Thursday, 30 June 2016

30.6.16 Jerez Girl Wins Masterchef; Dia de la Manzanilla

Virginia Naranjo (39), who had entered the fourth edition of the competition with her twin sister, has won the competition. The prizewinning menu was all based on Jerez or Sherry. Her prize is 10,000 euros, a course at the Basque Culinary Centre and a book publishing deal. Her 15 year old daughter entered her for the show. Now Virginia is thinking about opening something in Jerez but will take her time.

Sanlúcar’s Dia de la Manzanilla (actually three days) starts today with free tastings and visits to bodegas Barbadillo, La Cigarrera, Covisan, Delgado Zuleta, Argüeso, La Gitana and La Guita. On Saturday there will be a walk round the city, “un paseo por la Manzanilla” with sights, stories and anecdotes about Manzanilla, to really get the feel of it and its origins. Separately, the famous beach horse races have been declared Patrimony of Humanity.

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

29.6.16 More Medals for Sherry; Lustau Appoint New Oenologist; Goya XL

The XXII edition of the Premios Mezquita which takes place annually in Córdoba has rewarded the Sherry bodegas with lots of medals.  Diez Mérito won a Mezquita Grand Gold for Fino Imperial and Gold for the PX VORS while the firm’s Bertola won gold for the PX, Palo Cortado, Amontillado, Cream and Oloroso, all 12 years old. González Byass also won gold for the Noé, Amontillado del Duque and Tio Pepe en Rama. Meanwhile the Jerez Cooperative La Angustias won gold for its Fino Mira la Mar and silver for the Oloroso, PX and Cream from the same range. Their Romerito range won silver for the Oloroso, Cream and Medium and their excellent Fino sin Pecado also won silver.

At another competition, the Concurso Internacional de Vinos de Atlántico, Bertola PX 12 years old, while at yet another, the Akatavino Top Ten, included 98.5 for Williams & Humbert’s Jalifa and 96 for Dos Cortados. González Byass scored 94 for their Tintilla de Rota, 97.5 for Cuatro Palmas and Tres Palmas. Delgado Zuleta scored 98 for Amontillado Quo Vadis.

After the immensely sad loss of oenologist Manuel Lozano, Lustau have appointed Sergio Martínez in his place. Sergio has already worked for the firm for 13 years and spent 10 of them working daily alongside “Manolo”. Lustau’s director general, Luis Luengo, said that “Sergio has our full support in leading the team. There is no one better to maintain our style and bring new ideas to the project.”

Sergio was born in San Fernando (Cádiz) and spent his childhood among the towns of Cádiz Bay. While passionate about nature, the sea the marvellous local beaches and animals he is also passionate about Sherry and says his favourite style is Amontillado “for its complexity, subtle nuances and elegance thanks to both biological and oxidative ageing which makes it unique.”

Bodegas Delgado Zuleta have released a new saca of their superb Manzanilla Goya XL. It has already received 93 Parker points and gold at the International Wine Challenge and Best Manzanilla. This wine is released extremely rarely, in fact this is only the third ever saca. It comes from an exhaustive selection from 10 butts from the La Goya Solera by oenologist Salvador Real, is over ten years old and bottled en rama. It is an outstanding wine, a true classic, get it if you can. Now.

Salvador Real (R) at the Madrid presentation

29.6.16 Very High Points for Williams & Humbert

Akatavino Guia de Vinos Xtreme has scored its top ten Sweet and fortified wines 2016 and no fewer than two are from Williams & Humbert. Amontillado Solera Especial Jalifa VORS came top with an amazing score of 98.5 points, closely followed by Dos Cortados Solera Especial VOS with 96 points. Akatavino is run by professional sommeliers and there are 35 members of the tasting panel who worked their way through 3,000 wines.

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Palo Cortado Jauna 20%, Bodegas Garvey

Bright transparent coppery mahogany to amber at the rim with an almost imperceptible trace of green. legs.
Delightful, open and clean with some forthcoming wood notes: old oak butts with traces of old furniture and astringency followed by almond and walnut with a little volatile acidity then a hint of turrón and a trace of glycerol doing their best to balance things. Serious and old yet charming.
Some Palos Cortados lean towards the Amontillado and others towards the Oloroso. This is one of the former. It is elegant and polished with the wood and nut notes roughly balanced, and it is dry, with only just enough glycerine to cover the bones, but what classic bones; not over tannic, it has terrific length and leaves a feeeling of great satisfaction.
This lovely old wine comes from a solera established by the firm's founder William Garvey Power in 1817 and is one of the wines in the firm's Sacristia range. There is no question that it is very old  but there is no VOS or VORS label on the bottle. Given the parlous state Garvey is in, it is probably simply not worth their while to pursue the qualification. But it is worth our while to seek out these excellent wines. Do be careful though; there are some much higher prices online.
A very reasonable 26.40 euros from Licores Corredera

Monday, 27 June 2016

27.6.16 Ex Pedro Romero Director Charged with Fraud

Only his initials E.H.A. have been released but he is in big trouble for defrauding Hacienda, the Spanish tax authority, of 451,622.68 euros by underpaying tax on alcohol in 2009. He also faces a potential 15 months in prison. The tax must be declared and paid monthly, and apparently the staff was told to declare much lower amounts than were in fact leaving the premises. It seems that this continued after 2009, and a further 261,060.99 euros was defrauded in 2010, but E.H.A. no longer worked there.

According to the authorities the bodega’s books showed that firstly sales far outweighed invoicing (demonstrating cash sales without invoice and therefore avoidance of tax), and secondly that these sales were much greater than the alcohol tax which was being declared. The judge said that this was “deliberate and fraudulent” bearing in mind that the bodega had the means to pay the tax since it is included in the sale price of the wine, but this money was “obviously used for other purposes.”

All this only recalls to mind the sad demise of a once great bodega which was struggling to finance its takeover of Gaspar Florido and thus insolvent led to the suicide of its owner, Pedro Romero Candón in 2014.

Sunday, 26 June 2016

Manzanilla Los Caireles 15%, Bodegas Portales Pérez

Bright golden straw with golden glints, legs. 
Fairly pungent, saline with distinct dry scrub notes of flor and a savoury hint, slightest trace of fruit and dried flowers, with a doughy yeasty touch. A distinctively sanluqueño nose.
Crisp, full, fresh and saline, very maritime with a gentle tang, dry, yeasty and zippy with a light clean and decently long finish. This is good wine.
All the wines from the Portales  Pérez family, now in its fifth generation, come under the Los Caireles umbrella. The 300 butts of Manzanilla are housed in a separate, very old and more suitably humid bodega in the Barrio Bajo while the 500 butts of other wines live in the San Antonio bodega. All their wines are produced in the artisan way and undergo minimal treatments, and the Manzanilla is about 5 years old. Unusually for Sanlucar, there are only two criaderas feeding the solera, which is probably because of the confined space in the XVI century bodega.
Around 5.50 euros

Saturday, 25 June 2016


52% of British voters have done the unthinkable and given our EU friends a major slap in the face, and there now begins a long period of uncertainty for all of us. The Conservative party has a great deal to answer for. The referendum campaign was badly fought on both sides so the electorate voted according to their own often blinkered and ignorant view blaming all our woes on the EU. 

Immigration, widely misunderstood and whipped up by the gutter press, is what probably sealed the Remain camp’s fate. One of the central EU tenets is the free movement of people, and if a member state’s economy is less healthy, its citizens can go elsewhere to find work, and pay taxes. The British economy is healthy and has naturally attracted people, but the British are at equal liberty to work in Europe in similar circumstances. However Britain’s “Island Race” mentality often doesn’t get it.

But not all of Britain wanted to leave the EU. Northern Ireland and Scotland have always embraced its ideals and voted strongly to remain, as did London. I am from Scotland’s capital, Edinburgh, which is home to some 30,000 Spaniards, among other EU nationalities who have always been welcome and contributed much to the city and its cosmopolitan atmosphere, but now they are worried that they are suddenly no longer welcome, and that is an uncomfortable feeling. The Scottish Government, which has clearly stated that they are welcome, has already started talks to do all it can to remain in the EU, which may require an independence vote. That would break up the UK, the last thing the Conservative party wants, but you reap what you sow.

To misquote Monty Python, “What has the EU done for us?” A lot, actually. Europe has provided decades of peace, nearly 60% of our trade, huge infrastructure investment, security, food and drink standards, trade, workplace and environmental protection and much, much more. It has fostered a more global outlook and friendship, cultural exchange and trust among member states and their people. But it is not perfect, realistically it can’t be; there is an inevitably large bureaucracy and much reform is needed, but the good outweighs the bad, and the only way it can be reformed is from within.

I fervently hope that an independent Scotland can somehow remain, sharing and contributing to the European ideal with our friends on the continent, and continuing to ship Sherry without any new English taxes.

Cream Micaela 17%, Bodegas Barón

Deeply coloured walnut brown through mahogany to amber at the rim, legs.
Attractive, fairly fruity, raisiny PX and caramel aromas followed by savoury hints of walnut and fairly old Oloroso, but overall it has a fresh, gently fruity and tangy aroma with some seriousness behind and a notable PX texture.
A nicely balanced blend,generously flavoured and not excessively sweet, and with a soft texture and good Oloroso flavour. What a Cream Sherry should be. There is just a trace of salinity betraying its sanluqueño roots, but that just adds to its freshness and vitality. Good length.
This is a very good Cream Sherry from Sanlúcar. It is aged for about five years as a blend and is part of the well-priced and well-made Micaela range from Barón. I feel Cream Sherries are overlooked because everyone wants more fashionable dry Sherry, but this is perfect for sipping slightly chilled with some torta malagueña while watching a late night film.
About 12 euros from La Casa del Jerez

Moscatel Dorado Playa Regla 17%, José Mellado Martín

Deep amber with coppery highlights towards a golden rim, legs.
Lots of gently tangy Moscatel fruit with notes of overripeness and (fairly brief) barrel ageing. There are slight hints of tea, quince jelly and of course, raisin, yet this doesn't detract from the freshness.
Soft sweet and smooth, still with that gentle tang and a little body too. Generous and easy going it doesn't cloy and has good length leaving a lingering Moscatel flavour. Needs to be chilled.
This is the entry level Moscatel from the other private bodega in Chipiona (there is also a cooperative). Easy going pleasure.
About 5 euros

25.6.16 Consejo Worried at Potential Effect of Brexit; GB Buys Bodega in Chile

Britain is one of most important markets for Jerez. Only last year it imported 100,000 hectolitres of Sherry earning the bodegas 25 million euros, not to mention 15,000 hectolitres of brandy, so not a market the Jerezanos would want to lose, but Britain’s decision to leave the EU could have important effects.  Yesterday César Saldaña openly expressed the Consejo’s worry at the change in circumstances of the most important market for Sherry. “We can’t see a positive side to this and there will surely be effects. At this stage we don’t know precisely what they will be, so all we can do is to wait and see what happens, but it is certainly bad news.”

Cesar Saldana

“Whatever happens, the UK will continue to be a very important market for our products. In recent years the image of Sherry has improved and we don’t want to see that spoiled by increases on duties which could be imposed now that the UK is outside the EU. We’ll just have to wait and see. Any increased taxation could lead to falling sales and thus more unemployment.” While things could become more difficult he felt that free trade would probably continue, the status and movement of goods shouldn’t change, nor the legal apparatus which recognises the Denominación de Origen which took so long to achieve. But there is a worry that the reduced value of the pound will have a negative effect on pricing in the UK.

Francisco Guerrero, president of the growers’ body Asevi-Asaja said that “for the moment we don’t know how Brexit will affect us since everything is up in the air, but import duties are bound to go up and that will have direct repercussions on exporters at a time when sales were edging upwards. All the current legislation will probably change, but there is nothing we can do but wait and see.”

Rafael del Rey of the Observatorio Español del Mercado del Vino (OEMV) believes, on the other hand, that there shouldn’t be too much of an impact. He admits that there will probably be monetary effects in the short term which could hit exports, but things should even out. Who knows?

One of the Veramonte bodegas

González Byass has bought a majority shareholding in the Chilean bodega Veramonte, the first bodega they have bought outside Spain. Veramonte comes with 600 hectares of vineyard in Colchagua, Casablanca and Apalta and leading brand names like Neyen, Primus, Ritual and Veramonte. The wines are sold in 37 countries especially the United States, and GB believe that this acquisition can help with their distribution there.

Friday, 24 June 2016

Manzanilla Deliciosa en rama 15% Primavera 16, Valdespino

Full bright strawy gold, light legs.
Savoury yeastiness, softer and less "wild" than La Guita with slightly more muted flor, but has a certain depth from the cabezuela and trace oxidation, a touch softer and more graceful perhaps, but just as sophisticated. Saline bread dough and seaside, a trace of quince jelly, all in perfect harmony.
A gentle tang of acidity carries through the fairly full and polished saline, yeasty, almondy, savoury character. It really comes out when not over chilled and rolled round the mouth, then lingers cleanly for a long time while you wonder why you didn't buy a second bottle.
This excellent wine is the limited edition spring 2016 saca made from a selection of butts by Maribel Estévez from Miraflores grapes and aged for 6-7 years at the La Guita bodegas in Calle Misericordia. The solera has 6 criaderas and a solera. It is very different from La Guita en Rama but every bit as Sanluqueño, and just shows how varied the wines can be yet still have that classic character of their origin.
8.90 euros per half bottle from Coalla Gourmet

Thursday, 23 June 2016

23.6.16 Counter Offer for Garvey; Tio Pepe and the Guadalete; Possible Strike?

Just when Lucio Tan’s deal to purchase Garvey and Zoilo Ruiz Mateos required only signatures, Andrew Tan, who recently bought the old Domecq business, now Fundador, has presented a last minute offer. This offer is understood to be better than that of Lucio Tan which was for between 20-25 million euros, so we will now have to wait longer to find out the fate of Garvey, but it is certainly unusual to have people fighting over the purchase of a Sherry bodega. While they share a surname, these entrepreneurs and brandy magnates from the Philippines are not related.

The river Guadalete was used by the Phoenicians to transport goods. These great traders exported agricultural produce from the Marco de Jerez to their cities of Sidon and Tiro. Later, from the XVI century, the Sherry exporters did the same. Butts of wine were loaded onto carts in Jerez and taken to El Portal, the nearest point of the river to Jerez, and thence downstream to the coast at El Puerto de Santa María.  

It was backbreaking work, and in homage to this cultural and environmental history, on Tuesday González Byass staged “Travesía Tio Pepe Guadalete 2016”. Guests could follow this ancient route in a motorised inflatable dinghy and enjoy a glass of Sherry at each stop. At the end of the trip there was a lunch at El Faro. The journey began and ended in El Puerto with experts on hand explaining historical and environmental details such as the Trocadero, the wine quay and the railway.

Over time the river has silted up limiting its commercial use and leading to abandonment, and so it has become a bit of a wildlife reserve, and there are efforts underway to protect and enhance it. Towards the Bay of Cádiz there are old salt pans and the Castle of Doña Blanca. It is said that here, Pedro I “The Cruel” had his wife, Doña Blanca de Borbón murdered. Here also are important archaeological remains with evidence of wine production.

This initiative could have great commercial potential on a consistent basis rather than just a one-off annual event, and some of the money raised could go towards environmental conservation.

Fedejerez is meeting the vineyard unions today in the hope of preventing a possible strike scheduled for September, which would affect the end of the harvest and subsequent vineyard operations. Union sources say they are hopeful of better mutual understanding over pay after previous meetings proved fruitless, and have been cultivating political support stressing the importance of the vineyards to the local economy.

Workers say the bodegas want to reduce wages and keep them on temporary contracts, neither of which is conducive to stable employment. Five years ago they agreed to some hard bargaining to help keep the bodegas going during the crisis and themselves in a job, but now they say that the bodegas have not only survived but become stronger if their results and press releases are to be believed.

23.6.16 World's Best Wine List 2016

The World of Fine Wine magazine has published the winner of the World’s Best Wine Lists 2016, and the winner is the Robuchon du Dôme Restaurant at the Hotel Lisboa in Macau. Here, one can find four Michelin starred restaurants (out of the fourteen!) under one roof and a wine list to match. There are over 16,000 wines and the list runs to 585 pages. One could say it is completely over the top – you could drink a whole bottle just reading through the list - but they do have outstanding wines; from XVIII century Madeira to 35 versions of Dom Pérignon, and much more.

Naturally I went straight to the Sherry page – well pages – and was impressed. There are a couple of common mistakes: Montilla-Moriles wines included under “Sherry” (They more than deserve their own heading), and solera and vintage dates muddled giving some very odd pricing. For example González Byass Solera 1847 (RRP 6.95€) is more than three times the price of the GB Añada 1966 and the Emilio Hidalgo Santa Ana PX Solera 1861 (RRP 250€) is priced at 788€. But never mind, there are 40 Sherries listed and here we find all the Barbadillo Reliquias, Marqués del Mérito’s long disappeared Fino Primo Pepe, Equipo Navazos, the top wines of Valdespino, Tradición, Maestro Sierra, Emilio Hidalgo and Sandeman.

What really caught my eye was the list of seven Williams & Humbert Añada Olorosos from 1937, 1940, 1945, 1960, 1965, 1967 and 1980, and two Palos Cortados from 1955 and 1962 (this priced very cheaply at only 177€). You don’t find a range like that in many restaurants.

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Bodegas: Manuel Guerrero y Cia./A Parra Guerrero

Pedro Guerrero Castro was born in Grazalema in 1831 into a family working for the Real Fábrica de Paños (Royal cloth factory), but as that market declined they worked increasingly with wine and spirits. At the time the state was selling off Church property and Pedro’s father, José Guerrero Ruiz bought some fincas cheaply in the Jerez area.

Where it all began: Finca el Colmenar in Grazalema

In 1838 the family moved to Jerez. Pedro’s younger brother Manuel was barely two years old and was carried Jerez in one pannier of a donkey, counterbalanced by a stone in the other. Pedro grew up in Jerez and became a doctor in 1855, but became so involved in the growing family business, that he only had time to treat members of the workforce who couldn’t afford a doctor.

Pedro married María de la Paz Lozano Jiménez and they had nine children. He sent his younger brothers to the agriculture school in Madrid and then on an international tour so they could learn about the latest advances and appliances. Meanwhile he set about buying more land, ending up farming cork, olives, corn, oranges, hay and of course grapes. Modern stable blocks were built for the Andalusian horses, and pigsties and pens for pigs which got acorns from their forest. The Guerrero Hermanos also had sheep, goats, mules, donkeys and hundreds of cows.

Their most outstanding achievement was the horse breeding, however. They achieved great fame, winning all sorts of prizes and races with the finest horses in Spain. Pedro was also involved in local politics and was awarded a knighthood of the Order of Isabel the Catholic. All this was on top of the winegrowing business, and many vineyards were planted which supplied the soleras, some of which they had brought from Grazalema. They were Sherry growers, almacenistas and exporters with bodegas in the Calle Vid.

Pedro died in 1904, and it was his son, Manuel Guerrero y Lozano, born in Jerez in 1872, who continued the business. Manuel married Dolores González Gordon and lived with their five children in the Calle Corredera, 51, a lovely house in the barrio San Miguel with a central patio.

Their sons Ramón (1924-2012) and Manuel Guerrero González took over the business when their father died in 1955. At some point they became suppliers to the Spanish royal household, and in the 1960s entertained the British Princess Mary.  The bodega often used the image of the horse and always a horseshoe in its labels and publicity, as horses were such a family passion.

Ramón continued with the business after his brother’s death. After Pedro’s death however, the driving force was lost and things slowly went downhill - though less so with the horses. The properties in Grazalema were sold and the bodega was given to María Guerrero de Castro, Pedro’s sister, bu now very old, to manage and she passed it on to her nephew, Antonio Parra Guerrero, born in 1901 and last in that branch of the family, who ran it successfully under his own name  till his death in 1977 when it closed down. Oddly the RE (bottler registration numbers) are different for Manuel Guerrero and Parra Guerrero.

Antonio Parra Guerrero

Guerrero Sherry brands included:
Manzanilla La Jaca Andaluza, Amontillado Solito, Pedro Ximénez Viejísimo, Preferido, Brandy Viejísimo ganador

Parra Guerrero Sherry brands included:
Fino Patrimonio, Oloroso Rey Sol, Amontillado los Mellizos, India Cream, Vino de la Reconquista, Tres Cortados 1840

The firm also had the oldest brandy soleras in Jerez, dating from the late XVIII century and originally distilled at the family finca “El Colmenar” (the beehive) in Grazalema (the source of the river Guadalete).
Reconquista solera 1768 and Rey Sol solera Antiquísima

22.6.16 Mildew Update; Award for Sherry Cellar-masters

The vineyards closer to Jerez, which make up the majority, appear to have the situation under control. However, as vineyards get closer to the coast where humidity is higher, things get worse. The fungus has been observed in Añina, Las Tablas and Balbaína, but the damage is not extensive, however the area from Trebujena along the coast via Sanlúcar to Chipiona has suffered at least 50% losses and in some cases more. This is the worst mildew outbreak for years.

The heavy rainfall in May which came so late that it wasn’t really expected, led some growers to use less preventive treatment. Then the rain arrived at a critical time for the vine – flowering – and worse still, because of high temperatures, the humidity was such that the mildew spread virulently. It has thus affected not just the leaves and berries, but the plant stems as well in some cases, which augurs badly for next year’s harvest, and work is underway to minimise this. The Junta is encouraging those growers who do not have insurance to get it.

It has not been all bad. Last year was a very dry one, and the heavy rain has at least topped up underground water reserves. This could lead to higher yields which could mitigate – at least to some extent – the losses to mildew, but for the moment the result of the 2016 harvest is anyone’s guess.

On Monday in Madrid Spain’s foremost gastronomic website ( held its first award ceremony, I Premios Gastroactitud Compromiso con la Tierra, to reward the usually unknown or little-known people who work hard to produce the best food and drink. A long list of producers who work closely with the land won awards, but there was a special award for the capataces of Jerez in recognition of them all, past and present, and their amazing skills.

Pepe receives the award from chef Andoni Luis Aduriz of Restaurante Mugaritz

Pepe Blandino of Bodegas Tradición accepted the award on their behalf. He has spent 53 years in the Sherry bodegas, most of them at Domecq. His father was an arrumbador, his grandfather a cooper and his son is a capataz. Pepe is living proof of the tradition of passing on skills down through the family. He said “It is a great honour to receive this recognition of the work we do in the bodegas. Personally, I am very proud to receive it on behalf of my colleagues.”

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Amontillado Fossi 17.5%, Primitivo Collantes

Bright amber tinted gold, legs.
Light yet elegant, complex and attractive, still with dry and slightly bitter notes of flor and a touch of salinity yet with delicate lightly toasted bread, hazelnut and almond and a faint background sweetness reminiscent of turrón which balances it up perfectly. Very much an Amontillado Fino, and a good one - of which there are not enough around.
Fairly crisp thanks to its Fino origins, but the sweeter, nuttier element soon comes through balancing perfectly with the nicely judged acidity giving a vivatious wine with good length which is delightful on its own and perfect for food.
This is a lovely wine with about 5 years under flor and a further 10 ageing oxidatively. It seems younger than that but all the more delicious for it, and it is a shame wines such as this must be labelled either as Amontillado or Fino, it is such an attractive style. However the label in the picture below uses the term "Amontillado Fino" but the bottle I am tasting calls itself "Amontillado" an old picture on the firm's website perhaps. The wine might come from Chiclana, and cannot therefore be labelled as Sherry, but is the equal of many which can - especially at the price. The albariza soils and the skilled hand of Ramiro Ibáñez as consultant oenologist might have something to do with it.
8.00 euros

The Palomino Grape

There is probably no other grape which is so neutral and yet which is capable of producing such a majestic wine as Sherry. Perhaps it is precisely that neutrality which provides the blank canvas on which the brushstrokes of soil, climate, yeast and oxidation can complete the masterpiece.

Palomino is by far the most important Sherry grape, accounting for over 95% of vine plantings in the Marco de Jerez. As a plant it offers moderate vigour, good yields with large bunches of thin-skinned spherical grapes and moderate drought resistance, but is sensitive to termites and berry moth as well as cryptogamic attacks such as mildew. It is also well adapted to chalky soils and has good disease resistance. It is suitable for both the traditional vara y pulgar and the more modern Guyot training on wires, ideal for mechanical harvesting. As a wine it is light and pale with low acidity, moderate alcohol, usually around 12 degrees, and is slightly fruity with gentle herbaceous aromas.

Bunches of Palomino ready for harvest

There are two principal clones: Palomino de Jerez and Palomino Fino which originated in Sanlucar. The latter is preferred for its lower acidity, better flowering, yield and reliability, and has thus almost completely replaced the former. Palomino itself has all but completely replaced the many other varieties which once grew here. It has a marvellous capacity to convey terroir notes such as saltiness or minerality to the wine, and its low acidity is compensated for by bitter notes from flor or volatile acidity in older wines. In order to resist Phylloxera, all the vines are grafted, and the preferred American rootstocks are crossings of V. Riparia and V. Berlandieri which can tolerate soils high in calcium such as Richter 161-49.

Palomino in its spiritual home: albariza

The name Palomino originated with Fernán Yáñez Palomino, one of the knights who helped Alfonso X defeat the Moors in the XIII century, and who stayed on in the area growing vines to which he gave his name. Centuries later his descendants founded the famous bodega Palomino & Vergara. According to an old saying a beloved child has many names, and Palomino is evidently much loved as the following are only some: Listán, Orgazuela (sometimes Horgazuela), Albán, Palomino de Chipiona, Temprana and Palomino del Pinchito – and these only in the Marco de Jerez. The grape also grows in the Canary Islands and Castilla y León, but 95% of it is to be found in Jerez.

Palomino ready for the press

So here’s to Palomino, without which we would be in the unthinkable position of having no Finos, Manzanillas, Amontillados, Palos Cortados or Olorosos, not to mention some of the outstanding table wines now produced in the area.

Monday, 20 June 2016

Harveys Fine Old Amontillado VORS 19%, Harveys

Brigt amber with coppery highlights to a trace of green at the rim, legs.
Quite intense yet very refined and very pure Amontillado with lots of nuts, toasted notes from the oak as well as aromas of the wood itself. The nose really grows and the wine is old enough for all its complexities to have harmonised into a bouquet. Very fine.
Fuller-bodied than the colour would suggest, it is good and dry but there is enough glycerine to round it off. For its age the wine is not particularly tannic, but it is elegant. A serious wine, with delicious and complex oak and nut flavours and a hint of volatile acidity which linger on the palate for ages.
Winner of the 2016 International Wine Challenge Champion's Trophy and best wine in the show, this excellent wine comes from Macharnudo grapes and is aged in a 1904 solera nurtured by oenologist Manuel José Valcárcel. It is great to see Harveys better Sherries out there as their VORS are superb. It is not all Bristol Cream! Let's hope Fundador's new owners make the most of the Sherries.
Around £ 30 per 50 cl bottle

Sunday, 19 June 2016

Manzanilla Solear en rama Primavera 2016 15%, Barbadillo

Deepish brassy straw with golden highlights, legs.
Pronounced deep saline dry scrub and dried flowers from the flor with notes of brine and dough all beautifully balanced with the flor bitterness, a trace of almond and perhaps a trace of wax. A really classic "punzante" (pungent) Manzanilla nose with class.
Full, open, dry and very tasty. It has a gentle tang of acidity which drives the yeasty, bitter, briny - almost salty - flavour which is followed by trace oxidation and cabezuela giving real depth and complexity and terrific length. 
This is a delicious wine right now and I can't wait to taste it again in a year or two's time. It was bottled in March 2016 and Montse Molina, the oenologist, said "it is a very powerful wine with great aromatic complexity and pronounced yeast and saline notes, while on the palate it is full with a silky start which develops in bitterness and has great length. The wine was selected from the bodega El Potro where the intermediate soleras are stored, between Manzanilla Solear and Amontillado Principe". Only 2,500 half bottles were filled. The winter 15/16 was cold giving a solid but very flavourful, classic wine of about 9 years of age: Manzanilla Pasada.
7.50 euros per half bottle from Licores Corredera

Saturday, 18 June 2016

Sherry’s Influence on Shakespeare and Shakespeare’s Influence on Sherry

In the latest in Williams & Humbert’s Ciclo de Conferencias held at the bodega, and on the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, local academic and all round Jerezano, José Luis Jiménez gave an account of “Sherry in Shakespeare’s Day”, introduced by bodega director, Jesús Medina.

Sherry makes the mind wise, lively and inventive, and the heart daring. These are, among others, the effects a good jug of Sherry had on Shakespeare who, with good reason is considered to be the wine’s first publicist. He praised its goodness as much in his works –mentioning it more than once in no fewer than eight of them – as in his revelries when he drank it with his friends in the taverns of London. The Boar’s Head or the Mermaid bore witness to the lively get-togethers of the writer with his contemporaries like Christopher Marlowe and Ben Johnson who also extolled the virtues of Sherry.

Jose Luis Jimenez (R) and Jesus Medina

There can be no doubting Shakespeare’s contribution to the promotion of the wine of Jerez, and the city has dedicated a street name to him and a monument, at which every year there is homage paid to the man who did more to promote Sherry than anyone.

The desire to analyse the influence of Sherry on English society since the end of the Middle-Ages is what brought José Luis Jiménez to the subject in hand and he availed the audience of his research, bringing documents conserved in the Municipal Library of Jerez. Among legal protocols from the XV and XVI centuries are commercial transactions for the export of Sherry to places like Plymouth and Bristol in England or Galway in Ireland, showing that there were already British intermediaries based in Jerez. Then there was Sir Francis Drake’s raid on Cádiz by which he supplied the English taverns with 2,900 butts of stolen Sherry.

It is apt for the lecture to take place at Williams & Humbert, a firm founded in 1877 by two Englishmen and with two excellent brands of Sherry which pay homage to Shakespeare: “A Winter’s Tale” and “As You Like It”. The bodega was keen to pay this homage in a year which saw the 400th anniversary of the death of not only Shakespeare but also of Spain’s greatest writer, Miguel de Cervantes, author of the wonderful “Don Quijote”. As Jesús Medina pointed out, the English influence is firmly rooted in the way of life in Jerez.

18.6.16 Scotland’s First Sherry Bar!

At last Scotland has its first Sherry bar. Goya 23 is located in central Edinburgh and run by Roberto Rodrigo Bonafonte, a native of Zaragoza who has willingly become a #SherryLover. He imports all sorts of delicious Spanish fine foods and wines, and is gaining a reputation for his range of Sherries which can be enjoyed by the glass with food or bought by the bottle. He also has draught Delgado Zuleta Sherry from the barrel and offers sell-out tastings often led by experts. Roberto never sits still; he is actively searching out more Sherries to give the range more depth and excitement. So if you are in Edinburgh rush round to Goya 23, 30 North West Circus Place in Stockbridge for a tapa and a glass of proper Sherry.

Friday, 17 June 2016

17.6.16 Junta Upholds BIB Appeal; Sanlúcar Gin; Yodo en Rama

The technical department of the Junta’s Agriculture, Fisheries and Rural Development Council has found in favour of the appeal of the artisan Manzanilla producers against the Consejo’s refusal to allow BIB. This, according to a communiqué from the Association of Artisan Manzanilla Producers, is the Junta’s response to the “unjust and unreasonable conduct of the Consejo Regulador” in denying the registration of labels and the issuing of precintas (official DO seals)as demanded by the regulations of the Denominación de Origen.

The Manzanilleros understand that with this resolution “it can only be concluded that as of today, the indirect sale (in horeca) of BIB is a perfectly legal practice which complies with the rulings of the Consejo itself.” They complained of the “continual disdain, insults and attempts to discredit them from those who seem to consider themselves, without any right, defenders of a false conservatism which has only served to continue the loss of bodegas and vineyards in the area.” They allude to the “errors” of those who during recent decades have managed to bring about the loss of “thousands of jobs” and “made Sherry one of the cheapest wines in the world”.

The association has “always” maintained that it “did not” try to market Manzanilla “outwith the rules of the game” and that time has shown that BIB did fit with the Consejo rules, and furthermore “there was market demand for it.” Once again the Association is “making a call for the dialogue which the trade needs” and that way,” break the outdated mould and open the doors to new ideas which cannot just be seen on the horizon, but are already a reality.” Finally, the association asserts that a product’s “image of quality should be in the contents, not the container.”

Luciferi is a new gin recently launched by Roberto Payá. What makes it different is the fact that many botanicals are collected in the Coto Doñana, such as wild rosemary, lavender, myrtle and lentiscus, to which he has added juniper, angelica, coriander, orange blossom, cardamom, orange peel, lime and mandarin. Sounds amazing! The name refers to the Templo de Lucero, a very early building in Sanlúcar which features in the town’s coat of arms.

Yodo en Rama is a new Fino specially created for Michelin starred Restaurante Aponiente in El Puerto. It was the last project of the greatly missed Manuel Lozano of Lustau, who selected the ideal butt with Juan Ruiz Henestrosa, sommelier of the restaurant owned by chef, Ángel León. Only 1,000 50cl bottles were filled from this first batch and Ángel León is sending a sample to all the Michelin starred restaurants in Spain to encourage them to promote Finos of this quality. Yodo translates as “iodine” an important nutrient which is found mainly in seaweed, and which of course is served in Aponiente, a converted tide mill, by the “chef del mar” (chef of the sea), Ángel León.

Thursday, 16 June 2016

16.6.16 Unusual Sherries Music Competition; Babé Re-elected

The association of traders in the centre of Jerez and bodegas Sánchez Romate have got together to organise a competition to find young musical stars. “Unusual Sherries Music” is open to soloists or groups in any style of music who wish to find their way in the world of music, and inscriptions are open till the 27th June. Performances will take place in the streets of Jerez from the 1st July and the winner will get a professional video recording of a 30 minute show in the Sánchez Romate bodegas. The runner up will get a diploma and a selection of the bodega’s products.

Evaristo Babé Romero has been re-elected as president of the Consejo Regulador Brandy de Jerez, a post he has held since the outset of the Denominación de Origen in 1987 and which has 27 member bodegas. Also re-elected was the vice president, Francisco Javier Requejo of Sánchez Romate. Both men were re-elected unanimously. Let us hope that they, along with the very smart new website can revive the fortunes of this superb product.

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

15.6.16 Sherry and Cork; MW Exam Sherry, Decanter Awards

On Monday a meeting took place at the Consejo’s Bodega San Ginés between the Jerez cork stopper producer Torrent Miranda, APOM (the association of sustainable forest owners) and representatives of the leading bodegas. Titled “Sustainability and Excellence in the Wines of Jerez”, the meeting was organised by the PEFC (the Spanish association for forest sustainability which certifies cork – as well as wood for barrels and wood derivatives), the Consejo and Torrent Miranda.

The latter’s managing director, Alfonso de la Calle pointed out that 71% of seals are cork because it is the best seal, not only for its suitability for the job, but for its ecological and environmental value, and that certified cork is much in demand for premium products. Ana Belén Noriega, PEFC general director praised the efforts of Andalusian producers who have 64,600 hectares of sustainable forest, 35,000 of those in Cádiz. Referring to its ecological value, she said that the production of one cork absorbed 234 grams of CO2 and that the bodegas should choose PEFC certified cork as a part of their drive for sustainability, especially locally produced cork.

The Institute of Masters of Wine examinations took place recently, and the chosen Sherry in the tasting papers, which consist of 36 wines over 3 papers was Cayetano del Pino’s Palo Cortado Solera. This is an excellent Sherry and a classic Palo Cortado, so let's hope they got it right!

Respected wine magazine Decanter has published the results of its Decanter World Wine Awards. Listed below are the top scoring Sherries. I have stuck to Best in Show, Platinum and Gold awards because of the number of wines involved. A total of 98 Sherries won Commended, Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum and best in Show. A huge panel of judges included Masters of Wine and Master Sommeliers.

Best in Show
Fino Tres Palmas, González Byass

Oloroso VORS, Lustau
Palo Cortado VORS, Lustau
Pedro Ximénez VORS, Lustau

Oloroso Añada 1986 Hidalgo La Gitana
Faraón Oloroso VORS, Hidalgo la Gitana
Pedro Ximénez Triana VORS, Hidalgo La Gitana
Wellington Palo Cortado VORS, Hidalgo La Gitana
Manzanilla Pasada Pastrana, Hidalgo La Gitana
Amontillado Cuatro Palmas, González Byass
Amontillado del Duque VORS, González Byass
Fino Dos Palmas, González Byass
Leonor Palo Cortado, González Byass
Matúsalem Cream VORS, González Byass
Noé Pedro Ximénez, González Byass
Palo Cortado Añada 1987, González Byass
Fino Inocente, Valdespino

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Fino Arroyuelo en rama 15%, Primitivo Collantes

Mid strawy brassy gold, some legs.
Fairly serious, slightly savoury flor at first with a slight trace of buttery autolysis, notes of dry scrub, a little salinity and quite bready with an olive brine touch and traces of dried green herbs, there's some character here.
Quite full with a fairly intense entry, lots of bitter and briny flor and that slight pasada note coming from the dead yeast cells at the bottom of the butt and a trace of oxidation. Moderate acidity, very dry but very good length with a very slightly tangy savoury even lively farewell.
Aged under flor for an average of five years, this Fino was bottled on 23rd October 2015 with no clarification at all. Judging from the hand-written panel on the back label it is a blend of wines selected from butts nos. 16, 32, 96 and 117 of the Fino Arroyuelo solera. Being from Chiclana which is in the production zone but not the ageing zone, the wine cannot carry the DO Sherry seal, but is very much the equal. It is sealed with what looks like a 2 inch driven Amorim Twin Top cork. It scored 90 points from Parker - the wine that is. It just shows the difference between a wine bottled from selected butts without filtration and a wine from the same solera bottled from all of the butts and filtered. The standard Arroyuelo is excellent (see post) but this has so much more depth and character. I could drink it all night....
15 euros per 75cl bottle from Cuatrogatos

Monday, 13 June 2016

13.6.16 Sherry in Shakespeare’s Day

Sherry was hugely popular in Shakespeare’s time and nobody gave it more passionate promotion. In the year in which we celebrate the 400th anniversary of his death, Williams & Humbert are offering another lecture in the Ciclo de Conferencias series entitled Sherry in Shakespeare’s Times. It will be given by José Luís Jiménez, an expert on the subject and member of the Real Academia de San Dionisio, who was the prime mover in erecting a memorial to the bard in Jerez. Williams & Humbert have two excellent brands of Sherry named after Shakespeare plays: A Winter’s Tale and As You Like It, and was of course founded by two Englishmen. The event is free and takes place at the bodega.

13.6.16 Sherry Festival UK

Over 50 wine merchants all over the UK are participating from today till the 26th in a Sherry Festival. There will be tastings and promotions galore and the chance to try something really interesting, so don’t delay, check out the link below to find your nearest event where there is a really useful interactive map.

Sunday, 12 June 2016

Bodegas: Gran Mariscal Siglo XVIII SL

When the Marqués de Villapanés ordered the construction of his Palacio de Villapanés in the barrio San Miguel in central Jerez in the 1760s he built various outbuildings close by such as stables. One of those outbuildings, which now forms part of the Calle Cazón, 50 metres from the Palacio, is a lovely vaulted space which was converted into a very attractive if unusual bodega at the beginning of the XX century.

 It has an excellent microclimate for the production of good Sherry and has a pretty patio. For many years it was run by the almacenista Juan Vega Pérez. In 1998 it was bought from him in a very poor state by Antonio Mariscal Domínguez who brought 28 years of experience at Rumasa’s Bodegas Internacionales and who continued to run the bodega in an artisan way. After sorting out the bodega and its 670 butts, he started off selling Manzanilla – the controversial “El 69” - then the other styles as well, both in bulk and in bottle. There was a separate bottling plant. While Antonio had his own brands it was rare to see them in shops.

In 2001 the firm suffered a huge organised fraud to the tune of 18,000 bottles with a value of around € 72,000. Luckily the Civil Guard caught the offenders and Antonio survived. But not for very long. As the crisis hit, Gran Mariscal was one of those which did not survive. The firm was still going in 2007 but the doors are now closed and sadly there seems to have been no activity in recent years.

Amontillado “Muy Viejo,” PX “Borboreo” (the gypsy Word for Jerez) and Oloroso Viejísimo “Monte Alto”
They also produced 4 brandies (Reliquia 1784, Solera 1942, Gran Mariscal and Borboreo) and a vinegar from a 40 year old, 65 butt solera called Sueño Andaluz.

Address: Calle Cazón, 9, 11402 Jerez de la Frontera, Cádiz