Sunday 31 July 2016

Moscatel Oro Los Cuartillos 15%, Primitivo Collantes

Pure gold with bright glinting highlights, legs.
Fresh aromas of tea with hints of zippy citrus, floral camomile and that classic Moscatel grapiness, clean and bright with a noticeable tang, light and elegant.
Pure essence of Moscatel grapes with a little extract and texture but balanced by a gentle acidity giving a feeling of freshness such that you hardly notice the sweetness and that light citrus note carries it through to a clean finish with decent length. The comparatively low 15% helps, serve chilled.
This is a delicious Moscatel made from grapes over-ripened on the vine on sandy soils near the coast at Chiclana and without arrope or sun drying of the grapes making it light fresh and zippy. It has no great age, perhaps two years at the most and that's just fine, it is young, fresh and moreish suitable for any time of day rather than a wine for sipping in the evening.
6.30 euros from Cuatrogatos

Saturday 30 July 2016

30.7.16 Sherry Still Top in Guía Peñín 2017; Japanese Wine Experts Visit Jerez

Sherry has again achieved the highest average score over other Spanish wines in the Guía Peñín for 2017. That score was an outstanding 91.75 and shows – if proof were needed – just how good Sherry is. Wines with a score of 85 or over are classed as very good and those over 95 are classed as exceptional.

A record 11,500 wines were tasted from 64 DOs for the forthcoming edition of Spain’s leading wine guide and only 174 were classed as exceptional. An improved “value for money” category has been included represented by stars, 5 being the best. The new edition of the guide will be presented at the XVII Mejores Vinos de España event at the Palacio Municipal de Congresos in Madrid on the 27th October where those bodegas scoring over 93 will be present.

Japanese Sherry Educator Tomoko Kimura, who is based in Jerez, is leading a visit to the area by a group of Japanese wine experts. This intense visit includes a tasting of Estévez wines at the tabanco Las Cuadras, flamenco at tabanco El Pasaje, lunch at Bodegas Fernando de Castilla, a visit to González Byass and their vineyard Viña la Canariera and a visit to Bodegas Faustino González with training in the art of the venencia. The group’s next ports of call are Sanlúcar for a visit to Bodegas La Cigarrera and El Puerto to taste the wines of Bodegas Gutiérrez Colosía.

Friday 29 July 2016

29.7.16 Beltrán Domecq: All Styles of Sherry

The president of the Consejo Regulador took advantage of his discourse at this week’s summer course at the International University of Andalucía in La Rábida (Huelva) to ask people to think again about Sherry and leave behind the stigma of it being a wine for drinking in bars or an aperitif. He has promoted Sherry as a multi-faceted wine which should be treated as such and not just seen as an aperitif, and it should be drunk from a wine glass, not a tasting glass.

He said that Sherry has a great affinity with gastronomy and is the perfect match for typical Andalusian dishes such as gazpacho, shellfish or white fish. He also regretted that there are wines from the Sherry DO which are hardly known or consumed in Spain yet in other countries like Britain and Holland they are widely consumed; these are the blended wines Pale Cream, Medium and Cream.
To restore the value of this great wine he stressed the importance of demonstrating that it has as much diversity as there are vineyards in the DO, giving it an enormous range of nuances. He also stressed the role of the Consejo in promoting Sherry, boosting education of sommeliers, ensuring Sherry appears more on restaurant wine lists, something which could be financed by selling the wines at the price they deserve and not selling them too cheaply.

Before his discourse, Beltrán outlined to his audience the different types of Sherry: the dry palomino wines Fino, Manzanilla, Amontillado, Palo Cortado and Oloroso, the sweet wines made from Moscatel or Pedro Ximénez and the blends thereof. He explained the climatic and quality factors which affect each Sherry harvest and the unusual ageing process in American oak butts in cathedral like bodegas with high rooves and grit floors which keep a steady temperature of 20 degrees.

Also present was one of the great Sherry figures: Pilar Pla, who at 90 years of age recalled how difficult it was for her to run her bodega El Maestro Sierra in a world dominated by men, as it was then. She had to prove that by hard work and considerable tenacity she had what it took before they would accept and support her. She said that her bodega owed its success to her team of employees and that she had no intention of retiring and would continue running it as it is she who keeps it alive.

Thursday 28 July 2016

Fino en rama Añada 2009 15.5%, Williams & Humbert

Deepish brassy gold with golden highlights, legs.
Full, very clean, super interesting and very complex with slight waxy, olive brine notes, flor is not overpowering at first but certainly obvious, and while its bitter, almost sourdough almondiness grows, a gentle oxidative note comes through. There is a certain Fino-Amontillado character, but that flor shines through with traces of quince jelly, cider and autumn leaves.
Full and solid for a Fino at the start with those waxy, briny, oxidative notes then it gets dry as the flor kicks in, and (I mean kicks). There is real presence and weight on the palate so this is not some delicate Fino but a big sturdy wine. There is a slight nutty, oily texture which perhaps smoothens the bitterness a bit, and a very long very clean finish. You know you've had a glass of Sherry!
This amazing wine, from the Williams Colección de Añadas which are now being regularly released, is made from grapes harvested in 2009 from W&H vineyards in Añina and Carrascal and fortified to 15% before being left to age statically under Consejo supervision and therefore without any interference till it was bottled in February 2016. It is therefore about seven and a half years old and showing real class. It would be SO interesting to know how it would have ended up with further ageing in butt; going Amontillado perhaps, but then how will it age in bottle? Fabulously! It is worth remembering that this is only the second release - ever - of a vintage Fino, and W&H released the first, the 2006. A drinking tip: don't over chill it. 93 Parker Points.
11.70 euros per 50cl bottle from Licores Corredera

Wednesday 27 July 2016

27.7.16 Masterchef Winner Visits Consejo

Masterchef winner, Virginia Naranjo and her twin sister Raquel, also a finalist, visited the Consejo yesterday, signed the book of honour and enjoyed a glass of Sherry with president Beltrán Domecq and director César Saldaña. César wanted to publicly thank the girls, both from Jerez, for their promotion of Jerez products during the televised competition. He said “we are very grateful to you for promoting our products as we were sure you would, but as we watched the competition our hearts jumped and filled with pride on the many occasions you mentioned them.”

Raquel (L), Virginia and Beltran Domecq (foto:diariojerez)

Beltrán also expressed his gratitude, “an objective of the Consejo is to integrate our wines with gastronomy for which we are very grateful for your participation.” Raquel wants to work with the Consejo in promoting the products of Jerez “because we are proud to be from Jerez.” While Virginia, who has already published a cookery book, said “we are very proud and grateful for this recognition by the Consejo, it is a great institution, Sherry’s head office.”

27.7.16 Fundador Improves Wine Tourism Offer; Promotional Aid for Sherry

Before its purchase by Andrew Tan, Fundador was owned by Beam Suntory who were slowly selling off assets like the Palacio Domecq (bought by an events company) and a sizeable chunk of Macharnudo vineyard (which went to Estévez). But things are changing. Buoyed up by the recent international successes of their Sherries and brandies, the firm is working on recuperating its former glory with new projects linked to wine tourism.

Bodega la Mezquita

The bodega, which was founded in 1730, is planning to commemorate its tercentenary, a landmark event which it wants to celebrate in advance with Jerezanos and visitors, for whom they will re-open the doors of the El Arroyo bodega complex and upgrade the offer in line with the times. There will be a tour through the history of some of the most emblematic bodegas of the area: El Molino, the first to be built, the enormous La Mezquita, built in 1974 to celebrate 100 years of Brandy Fundador, Los Claustros, which is kept for large celebrations, and more.

Another historic bodega, La Luz, where Fundador was born, has been converted into a museum with exhibits like photos of famous people, awards, old labels, old carriages and stable equipment for the Terry horses. Next to this, a recently constructed wine tourism centre with a shop will open during the Fiesta de la Vendimia. It is suitable for tastings of Sherry or the Bristol Cream cocktail with ice and a slice of orange, or the Fundador mojito, which the bodega offers to visitors.

Castillo de Macharnudo

Access for visitors is currently at the Puerta de Rota, but Fundador has begun works to facilitate access to a new oeno-gastronomic centre in the Calle San Ildefonso – a continuation of the Cuesta del Espíritu Santo – in the form of a tabanco or Sherry bar. They are also working on a similar development at the Castillo de Macharnudo which overlooks the El Majuelo vineyard. In fact, on Saturday there will be a gala here celebrating the tenth anniversary of the Ruta del Vino y del Brandy de Jerez, which will be an opportunity for the trade to see for themselves Fundador’s upgraded commitment to wine tourism.

While Brexit is viewed with both surprise and dismay in Jerez, all may not be lost. European Union funding for the promotion of agro-alimentary products from member states in third countries would be able to be used to at least partially compensate for the losses predicted in the UK market. At least once the UK has actually left, but there will be a couple of years of difficulty till then.

Consejo Director, César Saldaña, said “these funds would at least partly compensate for the negative effects of Brexit, especially when you take into account that the UK is the market in which we spend most, being the largest export market.” He pointed out that the value of Sterling has already fallen, making European products more expensive. To this could be added the expected impoverishment of the British people as taxes rise and levels of consumption fall. The first taxes to rise will inevitably be on alcohol and tobacco, but this will most seriously affect cheaper products, and Sherry is now selling at more up-market prices.

Tuesday 26 July 2016

Oloroso Puerta Real 20% Bodegas Garvey

Deep transparent patinated mahogany of old furniture with coppery glints and the slightest trace of green at the amber rim, legs.
Pure, fragrant and  beautifully harmonious Oloroso with gentle hints of cinnamon, nuts, american oak and an ever so slightly bitter, walnut edge with a hint of toast nicely balanced by traces of caramel and dried fruit. It shows the complexity and integration only age can bestow and has real charm.
Mid to full bodied with an attractive walnutty bite leading to a gentler more glyceric feel with those dried fruit and caramel notes, but that is balanced by a little volatile acidity giving zest to an old wine. It is good and dry with slight autumn leaves notes and an elegant, proud, long and assertive finish.
This excellent wine was made from Macharnudo grapes. It is one of the Sacristía de Garvey range of six old wines between at least 15 and over 20 years old, and is from a solera laid down by the founder's son, Patricio Garvey Gómez, in 1826. It is somewhere approaching 20 years of average age. No doubt these wines have aged a bit more as a result of the parlous situation Garvey has been in, and that is no bad thing in the short term, but let us hope that the Emperador purchase of the bodega will guarantee their continuity and proper maintenance.
26.40 euros from Licores Corredera

Monday 25 July 2016

25.7.16 Consejo Predicts Smaller Harvest; Fedejerez Re-joins FEV

With the 2016 vintage barely a month away, the Consejo Regulador, in its first harvest prediction, estimates a crop reduction of 10-15% because of the recent mildew attack. This will leave about 68 million kilos of grapes. Vineyards nearer the coast around Sanlúcar and Trebujena were the worst affected by the mildew since they have higher humidity than those situated inland. The Consejo puts the area of land affected by mildew at 7-10%, noting that the Levante (west wind, which has been blowing recently, has reduced the chance of an attack of oidium, another fungal disease which affects the quality of the grape rather than the quantity.

The 2015 harvest totalled 76.4 million kilos of grapes, of which 68 million qualified for Sherry production, whereas this year the Consejo expects about 68 million of which 65 million will qualify. It should be remembered that the 2015 harvest was 14% bigger than 2014, thanks to good weather conditions leading up to the harvest, and the Consejo is cautious, reminding everyone of the saying that “August has the key to the harvest” and much depends on whether the Poniente or the Levante winds predominate. The Levante is hot and dry and reduces the crop, and temperatures are already high in Cádiz. It is still early to say, but many think this year’s harvest will be a little later than last year when it began mid-August.

Fedejerez, the association of Sherry bodegas has re-joined the Federación Española del Vino (FEV), of which it was a founder member in 1978. The FEV is an organisation which represents the entire Spanish wine sector. Fedejerez had let its membership lapse in recent years, but some bodegas remained on their individual account. Pau Roca, general secretary of the FEV said he was delighted to have a founder member back in the fold, especially at a time when unity in the sector is so important.

Sunday 24 July 2016

24.7.16 Jerez Cooperatives May Join D Coop

The seven cooperatives of the Sherry zone are in “very satisfactory” talks with a view to joining D Coop, Andalucía’s largest "super" cooperative, based in Antequera (Málaga) but with members all over Spain. D Coop is a group of cooperatives specialising in the production and marketing of olives (it is the world’s largest olive oil producer), cereals meat and wine. The Jerez coops control 55% of the annual Sherry production, and it is hoped that they can sell more wine direct to market, reduce costs and gain the power to have more control over grape prices.

Saturday 23 July 2016

La Bota de Fino 35 15%, Equipo Navazos (re-taste)

Very slightly hazy amber with brass reflections, legs.
Full, pungent nose with prominent damp scrub notes of flor, quite evolved yet amazingly fresh, and bottle age has only conferred more complexity. With only the slightest oxidative notes this is effectively a concentrated mature Fino with bitter notes of dried flowers and just a trace of cabezuela. There is a thrilling wild, natural character to it enhanced by its time in bottle.
Full with classic Macharnudo generosity, dry with  the slightest trace of background fruit and a gentle texture, moderately low acidity is compensated for by the bitterness of the flor which also gives it tremendous length. Lovely wine.
Bottled June 2012, this absolutely delicious wine has 4 years bottle age, and clearly shows what Equipo Navazos are aiming at - not just outstanding Sherry, but Sherry which will evolve over years and just keep on giving.  Its appearance would indicate that there might be something wrong with it, but there definitely isn't. Any white wine gains colour over time, and this was bottled en rama without "stabilisation" so inevitably has a little sediment - hence the haze. The more that is left in the wine, the more there is to develop, and this has done a terrific job. Anyway, this is Fino from Valdespino's Macharnudo Alto vineyard and the wine was selected from the Inocente solera and the first and second criaderas. It has an average age at bottling of about ten years. Last tasted May 2014 and it has just got better with a little more concentration.
22 euros from Pura Cepa, La Cala de Mijas (Malaga)

Friday 22 July 2016

Manzanilla de Añada 2012 2/11 15%, Viña Callejuela

Paleish, bright golden colour with silver highlights, legs.
Full and very slightly wild with traces of straw, dry scrub, salt and slightly mineral, a verdant note, more yeasty than flor-y and all these diverse aromas are nicely harmonised. Pure Sanlucar.
Fresh and saline with some flor bitterness as well as that yeastiness. This is a very elegant wine with some weight behind. Clean, dry and long with just a gentle tang of acidity, it is beautifully balanced
This is the second butt to be released (29th May) of the eleven set aside in the fine 2012 vintage for ageing as añada. It is exactly the same wine as 1/11 but has a year more biological crianza. This particular butt (no.2) was chosen for its reflection of the albariza soils. The first release (1/11) was from butt no. 8. The wine is showing exceptional complexity for its age - less than four years - and as the other butts continue developing we can look forward to more annual releases of increasing complexity as the wine slowly heads in an Amontillado direction. Sealed with a two inch driven cork.
About 20 Euros per 50cl bottle, but very hard to find.

Thursday 21 July 2016

Bodegas: Harmony

Pedro Regalado Ximeno de la Riva y García was born in Vilagarcía de Araousa, Galicia, on 13 May 1777, son of Francisco Ximeno de la Riva who worked as mayordomo for the Marqués de Vilagarcía, and Antonia García. He joined the merchant marine, eventually becoming a ship’s captain and making frequent voyages to North America. There he struck up a friendship with the merchants Harmony Brothers to whom he often brought cargoes from Europe, and they became such close friends that one of the brothers adopted Pedro as his brother. Pedro then changed his name to Pedro X Harmony, but due to his immense pride at being Spanish, he never changed his nationality.

Pedro Harmony (
On the death of the brothers, Pedro inherited their fortunes and ever growing business, becoming fabulously wealthy. As his mainly transatlantic business grew, including Mexico, he called upon members of his family, mainly nieces and nephews – he never married - to work in senior positions. The firm was now trading as Peter (Pedro) Harmony and Nephews, and grew to gigantic proportions. He bought large bodegas in the Campo de Guia area of El Puerto in the Calle Valdes which he called, confusingly, Bodegas Pedro Ximénez, as he was known in Andalucia. To avoid confusion this was changed to Bodegas P Harmony.

A Harmony Card (foto:gentedelpuerto)

In 1849 Pedro retired but the firm retained his name. When he died in 1851, he left a vast fortune. To his nieces Benita, Antonia, Lorena and Agustina he left various New York properties and a quarter each of the bodega, which now traded as Sobrinos de P Harmony. Many other nieces and nephews inherited property in America and Spain along with money, bonds and shares. He left his sister in law, Isidra Carrera, his house in Cádiz at Plaza de la Constitucion, 3, (now Plaza de San Antonio, 8, built in 1808 and now owned by the National University of distance Learning.

An old Harmony leaflet (elpuertoysusbodegas)

Pedro had a brother, Francisco Ximeno, who was married to Isidra Carrera in 1826 in Cadiz. Francisco was also a highly successful sailor and merchant and later a member of the powerful Cadiz mercantile company Carreras y Cia as well as owning his own company Harmony y Cia. He had also assumed the surname Harmony and ran the bodegas under the name FX Harmony y sobrinos till he died in 1850 when other family members took over guided by his widow Isidra, when the name changed to Viuda (widow) de X Harmony then Sobrinos de X Harmony. Her nephew Pedro Hernández Carrera ran things latterly.

Fino Perendengues (which means cheap earrings!) foto:todocoleccion

In 1856 Harmony was the 5th biggest exporter in El Puerto but the mid-1860s brought falling sales and many bodegas failed.  At some point towards the end of the 1860s or early 1870s Harmony was sold to John William Burdon – the biggest exporter in 1856. Having no children to leave his business to, Burdon sold out to José de la Cuesta who was in turn bought out by Luis Caballero in 1932.


Wednesday 20 July 2016

20.7.16 Sherry on Top

The terrace of the Hotel Murillo in Sevilla is the scene of tonight’s edition of Sherry on Top, a series of music and wine evenings promoted by the Consejo Regulador and the association of hotels in Sevilla. There will be two guitarists playing, impressive views of the city, fresh night air, good food and lots of Sherry. Not to be missed! More events are planned and information can be found at: 

The terrace of Hotel Murillo with the Giralda Tower in the background

Tuesday 19 July 2016

19.7.16 Lustau Wins Len Evans Trophy; Great Sherry Tasting

Lustau is the first winery to receive this trophy twice. It was awarded at the International Wine Challenge (IWC) dinner in London and is yet another accolade for the bodega which has already won Best Spanish Winery in 2011, Best Sherry Bodega in 2015 and their sadly missed oenologist, Manuel Lozano, won Best Fortified Winemaker an unprecedented eight times. The IWC announced that the prize for the World’s Best Fortified Wine will be re-named the Manuel Lozano Trophy. (Len Evans was a greatly loved wine expert in Australia).

The annual Great Sherry tasting will be held at OXO2 in London on 12 September. It is expected that 40 bodegas will be present pouring some 200 wines, making it the largest Sherry tasting in the world outside Jerez. Beltrán Domecq and Fiona Beckett will host three masterclasses. Beltrán will do “Sherry Uncovered”, the full range of styles from Manzanilla to PX, and “The sherry Landscape” covering the terroir behind certain Sherry labels, while Fiona will do a session on matching Sherry with food. The event is trade only and ticket applications can be made at:

Monday 18 July 2016

Amontillado 18.5%, Bodegas Juan Piñero

Lightish in colour, deep gold-tinged amber with brassy highlights, legs.
Forthcoming and fairly intense with strong Sanlúcar overtones being on the light side but zesty and quite saline with a slight savoury, briny edge. It still has reminders of Manzanilla pasada with slightly autolytic notes, and it appears younger than it is, yet there are lots of lightly toasted hazelnuts and a hint of dry scrub rounded by just a hint of glyceric sweetness.
Good zippy entry with tangy acidity give reminders still of the Manzanilla past. The bitterness from the flor and a trace of wood tannin are balanced by the roundness of alcohol and glycerol. It is good and dry with an appealing yet serious nutty/savourycharacter and great length.
Made from Pago Hornillo musts bought from the Blanco brothers in Sanlúcar, so the quality is undeniable. The wine aged as a Manzanilla for 12 years giving it immense pasada character before further fortification to start its oxidative ageing which lasted over 6 years. It appears quite young at first look but has more complexity - and age - on further examination. Excellent value for money.
9.00 euros from Cuatrogatos

Sunday 17 July 2016

17.7.16 Sherries Obama Missed; Jerez to be Twinned with Reims?

President Obama missed a gourmet experience featuring Sherry in Sevilla, having had to cancel his visit at the last minute because of the shooting of five police officers in Dallas. Torres y García was the restaurant chosen, and they had prepared a special menu of rustic Andaluz dishes, all accompanied by Sherry except one – Tinto Taberner from Huerta Albalá. The Sherries were Lustau’s Manzanilla Papirusa, Amontillado Fino El Tresillo from Emilio Hidalgo and Old Harvest Pedro Ximénez from Ximénez Spínola.

The restaurant, in Calle Harinas, is run by a married couple, Genoveva Torres and Juan Manuel García, who trained with Ferrán Adriá, Martin Berasategui and Gordon Ramsay. It is their fifth in the city and all of them are super popular, serving rustic style food of top quality. They are huge fans of the wines of Andalucía and as soon as they heard they might be chosen to serve the President, they decided the wines should be Andaluz. But the secret service had to check the place over first and everything was very hush-hush. They were not told how many people to cater for, the President’s preferences, what time they were coming, only that the visit would be short.

The Imperial dining room at Torres y Garcia, where Obama would have eaten

Because of the events in Dallas, however, it was not to be, but while there was disappointment in Sevilla this time, it is highly likely that the Obamas will return. They are very fond of Spain; the President himself called the country “irresistible”. When they return they will hopefully have more time to explore the riches of Andalucía in more depth.

The City Council of Jerez is working with its counterpart in Reims to establish commercial, cultural and institutional links which could lead to the twinning of the two cities, which are among the most important wine cities in the world. Reims is, of course, famous for Champagne, and it is felt that a strategic alliance between businesses and sharing of resources could be used in joint promotion and the development of wine tourism projects. Also foreseen is an interchange between the universities, especially in the departments of oenology. This is a really interesting idea as Champagne and Sherry have more in common than many realise.

Saturday 16 July 2016

Bodegas: J Martínez “El Gato”

Based in the old quarter of the coastal town of Rota, this family business was established in 1957 by José Martínez Arana. His father was nicknamed “El Gato” (the cat) as he usually had one on his lap. This is the last bodega of the many which once graced the town, and when it was established it was one of 20 or so. In 1953 a large Naval Base was established there as General Franco sought to strengthen ties with the United States. The base now occupies 24 square kilometres and is home to some 4,000 American military and civilian staff, fewer now than before.

Juan Martinez, his son in law and daughter Laura (foto:cosasdecome)
Many local people left the vineyards for better-paid jobs at the base or saw their vineyards expropriated to provide the necessary land. José Martínez had vineyards in the Pago del Campillo but after they were expropriated he used his compensation to buy this small bodega. His son Juan Martínez Martín Niño joined his father at the age of 23 and has run it since 1969. The bodega has seen some expansion over the years including another which they use for fermenting the must. The family owns a despacho de vinos in the Calle María Auxiliadora as well as a despacho attached to the bodega itself.

Juan Martínez is still active in the bodega though it has been mostly run by his daughters since 1987. His grandchildren will be working there soon, and thus the firm is approaching its fourth generation. The bodega is small and they have learned how to combine traditional and modern methods which has ensured the bodega’s survival. It has its own vineyards where they grow Palomino, Pedro Ximenez, Moscatel and the low yielding red Tintilla. They are among the very few producers left of traditional Tintilla de Rota wine, and the only one in Rota itself. It is their pride and joy.

Bodega equipment includes 2,500l tinajas (tall clay fermentation tanks, rarely seen today), various other tanks, a lovely 75 year-old bottling machine and of course soleras. Much labelling is still done by hand, underlining the artisan nature of the bodega. The family hopes to revive the fortunes of the Tintilla de Rota, a local speciality which is dying out despite being on the doorstep of a military base with so many potential customers. It seems they prefer beer and cocktails, so the bodega welcomes visitors and often hosts tastings.

Their flagship wine, Tintilla de Rota, was once popular as consecration wine and is made from Tintilla grapes (known elsewhere as Graciano and Parraleta) from four small parcels totalling about 2 hectares, though some grapes are bought in. The grapes are sunned for five or six days and to their juice is added arrope (a syrup made by cooking the same must to one fifth of its original volume), before being fortified to 17ᴼ. The wine is then aged, the Joven for ten years and the Noble for forty. As Rota is not in the Zona de Crianza for DO Sherry, their Sherry style wines are not DO – but good.

The wines are:
Manzanilla Fina (bought in, DO), Fino Andaluz, Oloroso, Cream, Moscatel, Moscatel Reserva, Pedro Ximénez, PX Reserva, Tintilla de Rota Joven, Tintilla de Rota Noble (solera 1960)

Address: Avenida de San Fernando, 40, 11520 Rota, Cádiz
Telephone: 956 810 203

Visits: Yes, by appointment

Friday 15 July 2016

Pedro Ximénez Oxford 1970 17%, Bodegas Dios Baco

Opaque black with a narrow walnut-brown rim, very viscous.
Intense toffee-laden raisin fruit with hints of dried fig and prune balance with gentle phenolic notes of grapeskin and traces of coffee and toast characteristic of long ageing in Jerez. There is a velvety texture apparent and a clear aroma of the raw material - sun-dried Pedro Ximénez grapes.
Very rich, viscous and very smooth at the start then it grows into a highly complex wine which is intensely sweet yet appears a bit less sweet as the flavour develops and the phenolic side comes through. The wine has a real feel to it and you can almost eat the texture of the raisins, and that has a delightful appeal which lingers for a considerable time on the palate.
This excellent PX scored 92 at Wine Enthusiast, and deservedly so. It is around 19 years average age and has the sort of depth and character only long ageing could bestow. I'm afraid I don't know why it has this name, I forgot to ask the last time I visited the bodega. It is not a vintage wine however; the 1970 may refer to the establishment of the solera, but as to the "Oxford" I don't know. Perhaps surprisingly, it is nearly as old as the firm's PX VOS which is not greatly above 20 years of average age, but it is good to know that PX of this standard is used to produce the Cream Sherry. This was the wine chosen by the Consejo Regulador as an ideal representative of good Jerez PX for bottling under the Consejo label in celebration of the 2014 City of Wine celebrations.
Around 11 euros per 50cl bottle ex bodega

Thursday 14 July 2016

14.7.16 Sherry Prepares for Climate Change

The Bodega san Ginés was the scene of a conference yesterday on what the Sherry trade must do to confront climate change. Pau Roca, president of the Federación Española del Vino (FEV) outlined the advantages of the “Wineries for Climate Protection” certification. This seal guarantees consumers that all stages in the production of a wine have fulfilled environmental standards.

Evaristo Babé, president of the Brandy Consejo and Fedejerez, and Beltrán Domecq, president of the Sherry Consejo, both sent a clear message to the trade. Babé said that “climate change is a reality and we, both as people and as companies, must take decisions conscientiously. It is a fact that the cultivation of the vine is going to change in function with changes in the environment.” But he didn’t wish to predict catastrophe as there are many possibilities for change in the face of unforeseeable consequences.

Beltrán Domecq didn’t mince his words saying “temperatures of only two degrees more would change everything and present real problems. The ripening period would be shortened and quality would without doubt be affected. We must observe what happens.” Referring to the EU targets for emissions reduction and energy efficiency for 2020, he underlined that “due to the importance of the climate change problem, measures need to be taken right now, and so we are already thinking about what needs to be done.”

The notion of sustainability certification arose back in 2011 as a result of the “Declaration of Barcelona” where Consejos Reguladores from all over Spain launched a “green plan” to bring about more sustainable production and making the seal a guarantee for consumers. “In the last five years we have experienced a cultural change, and we are much more aware of the situation but back then we really had no idea where climate change would lead us,” said Babé. In fact the sustainability of the bodegas could be achieved by action on four fundamental fronts: reduction of CO2 emissions, the use of renewable and more efficient energy, reduction of residues and more efficient use of water.

One of the experts present yesterday to outline the risks of climate change was José Ramón Lissarrague, an agricultural engineer and researcher at the Polytechnic University of Madrid. He explained that temperature is the biggest controller of plant behaviour, “the vine plant and its grapes are highly sensitive to temperature which acts as a biological regulator. The warming climate goes beyond the vine’s requirements and the process starts to go backwards giving various negative results such as poor use of water and poor growth. This unbalances the composition of the grape and causes losses in production efficiency.”

He went on to say that “we can try to stem the problem and maintain our traditions and values at the same time since we have a large range of tools at our disposal. We can study the best places for cultivation, we can ensure good root growth and we can work to improve pruning and fertilisation. We must move to precision agriculture which does not waste resources and we must change the management of the productive cycle of the vine.

At the closure of the conference, the director general of the Junta’s agricultural department, Rosa Isabel Ríos asked for collaboration in this difficult task saying that “she hoped the 1.8 billion euros granted to Spanish viticulture by the EU would be wisely used”. The money is conditional on the use of the most sustainable methods and tools. “In Andalucía we are on the way” she said while also praising the initiative of the conference to apply the brakes to climate change.

Wednesday 13 July 2016

Manzanilla Aurora 15%, Bodegas Yuste

Paleish strawy gold with golden glints, legs.
Forthcoming saline and yeasty, really showing off the atmosphere of Sanlúcar. Seawater, olive brine, traces of seaweed and flor join a slightly buttery hint of cabezuela to give a fresh, slightly wild aroma. Quite intense and pasada.
Similar. Lean at first then develops weight and considerable complexity as it warms up on the palate, dry and with a gentle acidity which carries that freshness through along with the slightly savoury pasada notes which linger for some time. A classic wine of its place.
At last Aurora is back on the market! After the demise of Pedro Romero the XIX century solera (which had no fewer than 25 criaderas!) was bought by Francisco Yuste. He relaunched it in October 2015 with a new label, which at least keeps the original typeface though the colour has changed to blue. The solera now produces Manzanilla Senorita Irene first so the Aurora solera now has a much more manageable 6 criaderas, 3 of which are at the Miraflores bodega and the other three and the solera are at the bodega Los Angeles. The wine was originally named after Pedro Romero's wife, but there's a happy coincidence in that Francisco Yuste's daughter is also called Aurora, and is an executive with the firm. It doesn't say so on the label, but this wine is really a Manzanilla Pasada, it is after all about nine years old, Pedro Romero felt that the word "pasada" had negative connotations. The brand was originally launched in 1907. Notes on the original version can also be found on the blog.
6.50 euros from Er Guerrita

Tuesday 12 July 2016

Pale Cream Mirame Cuando Te Hablo 17%, Sánchez Romate

Pale bright golden straw with golden highlights, legs.
The first thing you notice is Moscatel with a background trace of bitterness from the Fino used as a base wine, but there are sufficient traces of mandarin and flowers to over-ride those flor notes
Not over sweet, perhaps medium-sweet and not at all cloying. It has a very gentle tang of acidity to balance and lots of Moscatel fruit with a slightly dry edge. 
Pale Cream is basically sweetened Fino or Manzanilla. Croft were the first with the idea in the early 1970s and they used charcoal filtered rectified concentrated must (RCM) to sweeten the Fino. The result was a sweeter Sherry which looked dry (pale) and was terribly fashionable at the time of Martini/Cinzano Bianco and the "bright lights taste". While it achieved incredible sales success thanks to multinational marketing, it has to be said that it wasn't really all that good compared to other styles of Sherry. Reyes Gómez, oenologist at Sánchez Romate has solved the problem by using light young Moscatel instead, and blending it with Romate Fino from the Pago Añina giving the wine a bit more character. Serve really cold.
7.60 euros from Licores Corredera

Monday 11 July 2016

Oloroso Barajuela 2013 17%, Bodegas Luis Pérez

Fairly rich pale gold, legs.
Very Oloroso for its mere two plus years of age, notes of toast spread with almond and walnut paste, still quite fruity with a slight orange peel note and a slight trace of cinnamon but predominantly nutty and with an apparent sweetness.
Youth shows through here too with fruity Palomino and apple sauce notes and gentle oxidation. It is not short of flavour: there is a soft smooth glyceric nuttiness and it is well rounded, dry, long and very charming with none of the austerity older Olorosos develop with much longer ageing.
This was a cask sample (tasted late February 2016) of a delightful and innovative wine produced by Willy Pérez, son of Luis Pérez. Unfortunately Willy was in bed with a cold so I couldn't ask him about it, but it is a vintage Oloroso made from later-harvested Carrascal grapes with, therefore, a higher sugar content. Fermenting to 17% naturally, and with no fortification, there was no flor and the wine began to oxidise. Some two and a half years later this fascinating wine came about, perhaps resembling the wines of the past before the introduction of the solera system.
Around 30 euros for a 50cl bottle but very limited availability. I couldn't find a picture of it so here is a picture of the Fino; the presentation is identical except that the Oloroso has a black label.

Sunday 10 July 2016

10.7.16 Brexit Threatens Sherry Sales in UK

Britain’s exit from the European Union couldn’t come at a worse time for Sherry. The trade is worried about the effects it will have on sales to its largest export market in which - at last - the seemingly never ending slide in sales had bottomed out with a rise of 0.6% for last year. This may seem modest – it is – but 0.6% of annual sales in the UK still represents some 60,000 litres.

The UK has witnessed a change of fashion with younger consumers discovering Sherry and especially the traditional dry styles which now drive the sales growth – though the bulk of sales still remain the sweeter styles. These traditional dry styles of wine, along with vintage and en rama are more expensive than the usual British fare like Creams, Pale Creams and Mediums, so while volumes were still falling, income was beginning to rise in compensation.

Now that volumes are rising – albeit slowly – profit is rising too, and just as the bodegas were beginning to reap the fruits of this growth, Brexit has sown the seeds of uncertainty with the fall in the value of Sterling making Sherry exports more expensive. And to make matters worse, there is also a strong possibility of alcohol tax increases in the UK.

Brexit is doubly worrying as there is decline in other important markets like Holland, which is down 13% for the first half of this year, Germany, down 22% and the United States, down 3.2% for the same period. Let’s hope the current TTIP trade talks bear fruit. The Asian markets are also down. Total Sherry sales for May to May in 2015 were 35.1 million litres (the figure for 1987 was 100.6 million litres which illustrates the drastic slump in sales over the last 30 years.)

Saturday 9 July 2016

9.7.16 Antonio Flores IWC Best Fortified Winemaker

Antonio Flores, oenologist and master blender at González Byass has won the 2016 International Wine Challenge Fortified Winemaker of the Year Award. He received it at the IWC Gala Dinner at London’s Hilton Hotel in recognition of his work in creating the Palmas range, the introduction of Tio Pepe en rama and his promotional work with #sherryrevolution. Meanwhile his 51 year old Amontillado Cuatro Palmas won Best Fortified Wine 2016. í Enhorabuena, Antonio!

Friday 8 July 2016

8.7.16 Emperador Will Retain Most of Garvey Workforce; Mexico Mega-Tasting

The 60 Garvey employees are breathing a little easier now that the Emperador deal has been done and the bodegas will not close. The deal contemplates retaining over 40 of them, and according to Emperador the staffing level has still not been finalised but they will retain as many as possible. On Thursday the union representative at Complejo Bellavista received official notification of the Emperador deal from the administrators who will call a meeting with the workforce on Monday to give them the details of the deal.

The bottling plant at Complejo Bellavista

Final judicial approval will take up to three months because of the August holidays. Meanwhile the bodegas are running normally and are in pretty good shape if not quite what they once were. The Emperador deal will guarantee more jobs than that of the Asian Alcohol Corporation but there are inevitably still worries among the staff that some will be laid off.

International Sherry Week will take place between the 7th and 13th of November and Raul Vega is planning a record-breaking tasting in México. The idea is to win a Guinness record by having the largest number of people tasting Sherry at the same time in the same place.There will be eight wines: Finos from Jerez and El Puerto, Fino en Rama, Manzanilla, Oloroso, Cream, Amontillado VORS and Palo Cortado VORS. Photos and videos will be sent to Guinness for approval.

Thursday 7 July 2016

7.7.16 Emperador Wins Battle for Garvey

The Emperador group has outbid Asian Alcohol Corporation for the purchase of Garvey. Andrew Tan of Emperador, who recently purchased the old Domecq, Harveys and Terry installations naming them Fundador, lodged a last minute counter bid for Garvey. Lucio Tan’s Asian Alcohol Corporation had all but completed the purchase for about 25 million euros, but Andrew Tan (no relation) offered about 35 million. The deal includes everything: the Complejo Bellavista, Zoilo Ruiz Mateos, all the brands, the Cerro Viejo vineyard and the Sandeman bottling contract. Confirmation of the deal is only awaiting judicial clearance and comes after five long years of administration of the old Nueva Rumasa bodegas.

Wednesday 6 July 2016

6.7.16 Piano recital at Williams & Humbert

Last week Williams & Humbert offered a piano recital at the bodega by Gorka Plada Girón. This highly talented young man of only 14 years of age has already been a winner at the City of Jerez National Piano Competition with which the bodega collaborates, and has won funding to continue his studies at the Yehudi Menuhin school of music. Over 80 people attended the recital of Chopin Ravel, Haydn and Rachmaninov and enjoyed a glass of Sherry afterwards, no doubt discussing the amazing acoustics of this vast Sherry bodega. Congratulations to W&H for all the excellent events they put on, especially at no charge.

Sulphites in Wine

Since the arrival of the term “Contains Sulphites” on (EU) wine labels in 2002, after the Americans introduced the idea in 1988, many people have wrongly assumed that this is the cause of hangovers after drinking wine. In fact less than 1% of the population have allergic reactions to sulphites and hangovers are usually caused by other factors, such as the dehydrating effect of alcohol or a possible allergy to histamines. Sulphites have been used in wine for centuries and some believe the Romans used them, but the first written evidence goes back to 1487.

Raw sulphur

Sulphur is a naturally occurring chemical element identified by the letter S and is the 13th most abundant element in the Earth’s crust. It has all sorts of industrial uses and is a vital nutrient for crops, animals and people. Sometimes known as brimstone in the past, it is a yellow crystalline substance which emits a horrible smell when burned, as anyone who has been near a volcano will know. It has a number of useful properties for the production of wine as it is a powerful antioxidant and inhibits yeast and microbial activity.

Dusting vines with sulphur

In the wine trade sulphur is used in more ways than one. In the vineyard vine leaves are dusted with powdered sulphur as a protection against the deadly fungus Oidium, and Mildew is combated with Copper Sulphate, but it also has multiple uses in the winery. In the form of a powder tiny quantities of potassium metabisulphate are dusted onto the grapes on arrival to prevent oxidation and in the form of sulphur candles it is used to disinfect barrels for re-use. In the form of the gas sulphur dioxide (SO2) it is used to protect the wine from oxidation and acetification, eliminate unwanted yeast strains from the alcoholic fermentation, prevent malo-lactic fermentation and help with colour stability in the bottled wine. It is even used in the cleaning of equipment.

Sulphur dioxide gas

Few are aware that many food products contain far more sulphites than wine, for example dried fruit, canned vegetables, condiments, relishes, dried fish among very many others. Unlike wine labels however, food products (in Europe) get away with “E220” in the ingredients list, this being the European Union Permitted Food Additives List number for sulphur dioxide which is permitted in controlled quantities. If a wine contains 10 milligrams per litre (mg/l) or more, and the vast majority do, the words “Contains Sulphites” must appear on the label. Wine can naturally contain 10-20 mg/l of SO2 as the result of yeast fermentation and the maximum permitted concentration in Europe is 400 mg/l. Red wines need less SO2 than white wines as they have more polyphenols as antioxidants but sweet wines need more because of the binding power of sugar in the wine and the risk of re-fermentation in bottle. Many food products contain up to 15 times more sulphur than wine.

Sulphur candles emit a blue flame

Such a useful substance will be very hard to replace, but due to allergenic worries alternatives to sulphites have been sought for years. One is ascorbic acid (vitamin C), a powerful antioxidant, but it doesn’t mix easily with the wine and works better with a little SO2. Then there is the EU research project called "so2say" which is experimenting with combining two natural ingredients of wine which should reduce SO2 by 95%. In Spain researchers have come up with another possibility, Vineatrol, which is made from extracts of vine prunings high in polyphenols. Of course wine can be made without the addition of any sulphur, but these “natural wines”, which could already contain up to 20 mg/l sulphur naturally, require considerable winemaking skills and acceptance by the consumer, who is used to bright clean wines, of a more oxidative style of wine - everything in this world is a trade-off. Sulphur is permitted in limited quantities in organic and biodynamic wines as it is a naturally occurring substance. 

Tuesday 5 July 2016

5.7.16 Medals for Sherry at IWSC

This year’s competition has again seen many Sherries (49) win medals. Listed below are the highest scoring non-supermarket wines. Lustau is as always a winner, but there are some notable absences.  It costs £130 per entry, which puts off many small producers - and there are 17 Lustau wines in the medals! And there are lots of similar wine competitions, so some bodegas must spend a fortune. As usual the medal winners are those who can afford to enter their wines.

Gold Outstanding
Harveys Pedro Ximénez VORS
Williams & Humbert Dry Sack 15 years old
Lustau Oloroso VORS
Lustau Palo Cortado VORS

Harveys Rich Old Oloroso VORS
Lustau pedro Ximénez VORS

Silver Outstanding
Barbadillo Manzanilla Pasada en rama Pastora
Lustau Amontillado Tabanco
Lustau Palo Cortado Península
Lustau Pedro Ximénez San Emilio
Lustau Pedro Ximénez VOS
Lustau Oloroso Rio Viejo

Hidalgo la Gitana Manzanilla Pasada Pastrana
Barbadillo Mil Pesetas Cream
Barbadillo Manzanilla Solear
Lustau Amontillado Escuadrilla
Lustau Pedro Ximénez Viña 25
Lustau Moscatel Emilín
Lustau Oloroso Emperatriz Eugenia
Lustau Fino La Ina
Harveys Signature Cream 12 years old
Lustau Amontillado VORS
Lustau Oloroso de Añada 1997
Lustau Capataz Andrés Cream

Lustau Fino del Puerto (Almacenista González Obregón)

Monday 4 July 2016

Amontillado Pinos Viejos 17.5%, Bodegas Barón

Mid amber with brassy highlights, legs.
Quite forthcoming and very savoury with obvious recent crianza biológica, early stage oxidation with a little puppy fat and a salted caramel note. There are plenty of nuts: peanut praline and turrón and a certain glyceric sweetness. Very Sanluqueño in style with a trace of seaside.
Open with a gentle texture, and while it seems to have a touch of sweetness at first it is dry with a fairly low acidity. Being a young wine it is easy on the palate but yet opens out into a creditable Amontillado with more character than one would expect for its age. Long clean finish.
It seems that Barón have added a new range of younger wines to their catalogue: Pino Viejo is a brand they have used for years but it has now been made into a complete entry level range of  nine wines, all with the same label, but equally artistic and colourful as the other wines. This wine is only 5 years old yet has real character at a very affordable price.
About 8 euros from La Casa del Jerez

Sunday 3 July 2016

Amontillado en rama Añada 2003 19%, Williams & Humbert

Topaz to light amber with brassy highlights, legs.
Fantastic and interesting with lots of Fino flor notes to the fore and comparatively early oxidative characteristics - apple (almost cider), and a gentle oily, nutty note - followed by the more usual hints of glyceric sweetness, hazelnuts and bitter almond. Definitely Amontillado, but a young one and certainly not lacking character nor that charm so common to Amontillados.
Fairly intense, dry with an attractive tang and texture yet not so much of the glyceric sweetness. Up front that cidery note is still there along with a fair bit of bitterness from the flor before it gives way to more nuttiness but not so much toasted nuts as bitter almond. Terrific length.
This seriously interesting wine is a pretty rare thing: a young vintage Amontillado bottled en rama. From the 2003 harvest, it was aged statically and sealed (although one can check on progress as long as a Consejo representative is present) till it was bottled in February 2016. Williams & Humbert have a long tradition of vintage wines going back to 1920, and these old wines are occasionally bottled for sale at high prices, but this is a new departure from oenologist Paola Medina: more accessibly priced wines with serious and unique character made by crianza biológica which is not easy to manage with vintage wines. 92 Parker Points.
25.75 euros per 50cl bottle from Licores Corredera

Friday 1 July 2016

1.7.16 Beltrán Domecq Re-elected Consejo President; Estévez Launches Table Wine

After the Consejo elections on the 17th June all those elected were sworn in at a plenary meeting today. Beltrán Domecq continues as president and his new vice president is Salvador Espinosa, president of the cooperative Las Angustias and owner of Diez-Mérito. Now that the elections are settled the result goes to the Junta agriculture department which will publish it in an official bulletin.

Things are looking up in Jerez and the election of the president and vice president are seen as a signal of burying the hatchet and giving a new impulse to Sherry. The growers are united in defending their interests, in particular recognition of the value of the vineyard, from which the sector has for decades simply sought volume and homogeneity. Now it is the other way round and it is being recognised again that not all vineyards are the same and not all the grapes are the same quality. The market is prepared to pay for that quality and any increase in price must reflect back on the vineyards, as currently they are no more than covering costs.

Grupo Estévez has launched a new table wine, Ojo de Gallo, which is made from 100% Palomino grapes from vines of over 20 years of age in the firm’s 256 hectares of vineyard in the pago Macharnudo Alto. This new wine evokes the minerality which derives from the albariza soil of this iconic pago and has a decent level of acidity to carry it through. Fermented with selected local yeasts and aged six months in tank on its lees, it is a classic example of what Palomino can do. RRP @ 7€ in Spain.