Saturday, 15 September 2018

Manzanilla San León White Label 15%, Bodegas Argüeso

Fairly pale golden Straw with bright golden highlights.
The super fresh and fairly intense maritime aromas are not surprising as the bodega is among the closest to the estuary. They are strongly saline with very pungent flor, bitter almond and dry scrub along with faint notes of seaweed and esparto in the background.  Cracking nose.
Intense and full of character, it is a big Manzanilla with considerable concentration and yet there are only faint notes of cabezuela; the bitter yeastiness is mostly – but not all - from the wine’s surface, and there is no shortage of that. It epitomises the Spanish word “punzante” (sharp) but in a wine context, meaning up-front, crisp, incisive, pungent. In the very long finish there are briny notes of sourdough and cabezuela and a dry chalky texture. It is amazigly complex for wine which is not yet really a Manzanilla pasada - though it is getting close.
This wine was launched comparatively recently and fairly quietly – until it won the Manzanilla Trophy at the International Wine Challenge 2017. It is a blend of selected butts in the Manzanilla solera which dates back to 1822 and it has an average age of over 6 years. Back in the day Don León de Argüeso separated out some particularly good butts to form his own private stock and that is now sold as Reserva de Familia, the firm’s top Manzanilla. This wine however, is arguably better still – I tasted them side by side, along with the standard San León, and while there are obvious similarities, this one is darker in colour - probably en rama but there's no mention of this - more intense, bitter and wild, possibly at the expense of elegance, but certainly not class. The label resembles one used in the past. Most of the firm’s production is Manzanilla with the wine being sold at various ages under various brands: Fina, La E (draught only), Medallas, San León and Reserva de Familia, and frankly they are all excellent. Judging by the quality of this wine I reckon even more interesting Manzanillas could yet be to come from this revitalised bodega. Great price too.
5.95 euros per 50cl, De Albariza

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