Saturday 30 April 2016

Amontillado Callejuela 18%, Viña Callejuela

Bright amber with coppery highlights and legs.
Clean complex and fairly tight with all sorts of nuances wrapped up in an attractive package. There are distinct Sanlúcar notes of rope and salinity with remote hints of Manzanilla pasada autolysis and then lots of toasted almonds and hazelnuts and the slightest traces of caramel and raisin as the nose opens out, but always constrained by the distinct Sanlúcar character.
Nuttier and a shade sweeter than the nose but the Sanlúcar style is by no means lost. It is almost perfectly balanced between a glyceric very slightly mineral nuttiness and a gentle tangy acidity which ensures liveliness, gentle grip and terrific length. It should age very well in bottle.
Produced from the Blanco brothers' own vineyards at the Viña Callejuela in Sanlúcar, this wine is nursed from Manzanilla through to Amontillado over the course of over 12 years and the result is a classic nutty Amontillado of great character, quality and excellent value.
9.50 euros from Cuatrogatos

Friday 29 April 2016

29.4.16 Sherry Beer from Jerez

Two Young Jerezanos became tired of unemployment and awaiting the miracle of a job offer, so they decided to create their own employment.  Miguel Moncayo, a physical training teacher, and Ana Isabel Triano, an environmentalist, got to work creating their own artisan beer brewed from 100% natural ingredients. After much testing the result was launched in 2014: Xela, a blonde beer with a unique ingredient: Sherry.

They began producing 200 litres a month, then 200 litres a week and now they have outgrown the rented premises at the Parque Tecnológico Agroindustrial and are actively looking for larger premises. From the outset they wanted to include Sherry in the recipe to add a spark of distinction to the beer and Xela is the only beer to do so, though one or two are aged in Sherry butts. The type of Sherry in question is a closely guarded secret, but the Consejo Regulador has now certified them as an authorised alimentary industry and that the wine they use is genuine Sherry.

Thursday 28 April 2016

Fino en rama Santa Petronila 15.5%, Viña Santa Petronila

Fairly deeply coloured brassy gold to pale amber, very light legs.
Reasonably full with hints of gently bitter flor, minor salinity, a touch of minerality and dried green herbs with background hints of butter and almond. There is a little age here yet very little oxidation, and there's a gentle tang and freshness giving a definite personality.
Again quite full and assertive, serious and with considerable depth, a bit more flor and a touch of cabezuela showing through. Traces of oxidation and that buttery note are balanced by a gentle acidity, flor and that minerality, there is a hint of esparto as well. It is a clean, complex wine with considerable character, individuality and quality.
Viña Santa Petronila is one of the smallest if not the smallest bodegas in the Marco de Jerez. It consists of a very pretty and very old (early XVIII century) casa de viña surrounded by its 17 hectare vineyard stocked with old vines planted in pure albariza in the Pago Macharnudo. It must be the only bodega with a swimming pool! The reason is that the finca provides  rural accomodation to tourists and also organises various activities. I think the finca was named after the wife of the bodeguero Ricardo Carlos Ivison who owned it in the XIX century. Anyway, being so small the bodega has no bottling facilities and the wine is contract bottled by Esporsil, this bottle being number 652 of a very small saca of 792 - well it's a tiny bodega - filled in December 2015. This stuff is excellent.
14 euros per 50cl bottle from Er Guerrita

Wednesday 27 April 2016

Bodegas: Viña Santa Petronila

Established in 1737 if not before, this is the smallest Sherry bodega and surely the most beautiful, situated among its 17 hectares of albariza vineyard between the Pagos Tizon and Macharnudo Bajo. It once belonged to the firm of Fletcher Ivison who named it after his wife, Petronila Pastor, and now it belongs to the Norwegian Brita Hektoen and her husband Agustín.

Really it is a casa de la viña, and while it is a working bodega, its main focus is on vineyard tourism. The building is in its original condition only being restored where necessary, yet has all modern facilities, even a salt water swimming pool. Here one can learn – and see - all the processes of Sherry production from the vineyard right through to the glass, and how it was done in the past, helped by a wine museum with lots of old implements.

Naturally Petronila belongs to the Ruta de los Vinos y Brandies de Jerez, and groups of friends or families can stay here in this atmospheric house which can accommodate up to 24 people, and it is well situated in beautiful countryside full of wildlife, yet only minutes by car from Jerez. They can cater for all kinds of event: tastings, dinners, flamenco, vineyard work, ham carving, the list is almost endless. You only need to discuss your requirements.

The wines produced here, all under the name Viña Petronila are Fino en Rama, Amontillado, Oloroso and PX, the latter two are occasionally blended to make a Cream.

Address: Carretera del Calvario, km 3.5, Jerez de la Frontera, Cádiz
Telephone: (+34) 669 750 888

Tuesday 26 April 2016

27.4.16 Lustau Launches Tres en Rama Saca 2016

Coinciding with the incredibly sad news of the passing of Lustau oenologist Manuel Lozano comes the more cheerful news of the new 2016 saca of the Tres en Rama range. As you will know, the range consists of two Finos en rama, one from Jerez and the other from El Puerto alongside a Manzanilla from Sanlúcar, Lustau being the only firm to have bodegas in all three towns. According to the press release the Manzanilla is floral and saline, the Jerez Fino is pungent and mineral and the Fino from El Puerto is delicate and maritime. “Three wines, three cities and three personalities” as they put it. There are only 1,000 50cl bottles of each, so don’t waste any time.

La Raza Oloroso Viejo Abocado 19%, Pedro Domecq

Deep almost dense blacky walnut brown fading to amber at a tight rim, legs.
Fairly tight nose with PX fruit and pipe tobacco and some texture with full bodied Oloroso behind, traces of dried fig, raisin, oak, cinder toffee and walnut. Not overtly sweet but deep and really quite complex and serious. Up market Cream, one might say.
Medium-sweet, full bodied, almost powerful, and beautifully integrated, still tight and the sweetness wears off a little letting the Oloroso shine through leaving a comparatively dry and very long finish with a decent texture. As the back label says, this is a very special wine for sublime moments, but I think this wine makes those moments sublime. A Classic.
What a treat to obtain an original Domecq bottling of a wine no longer made! La Raza means "the race" and was a celebration of the cultural richness forged by the fusion of races following the discovery of the New World. The solera was established in 1892 in commemoration of the 400th anniversary of the discovery of the Americas and consisted of a blend of old Oloroso and old PX. These wines were already old in 1892 and ageing as a blend is always better so this wine has great homogeneity and class. It was first released in 1929, under the name "Vino de la Raza" on the 12th October, the Dia de la Hispanidad ("Day of Spanishness"), to celebrate the famous Exposición Iberoamericana in Sevilla, for which great and beautiful buildings were constructed such as the famous Plaza de España and the Parque María Luisa. The wine's label is no longer legal as "Oloroso Abocado" is not now permitted, but the word "Cream" would suffice now. The name Pernod Ricard appears on the back label so this was probably bottled post 2005.
14.75 euros from Licores Corredera

26.4.16 Manuel Lozano Dies; Sherry at Alimentaria; Prize for Arfe

It is announced with great sadness that Manuel Lozano Salado, chief oenologist at Emilio Lustau and voted Best Fortified Oenologist for an unprecedented seven times by the International Wine Challenge passed away suddenly today. A brilliant Sherry maker who was regarded by all who knew him as a charming, straightforward and humble man will be very sadly missed. He is survived by his wife and three sons, to whom all of us Sherry lovers send heartfelt condolences.

Born in 1954, the year snow fell in the Bay of Cádiz, his parents had bars and restaurants where he took an interest in the wine. Manuel worked his way up from the bottom. He was visiting bodegas from the age of ten and worked the harvest at González Byass before joining the laboratory team at Fernando A de Terry where he worked for 22 years. then for Harveys after it took over Terry. In 1999 he joined Lustau where, among other things, he oversaw the introduction of the Tres En Rama series and the integration of the Domecq soleras. He was also a member of the Consejo Regulador tasting committee and in 2014 he won the Premio Ciudad de Jerez for his contribution to the Sherry trade.

Food and drink professionals inundate Barcelona every year for the huge Alimentaria trade fair which this year is in its 21st edition and expects 140,000 visitors. Sherry will naturally be present and at 18.00 this afternoon César Saldaña, director of the Consejo, and Jesús Barquín of Equipo Navazos will be hosting a quite wonderful tasting entitled “The Jewels of Jerez: Sacristías”. The chosen wines are: Manzanilla Barbiana from Delgado Zuleta, Barbadillo Solear en Rama, Fino Dos Palmas from González Byass, Fino Añada 2012 from Williams & Humbert, Amontillado VORS from Lustau, Amontillado Conde de Aldama from Yuste, Palo Cortado de la Cruz from Bodegas Arfe, Palo Cortado Antique from Fernando de Castilla, Oloroso VORS from Urium, Oloroso Añada 1986 from Hidalgo la Gitana, Oloroso VORS Solera de su Majestad from Valdespino, Solera India from Osborne and PX VOS from Tradición. Wow!

Bodegas Arfe, run by Luís Arroyo Felices, has won the fortified category of the annual Premios SeVi (Semana Vitivinícola Guide to Wines and olive oil). His Palo Cortado de la Cruz de1767 achieved a score of 98 points. A total of 1,400 wines from 325 Spanish bodegas were tasted made from 53 different grape varieties and 11 different olive varieties.

Monday 25 April 2016

25.4.16 Big Fortified Tasting

The 7th edition of this important event took place in London on Friday. The turnout was excellent with over 600 wine trade professionals compared to last year’s 500. Consejo Director, César Saldaña was there and gave a masterclass entitled “Discovering the Secret of Sherry”. While not dedicated exclusively to Sherry, the event was not short of Sherry bodegas, which included Lustau, Estévez, Viniberia, Williams & Humbert, Tradición, Barbadillo, Delgado Zuleta and Hidalgo La Gitana.

Sunday 24 April 2016

Manzanilla Pasada Blanquito15% saca Febrero 2016, Viña Callejuela

Paleish gold with slight coppery tints, legs.
Beautifully integrated and clean with nutty buttery flor, traces of toasted almond, salinity, seaside ozone, a suspicion of cabezuela, a gentle oxidative tinge and a slight Amontillado note. Supremely elegant and balanced with the slightest edge of wildness.
Light tang and subtle bitterness are balanced by a fruity hint and some remaining glycerine, then there is the terrific mouth-filling complexity: so many nuances of the atmosphere of Sanlúcar and the work of the flor all wrapped up in one delicious flavour. It is very hard to put down the glass - except to refill it.
This has  recently been bottled - the last saca sold out a while ago - and while it is delicious now, it will improve over time. The Blanco brothers are producing really excellent wines from their own vineyards La Callejuela and El Hornillo with the help of Ramiro Ibáñez and they really merit the effort to obtain them. And their prices are so reasonable.
15 euros per 50cl bottle from Cuatrogatos

Saturday 23 April 2016

Manzanilla Señorita 15%, Valdespino

Pale light strawy gold with light legs.
Fresh with gentle flor, a trace of dried flowers, and fairly saline minerally seaside notes. There are slight traces of rope, Palomino white wine, which gives away its youth, and a background savoury note.
Tangy with a nice balance of salinty and savouriness, salty and very slightly bitter with a certain depth and seriousness about it which develops and comes I imagine from the yeast and an almost imperceptible oxidative note. Decent length.
This is the younger of the Valdespino Manzanillas with about three years average age while Deliciosa and its en rama sister have five years. It is labelled as Muy Fina meaning it is young and filtered and it tastes accordingly yet it has some depth and a more interesting character than some as it probably comes from Bodegas La Guita.
Around 6.50 euros

23.4.16 Jerez Moto GP; BIB Controversy

Jerez is bursting at the seams with bikers and motor bikes here for this weekend’s Moto GP, the 30th to be held at the Jerez Circuito de Velocidad. It is an incredible sight and will do no harm to the city’s coffers. Of the first ten places, Spanish riders occupy seven, so the locals are all fired up as well. Ex-king Juan Carlos arrived in Jerez yesterday for the event – but not on a motor bike.

Meanwhile Carmelo Ezpeleta, director of Dorna the company which organises the World Championship, paid a visit to González Byass and was guided by the firm’s president, Mauricio González Gordon, and Pedro Rebuelta, vice president. Signing a butt Ezpeleta remarked that while Jerez has been famous forever for Sherry, it is gaining fame for the Moto GP as well. He said he was honoured to be signing a butt at González Byass alongside other butts signed by motorcycle racing legends like Ángel Nieto, Giacomo Agostini and Jorge Lorenzo.


The BIB polemic is hotting up again, and today’s Diario de Jerez says that it will continue until the Junta stops looking the other way and pronounces on the question once and for all. The majority of bodegas are against BIB either for sale to the public or to the trade and thus the Consejo refuses to issue suitable precintas, while the manzanilleros feel they have the Junta’s support for sale to the trade but are forced to use precintas issued for garrafas, a practice which is not permitted.

Fernando López Gil of the Junta says it is in touch with both sides, but the interlocutor is the Consejo, and an administrative solution will take time and would be better after the Consejo elections scheduled for the middle of June. Until such time, the manzanilleros are frustrated by the Consejo’s refusal to issue precintas for containers they see as legal. Both sides wish the Junta would take decisive action.

Friday 22 April 2016

22.4.16 Yuste Responds to Consejo Denouncement Report

Bodegas Yuste has released a statement seeking a rectification of the article published in the Diario de Jerez the other day (see post 20/4/16) which said the BIB which won a medal in Toulouse had been denounced by the Consejo. Yuste feel that the article was tendentious and did nothing but harm to the image of Jerez, the bodegas and their wines. The article seems to have reignited the controversy which the Junta wanted to resolve with the issue of a report in January, and which in Yuste’s view is absolutely clear that BIB is legal in horeca, until such time as the regulations are changed by the Consejo, approved by the Junta and published using established channels.

He condemned the Consejo for repeatedly refusing to issue precintas (DO strips) for the BIB formats which in his judgement provides evidence of constant and flagrant breach of current regulations which the Junta should have sorted out. He went on to say that the Junta is effectively superior and should exercise its power over the Consejo which is in breach of both the interpretation and explanation of the regulations covering packaging and labelling in the said report. He accused the Consejo of having a belligerent attitude which is damaging to the trade and finished by calling for dialogue and the fulfilment of the law.

Thursday 21 April 2016

Fino Perla 15%, Bodegas Blanca Reyes

Comparatively pale almost silvery straw, quite pearl-like hence the name, light legs.
Delicate, fresh  and refined with gentle flor notes and almond-tinged notes of bread dough, quite yeasty and remarkably light but still it has a presence. Quite young with no autolytic notes but a bit of acetaldehyde giving the almondy character. Background traces of green herbs, but overall yeasty.
Again light, but graceful and elegant with just enough acidity to give it length and a gentle tang. The almond and bread notes persist along with a slight trace of olive brine and it is very dry (0.08 g/l sugars) though you would hardly notice through the smoothness. Light and delicate but with its own unique style.
This is the perfect wine to introduce someone to Sherry; it is less distant than many from a white table wine, yet is truly Sherry. From a small family bodega in Jerez this really has its own unique style. It is about 5 years old. The logo represents a perro ratonero (a kind of terrier bred to rid bodegas of mice) and the family perro is still with us at 17 years old! It is interesting that the lost but important bodega MacKenzie also had a Fino Perla, but the copyright must have run out long ago. Telmo, the manager, tells me they are soon to re-vamp the labels.
5.95 euros ex bodega

21.4.16 A Very Thirsty Feria de Sevilla

The Feria de Abril in Sevilla consumed record amounts of Manzanilla this year, with Barbadillo alone selling 440,000 half bottles of Muy Fina and Solear, an increase over last year of 13%. For their part, La Guita reports the sale of 680,000 half bottles, also a decent increase. The wines of both bodegas were available in 600 of the slightly more than 1,000 casetas.

The products of many other bodegas were also available, though not in such quantities, with Manzanilla being the preferred drink of the Feria, and there was no shortage of advertising and promotion of it. Probably some 1.5 million half bottles were sold in total, meaning each caseta got through roughly 1,500 half bottles in a week - quite a lot of this in the form of the “rebujito”, Sherry mixed with 7 Up or Sprite. That is some going, but at least Sherry is good for you.

Typical Feria scene (

Fino will soon get its turn however, being the preferred wine at the forthcoming Ferias of Jerez, El Puerto and Rota. Then it will be the pilgrimage of El Rocio, another Manzanilla event. All the while, Sherry in general has been setting Valencia on fire, which will hopefully generate a further increase in sales.

Wednesday 20 April 2016

20.4.16 Yuste BIB; Osborne Beer; Feria de la Manzanilla

It was inevitably going to ruffle feathers. Recently Bodegas Yuste won a gold medal at Toulouse for the quality of its Manzanilla Pasada in a 10 litre BIB. The Consejo intends to denounce it as the precintas (DO seals) on the box had been issued for glass garrafas, the only legal container for bulk wine. The Manzanilla rebels had applied for suitable precintas, as BIBs come in different capacities to garrafas, but had been denied as BIB is seen by the Consejo as illegal. Also disliked was Yuste’s promotion of the prize, which was seen as distancing even further the positions of the rebels and the Consejo and Fedejerez.

The famous BIB. You can see 2 precintas have been used (foto:barramedia)

Osborne has teamed up with Premium Beers of Spain to produce a beer aged with Sherry wood. Toro is a premium artisan beer, full bodied with a deep copper colour and a strength of 5.5ᴼ. Notes of Sherry wood can be detected in both the aroma and flavour. Osborne has licensed the name “Toro” to the brewers, something it has also done with fashion items and gourmet products. It is interesting to note that this is not Osborne’s first connection with beer; they founded Cruz Campo in Sevilla in 1904 (now owned by heineken).

The 2016 Feria de la Mnazanilla will take place from 24-29 May. The mayor, Víctor Mora, various officials and the creator of this year’s poster, photographer Emilio mayolín announced the launch today. It is the first time in over 40 years that the poster has not been a painting.

Tuesday 19 April 2016

Tio Pepe en rama saca 2016 15%, González Byass

Mid to pale strawy gold with a barely perceptible trace of green, light legs.
As soon as it was poured I could smell it at the other side of the room! Fragrant,very fresh and generous with pronounced flor but not excessively bitter, there's some depth here and seriousness, which show just what a treasure these soleras are. Hints of almond and a slight trace of butter give added complexity to a gentle but very characterful Fino wine.
Dry, clean and lively, a trace of acidity and abundant but gentle flor give perfect balance to that trace of butteriness which stems from the dead yeasts at the bottom of the butt. It has a gently dry texture with traces of olive brine, almond and flor, and a very long clean finish.
This 7th release is a blend of wines from 60 selected butts in the Tio Pepe soleras in the La Constancia and Rebollo bodegas,and bottled mid April. This year's wine had more flor than usual as a mild winter with ideal average temperatures followed a cooler than average late summer and a complete absence of the warm Levante wind allowing it to remain intact on the surface. Then it burst into life again in spring ready to give zest to the wine, which it certainly did! Antonio Flores, the winemaker, describes it as "sublime, pungent and fresh." If you want to see a 50 second video of Antonio and his boss Mauricio González tasting it, go to #sueloyvelo
About 15 euros from Licores Corredera

Amontillado La Casilla 21%, Viña La Callejuela

Bright deepish amber with a hint of mahogany and copper tints, legs.
Forthcoming fresh and fragrant with notes of hazelnuts, toasted bread, wax and oak with slightly bitter marine notes from its Manzanilla past. It is quite complex and beautifully integrated without losing its wild Sanlucar streak and is very attractive now though will naturally develop in bottle.
Tangy dry and fresh, saline, hazelnut, walnut and a lean earthy very slightly rancio savoury note balanced by an attractive touch of  glycerine leaving a racy Sanlúcar style wine with a long clean finish with the lightest hint of caramel rounding it off at the end.
Made by the Blanco brothers from vines they grow around their bodega just outside Sanlúcar, this wine, which is around 20 years old, has considerable charm. It has not been on the market long and is already hard to obtain but it shows how good the Callejuela wines are. Interestingly La Casilla is based on a parcel of old wine the Blancos bought from the stocks of Rumasa when it was expropriated and they have created this small solera feeding it with their own Amontillado. The reult is superb.
About 25 euros per 50cl bottle

Monday 18 April 2016

Manzanilla Atalaya 15%, Bodegas Barón

Very pale bright silvery golden straw, legs.
Attractive nose: deeply yeasty, with light flor and some savoury notes from the cabezuela (bottom of the butt where dead yeast cells accumulate and autolise), very saline too, with minerally seaside notes and a slight seaweed note, a classic Manzanilla nose.
Gently tangy yet smooth and remarkably complex for its years, lots of damp seaside yeastiness, brine and dough all nicely balanced and with terrific length.
This remarkably good wine is one of the lower-end  Manzanillas from Barón, a Manzanilla Fina, and is aged for an average of 4 years. Nonetheless, it is full of flavour and a better Fina than many. Atalaya means watchtower and is the name of one of the albariza vineyards owned by the company in which there is an old watchtower, part of the casa de viña.
About 7 euros from La Vinotería, Jerez

Sunday 17 April 2016

Palo Cortado 18.5%, Juan Piñero

Light amber, fairly young looking, copper tints and legs.
Fairly full and broad, hints of wax, toasted nuts, light salinity, glyceric sweetness, caramel and vanilla from American oak with the slightest savoury twinge. On the surface it has the Amontillado characteristics, but the oxidative Oloroso notes are there in the background. Quite young, this is really interesting. and has the characteristics of both.
Big, generous and open textured, this is very Oloroso on the palate: plenty of volatile acidity, and up to a point the alcohol, give it an assertive quality which balances out the glycerol leaving a gentle tang. Quite spicy with traces of oak which give way to a long, clean and fairly complex finish.
This interesting and very good wine is made from grapes from the Sanlúcar pago of El Hornillo, the wine derives from selected butts of Manzanilla with only 1-2 years of crianza biológica followed by many years of crianza oxidativa in a solera with 3 criaderas. Only one saca per year.
10.91 Euros

Saturday 16 April 2016

16.4.16 Equipo Navazos 10th Anniversary Releases; Barbadillo Sells Ham Interests

In celebration of a decade of restoring the image and credibility of Sherry, Eduardo Ojeda and Jesús Barquín have released two new wines from a bodega they have not used before: Manuel Aragón (also known as Bodega Sanatorio) in Chiclana. La Bota de Palo Cortado 62 “10 Años” represents the entire content of a single butt in Aragón’s Campano bodega which contained only some 300 litres after decades without refreshment. A very small amount of this wine will be released in 50cl bottles. According to Equipo Navazos the wine, which is somewhere approaching 60 years old has considerable elegance despite its concentration and complexity.

The other wine, La Bota de Oloroso 63 “Bota No” comes from Aragón’s other bodega in the Calle Olivo and is a blend of two butts, the bota punta and number 5 from a very old solera which has seen  very little refreshment. The wine from the bota punta is reckoned to be easily 80-90 years old. This is a release of barely 900 half bottles, both releases being bottled by Manuel Aragón, whose boss, Chano Aragón, who expressed his delight that the prestigious EquipoNavazos should choose wines from his bodega to celebrate their anniversary, and for the first time wine from Chiclana. Both wines are available at Coalla at 95 euros each.

Bodegas Barbadillo has sold its Ibérico ham company Sierra de Sevilla after ten years of losses. The purchaser is a meat products company called Montesano which needs more production capacity and feels it could restore the brand. The sale includes the brand name, the slaughterhouse and the curing house located in El Pedroso (Sevilla).

Hams curing

Friday 15 April 2016

¿Fuego? No Thanks Medium Sherry 18.5%, Sánchez Romate

Quite deeply coloured, blacky brown with slight ruby glints to amber, legs.
Full and deep, quite intense and slightly savoury, cinder toffee, walnut in syrup, plenty PX there but showing its more savoury side rather than the fruity one, smells like Oloroso behind it too.
Sweet at first, but that subsides a little revealing a fair bit of PX fruit - and some of its texture - and lots of walnut and a gentle tang of acidity. Perhaps a little sweet for a Medium and certainly quite a full bodied and quite serious wine, if more like an old fashioned Cream. Nice long finish though.
This is one of the three wines released fairly recently under the "Unusual Sherries" range, which also offers a Pale Cream and a PX. What is unusual is the presentation; a Burgundy-style bottle is used yet it still has a Sherry-style stopper cork, and the cartoon labels are designed to attract younger drinkers. This particular one uses a scene from Breakfast at Tiffany's where someone offers Audrey Hepburn fuego (a light in Spanish)  and she replies in English "No thanks, medium Sherry." This wine is made from Amontillado from different soleras blended with a little PX, and the bodega recommends trying it chilled with some almonds or with ice and a slice of orange or as an accompaniment to patés, curry or sweet and sour dishes.  I haven't got round to trying it with all these, but it is certainly delicious with ice and a slice, and goes well with blue cheese.
8.50 euros

15.4.16 Mauricio González-Gordon Elected Caballero

González Byass president Mauricio González-Gordon has been elected to the Gran Orden de los Caballeros del Vino. This distinction is in recognition of his work in promoting Spanish quality wine in the United Kingdom. The order was established in 1984 by the Spanish institute of foreign trade ICEX and every year two people, either Spanish or British, are elected for their contribution to trade by secret ballot. The investiture takes place at the dinner following the annual ICEX Wines From Spain Trade Fair in London.

Meanwhile, González Byass’ bodega La Concha hosted the presentation of Jerez’ Feria del Caballo by the mayoress, Mamén Sánchez. The feria starts on the 30 April and this year it is dedicated to women.

Thursday 14 April 2016

14.4.16 Consejo Watching For BIB at Ferias

At last year’s Feria del Caballo in Jerez, Seprona, a division of the Civil Guard detected fake Manzanilla in BIB during their “operación resaca” (operation hangover!). The product was a poor imitation and its source was found and sealed off. But this year the trade has detected more fakes which illegally use the word “Manzanilla” or allude to the genuine article such as “MZ”.

"Even if it's wet and windy every day, I'm going to all the ferias in Andalucia! (Peri/diariojerez)

During the feria season, when sales of Fino and Manzanilla hit their peak, the fakers will be out in force and the trade faces two forms of fake: the sort mentioned already and the genuine Manzanilla in illegal BIB. The Consejo is worried and is alerting Feria-goers and those in charge of casetas to the risk, advising them only to buy wine in bottle and check it has a DO seal.

Casetas at the feria (

Until the Junta resolves the BIB situation it is still in legal limbo, while also awaiting a decision is the modification to the regulations approved by the Consejo, precisely to try to avoid this problem. However until the Junta comes up with a definitive decision, the BIBs will continue to be sold without DO seals and the Consejo will continue to denounce them.

Wednesday 13 April 2016

Manzanilla Fina Jarona 15%, Juan Piñero

Pale strawy gold, some depth for a comparatively young wine, legs.
Saline, sea breeze blowing over the beach, some depth here with esparto rope, flor and sourdough notes, a trace of iodine and a hint of cabezuela - the dead yeast cells at the bottom of the butt which over time can impart lots of savoury notes to the wine. Complex for its age.
Quite full, tangy with that classic Sanlucar zip but balanced by yeastiness with delicate savoury notes and the slightest trace of oily butteriness coming through. It is certainly not lacking in flavour, length or character and is a lovely wine.
Made from must supplied from the Pago El Hornillo by the Blanco brothers at Viña La Callejuela who ferment it in stainless steel tanks, the wine is then aged in solera at Juan Piñero's bodega in C/Trasbolsa for over three years. There are only three criaderas, but the  scales are run 8-10 times a year keeping the flor super fresh.This is the youngest Manzanilla he bottles. This example has been in bottle for about 18 months and has reached perfection. NB Jarona has nothing to do with a certain song from 1979 by the Knack. Actually it is Sanlucar slang for "lazy".
6.50 Euros in Spain

Tuesday 12 April 2016

Palo Cortado de la Cruz de 1767 20%, Bodegas Arfe

Bright amber with orange and gold highlights, legs.
Attractive, open nose, very refined with toasted hazelnut and almond up front with background traces of warm spice:vanilla and cinnamon, freshly sawn wood  and the gentle sweetness of raisin.
Even more refined on the palate and slightly more integrated than the nose, it is on the light side but bursting with flavour. The warm spice and wood notes persist giving it a slightly exotic character and offer a hint of bitterness and a gentle acidity which are balanced out by that trace of glyceric sweetness. It has very good length leaving a sophisticated flavour on the palate.
Only released onto the market at the end of last year and limited to 6,000 bottles per annum this comes from a bodega which uniquely specialises in Palo Cortado (although they do make small quantities of Fino, Amontillado and Oloroso, but specifically for Club Arfe). This wine has an average age of about 15 years (which could be legally stated on the label, but isn't) and comes from some 216 butts arranged as a solera of 72 butts with two criaderas. It is contract bottled en rama by Esporsil. Luis Arroyo selects his mosto at the sobretablas (newly fortified stage) from the cooperative at Chipiona and feels that since the old bodega used to have a reputation for producing good Fino due to its elevated position, it can therefore produce good Palo Cortado - which he has done from scratch. 20 years as an oenologist at Garvey has stood him in good stead, and his wine is excellent. The digital wine guide has just given it over 95 points.
42 euros at Licores Corredera, Jerez

Monday 11 April 2016

Fino 4/65 15%, Alexander Jules

Mid depth brassy gold with golden highlights, some legs.
Strong flor influence, quite saline and briny, some sour dough and bitter almond, yeasty and generous. There is a slight Sanlúcar air about this wine, what with the saltiness and strong flor, but there is a bit less minerality a hint of wax and a little more weight.
Great presence and character on the palate, fairly low acidity is compensated for by flor and there is an attractive strawy biscuit note. Very clean and well balanced, elegant and tasty with great length, this is very good.
This is a blend of wines over 9 years old from 4 selected butts from the 65 butt Fino solera in the bodega San Francisco Javier in Jerez owned by Juan Piñero. This small solera which was established in 1940 is separate from the main solera and rarely used. It has 3 criaderas, and 3 of the butts selected had lots of the yeast strain Beticus and the other had lots of the less common Montuliensis, giving extra complexity. 1,000 bottles were filled en rama in May 2015 yet interestingly the label reproduced here says April 2015. The grapes came from Macharnudo and  Añina, mostly supplied in the form of must by the Blanco brothers, and winemaking is supervised by Ramiro Ibáñez. Judging by the RE number this was bottled by Bodegas Arfe... and sealed with a 2 inch driven Diam cork.
20 euros from Cuatrogatos

Sunday 10 April 2016

10.4.16 International Sherry Week Wins Award

The Drinks International Magazine prize for Best Digital and Social Media Campaign has been awarded to the Consejo Regulador and ESOES, the creative force behind International Sherry Week. The principal objective of this very successful campaign is to promote Sherry and demonstrate its versatility with food via worldwide tastings, food matching menus and cocktails, all of which are listed on the web platform The dates for 2016 are 7-13 November.

The judges were impressed by the fact that the campaign was promoted exclusively through digital media, quite a novelty in their view for a wine with such a long history, and they admired its quality and pioneering spirit. The Consejo was naturally delighted and the director, César Saldaña and marketing director, Carmen Aumesquets, said that thanks to the campaign this iconic wine was now firmly in the XXI century having created an enthusiastic and passionate following, a true #sherryrevolution among younger #sherrylovers via this platform.

Los Montañeses

Strictly speaking these “people from the mountains” came from La Montaña or the Sierra Cantabria, but the term soon came to imply people from all over the north of Spain who came to the south when there was little future for them at home but mere subsistence, yet great possibilities in the south. The exodus began after the re-conquest of western Andalucía from the Moors by King Fernando III in the XIII century and the consequent need to repopulate the area, organised by his son Alfonso X “The Wise”. After the expulsion of the Jews in the XV century and the Moriscos (converted Moors) in the next, this was needed all the more.

With the discovery of the Americas, trade and wealth grew rapidly in both Cádiz and Sevilla and there were great opportunities for these incomers from the north in both Andalucía and the Americas. During the XVII to the XIX centuries and peaking in the XVIII large numbers of Montañeses arrived in search of their fortune. Being of an enterprising nature, a great many opened grocery shops, where possible on busy street corners, and once old enough and having saved a little money, their assistants, also montañeses, would start their own business. They sold all kinds of food and dispensed wine on draught from little barrels. The shops normally had two doors so that women could do their shopping without being annoyed by the drinkers in what were becoming taverns.

A typical tienda (shop) montanes about 1900

Important developments took place in these “shops”. Here is almost certainly the origin of the tapa: a bite of dried cod or a slice of cured pork being served on a piece of paper on top of a glass of wine. It was not till the early XX century that little plates began to be used. Here also was the birth of the tabanco and probably even the solera system, as the little barrels were regularly topped up with younger wine for consistency and freshness. This principle would make Manzanilla famous and revolutionise Sherry production.

Tabanco El Pasaje 1920s

The montañeses were hard workers and careful with money, and some invested in vineyards and bodegas, becoming famous. Many of their names are still remembered today: Juan Moreno de Mora, León de Argüeso, Manuel Fernández de Bobadilla, Manuel Misa y Bertemati (now Diez Mérito), Luis Caballero, Iñigo Ruiz de Villegas y Sánchez de Tagle (Ruiz Hermanos), Domingo Pérez Marín (La Guita) and Tomás Abad among others.

Saturday 9 April 2016

Moscatel Pasas 15%, César Florido

Deep transparent walnut mahogany to amber at the rim, legs.
Intense aroma of sun dried Moscatel grapes exactly as they smell as they arrive at the bodega after sunning, obvious sweetness with notes of Earl Grey tea, dried figs and dates and that characteristic Moscatel grapiness with a hint of citrus. On top of that there are aromas of crianza, the open texture, concentration and oxidation from long wood ageing.
Full, viscous and richly textured grape pulp beautifully balanced with gentle refreshing acidity giving an attractive tang which also balances out the oxidative and slight caramel notes. This is deeply flavoured and voluptuous, long years of ageing having added complexity and the alcoholic strength is just right. It is difficult to put down the glass.
Made from super ripe Moscatel grapes which are sunned for between two and three weeks on the open coastal sand in an area called the "pasil" during which time they lose nearly 70% of their water giving immense concentration of flavour and richness in natural sugars. Fermentation is allowed up to a point before the wine is fortified and then aged in solera for about 8 years. Moscatel de pasas is the most complex type of Moscatel and the most expensive to produce given the incredibly low yields, in a similar way to PX, but has its own really characteristic flavour. This is THE Moscatel from the best bodega, and it is in demand from other bodegas to supply their soleras.
About 17 euros

Friday 8 April 2016

8.4.16 Estévez Opts for 100% Jerez

Grupo Estévez feels sure that the future of Sherry lies with the crianza biológica wines, the Finos and Manzanillas which represent over half of total Sherry sales, not to mention Amontillados which bring an added extra. In future the wines should focus on quality, value and better use of the production of the vineyards, which would require “radical change”.

At the Valdespino bodega yesterday the company’s president, José Ramón Estévez, vice president José Antonio del Cuvillo, and technical director Eduardo Ojeda, presented the first 100% Jerez Finos, Manzanillas and Amontillados, wines fortified with spirit made from 100% Jerez grapes. Estévez firmly believe that the future of the Sherry business lies in a Denominación de Origen Calificada (DOC) where all raw materials must come from within the demarcated area.

The wines presented were Manzanillas La Bailaora and La Guita – normal and en rama – Finos Tio Mateo, Real Tesoro and Inocente, and Amontillado Tio Diego in all of which the fortification spirit came from 100% local Palomino, as did the spirit for the añada wines which are still ageing. Currently most spirit comes from Airén grapes in La Mancha.

The presentation in Jerez yesterday (foto:diariojerez)

According to the Estévez calculations 14,000 butts of mosto would need to be distilled to fortify just the Finos and Manzanillas, and that amount would use barely half of the excess mosto from the last harvest which closed with 124,000 butts of which 94,000 qualified for DO Sherry. It would be better to use that and have 100% local production than bring in spirit from elsewhere. Estévez has been encouraging the cooperatives to incorporate a distillery as they have the space and also the overproduction, and he is prepared to invest. The idea was presented to the Junta for possible inclusion in the sharing out of ITI funds.

He quite understands that the bodegas are reluctant to pay a higher price for local spirit when they can buy it cheaper elsewhere. However alcohol prices in La Mancha have fluctuated dramatically – many brands of brandy converted to spirit drinks when the price shot up due to the withdrawal of EU subsidies, and it was much cheaper to use spirit distilled from beetroot. Nonetheless he feels that the use of local spirit would give more confidence to consumers through better traceability and better returns to producers. Estévez wishes other bodegas would join his campaign and take a longer view as this is a long term project to guarantee the future and deserves a chance.

8.4.16 Williams & Humbert Launch More Añadas

A limited edition of W&H vintage Sherries has been launched following their bottling in February. The range consists of the 2009 and 2012 Finos and Olorosos from 2003, 2009 and 2012 with a 2003 Amontillado. The Oloroso 2001 has already been available for a while. This is fantastic news.

W&H have been experimenting with vintage Fino since 2001 and the 2006, the first to be marketed, has 7 years of static ageing under flor and has met with much acclaim. It is difficult to do without losing the flor, but the result is amazing, and bottled en rama. It won IWC Gold and 93 Parker points.

Don Guido Williams began setting aside wine to be aged as vintage in 1920 and the firm has kept up the tradition and still has stocks of all these vintages, which are used by the Consejo Regulador as reference points in assessing the age of wines.

Thursday 7 April 2016

La Guita Expect to Sell 680,000 Half Bottles at Feria

The legendary Feria de Abril in Sevilla (also known as el Real) kicks of on the 12th after the switching-on of 350,000 light bulbs and an evening of fried fish. There will be more food and flamenco than you can shake a stick at and huge amounts of Sherry will be drunk. La Guita alone expect to sell over 680,000 half bottles, being represented in 60% of the 1,047 casetas. In order to cope with all this, they have a nearby store of 6,000 square metres and 150 staff. They will also be a promotional campaign under the slogan "La Feria es mi Casa".

7.4.16 The “Sherry Revolution” to Visit Madrid

Capitalising on the growing interest in Sherry, there is to be a huge public tasting called Feria de Vinos, Jerez del Siglo XXI at the Lavinia shop in Calle José Ortega y Gasset, 16, Madrid on 8 April between 17.00 and 21.00. More than 70 brands of Sherry will be available from over 15 bodegas and oenologists and experts will be on hand to explain the wines. This event is the highlight of a promotional campaign in the Lavinia shops during the month of April, and tickets are a very reasonable 10 euros.

Vine Prunings Offer Natural Wine Preservative

Researchers at the viticultural research station at Rancho de la Merced in Jerez have proved that Vineatrol, an extract from the shoots and leaves pruned from vines, can replace sulphur dioxide (SO2) as a preservative in wine.

SO2 has been used for centuries in virtually all wines (and many foods) for its antioxidant and antimicrobial properties, but many people feel it causes allergic reactions despite proof that barely 1% of the population are likely to be affected. Wines containing over 10 milligrams per litre (which is nearly every wine) must put “Contains Sulphites” on the label, even if that SO2 is a natural result of fermentation by yeast and not added. In any case use of SO2 is strictly controlled by law.

The lead researcher in this project, Emma Cantos Villar, says that the scientific community is looking for an alternative to SO2 and Vineatrol seems to do the job without affecting aromas or flavours in wine, while SO2 can occasionally give a slight sulphury aroma like a struck match. This extract is rich in polyphenols called stilbenes which have good antioxidant and antimicrobial properties. Other studies have shown that they also have health benefits with properties which inhibit cancer and diseases of the cardiovascular and nervous systems among others. It can even lower bad cholesterol.

Wednesday 6 April 2016

6.4.16 I Muestra del Fino y la Manzanilla

To get people into the mood for the huge quantities of Fino and Manzanilla they will be drinking during the feria season, Beltrán Domecq last night gave a presentation on these complex, diverse and interesting wines at the Museo de Carruajes (coach museum) in Jerez. Sponsored by the newspaper ABC, Williams & Humbert, Barbadillo, La Guita, Barón and Delgado Zuleta participated with wine while Biga bakeries and Grupo TGT the cheese specialists and Señoria de Montanera the ham specialists also participated. The event attracted  was a large turnout of bodega and horeca people.

Bodegas: Cota 45 Ramiro Ibáñez

Quite a local legend in Sanlúcar, Ramiro Ibáñez Espinar, is a restless and talented winemaker who, with experience in Bordeaux and Australia as well as his native Sanlúcar, runs a winemakeing consultancy under the name GL Cero used by various bodegas in the Marco de Jerez. He is s hugely enthusiastic about the potential of albariza soil and the recovery of traditional local grape varieties, many of which are all but lost, and which are no longer permitted in the Consejo regulations. He makes all sorts of interesting wines to demonstrate the terroir and personality of each vineyard and grape variety without letting too much flor obscure it.

Ramiro with his Encruzijado (foto:verema)

Ramiro was a founder member of Manifiesto 119, a group of like-minded local wine producers who want to experiment with the old varieties and winemaking techniques, make unfortified Sherry and give more importance to the grapes and the vineyard, not to mention restoring casas de viña. They chose this name after the 119 grape varieties (40 of them in Cádiz) catalogued in Andalucía in 1807 by the first Spanish ampelographer (one who studies grape varieties), Simón de Rojas Clemente. Like Ramiro the group makes table wines as well as Sherry, and while few of them carry the DO they are still sought after and hard to obtain due to the small quantities made.

A typical experimental wine at Cota 45 (foto:verema)

As a consultant winemaker he made two vintages of Exceptional Harvest for Ximénez Spínola, worked with Primitivo Collantes on their Fino Arroyuelo, Viña la Callejuela with their 2012 vintage Manzanilla, and Juan Piñero with his Camborio and Maruja. He also made a Tintilla for Hacienda La Parrilla Alta. It was Ramiro who set up the Mayeteria Sanluqueña, a group of small growers whom he encouraged to make their own wine rather than just sell grapes for little profit. In his own right, and occasionally with others like Armando Guerra, he is busy making experimental wines, always grown in and expressing as far as possible his beloved albariza soil. Along with another maverick winemaker, Willy Perez, he wrote a book "Las Añadas en el Marco de Jerez". Here are some of the projects:

Pitijopos Volume I is a set of 6 wines all barrel fermented Palomino from 2014 but from 6 different vineyards. Forthcoming sets will show similar differences from different vineyards. Another project is Ube, old vine Palomino from different clones fermented in an old Manzanilla butt without flor. Then there is Pandorga, a PX from Carrascal made the old way, sunned and fermented but not fortified, and sold at a year old. Precede is a lovely Palomino fermented and aged in Sherry butts for 36 months without flor. Encrucijado is a Palo Cortado made from about 50% Palomino and 5 other traditional varieties fermented in butt where it ages for 10 months under flor and 10 oxidatively, depending on the vintage. It is bottled at a natural strength of 15.5%. The first release of Zerej, made in conjunction with Armando Guerra Monge of Guerrita fame, consists of 120 sets of 4 magnums showing the effect of flor from mosto fermented in butts to 2 year old Manzanilla to 11 year old Manzanilla Pasada to an 18 year old Amontillado. Nearly all of these are already sold out, and there are waiting lists.

His consultancy work provided him with sufficient resources to establish his own bodega in 2015. It is tiny at barely 60 square metres, but beautifully situated on the banks of the Guadalquivir in the Bajo de Guía, looking out over the river towards the Coto Doñana, open to all the breezes. He converted an old boat repair workshop into a bodega with the usual albero floor, room to press grapes and store 25 butts propped up on the traditional local limestone (roca ostionera) which is full of fossilised oyster shells. He calls it his “Albarizatorio” (albariza laboratory). Cota 45 refers to the 45 metre altitude above sea level of some of the best albariza.

Tuesday 5 April 2016

5.4.16 Award for International Sherry Week; Tio Pepe en rama 2016

International Sherry Week has won the Drinks International award for Best Digital and Social Media Campaign. This highly innovative platform has brought people all over the world together with tastings, food matching and cocktail events (among many others) attracting a much needed younger audience to the magic of Sherry. This year’s event will take place 7-13 November on and is not to be missed.

The new release is now available. Antonio Flores, chief oenologist at González Byass has described it as “sublime, pungent, fresh and very much in the style of traditional Tio Pepe.” Slightly unusual weather conditions have allowed the flor to flourish throughout the year, and the wine was selected from 60 butts, but as it is shipped to 19 markets there isn’t a lot to go around so order yours now.