must will also be used to feed the organic vinegar soleras which were established five years ago and whose produce is already available on the market.

Turning the bunches of PX during sunning (foto Diario Jerez)

All this is the culmination of at least two years of strictly organic production in order to receive the necessary certification, and now under official control, the vineyards must be free of any chemical products, fertilisers or herbicides. The cooperatives’ technical people are keeping an eye on things in order to achieve the maximum quality with the maximum respect to the environment.

AECOVI has also successfully completed the sunning of the Pedro Ximenez grapes, largely thanks to very good weather with the absence of rain. A total of 60,000 kilos of PX were picked, all in the Jerez area. Fine, dry weather is vital as once picked, the bunches must be exposed to the sun for 8-10 days, and any humidity such as rain can cause big losses to rot. The vintage has been of exceptional quality, but while the fine weather has reduced the crop somewhat, the alcohol levels are good. In nearly all the vineyards levels of 12, even 13 have been achieved, much higher than usual.

Sunday 14 September 2014

A Study into the Differences Between Fino and Manzanilla

AECOVI, a large cooperative in Jerez, has completed a two year study which shows that the differences, particularly in salinity, between Fino and Manzanilla are not simply due to the crianza (ageing) of the wines being in different places. They have found a close relationship between salinity and proximity of the vineyard to the sea in wines aged biologically (under Flor).

In the mid XIX century the ageing of the wines was changed from a system of anadas (or vintage wines) to the now well-known solera system, largely to suit the English importers who wanted more consistent styles. This served to reinforce the “myth” that Sherry is made in the bodega and that the differences in style of Finos and Manzanillas were due to the place of crianza, rather than the grapes themselves.

Under current regulations (the Reglamento) the “myth” is continued as regards definitions of Fino and Manzanilla. The only real difference according to the Consejo is that Manzanilla must be aged in Sanlucar. The grapes themselves can come from anywhere in the Sherry zone, although in practice most do come from the Sanlucar area. Equally, the grapes for the Finos of Jerez and Puerto de Santa Maria may come from anywhere in the zone. Custom has become law and has been accepted.

This fantastic aerial photo gives an idea of the humid atmosphere in Sanlucar (vinoybrandydelpuerto)

The study found that the grapes grown near the sea contain more sodium and that the salinity is more concentrated in the summer months – particularly around harvest time – in areas which are exposed to prevailing westerly winds and nightly dewfall. This compares with the drier vineyards of Jerez where the winds alternate more, east and west. Aecovi studied various parcels of vineyard, 22 in Sanlucar, 4 in Jerez and one in Chipiona which link the location of the vineyard to the salinity in the grapes for the first time.

Temperatures, rainfall and solar radiation were found to be very similar in Jerez and Sanlucar, but the latter has more humidity due to the west wind – which brings more salt. Soils and leaves were analysed in all 27 parcels, showing more salt in the Sanlucar area especially towards harvest time.

As well as field studies, the investigators analysed the wines themselves – 30 bottles of Manzanilla and 24 bottles of Fino from both Jerez and Puerto de Santa Maria, all available commercially, with concurrent results. The Manzanillas contained an average of 70 mg/l salt compared to an average of 40 in the Finos, thus reinforcing the Aecovi theory that wines are born in the vineyard, not the bodega, but due to the homogeneity required by export markets this has been lost.

The aim of the study is to put value back into the vineyard, says Carmen Romero, manager of Aecovi, and perhaps help save it from housing development because of its seaside position. Also up for consideration now is the notion of redefining the Denominacion de Origen Manzanilla, restricting its production to only coastal vineyards. For sure we haven’t heard the end of this one!

Saturday 13 September 2014

Oloroso Abocado Cristina 17.5%, Gonzalez Byass

Deepish amber/mahogany through to yellow, legs.
Light and soft, young and fresh, less intense than Cream and less sweet, traces of toasted nuts, caramel, toffee, fig and some slightly spicy cinnamon and wood notes. The wine comes out through the sweetness, which can mask the aromas.
Medium-sweet lightish nutty Oloroso with nicely balanced sweetness, hints of dried fruit and traces of spice, quite light, of no great age, but certainly has some charm and character, an elegant wine for everyday.
Very pleasant when slightly chilled for sipping while watching Wimbledon for example. Oloroso and PX are vinified separately and later blended after which the blend runs through the Cristina solera for 7 years, so the wine will be just short of 10 years old. It consists of 87% Palomino (oloroso) and 13% PX, with 50g/l sugars.
This wine doesn't seem to be available in the UK - GB UK don't list it. Sorry.

13.9.14 Harvest Figures 2014

Latest harvest figures from the Consejo Regulador show that the total yield was 66,122,375 kilos of grapes, 65% of which came from vineyards around Jerez. The next most important total was Sanlucar, with 11 milion kilos, then Trebujena with 8.4 million, Chipiona with 2.3 million, Chiclana with 1.2 million and El Puerto with 0.28 million.


Twenty-eight press houses crushed the grapes, half of these in the Jerez area. Chipiona had the highest sugar readings of 12.31 Beaume, but this is down to the fact that they leave the grapes on the vines a bit longer for the Moscatel. The lowest readings were in Rota with 10.73 and Chiclana with 10.88, but all comfortably above the Consejo’s required 10.5. The average was 11.77 Beaume.

Wednesday 10 September 2014

10.9.14 Harvest Estimate Revised Upward; Watch Grape Treading

The Consejo Regulador has revised upwards its estimation of the yield from this year’s harvest to 68 million kilos. Barely a week ago it was estimating 62 million, but the absence of the hot, drying Levante winds and generally very favourable milder weather means a bigger crop. The harvest is now all but finished, except for a few coastal parcels at Chiclana and Chipiona, mostly Moscatel, and all should be over by the 23rd. The quality is very good, and the sugar levels quite high with an average of 11.7 Beaume.

The new "Mosto" 2014 (foto Diario Jerez)

To watch the treading of the grapes which opened the Fiesta de la Vendimia yesterday, the Jerez Council has put a short video on you tube. Just search for “pisa de la uva”.

Tuesday 9 September 2014

Manzanilla La Macarena 15%, Lustau

Pale, almost lemony gold, light legs.
Big, soft and gentle, very yeasty, bread dough, no obvious autolysis, hints of salt, lots of fresh sea air, beach, characterful but very polished and refined.
Very dry, quite salty, lots of flor yet not over bitter, very gentle in fact, but it grows on the palate. An interesting wine in that it has a real feisty character restrained by very good manners. Soft, gentle, classy, tasty with a long clean yeasty finish. A well brought up Sanluqueño.
La Macarena is an old Luis Caballero brand launched in 1913 which has been dressed up the same as the Domecq brands Lustau bought in 2008. It is about 3 years old. The label used to feature a flamenco singer. Lustau produce two Manzanillas (excepting the Almacenistas), the other being Papirusa, which unlike Macarena is available in the UK.

La Macarena is a church in Sevilla dedicated to the Virgin Mary in which one can see the Virgin of Hope, venerated by bullfighters. (It is also the name of various flamenco singers, a dance and an irritating 90's song by Los del Rio, voted the world's no.1 one hit wonder). In 2013 Caballero launched a limited edition of Macarena with the original label to celebrate the brand's centenary.
It is now sold by another bodega: Elias Gonzalez Guzman of Sanlucar.

About 7 euros in Spain, but not available in the UK.

Lustau Label

Elias Gonzalez Guzman Label

Saturday 6 September 2014

Bodegas: Hijos de Jimenez Varela

This firm, now lost, was established in 1850 in El Puerto de Santa Maria. In 1863, Ramon Jimenez Varela, who was 33 years old, bought various small vineyards called the Vina Belludo Bajo with a vineyardd house in the Pago Balbaina between El Puerto and Jerez, and a bodega “La Rosa” on the corner of Calle Victoria (now Alboreda) and Calle Espiritu Santo. This bodega was created from various buildings, some older bodegas, others offices, in what became a bodega district close to the river where previously other industries had operated such as olive oil mills or tanneries. The site of the bodega is now occupied by the 4* Hotel Bodega Real which has preserved the yard in which the coopers worked.

Coopers' yard at Jimenez Varela (foto: Gente del Puerto)
This fine old family firm produced excellent Sherries and went on to produce sparkling wine at purpose built cellars in their Finca Caracol. The wine was good and well received, selling well for a while till it was dropped from the range as sales declined. The sparkling wine had been produced in an attempt to increase sales at a time (the 1880s) when Sherry was facing accusations of disrepute in its biggest market, Britain, due to alleged fraudulent practices by speculative companies, such as fortifying cheap wines with potato spirit. Jimenez Varela were never guilty of such malpractice.

Andanas at Jimenez Varela (foto: Gente del Puerto)
Other new products to bolster sales appeared as well, such as Anis, Rum, Cacao, Gin, Tonic Wine (Quina) etc., but nobody else made sparkling wine at the time. It continued well into the XX century.

(Antonio Garcia's collection of HJV products, and his photo)
They also bought a famous stud, the Hierro de la Palma which had been established at the beginning of the XIX century, and whose brand appeared on their Sherry labels.

The firm's logo and also that of the stud (foto CMPH gente del Puerto)

Interestingly, one of the family was the confidant of Isaac Peral, a naval engineer who built one of the very first workable submarines, much research work on which took place in the River Guadalete at El Puerto. Apparently his submarine was as good as the First World War U Boats, but was never commissioned by the Spanish Navy.

Jimenez Varela finally sold up to Rumasa in the 1960’s during the latter’s period of rapid expansion. A small range of Manzanilla, Fino, Medium and Cream was sold under the name Varela until the end of the 1970s and was subsequently and unfortunately never heard of again. Rumasa needed stock.

The firm’s principal brands were Fino Jardin, Oloroso 1875, Amontillado Presidente, Manzanilla Carola, Oloroso Los 46, Amontillado-Fino Jardin, Fino Coquin, and sparkling wine:  “Gran Champagne Continental”, as well as spirits: Brandy Viejisimo Varela, Cacao Varela, and many more.

Friday 5 September 2014

Solera India 22%, Osborne

Looks old, deep blacky brown mahogany through yellow to trace green at rim, legs.
Very refined, quite sweet and quite spicy. Wonderfully elegant for a hefty sweet wine, with a very complex mixture of vanilla, cinnamon, citrus, raisin, earth, oak, old barrels, walnut, coffee and traces of Marmite, all so beautifully integrated it is hard to pick out individual notes - but very rewarding in the attempt!
Full, medium-dry and tangy. Lots of oak notes on the nose, yet the very little astringency on the palate is balanced out by the sweetness. Lovely texture and gently spicy, it is a real pleasure just to roll this wine round the tongue. It is all about balance, perfect balance. Long, lingering, complex finish. This wine is addictive! So much character.
This solera was established in 1922 and is situated, along with Osborne's other most precious old soleras in the bodega La Honda in El Puerto de Santa Maria. This wine has an average age of 25 years and consists of 80% oloroso and 20% PX blended at the start and aged as a blend. This ensures perfect seamless harmony. It is released in tiny quantities, for example this bottle was number 384 of only 566 released in 2013.
Sold in a 50cl bottle in Spain (I think Osborne are changing to this format for the very old wines) Available in the UK from Mr Lawrence Wine Merchants in London at £104 for the 75cl. Otherwise really hard to get. This price seems very high, but if you compare it with, say, Bordeaux, it seems cheap!

In Search of Lost Sherry

This is my humble translation of a very interesting article written by Paz Ivison in El Mundo Vino 28.8.14

Young winemakers in the Jerez area are on a hunting-gathering mission for Sherry. It might be considered a contradiction – young people looking into the past, but no, quite the contrary. The best vanguard is tradition, as was once famously said by the famous French writer, essayist, poet and philosopher, Paul Valery. His brilliant mind had nothing to do with oenology or wine, but his reflections are perfect on this occasion as on many others. Among these young winemakers whom I met in my home town, Jerez, I must highlight the sublime if difficult work which two of them, Ramiro Ibañez and Willy Perez, are doing. Both have worked in California, Australia… and gained considerable experience, ideas and knowledge travelling in the New World, and are applying their knowledge and fascination to one of the most historic and traditional of all the wine making regions in Spain, Jerez.

Happily, Sherry is beginning to awaken interest among Spanish people, long forgotten by the producers – let it be said in passing – and is beginning to experience what we could call a slightly better period, and this is down to its own singular unique and complex essence and the work of certain journalists, sommeliers and great aficionados, rather than the producing and exporting bodegas who looked at the domestic market as an afterthought. Export was all.

Exporting wine is the solution nowadays for nearly every bodega in the country, after all the years of crisis and huge competition. But we need to look back 50 years, when the panorama was quite different. There were few quality bodegas in Spain and Sherry, with not the slightest competition in terms of style was never really promoted at home, making its understanding and consumption among Spaniards of any age more difficult, let alone for the young folk.

These young winemakers are searching for the lost times and the lost Sherry. It is never too late. Films such as The Mystery of Palo Cortado, currently being shot in Jerez, great tastings, Gonzalez Byass Sherrymasters,  the Consejo’s Sherry Educators course, congresses, fairs and the naming of Jerez as European City of Wine have without doubt helped to recuperate some lost time. The vineyard area has been reduced to a third of what it once was – in line with falling sales – but there is no overproduction now, and quality is much better.

Ramiro Ibanez (foto ggelalmirez.com)
The oenologist Ramiro Ibañez Espinar, from Sanlucar, came back to the Sherry area after a few years of experience abroad, and took up a solo career as a freelance oenologist and viticulturist as well as producing his own experimental wines. It is to him we owe the seriously interesting wine which he made for Bodegas Ximenez Spinola, Original Exceptional Harvest. A vintage Pedro Ximenez, ripened on the vine, late harvested, macerated and fermented on the skins and aged for four months in American oak on its lees which were carefully stirred.

Its release onto the market was quite a surprise, though very little was available in Spain itself. I was able to try it thanks to the inexhaustible generosity of my good friend Armando Guerra of the Sacristia of the Taberna El Guerrita in Sanlucar, an example of a cult taberna and totally committed to the region and its wines. I strongly recommend you to visit it. (*See Paula’s tasting notes on this wine).

Despite the quality, modernity and novelty of this wine, the philosophy of the young proprietor of this bodega was still traditional: export. He thought nobody in Spain would understand it.  So we don’t have points of reference, and without them we’re not going to shake up the world, as Archimedes would have said if he had been here. Ramiro Ibañez no longer makes this wine, and the following vintage which I tried, again thanks to Armando Guerra, was a pale imitation of the glorious 2011.

In search of lost grape varieties
Ramiro Ibañez and Willy Perez are a certain type of winemakers. They share interests, research and knowledge. They are committed to the recuperation of the Jerez pagos (groups of individual vineyards), the first vineyards to be considered as such in Spain, but which for many years have done little more than serve as material for institutional texts.

Willy Perez (foto cosasdecomer)
Willy, thanks to his family’s recent purchase, has had access to one of the older vineyards, El Corregidor in the pago Carrascal and opposite the pago Macharnudo. Here there are 30 hectares of old Palomino (clone 84) planted before the arrival of the California clone. Willy was allowed 6 hectares in which to experiment and see if he could realise his dream, a vintage Fino, 2013 in this case, without fortification. He threw away many grapes and harvested two or three weeks later than usual. The grapes achieved 16.3% alc/vol without fortification. Some of the must was fermented in stainless steel tanks and part in butts of American oak, but for 2014 he has fermented it all in butts.

At the beginning of last November the wine was run into empty 500 litre butts which had been seasoned with Fino but had no remaining yeast sediment, and these are being kept aside in his father, Luis Perez’ underground bodega, which is mostly dedicated to red wines. So there it is, the vintage Fino, under a veil of flor, like a virgin bride approaching the altar under the expectant gaze of the loving young oenologist. Willy personally looks after this wine’s 20 butts which he has filled fuller than normal to avoid excess flor as it devours alcohol and could dangerously reduce the alcohol level over the 2 year minimum ageing period.

Late last November I had the opportunity to try the wine from the butts, and it was very long with an extraordinary minerality and well balanced acidity, dry with a marked bitter almond note. Then, the wine has 16.3%, but I have just tasted it again at 15.6% still with flor and with a few months still to age. All this without a drop of added alcohol, a really emotional experience, hanging by a natural thread, but we still need to wait.

2 year old vintage Palo Cortado
But Willy’s friend Ramiro doesn’t need to wait much longer. Soon he will bottle his Encruzijado 2012, a 2 year-old Palo Cortado – yes you read that right. This is a completely new wine, made from 50% grapes from old vine varieties which he moved heaven and earth to find, but managed to obtain from growers here and there in the Sherry area. These old varieties are: Mantuo Pilas, Mantuo Castellano, Beba, Perruno and Cañocazo, all with their rustic sounding names, and 50% selected Palomino with the bunches taken from the centre of the vine to retain a little more malic acidity.

Canocazo grapes on albariza soil (foto elmundovino)
His objective is to be able to offer the curious or interested consumer the possibility of trying and enjoying a wine aged biologically (under flor) but which has the right characteristics to be fortified and age oxidatively. But just before fortification to 18%, just at that moment when the capataz set aside one of “those” butts and said “This Fino is “Gordo” (fat), it is no use for Fino, it needs to be fortified”, and picked up the chalk and marked the butt with a line and a cut (palo cortado). The secret here is those old grape varieties which had a lot of malic acid and the artisanal fermentation in butts with natural local yeasts.

Ramiro trod his grapes with his own feet, he made only one butt of his 2012 which is now 20 months old, 10 under flor in the months of spring and autumn and 10 without flor in summer and winter. Encruzijado 2012 will come to market as Vino Generoso de Licor and without a DO. Nevertheless it is quite an experience - and one with a big future because the wine shows a surprising maturity on the palate with structure and lactic, buttery notes. (*See also Paula’s notes on Equipo Navazos No.52)

So as to our young hunter-gatherers, are they going backwards or forwards? We’ll keep you informed.

Tuesday 2 September 2014

La Bota de Palo Cortado Viejisimo No. 48 Bota Punta, 21.5%, Equipo Navazos

Deep golden amber to light mahogany with coppery tints and  a trace of green at the rim, legs.
Spectacular and super complex, bursting with nuts of all sorts, turron guirlache (almond brittle), American oak, hints of tobacco, oak, a slight hint of yeast autolysis, traces of honey on toast, caramel,and  that implied sweetness and grace of the Amontillado.
Huge, mouthfilling, dry and textured with deep old wood and walnut grip like an Oloroso but very well rounded with terrific length. There are traces of Oxford marmalade orange peel, raisin, caramel, various nuts, a spicy almost cedary note from the wood and a trace of bitterness at the finish which betrays its Sanlucar and Flor origins. This is a very old and exceptionally fine wine.
Quite magnificent! It is exquisite, and it  is difficult to do it justice in tasting notes. Sell the car, the TV, just buy some! This wine comes from the end butt of the andana (row of barrels) of the GF 30 solera at Gaspar Florido, now owned by Pedro Romero in Sanlucar. The wine in end butts can be slightly different to that in others as they can be near doorways and have a subtly different microclimate.

The wine was drawn off in December 2013 and is somewhere between 50 and 80 years old. This solera also provided the wine for bottlings 41 and 51, and was located in an old bodega in the Calle Rubinos in the heart of Sanlucar until it was moved to a ramshackle old bodega on the road to Trebujena. It was here that Jesus Barquin, Eduardo Ojeda and Alvaro Giron tasted the wines with old Gaspar Florido and noted that their quality was in direct inverse proportion to the stae of the bodega which housed them. It also housed the solera GF25. Both these soleras are now at Pedro Romero's Sacristia.

This is bottled history: it is becoming increasingly rare in the Sherry area to find wines of this great age which are also balanced, and the chances of coming across gems like this are unlikely to be repeated, especially at this price, much less the luxury of a choice of barrels of them.
A scary £65 per half bottle approximately, but I for one would willingly pay that for this quality. You could easily pay hundreds of pounds for an inferior claret. Imported into UK by Rhone to Rioja.