Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Vinoble Tastings 2018: From Miraflores la Baja to Macharnudo Alto

Eduardo Ojeda, oenologist at Grupo Estévez, and his partners in Equipo Navazos Jesús Barquín and Álvaro  Girón gave an excellent tasting focusing on these two iconic and very different pagos. Eight wines were tasted, from Miraflores the "grand cru" of Sanlúcar (left) and  from Macharnudo, the "grand cru" of Jerez (right). The styles contrast starkly with the crisp, fresh character of  Sanlúcar versus the full riper hallmark of Macharnudo.

The pago Miraflores lies on the south western outskirts of Sanlúcar, due south of the mouth of the Guadalquivir and consists, as do all pagos, of many individual vineyards totalling some 150 hectares. Here the albariza is very pure and white with altitudes varying between about 45 and 60 metres above sea level, and most vineyards face west allowing them to take full advantage of the moist Poniente wind. Many famous Manzanillas are made from Miraflores grapes. Miraflores la Baja, bordering on the Pago Carrascal, is where the grapes for La Guita have come from since 1972.

The pago Macharnudo is a little over 5 km  north north west of Jerez, much farther inland and about 20 km from the sea with altitude reaching 135 metres. It is probably the oldest pago in Jerez and certainly the finest. This large 800 hectare pago divides into two parts: Alto and Bajo. Its vineyards generally face southwest and are extremely pure white albariza, however its climate is warmer and drier than that of Miraflores, giving fuller Finos which can go on to make great Amontillados. This is the source of the single vineyard Fino Inocente from Valdespino, land owners here since the XIII C.

Manzanilla La Guita 15% (with 2 years bottle age)
While the current release is crisp, zippy and delicious, this was more intense, complex and serious. Two more years make all the difference; a far better wine.
Manzanilla La Guita en rama saca Oct. 2017 15%
Blended from selected butts from the soleras in both bodegas, this was recognisably the same but more complex and intense yet. Like the above will improve for years in bottle.
La Bota de Palo Cortado 75 "Sanlúcar" 18%
Made at La Guita by Equipo Navazos, old vines, single vineyard (Miraflores la Baja), single vintage (2010), very brief flor contact, 250l barrels full to limit oxidation. Salinity, caramel, apple, gently nutty and extremely elegant with a long life in bottle ahead.
Vino Blanco Navazos Niepoort 2009 13%
Palomino fermented in butts and 10 months on fine lees and under flor. This was a very hot year and the wines were fuller, darker and stronger, so this is full, with low acid, stewed apple, but lovely.
Ojo de Gallo 2016 12% VT Cádiz
Grapes from a 35 ha Valdespino plot in Macharnudo, fermented in tank and aged there for 6-8 months. Fresh, balanced, chalky, apple, some body, will age in bottle, all Macharnudo characteristics.
Fino Inocente 15% Valdespino
Classic single vineyard Macharnudo Fino. Barrel fermented, aged for 10 years through 10 criaderas and solera, two annual sacas. Inocente feeds the Amontillado Tio Diego solera without further fortification and also the Palo Corado. Full, chalky, real class, needs bottle age, classic Macharnudo.
Amontillado Tio Diego 18.5%, Valdespino
Inocente with another 8 years of oxidative ageing. Again 10 criaderas and solera. Some of this wine also supplies Palo Cortado. Super smooth, elegant and sophisticated with lots of nuts. A classic.
Palo Cortado Cardenal VORS 20.5%, Valdespino
Sublime, and it all started with Inocente. This wine is over 50 years old yet it is amazingly elegant, complex and beautifully balanced with very little astringency, intense but refined and lingers on the palate forever. This small solera is fed by Palo Cortado Viejo CP which is fed by Inocente and a little Tio Diego. No wonder the Macharnudo is regarded as the grand cru of Jerez.

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