Monday 30 July 2018

Espumoso Fugaz 2017 12.5%, Bodega Muchada-Leclapart

Slightly hazy mid strawy gold with golden glints and a very gentle mousse.
Fresh and appealing with notes of orchard fruit like apple and apricot along with hints of flowers with a certain natural rawness underneath of pure Palomino and a faint salty minerality. It smells a little like mosto only more sophisticated than some and very ripe with a trace of sweetness.
Despite fairly low acidity and that faint hint of sweetness there is a modicum of crispness coming mainly from the fizz (carbonic acid). There is a lot of flavour of ripe apples, possibly pears and quince jelly which is offset by a slightly salty feel, so it starts with a hint of sweetness but finishes dry with a slightly chalky texture. It is quite unusual, but is not lacking charm, or length.
One might say this super interesting wine is a sparkling wine bottled en rama: without filtration, yes, but without disgorging either, so the lees remain in the wine which may be unsightly but they are adding to the flavour all the time till you drink it. I kept the bottle chilled for nearly two weeks and it was still cloudy, but that just isn't a problem. The wine is best described as half-sparkling, having presumably been bottled half way through the fermentation with no licor de tiraje or dosage used: the "ancestral method". With this process the timing of bottling must be very carefully judged, so it is as well that David Leclepart is a Champagne producer, although this process is not used in Champagne. Personally I feel the wine could be drier if, as they state, they want to express the vineyard character, but it is nonetheless very attractive, and I found myself half way through the bottle just writing this. The word "fugaz" means "fleeting or momentary", perhaps referring to the bubbles, but the wine leaves a more lasting impression. Anyway, it is only the first release so who knows what we have in store?!
27.30, Licores Corredera

Sunday 29 July 2018

Manzanilla Deliciosa en rama 2018 15%, Valdespino

Amber tinged strawy gold with golden reflections.
Most attractive with a trace of oxidation adding to the complexity of the yeastiness of the flor and all those classic briny maritime aromas. There are notes of straw, sourdough, bitter almond, an almost creamy/buttery hint, surely from autolysis, and a fresh wild saline note giving zip to an already complex wine.
Quite full and bone dry with lots of flavours from both the top and bottom of the butt balancing perfectly. There are traces of apple and that gentle oxidation with a fresh zingy acidity. It could only be Manzanilla, and one which is close to pasada; intensely flavoured and savoury yet light, crisp and vivacious. Deliciosa!
This excellent wine is made from grapes from the pago Miraflores and comes from selected butts in the solera Misericordia in the XVI century bodega of that name belonging to La Guita in the Barrio Alto of Sanlúcar. It passed through 6 criaderas and a solera before being bottled in April 2018 at over 6 years old with no stabilisation or filtration. Only one saca is made each year in spring when the flor is at its most vibrant, and this is a particularly good one.
9.00 euros per half bottle, Licores Corredera

Saturday 28 July 2018

Ibargüen Crianza 2014 14.5%, Bodegas Ibargüen

Very deep blacky red with a ruby rim showing the slightest trace of maturity.
Big and and ripe with cherry, plum and blackcurrant fruits and traces of smoke and spice, partly from the oaks, which also impart traces of vanilla, toast, clove and cinnamon. There is a great balance of fruits and spices giving the wine good complexity and an interesting and attractive  nose.
Full bodied and characterful with a real southern air. The fruit shows full ripening under a hot Andalusian sun yet, while good and ripe, it is good and fresh, and enhanced by the oak. Decent acidity gives it a certain freshness and the tannins are ripe and unaggressive, so it has a nice, fairly rich texture and a gentle chewiness. length is good and satisfying.
Located in the foothills of the Sierra de Grazalema, about 15 kilometres east of Arcos, this chateau-like bodega is producing very good red wines. This Vino de la Tierra de Cádiz is made from estate grown, hand picked, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon which are vinified and aged separately for approximately 12 months, the Cabernet in American oak and the Syrah in French. The wines are then racked and blended before bottling. The precise ageing period and blend depend on the vintage, but there is slightly more Syrah than Cabernet in this one. Good value.
7.00 euros, Licores Corredera

Friday 27 July 2018

The Oldest Bodega in Jerez

This ancient bodega is thought to have been constructed between 1480 and 1490, before the Moors were definitively expelled from Spain and before Columbus sailed to the Americas. It is located in the parish of San Mateo, the oldest in Jerez, from where the population grew and began to spread, towards the old mosque which is now the site of the Cathedral.

The "tablao" or dance floor for Flamenco in the old bodega.

The history of the bodega is linked to that of the magnificent Palacio del Campo Real in the Plaza Benavente which it adjoins. The palace was built in 1545 on the site of an old Islamic building by Pedro de Benavente y Cabeza de Vaca, a knight and governor of Jerez. He was a man with great political and military power who owned profitable sugar refineries in the Canary Islands among other enterprises. The 5,000 m2 palace, which is rectangular in plan, is built round an arcaded patio with a central fountain and a beautiful garden through which access is gained to the bodega.

The patio of the Palacio del Campo Real. The earthquake and tsunami of 1755 left one or two of the pillars slightly squint.

Being well over 500 years old, the bodega is naturally small by today’s standards, and was probably used for the storage of Don Pedro’s personal wines; certainly no commercial history has been found. There is an ancient buttress, which leads architectural experts to believe it could be even older, but nobody can be sure. Inside, it has a vaulted ceiling and, even more unusually in Jerez, has an upper floor which would have been used as a granary and which is reached by a steep stone stair. The floor is albero, the yellow coloured sandy grit which one sees in all bodegas. Today it contains just a few butts which are for the personal consumption of the owners and their guests, along with a handful of ancient ones which are empty but are there for effect.

Don Manuel and Dona Carmen

Although the palace and its bodega have been in the family for centuries it is only since the 1980s that they have belonged outright to Manuel Domecq Zurita, Viscount of Almocadén and long-time ambassador for Sherry in general and Domecq in particular, and his wife Carmen Cristina López de Solé Martín who have proudly restored it to its former magnificence at great personal cost, and without any financial assistance. While they won an award for conservation of heritage, they lament the current state of the historic centre of Jerez, but understand that the protection of its heritage costs money which is simply not there.  The use of the palace and bodega on various occasions as a film location, and their possible future use as a venue for fiestas as well, will hopefully provide the funds to keep this architectural, historical, cultural and viticultural treasure going.

This article by Jorge Miro appeared a couple of years ago in La Voz del Sur.

Thursday 26 July 2018

Oloroso Castillo de Guzmán 18.5%, Cooperativa Albarizas

Fairly deep mahogany fading to amber with copper highlights.
Forthcoming, fresh and attractive with lots of toasted almond and walnut and hints of caramel, garrapiñada (almond cooked in sugar), toasted bread and oak barrels. The toasted and woody notes, while gentle, give a hint of seriousness to a wine with a bit of charm. It's much better than some coop Oloroso for bars or further ageing, it has character.
Mid to full bodied with a decent attack which quickly mellows and all those toasty, oaky, nutty and caramel flavours come through. It is dry but nicely rounded and not too intense. It doesn't assault the palate with tannin or volatile acidity, it has decent grip but just gives pleasure, and has amazing length. Not super complex but super drinkable.
This attractive wine is made by the Cooperative Albarizas at Trebujena, which is in the production zone and therefore can't use the word Sherry on the label. That is what is though, and this is the first time it has been bottled, to celebrate the coop's 40th anniversary in 2017. It is a limited release and is a blend of wines from selected butts in the solera. The coop, which up till now has only sold its wine in bulk to bars and other bodegas, feels there is a retail market for well priced bottled wine, and has even opened a shop. The wine is not particularly old or strong so it is very useful everyday wine of decent quality and is very good value. I can see it selling well.

4.50 euros per 50cl bottle, Licores Corredera

Wednesday 25 July 2018

25.7.18 More News on the Harvest

Growers are beginning to worry about the lack of the Levante wind. Nobody likes it as it is very hot and dry, but it is just what is needed to dry out the vineyards. Yesterday the Consejo Regulador issued a forecast predicting a possible crop increase of 10% over last year which could amount to 82.5 million kilos and be considerably above the average of 70 million kilos over the last decade. This would suit the growers, who are paid by the kilo, but only if they don’t lose their crop to rot.

(foto:Vanesa Lobo/Diario Jerez)

Curent conditions of excess humidity and lack of Levante create the perfect recipe for the spread of cryptogamic problems such as mildew, oidium and botrytis which are already in evidence in the coastal vineyards. The mild temperatures and overnight dewfall are not helping and the harvest is behind the average by 15 – 20 days and ripening unevenly, while the meteorologists are forecasting more of the same. It is not only Palomino which is affected, of course, but also all the table wine grapes, PX and Moscatel. The situation is tense, and though the alarm bells are not ringing quite yet, everybody is anxiously waiting to see what happens.

Tuesday 24 July 2018

Bodegas: Muchada-Leclapart SL

Jerezano Alejandro Muchado Suarez met the pioneer biodynamic Champagne producer David Marcel Léclapart in 2011 when he helped with the harvest. To an architecture student this was an eye opener and he returned the following year. David is the 4th generation of a small family Champagne business in Trépail in the Montagne de Reims area using traditional and natural methods in their 3 hectares of vineyard. David was impressed when he visited Sanlúcar and since the Jerez and Champagne regions have a great deal in common, particularly soils, and the pair was fascinated by their similarities and differences, they decided on a joint project to produce wines which would demonstrate their own take on the unfortified wines of the Jerez area. Alejandro by now had some experience in wine working with Viticultores Alba.

They work a total of nearly 3 hectares. Alejandro owns old vines in the 1.7 hectare Viña La Platera in the Pago Miraflores which he bought in 2017 and cultivates biodynamically. Some vines here are 60 years old and the youngest 20, all of them Palomino California. They also rent a 0.7 hectare plot in the pago Abulagar near Chipiona planted to 40 year old Moscatel vines. All the vineyards were in a rather poor state and he has been working hard to recuperate them. They rent a small bodega in the Barrio Alto in Sanlúcar and formed their limited company in February 2017. The plan was to show the soils of the vineyards in all their glory.

Vinification is simple. The grapes are hand harvested in the early morning and after pressing are fermented in tanks made of steel, not stainless steel but painted inside with a special ceramic paint, and without refrigeration equipment. Fermentation is kept cool simply by a pair of air conditioning units, and only the absolute minimum of SO2 is added. Barrels are kept full to avoid flor and the wines are bottled unfiltered after brief ageing in old Manzanilla and Amontillado butts as well as other types.

Although their first vintage was 2016, with all the wine vinified in butts, they chose to wait and release the 2017. Their first release was Muchado-Léclapart Univers 2017, made from Palomino Fino and Palomino California from La Platera, but by spring 2018 they had released a total of 6 wines, one sparkling (Fugaz). Production totals over 16,000 bottles – nearly double David’s production of Champagne.

The wines are:
Univers 2017: From the 20 year old Palomino vinified in steel tank
Lumière 2017: From the 60 year old Palomino vinified and aged 9 months in Bordeaux barrels
Elixir 2017: 45%Palomino/55%Moscatel vinified in Bordeaux barrels
Étoile 2017: Old vine Palomino vinified in Manzanilla butts
Vibrations 2016: Palomino vinified on skins and barrel fermented
Fugaz 2016: Sparkling Palomino made by the ancestral method.

Address: Calle Dorantes, 1, 11540 Sanlúcar de Barrameda, Cádiz

Monday 23 July 2018

Vino Blanco Albariza 2017 12%, Grupo José Estévez

Bright, clean pale silvery gold with white gold reflections.
Young, super fresh Palomino with notes of apple, hints of pear and minerals with faint salinity and herbal aromas, but fruit aromas predominate. It is light and very young and some of its aromas are still to develop fully, but it is very promising.
Fresh and reasonably crisp, it is quite a light wine but very much of its place. There is baked apple fruit balancing nicely with a dry minerally chalkiness so typical of the area. Balance is spot on and it has good length. All you need now is some seafood.
The image of a seahorse on the label reflects and pays homage to the origins of the albariza soil on which the vines for this new wine grow. This soil began to form 33 million years ago during the Oligocene epoch at a time when what are now the Sherry vineyards were beneath the sea. Millions of years of marine deposits slowly formed a layer of chalk which is now present in all the finest vineyards of the area. This wine comes from the firm's own vineyards and is exclusively made from mosto yema (first pressings) and the juice is fermented in stainless steel tanks where it is left to deposit its lees before filtration and bottling. It is 100% Palomino and is thus a very Jerezano white wine, a Vino de la Tierra de Cádiz. It is only recently bottled so it will develop more complexity over the next year, especially as the bottle is sealed with a Diam cork (guaranteed never to give cork taint). This is the little sister of Ojo de Gallo which comes from the pago Macharnudo. 
4,50 Licores Corredera

Sunday 22 July 2018

Fino Romate 15%, Bodegas Sánchez Romate

Bright pale silvery gold with white gold highlights.
Very fresh, zesty and yeasty with hints of minerality and a gentle flor bitterness. It is fairly young making it zippy, with traces of fresh herbs in the background like camomile and even a faint trace of  lemon peel. Most attractive.
Light and super fresh with perfect balance, it is dry, clean and refreshing with faint traces of apple, apricot and almond with that slightly more serious flor character just behind. It is none the worse for its youth, in fact that is most of its appeal, and it has very good length.
For 2018 Romate decided to make their standard Sherry range available in a new presentation designed to look more like that of table wines. The move to make the wines less formal-looking has seen them - like the “Unusual Sherries” range which were new wines - being filled into Burgundy bottles in the hope that they will be seen as wines for drinking with food. They have also appointed a new and more dynamic distributor. This then is a Fino with over three years solera age and is light, fresh and perfect with food - but dangerously moreish...
6.99 El Corte Inglés

Saturday 21 July 2018

Brandy Cien Lustros Solera Gran Reserva 40%, M Gil Luque

Polished mahogany fading to amber with coppery highlights.
Very attractive; full, rich and forthcoming, fragrant and elegant. There are traces of dried fruit and Oloroso, vanilla, caramel, dates, orange peel, and furniture polish, all beautifully and subtly melded together so they are hard to separate out, and there is no astringent oak. It smells like holandas matured in Oloroso butts which over time have produced this lovely bouquet.
Plenty of flavour here with vanilla and caramel to the fore backed up by Oloroso and still no astringent wood, though the finish is dry. It is at once intense and refined with a delicate sweetness which seems natural, full at the start then opening out generously and lingering almost eternally.
A lustro is a period of five years, so I imagine a hundred of them implies great age, taking one back to the dawn of brandy and hopefully giving one the inspiration to buy it. This brandy is by no means that old obviously, but it has a respectable minimum 20 years solera age. It used to belong to Manuel Gil Luque who had, in 1912 bought out the old Jerez firm of Fernando Carrasco Sagastizabal. He in turn was bought out by La Guita in 1984, and they were bought out by current owner Grupo Estévez in 2007. So it is an old solera. Confusingly however, the presentation of this brandy is remarkably similar, apart from a bit of string round the neck -and the wording of course - to that of the Marqués del Real Tesoro SGR which is different. Also there used to be another brandy of the same name, from the now disappeared Bodegas Sánchez de Alva. Whatever. This is a lovely brandy.
36.50, Licores Corredera

Friday 20 July 2018

Manzanilla Añada 2012 Saca 4/11 15%, Viña Callejuela

Strawy slightly brassy mid gold with golden glints.
Full and delightful. There are wonderful tensions between flor bitterness and early oxidation, dry scrub and humid barrels and Manzanilla and Manzanilla Pasada. It is really more pasada since it has been ageing more quickly as has not been refreshed with younger wine. While there are some traces of cabezuela, the oxidative notes are more evident. There is a distinct difference between this saca and the last. It is big and serious with those overripe apple and slight caramel notes of oxidation, and yet some brine and faint hints of herbs. Super interesting.
Full and very complex with the faintly saline mineral Manzanilla notes almost, but not yet  totally overtaken by the oxidative ones and there's a bit more body. In fact there are lots of young Amontillado notes with a gentle nuttiness setting in and a trace of salted caramel. It is close to that cusp, and much sooner than a solera wine. Bursting with flavour, it is absolutely lovely.
In 2012 the Blanco brothers kept back 11 butts of that year's Manzanilla for static ageing with the brilliant idea of bottling and releasing the contents of one butt every year, so one could follow the development of the wine year by year from a young Manzanilla to a Manzanilla Pasada to Manzanilla Amontillada to Amontillado. No further fortification will be done so it will end up as a natural Amontillado. The first release was 1/11 in 2015, so this is the fourth, and it was bottled as always in spring (27th April). So this is a vintage Manzanilla from 2012, a little over 5 ½ years old, from a single butt and bottled en rama, and quite delicious! The brothers have other great ideas in the pipeline to watch out for and well deserve their success.
19,30 per 50cl Licores Corredera

Sorry, couldn't wait...!

Thursday 19 July 2018

19.7.18 Harvest Latest

This year’s harvest will be very different to last year’s which was the earliest on record with grapes being picked from 1st August. It looks like being more than a month later, more like it used to be, and right now the grapes are going through the “envero” or colour change which is a key point in ripening. But it has been noticed that some vinifera scions have been putting out roots into the air at grafting points, something which only happens in the tropics and is associated with excess humidity. Certainly winter and early spring brought record rainfall, but this is unheard of. Also virtually unheard of is the appearance of botrytis so early in the season, before the envero, but it too is the result of excess humidity.

Bunches just before envero when the grapes turn golden (foto:Vanesa Lobo/Diario de Jerez)

The grapes are ripening more slowly than usual due to relatively mild temperatures with overnight dewfall and there has so far been no sign of the hot dry Levante wind to dry things out and stop the fungi which cause botrytis, oidium which is widespread especially near the coast, and mildew, which is largely under control. It is turning out to be an expensive vintage in terms of both hours worked and treatments used. What at first looked like being a huge harvest is now looking more like last year’s 75 million kilos or slightly less. While the torrential rain guarantees a large crop, it does not guarantee a healthy one. It looks like the harvest will have to be manual wherever possible as selection will be required, which adds to costs but is something harvesting machines can’t do. So as things stand only a good Levante can help, along with some leaf pruning to better  expose the bunches to the sun.

Wednesday 18 July 2018

Vino Blanco La Riva 2016 13.5%, M Ant. De La Riva

Mid strawy brassy gold with golden highlights.
The first thing you notice is seriousness: depth and a good degree of ripeness; most Palomino table wines are 12% and lack this depth and intensity. It reminded me slightly of a fine Burgundy, Meursault possibly - it certainly has that level of class, and faint oxidative nuttiness. There are as many fruit notes as those of flor with very ripe/stewed apple and quince balancing the bitter ones of the flor. It has a slight orchard air about it with some wild herbs growing nearby, and also a distinct nod to Fino. It is very complex, intense and beautiful.
This is way more complex and concentrated than any white table wine I have come across so far in Cádiz. It has a lovely chalky grapeskin texture and a gentle tension between that lovely ripe fruit and just a little bitter flor edge. It is clean with reasonably low acidity and lingers for ages. No new French oak barrels necessary for complexity here, just outstanding grapes and winemaking - the way it was done in the past. It makes you realise how much has been lost, and how important Ramiro's and Willy's work is in recuperating it. This wine is utterly superb.
This stunning wine was made by Ramiro Ibáñez and Willy Pérez for their new brand, M Antonio de la Riva, for which they bought the rights. The original firm was famed for quality and they want to maintain that, and have got off to a great start with Oloroso and Moscatel (just 90 half bottles) Viejisimos and an outstanding Fino. This white wine is made from old Palomino 84 vines grown in the Viña El Notario, located in the northern part of the Viña El Majuelo, owned by Fundador, in the Macharnudo Alto. It is well inland with a warmer climate but has a decent altitude of some 115 metres and fantastic albariza soil composed of tosca cerrada and barajuela. The grapes were harvested by hand in mid September at a very low yield of about half the normal, and sunned for 8 hours, as was the original La Riva practice, which increased the must weight by 1.2 degrees. The grapes were very lightly pressed for maximum quality and the wine was fermented in butt at ambient temperature using flor yeast, and remained in the butt under the flor for 10 months before only 400 bottles were filled in October 2017 en rama and under a fine quality 2 inch driven cork. If you manage to get hold of a bottle, don't over chill it.
35.50 (and worth every centimo) Guerrita

Tuesday 17 July 2018

Fino 9/65 15%, Alexander Jules

Deep golden amber with golden glints.
Big, generous and rich with lots of yeasty flor and notes of sourdough balanced by a slight strawy buttery note and a hint of almond. There is a fine mineral backbone with a faint trace of apple and a feeling of weight and seriousness. Oxidative notes are just beginning to make an appearance through what must now be pretty weak flor. Most attractive.
Again, full, almost powerful for a Fino which is approaching the crossroads towards Amontillado, but still very much a Fino. Acidity is on the low side, but the bitterness from the flor compensates and is augmented by autolytic notes, faint oxidation and concentration. There is loads of flavour and it carries through to a very long finish. Excellent.
This outstanding Fino comes from the "other" superior Camborio solera which consists of 65 butts selected for their quality and allowed to age longer than the 9-10 years of the normal - and excellent - Camborio which comes from Juan Piñero's Jerez bodega. I think this was the idea of the brilliant oenologist Ramiro Ibáñez, who acted as a consultant. He spotted that some butts had flor of different strains from others and made a feature of it. This wine, then, is a blend composed of a selection from 9 butts in this solera and blends the different yeast strains giving amazing complexity. It was bottled en rama in June 2017 and sealed with a Diam cork.
15 euros per 50cl, Er Guerrita

Monday 16 July 2018

González Byass and Sustainable Viticulture

This interesting article from was written by Raquel Benjumeda

González Byass is working towards sustainable viticulture and their weapons of choice are biological: roses, woodland daisies, lavender, rosemary, oleander, jacarandas and pheromone diffusers. The latter attract male moths into traps so they can't breed, obviating the need for insecticide, and the others protect the vineyard from mosquitos, spiders and fungi. This is what has been happening at the firm’s Viña La Canariera in the pago Carrascal.

Roses are planted at the ends of the rows of vines for the early detection of diseases which can be lethal to the vines such as oidium, a virulent fungus whose spores blow in the wind. It is attracted to the humidity of the rose petals and in a few days it can cover the leaves in an ash-like powder, killing them off. Once alerted, the vineyard staff can spray the roses and the vines with sulphur, a natural antiseptic.

Rose bushes

The woodland daisies which share soil with the vines begin to feed the mosquitos at the most sensitive stages of the vineyard cycle, the flowering and fruiting. There are referred to as weeds but those which grow spontaneously do not affect the vine’s yield. Lots of flowering oleanders will take over the provision of nectar for the mosquitos from the nearby sunflowers when they wilt offering an alternative to vine sap.

This combination of species protects the vines while avoiding the use of contaminating chemicals and is the method used in so called “integrated production” which has been successfully used for many years with positive results for the company and the environment. Integrated production is an intermediate step between traditional and organic viticulture according to the firm’s agronomist Manuel Delgado.


All the firm’s 414 hectares of vineyards are now managed this way, including the ones near Arcos where they make red wine at Finca Moncloa. There a project is under way to plant trees and shrubs to attract useful wildlife. At the 12 hectare La Canariera vineyard the organic conversion has begun, with no chemical products used for over two years. Next year the official green seal will be issued making it one of few organic vineyards in the area.

Along with the careful plantings in the vineyard, the winemakers will install advanced applications which will provide climatic and agricultural data throughout the seasons in real time so they can predict the conditions which might lead to the presence of fungi and insects and be able to act quickly. The idea is to use chemicals only if absolutely necessary.


There is now more colour in the vineyard than in the days when chemicals were used. Manuel Delgado says “we believe that as well as protecting the vines, this new bio diversity will favour an increase in other species which will fill the vineyard with life and colour. Already there are lots of quail and rabbits which live among the native shrubs which are being planted between the rows of vines. It all adds up to a healthier vineyard and a better product”.

This environmental conscience which distinguished Manuel María González, the firm’s founder in 1835, has been passed down the generations of both family and employees. The principle of responsible use of natural resources has resulted in the firm’s ten point sustainability plan “5+5 Caring for the Planet” created by the first five generations and dedicated to the next five. 

These are the firm's "Ten Commandments":

1 Reduce atmospheric emissions by reducing the use of fuel and increasing the use of electric vehicles in the bodegas and the planting of 10,000 native trees in the vineyards over the next 10 years.
2 Reduce the use of lights by installing high efficiency motion sensor bulbs, conduct audits of energy use periodically and harvest the grapes at night.
3 Increase the use of clean energy. Change from biomass boilers to solar panels for heating water in the bodegas.
4 Save water by using rainwater collection ponds, use controlled deficit irrigation and clean used water using specific algae in the firm’s own water purifying plants.
5 Reduce waste from bodega activity by recovering by-products from winemaking and distillation, production of organic fertiliser from cattle manure and 100% re-cycling of paper, cardboard, glass and plastic generated in the bodegas.
6 Change to eco-design, reducing the weight of glass in bottles, using re-cycled containers and packaging, buying cardboard and wood from certified forests, supporting and educating suppliers to achieve better results.
7 Test sustainable agricultural practices in the vineyards with integrated ecological production, substitute chemical treatments for biological ones wherever possible.
8 Conserve the biodiversity of the environment, protect fauna in danger of extinction, and conserve gardens and native species.
9 Undertake to offer people a range of products which are sustainable and respectful of the environment.
10 Social commitment to employees.

Sunday 15 July 2018

Vermouth Rojo Premium 15%, Bodegas Osborne

Deep orange tinged brown with coppery glints.
Bright and bitter at first, it really catches the attention with wormwood and quinine, and then notes of bitter orange peel and hints of cinnamon and sweetness from the Sherry come through and it starts to form a whole. It has an attractive tang and is very appealing.
The Sherry is a little more apparent and that up front bitterness subsides a bit. It is not over sweet and has a smooth gentle texture which is lifted by a light, elegant bitterness which imparts a sort of freshness. This is great vermouth, a little different and full of character.
Although originally launched in May, the new Osborne Vermouth Rojo Premium got a bigger and more official launch at Vinoble 2018. The label is striking and the quality is excellent. It is based on a blend of Medium and PX which give it a very smooth character while the botanicals used, which include wormwood, hierba gitanera (dittany), cinnamon, nutmeg, bitter orange peel are mostly locally sourced and typical of the area giving it a good bitter-sweet balance. 

Saturday 14 July 2018

Atuna 2017 14%, Santiago Jordi

Bright pale lemony gold with golden highlights.
Forthcoming zippy and quite fragrant. Chardonnay can often be a little vegetal with added oak for flavour, but this wine seems not to have any oak and instead has slightly tropical fruity aromas of lemon icing, pineapple and kiwi, very appealing.
It has a lively refreshing tartaric acidity and plenty of those tropical fruit flavours which give it a slightly New World character which is slightly at odds with its Cádiz origins. Nonetheless, it is elegant and fresh and would be perfect for casual summer drinking.
Santiago Jordi Martín is a consultant oenologist and president of the Federation of Associations of Spanish Oenologists. His philosophy is to make interesting wine from small vineyards on poor low fertility soils using traditional methods and varieties with minimal intervention so that the vineyard character can shine through. This 2017 is the first release of Atuna, which is made from 100% Chardonnay, is a Vino de la Tierra de Cádiz. The label illustrates the various cuts of tuna, which the Cádiz coast is famous for, and he produced the wine with accompanying tuna very much in mind. "Bottling the power of the sea of Cádiz, the personality of its aromas and the character of its seafood" as he puts it. Only 6,500 bottles have been produced.
8,95, Licores Corredera

Friday 13 July 2018

Manzanilla Pasada La Gallarda en rama 15%, Bodegas Covisan

Bright mid gold with golden highlights.
Very fresh and at first on the light side but it grows as it opens out and there are some gentle buttery briny hints along with some fresh herbs including camomile and of course some gently bitter flor and the faintest trace of oxidation. It is a very attractive wine with lots of gentle complexities, all nicely balanced and well integrated.
Fairly crisp and very clean and fresh yet it is a bit more serious than first appears with a noticeable minerality and salinity and traces of buttery cabezuela and flor bitterness showing through. It has a slightly chalky texture and a relaxed complexity with a good feel and length. It starts by refreshing the palate and then leaves a long, more complex aftertaste. Good.
Gallarda means elegant, fine, dashing, which suits this wine, though in fact it is the name of the vineyard the grapes came from. It comes from the cooperative COVISAN in Sanlúcar, established in 1968. The brand was introduced recently to respond to the pasada en rama fashion and to celebrate the coop's 50th anniversary. The wine has over eight years solera age and only 1,000 bottles were released en rama. There used to be a Manzanilla Amontillada Gallarda many years ago, but they are not related as the other pre-dated the establishment of the coop.
6 euros per 50cl  ex bodega

Thursday 12 July 2018

12.7.18 Latest Figures for Brandy de Jerez

Brandy de Jerez did not have a good 2017. Despite the strong sales growth noted by the Consejo Regulador in the first quarter of 2018, Ministry of Agriculture figures for spirits with a geographical indication (IG or quality spirits) for 2017 show a 14% fall in both volume sold and income. Sales were below 10 million litres for the first time at 9.2 million litres with a value of 69.2 million euros, as against the 2016 figures of 10.7 million litres and 80.2 million euros.

However the product of Jerez is still far and away the leading Spanish spirit with 53% of total spirit sales, which in 2017 were 17.4 million litres, and 58% of total value which was 19.5 million euros. The 19 Spanish IG spirits are produced by a total of 238 companies, and they saw a drop in sales in 2017 of 10.8% and a drop in income of 11.7%. The IG spirits represent about 8% of total Spanish spirits production which totals 218 million litres.

60% of the IG spirits were sold on the home market. The Ministry’s figures highlight “the great social and economic importance” of Brandy de Jerez which maintains its leadership in exports with a share of 88.4% and a volume of 6.2 million litres. 72% of all IG spirits exports go to countries outside the EU with Asia buying 29%, mainly Brandy de Jerez for the Philippines. In Spain Brandy de Jerez is the second biggest selling spirit with a market quota of 30%, just 1% behind Pacharán de Navarra, but it has a much larger economic value with 58% compared to the 16.2% of Pacharán. Let us hope that the promising figures for 2018 continue.

Wednesday 11 July 2018

11.7.18 IWC Champion Trophy Results

Last night’s gala dinner in London saw the presentation of the top IWC awards. Fortified Winemaker of the Year went to Sergio Martínez of Bodegas Emilio Lustau, who seems to be keeping this award at the bodega as successor to Manuel Lozano who won it seven times. This is Sergio’s second. Ironically the Manuel Lozano Trophy for Fortified Wine went to a Madeira, Justino’s 50 year old Terrantez.

The top awards given to Sherry as a whole were as follows:

Pedro Ximénez Trophy: Harveys PX VORS
Oloroso Trophy: Lustau Almacenista Oloroso González Obregón
Palo Cortado Trophy: Harveys Palo Cortado
Amontillado Trophy: Harveys Very Old Amontillado VORS
Manzanilla Trophy: Booth’s Manzanilla (Williams & Humbert)
Fino Trophy: González Byass Tres Palmas
Cream Sherry Trophy: González Byass Matúsalem VORS
Sherry Trophy: González Byass Tres Palmas
Best Value Champion Fortified: Booth’s Manzanilla (Williams & Humbert)

Tuesday 10 July 2018

10.7.18 International Sherry Week: Event Registration Open

The 5th edition of International Sherry Week will run from 8th - 14th October and is now open for the registration of events. This international event gets bigger every year and there are now events in over 30 countries around the world. It could be pairing Sherry with food, a tasting, tapas, cocktails, a lecture from a Sherry Educator for shop or restaurant staff or simply a party. All sorts of useful material can be downloaded from the official website, where you can find out more and register your event. The best event could win 1,000 € worth of Sherry, so it’s time to start organising yours!

Sunday 8 July 2018

8.7.18 Prediction for the Harvest 2018

Asked for predictions for the 2018 harvest, Consejo Director César Saldaña said the following: “It is still too early to say but so far everything indicates that the harvest will not begin as early as last year, which was a historic record. The first grapes of 2017 were picked on the 1st of August, something quite exceptional. It is tempting to make predictions, but July and August are the key months. Things are still moving slowly in the vineyards and we don’t see a likelihood of grapes being picked until the middle of August in the interior vineyards, but as everyone knows, it is a lottery. Everything points to a larger crop because we have had plenty of rain. Rainfall is a key factor in the capacity of the vines, and this year we have had much more than the average of 620 litres per square metre in some areas, so the albarizas there are saturated. However, the Levante winds are yet to come and they reduce the water content of the grapes, but for the time being it looks like being a large harvest. In terms of quality, no problems have appeared other than the odd thing which has been dealt with quickly, but nothing like the problems we had in 2016 which were very serious. As always, we will find out for sure when we start to pick”.

Saturday 7 July 2018

Peach Brandy 28%, Bodegas Orleans Borbón

Very deep brown like a Cream Sherry with copper highlights, quite viscous.
Intense aromas of super ripe yet tangy peach with fruity background PX notes. It is very rich and full and the brandy used seems to be of very good quality. Naturally it smells sweet and there is a hint of caramel, yet despite the rich sweetness it smells very fresh and appealing.
Sweet up front with soft almost creamy, caramelly PX balancing with that tangy peach. The 20 year ageing has brought all the nuances into harmony giving a very sophisticated product which despite its sweetness finishes clean, and very long. Best enjoyed on its own either straight from the fridge or with some ice.
This delicious, different and highly regarded peach brandy comes from a recipe brought by Princess Beatrice of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha to Sanlúcar from England in 1943, the year the bodega was established. She was a granddaughter of Queen Victoria and wife of Alfonso of Orleans Borbón, an Infante of Spain and unsuccessful pretender to the throne.The recipe was slightly adapted and improved to work well with the brandy from the Orleans Borbón soleras. Specially selected peaches are steeped in brandy before some sweet PX wine is added and the result is aged for 20 years. This liqueur has much greater colour and depth and a higher strength than most of the others, not to mention much greater age, which makes it far superior. Most after all are just white spirit with concentrated peach flavouring. This is real. Production is very small and interestingly, but oddly, the RE bottler code is that of Pedro Romero who went bust two years before this was bottled.
30 euros, Guerrita

Friday 6 July 2018

6.7.18 Fiesta de la Vendimia 2018

The poster and programme for this year’s Fiesta de la Vendimia have been announced. The dates are 1st – 16th September and the Fiesta is dedicated to the town of Rota. The art of cooperage will be featured, with an art exhibition, guided visits, a round table and lectures. This ancient office has seen many ups and downs and has come from almost disappearing to huge growth thanks mainly to barrel seasoning for the spirits industry.

The press announcement at the city council's Bodeguita.

As always the first and most symbolic act will be the treading of the grapes at the Cathedral but there will be all sorts of other activities including concerts, flamenco, exhibitions, guided walks, bodega visits and activities for children such as learning to use a venencia. The popular De Copa En Copa tasting event will take place at the Claustros de Santo Domingo. Horses will also feature as the 9th September is the European Day of the Horse.

The full programme (in Spanish) can be found here:

Thursday 5 July 2018

Palo Cortado Cardenal VORS 22%, Valdespino

Beautiful bright mahogany with coppery glints and a trace of green at the rim.
Aromatic, sophisticated and fresh with notes of polished antique furniture made from exotic woods, lots of toasted almonds and hazelnuts. The years have converted many nuances into a magnificent bouquet. It is hard to pick out individual aromas as they have all harmonised into an extremely elegant whole, not too powerful but very refined, a " vino de pañuelo" if ever there was.
It certainly has structure with its 22% alcohol, 8.5 g/l total acidity (expressed as tartaric), and there is naturally a certain level of volatile acidity, not to mention traces of oak tannin, but none of this can spoil such a joyful experience. Yes it is tangy but it has an elegant texture and while intense it is perfectly behaved with incredible balance and that lovely lingering exotic polished nutty flavour.
This absolute gem is made from vines of over 50 years of age in the pure albariza soils of a single vineyard in the pago Macharnudo Alto. Everything at Valdespino is about continuity and this wine started out either as Fino Inocente or AmontilladoTio Diego. Through extremely careful selection of butts, suitable candidates were selected for the first Palo Cortado, Viejo CP. After ageing there through 4 criaderas and the solera the wine comes out with some 25 years of age. The best butts then go through another 4 criaderas and a solera to finally emerge with over 50 years of age. Valdespino don't mess about; only the best will do, and this wine is magnificent. 99 Parker Points.
85 euros per half bottle, Licores Corredera

Wednesday 4 July 2018

La Encrucijada (the Crossroads) By Willy Pérez

This interesting article article by Willy Pérez appeared recently in the Diario de Jerez 

Jerez enjoyed one of its golden ages after the victory of Juan Haurie (over the Gremio de la Vinatería) in 1778. Increasing sales and prices of our wines during the XIX century enriched the city but inevitably ended in a period of overproduction and speculation which resulted in the crisis of 1870. Lower quality French sweet wines took over from ours which were accused of no longer having their former quality.

This poor image of Sherry led a group of varied personalities of the era, led by the Marqués de Casa Domecq, the Conde de Aldama and Gumersindo Fernández de la Rosa, to promote Sherry as not simply a sweet wine blended in the bodega with arrope or vino de color. They looked to the vineyard in search of inimitable products and launched their own crusade to promote styles of Sherry which were less well-known abroad but of the highest quality: Finos, Amontillados and Olorosos. Samples were sent to the big world wine exhibitions and these Sherries triumphed. In the 1920s Sherry at last began to grow again. The city had passed a crossroads and began to enjoy another golden age which would last until the end of the 1970s. You probably know the rest of the story.

Obviously there were different reasons and different people involved, but essentially what happened was the same as a century before: it all got too big, speculation was rife and in the end the vineyard was abandoned to make bodega wine. Now, almost 40 years later we are trying again to connect Sherry to the vineyard and to its albariza soil, a unique link with the wine of past generations. There are now many oenologists starting up very visible and expensive projects making wines with short ageing periods but with the unmistakeable identity of Jerez. These high quality white wines are not a substitute for the traditional fortified wines, like the Finos were for the old sweet wines. And they are being sold for a sensible price. Once these new wines have formed the base of the Jerez pyramid, the traditional fortified wines will be able to raise prices and find the position they deserve.

In the crisis of the XIX century it was not easy to get all parties to agree and it is not easy now. There are many parties involved in a denomination with such a long history, and we don’t yet know how this new crop of white wines will take shape. However I am certain we will be able to pass the crossroads again.

Tuesday 3 July 2018

Oloroso en rama Añada 2009 19.5% Williams & Humbert

Bright polished antique chestnut to deep amber with bright brassy glints.
Full, assertive and quite rich with lots of walnut and toasted almond and traces of raisin, maple syrup and moist pipe tobacco along with a faint traces of cigar box, caramel and a distant orange note. It smells quite young still with that fruity note and not a great deal of wood, but it certainly has some elegance and complexity, which can only develop further.
Big at the start with a good firm structure, then it mellows and softens into a mouth-filling super smooth Oloroso, still quite young with its hints of dried fruit. There is also walnut and a hint of caramel and it has a really attractive texture aided by glycerine. It is a extremely satisfying wine, intensely flavoured and with terrific length.
This is essentially the same wine as that bottled in February 2016 and in my notes of September 2016. It is now just over 8 years old, this example having been bottled in October 2017, and has developed ½ degree more alcohol and further complexity. The grapes came from old vines in the firm’s vineyards in the pagos Añina and Carrascal and only mosto yema was used. The wine was fortified to 18° and aged statically – not in solera – and sealed by the Consejo Regulador in butts of both 500 and 600 litres capacity. It scored 90 Parker points, but might well earn more for a later saca or after a few years in bottle.
13,95 per 50cl, De Albariza

Monday 2 July 2018

2.7.18 Independent Growers Forced to Join Cooperative

Independent growers are seeking refuge in the cooperatives as they find it increasingly hard to make a profit. The co-op Virgen de las Angustias (Covijerez) now has a waiting list of growers who have been selling their grapes directly to the bodegas but are now seeking to join the coop because of the desperate situation caused by the bodegas’ resistance to paying more for the grapes.

Last year Covijerez incorporated growers with 50 hectares of vineyard, and according to the co-op president Salvador Espinosa this year they are expecting growers with another 150 – 200 hectares owned by four or five growers who can no longer manage alone with the costs of cultivating a vineyard, especially in a year when more treatments are needed to keep the grapes healthy. The coop cannot take any more growers as it is almost at capacity.

The association of independent growers Asevi-Asaja has long been complaining about the complicated situation which growers are suffering because of low grape prices in one of the few areas where they are still paid by weight rather than quality leaving growers to abandon the vineyard or join a cooperative as their only possible alternatives.

“More and more growers are joining the cooperatives which can defend themselves better than individuals” says Asevi president Francisco Guerrero, pointing out the advantage of transforming the grapes into must instead of delivering grapes directly due to their perishability, and offers co-op members more room for manoeuvre when negotiating prices. Currenly the price is a ridiculous 0.35€ per kilo where in Champagne it is 6€ per kilo, and there, unlike Jerez, they have a quality scale according to vineyard classification.

The independent grower makes a contract with the bodega before the harvest in case of losing the crop and is handicapped by the severe sanctions imposed by the Competition Commission some years ago on the practice, then widespread, of fixing the price of grapes and must.

The Consejo Regulador has declared itself on repeated occasions to be in favour of the now longstanding claim of the growers to determine the grape price in terms of quality and not the weight so that standards could be established in function of sugar content, ripeness, acidity etc. But with few exceptions, the bodegas are not in favour of paying extra for the quality offered by a particular pago or parcel, and are thus running against the current trend highlighting the importance of the soil, which some say is just hot air saying that the wine is made in the bodega and the origin of the raw material is of no importance.

Some oenologists openly admit that these wines “in white lab coats” along with other practices which have done so much damage to the trade have not been produced for some time and many well –known Sherry winemakers are saying that the vineyard and the bodega are equally important in the singularity of these wines.

When playing to the gallery, all the bodegueros of the area sing the praises of the wonderful quality of their wines, but behind closed doors the quality seems to matter little when they argue that the wine is born in the bodega and that the origin of the grapes doesn’t matter too much as they stick to the custom of quantity over quality.

The paradox, according to Guerrero, is that the few bodegas which buy grapes continue to insist on quality despite being unwilling to pay for it. And then there are the firms with interests in the BOB market, the own brands which can be found on the supermarket shelves sometimes for less than two euros. These represent the worst of the legacy of the times when the area backed volume sales at the expense of the price and prestige which is costing so much to restore.

Salvador Espinosa says that the bodegas must take note that the vineyards have to be profitable, “not so that the growers can grow rich, but so that they can offer quality and afford the necessary investment in their vineyards”. In his judgement the problem is that “we have to arrive at a price for the wine on the shelf with the price of the grapes already built in”, something which simply doesn’t happen in the area where the grower looks for volume as the lesser evil to make the most of the harvest and keep going.

Paradoxically, the wines from the historic pagos of Jerez where the soil is the philosopher’s stone, are contributing decisively to the recuperation of prestige and the increase in the price of Sherry. Flying the flag for this new movement are the young winemakers and a few small and large bodegas, and the possibility of changes to the regulations to accommodate these practices which bring value and prestige to the DO is at last being debated.

Sunday 1 July 2018

The Satellite that was too expensive for Jerez

Since the recent defeat of Mariano Rajoy’s government we now have a new one under Pedro Sánchez. The new minister for science and technology, Pedro Duque, was perhaps an obvious choice as he was Spain’s first astronaut. Back in 2007 he visited Jerez where he signed a butt at Fundador “Tecnología espacial para un vino especial” (space technology for a special wine – it works better in Spanish). The reason for his visit, at the behest of the Consejo Regulador, was that he was promoting Deimos Imaging, a company specialising in observing Earth from a satellite with multiple applications to benefit agriculture and vineyards by monitoring things like disease, ripeness and soil humidity. He gave a presentation to bodegueros and growers at the Consejo, but the cost of using the system was, well, exorbitant, and nobody could afford it at a time when Sherry was still enduring its long crisis and the world financial crisis was just beginning.

The Deimos 2 satellite launched 2014

The project was never going to work in Jerez. It cost 30 million euros for the satellite, its launch and a reception station on earth, so for a vineyard of between 20 and 100 hectares the price for a report varied between 3-5,000 euros - and two were needed per season. Despite a special introductory offer price none of the bodegas signed up. The satellite was eventually launched in 2009 and provided information for other wine regions and crops. In 2014 a second satellite was launched which had to offer a more comprehensive range of services as by now drones were available at much more affordable prices. Pedro Duque left the company in 2011.