Friday 31 May 2019

Fino La Barajuela 2016 15%, Bodegas Luis Pérez

Mid depth old gold with golden highlights.
Full, fresh, ripe and quite fruity with traces of quince jelly, stewed apple, perhaps a trace of apricot and a faint almond paste note along with a hint of sweetness from the sunned grapes. Very aromatic, most attractive, and quite different from the normal thinner more bitter flor driven wines, yet there is a faint mineral, chalky, marine note in the background and just a trace of flor.
Fairly intense and well rounded with a light grape skin texture, and a suspicion of residual sugar. There is an attractive gentle acidity with just a trace of flor to balance that hint of sweetness and all that fruit. You can see at once that  flor really does obscure fruit and vineyard and vintage characteristics, and it is a joy to taste such beautifully made proof of this. The finish is long, clean and dry with a hint of that albariza chalky texture.
This is a special and unusual wine. It is a single vineyard, old vine, unfortified, vintage, Fino. The grapes come from the barajuela type of albariza soil in the historic El Corregidor vineyard in the pago Carrascal with vines of over 40 years of age. They are picked slightly later than most so that they have a higher sugar content which will result in the desired 15%  alcohol content after 6 or 7 hours of sunning. They are pressed very lightly in a vertical press, giving a very low yield (35%) but much greater quality, and the must is transferred to butts where it ferments without temperature control until it is ready. Care is taken to minimise the influence of flor by keeping the butts topped up as the intention is to demonstrate the style of the vineyard. "Menos velo y más suelo" as Willy Pérez puts it (less flor and more soil). The result is amazing, especially when one takes into account its youth at only about 2½ years old, and that´s why it is already sold out. It  has become almost a cult wine.
75 euros, Licores Corredera

Thursday 30 May 2019

Amontillado en rama 2001 saca enero 2019 20%, Williams & Humbert

Deep amber with old gold highlights and the faintest trace of green at the rim.
Generous and forthcoming aromas of toasted almond and hazelnut with a faint hint of garrapiñadas (almonds in caramel) giving a trace of sweetness to balance the crispness and a hint of bitterness and salinity deriving from the flor stage, and after all these years. Attractive, interesting and charming.
Pronounced initial notes of caramel and toffee give the wine considerable roundness and balance out most of the tangy volatile and bitter flor flavours. They are followed by lots of nuts and a very light grip from wood tannin making the wine is amazingly smooth, fairly light and quite lively. It is perhaps a shade less crisp than a solera Amontillado and has a hint of the old sunned rather than fortified style, and despite fairly low acidity has great length.
Bottled in January 2019, this lovely and fascinating Amontillado is over 17 years old. The grapes came from the usual sources in the pagos Añina and Carrascal and the first pressing juice was fermented and fortified to 15.5% then barrelled up for static ageing in 600 litre butts. So far in the añadas project the wine was left to become Amontillado naturally by allowing the flor to die off as the alcoholic strength rose, but this was the first wine to receive a second fortification, to 18%, and I would guess fairly late on. 2001 was a normal year weather-wise.
38.90 per 50cl, Licores Corredera


Wednesday 29 May 2019

29.5.19 Decanter World Wine Awards Results 2019

One of the major international wine competitions, this 16th edition of DWWA involved 280 expert tasters from 30 countries including 70 Masters of Wine and 23 Master Sommeliers. They examined 17,000 wines blind over two weeks awarding 50 Best in Show, 148 Platinum, 480 Gold, 4,164 Silver and 7,368 Bronze medals. A quick calculation reveals that over 70% of the wines entered scored a medal of some sort. Make of that what you will. Anyway the following are the results for Sherry, and are more or less the usual suspects. I have not included Silver and Bronze as there are just too many wines to plough through. (Silver medals score 90-94 and Bronze 86-89).

Best in Show (Best of the Platinm wines)
Lustau 30 Year old VORS Oloroso (97)
Lustau Almacenista Amontillado Antonio Caballero (98)

Platinum (97-100 points)
Coop Católico Agrícola Moscatel de Pasas Los Madroñales (97)
Lustau 30 Year Old VORS PX (97)
Lustau 30 Year Old VORS Amontillado (98)
Lustau 30 Year old VORS Palo Cortado (97)
Lustau Almacenista Fino Obregón (97)
González Byass Tres Palmas (98)
González Byass Una Palma (97)

Gold (95-96)
Hidalgo La Gitana Napoleón VORS Amontillado (96)
González Byass Amontillado del Duque VORS (96)
González Byass Matúsalem Cream VORS (96)
González Byass Dos Palmas (96)
Lustau 20 Year old VOS PX (96)
Lustau Almacenista Amontillado Obregón (95)
Lustau Almacenista Palo Cortado Cayetano del Pino (96)
Osborbe Amontillado 51-1ª VORS (96)
Osborne Solera PΔP Medium (96)
Sánchez Romate Amontillado Olvidado (95)
Valdespino Don Gonzalo Oloroso VOS (95)

Tuesday 28 May 2019

Vermut Goyesco 15%, Delgado Zuleta

Pale to mid strawy gold with golden highlights and a hint of viscosity.
Fresh, light and forthcoming with notable hints of wormwood and gentian but not enough to completely obscure the Manzanilla base. There are gentle floral and citric notes and a touch of sweetness and background traces of green herbs and salinity, gently complex and very attractive.
There is sweetness present (though the bodega calls it dry), as there is in most "dry" vermouths, but it is not excessive and balances well with the light bitterness, that faint salinity and a refreshing gently fruity acidity. There are also - naturally - herbal notes on the palate and it finishes fairly dry with good length and a lingering gentian note. A very good aperitif.
This new vermouth was launched only a couple of weeks ago and looks set to be popular. The idea was to combine two of the great apéritif wines: Manzanilla and vermouth to make something really special - and the first of its kind. The base wine is of course Manzanilla, selected from the now centenarian La Goya solera, in which they macerate - separately - a range of natural extracts inspired by the flora in Sanlúcar´s special Coto Doñana environment. Naturally it contains wormwood and gentian to provide the bitterness, and botanicals such as sweet and bitter orange peels. The others are secret. Once the maceration is complete, all the aromatised wines are blended together and aged together for 6 months in ex Manzanilla butts before filtration and bottling.
13.95, De Albariza

Monday 27 May 2019

Forlong Rosado 2018 14%, Bodega Forlong

Very pale orangey pink, onion skin perhaps with very pale coppery gold highlights.
Soft, light, fresh and delicate with traces of the hallmark blackcurrant aroma of Cabernet along with hints of raspberry and strawberry sweeties, perhaps also traces of sherbet and rose petals. Lovely.
Delicate and refreshing, clean and remarkably tasty with all those fruits mentioned already and perfectly balanced acidity making it quite soft,  and extremely elegant. There is a faint saline note at the end which gives away its origins and it has good length and considerable charm.
This delightful rosado comes from Alejandro Narváez and Rocío Áspera who are based near El Puerto de Santa  María at the Finca El Olivar de Forlón on the fringes of the pago Balbaina. It was once a Sherry vineyard owned by Matthiesen Furlong, hence the name. They are always coming up with interesting, beautifully made wines, and everything is done by hand. Anyway this wine is made from 100% Cabernet Sauvignon grown, along with Merlot and some Tintilla in four hectares of vineyard planted some 50 years ago known as the Finca La Greduela near Jerez, on albariza soil which they rent and farm organically. The grapes are harvested manually, and after an extremely light pressing, mostly just by gravity, the must is fermented in a stainless steel tank at a very low temperature (15°). After fermentation the wine is transferred, lees and all, to another tank where the lees are stirred weekly over two months. The wine is then allowed to settle and is bottled with no stabilisation. Very pale rosados like this are known as "rosados de lágrima" (tear) as the juice is expelled slowly slowly from the grapes rather like tears. They are much tastier than they look.
8.70 euros, Licores Corredera

Sunday 26 May 2019

Bodegas: Vélez SA

This bodega, which deserves to be much better known, was founded by Manuel García Balbás in 1857. He, like many bodegueros of the time, was a “montañés”, coming from Cabuérniga (Santander) and started out as an almacenista in Jerez. Before long he had three “tiendas de ultramarinos” which were grocery shops specialising in a wide range of goods imported from the colonies in the Americas. 

Manuel García Balbás

These shops were located in Cádiz, San Fernando and Chiclana, and it was at the latter, in 1857, where he set up in the wine business with 400 butts he had bought from almacenistas in Jerez; Pedro Juan de Mier y de la Vega, his uncle Juan J Balbás and Manuel de Elejalde y Coma. He also bought the bodegas San Antonio, the firm´s base to this day, La Carmela and Andana Húmeda as well as various adjacent sites in calles Soledad, San Antonio and Rejas Verdes into which he expanded during the last decades of the XIX century.

He joined forces with his son in law, José Vélez Sánchez, also a montañés (from Herrera de Ibrio, Cantabria) who was married to his only daughter, Elisa García de Mier. José owned the bodegas La Cruz, Santa Marta, Santa Teresa, Santa Elisa, San José and San Juan, the latter two having originally belonged to the Irish merchant and cargador a Indias Robert White Fleming in the XVIII century. All the bodegas are located close to both the Atlantic and the river Iro, giving them ideal ageing conditions for the wines.

Manuel died in 1905 leaving his business to José who changed the trading name to Bodegas Vélez and consolidated the firms, becoming one of the most important wine suppliers in the Cádiz area. His brands Fino Reguera, Oloroso Claverán, Amontillado Solera 1891 and Moscatel Especial were well known (and are still produced). José died in 1960 and his heirs converted the firm to a limited company, but it is still in family hands and the bodegas extend to some 15,000 square metres in the centre of Chiclana. Being located here, in the Production Zone, they cannot sett their wine as Sherry, but they do a bit of Sherry cask seasoning for the whisky trade.

Bodega Pieza Nueva houses the Fino Reguera solera

Products: Along with those mentioned above are: Fino Vélez, PX Vélez, Palo Cortado Vélez, Oloroso 1960, Carmela Cream, and the Palomino/Moscatel table wine Castillo Sancti Petri.

Address: Calle San Antonio, 3, Chiclana de la Frontera, Cádiz
Telephone: (0034) 956 400 053
Vists? Yes, by appointment

Saturday 25 May 2019

Manzanilla en rama Nave Trinidad 15%, Barbadillo

Faintly brassy strawy gold with golden highlights.
Very fresh with delicate floral and herbal notes and with the bitter almondy flor characteristics kept to a minimum, though there is a certain yeastiness. There are traces of briny salinity too, and while it is (deliberately) a less complex and intense wine than the firm´s other en ramas, it exudes freshness and charm, getting a shade more complex as it warms up.
Light, clean and fresh, fairly zesty with distant echoes of fruit along with grassy hints of green meadow herbs, and a trace of camomile (manzanilla in Spanish). Acidity is perfect and there is a very faint trace of chalky texture, while the finish is clean and long with a little complexity sneaking in there - and rather moreish.
This is a completely new and very good Manzanilla en rama from Barbadillo which, while it has great quality, is intended to fill a gap between regular Manzanilla and the more complex and expensive Manzanillas pasadas en rama like Solear Pastora and Arboledilla, providing a very characterful wine at a reasonable price and aimed at younger people. This is also reflected in the label design. The firm´s oenologist, Montse Molina, has created a particular solera of 36 butts for this wine by selecting suitable wines from criaderas in the main solera, mainly those housed in the bodega El Toro, the firm´s first bodega. This XIX century bodega is designed on traditional lines with four warehouses built round a square patio, each giving – over time – slight differences in ageing conditions. One of these warehouses (“naves” in Spanish) is called “Trinidad”. This delicious new wine has an average age of four years and is only available in ½ bottles, 20,000 in this first saca. I can´t imagine how Barbadillo could have done a better job in fulfilling the brief they set themselves. Trinidad is also a Spanish girl´s name which keeps the brand to the feminine tradition for Manzanilla brand names.
8.50 euros, De Albariza

Friday 24 May 2019

23.5.19 Bodegas 501 to be Auctioned Off

The Sanish central tax authority, the Agencia Tributaria (or Hacienda as it is known), is to auction off the old firm of Bodegas 501 in its entirety due to its inability to pay taxes owed. According to some, the origin of this sorry tale goes back a couple of decades to an alleged fraud in the payment of alcohol taxes, and the proprietors, José Carlos Torres Gázquez and family and one or two others, reached an agreement with Hacienda offering their site and premises, which have great potential for conversion into housing, as a guarantee. However the bureaucracy involved in changing the oficial use of the site took forever and then the real estate crisis arrived, which made the agreement unworkable.

In fact, Bodegas 501, originally known as Bodegas Carlos & Javier de Terry dating from 1783 and re-named after their famous and very successful Brandy 501, ceased their bodega activities twelve years ago and converted themselves into distributors, albeit of their own brands. In 2010 they signed a deal for Sánchez Romate to produce and bottle 501 for the export market, having agreed some six months previously a similar deal with Osborne to produce three versions of 501 – Solera, Grana and Oro - for the domestic market. The soleras were transferred to Romate and Osborne respectively, both of whom have more modern and efficient installations which keep costs down.

 The auction will take place on 28th May and in two lots. The first is the buildings which consist of two warehouses and the land they stand on in Calle Valdés in El Puerto de Santa María, for which Hacienda have fixed a starting bid price of 3.2 million euros. The second lot is the industrial proprty rights to 24 brands of wines and brandies, most in disuse, and Hacienda have fixed a starting bid price for these of 11.3 million euros.This sad news comes in the wake of the virtual demise of Garvey.