Saturday, 20 July 2019

Vino Blanco Las Mercedes 2018 12%, Viña Callejuela

Paleish bright strawy gold with golden glints.
Very young and very Palomino with plenty of the typical apple and stewed apple aromas and perhaps some traces of malic acid and pear. It is very fresh with an open-air in an orchard sort of character and some faint floral notes, but there is a little weight behind, and less of the Sanlúcar "wildness" and seaside air. It is lovely now but a year in bottle should make it show of its best.
Fresh, zesty, clean and lightly tangy with a slight chalky texture and plenty of apples. Añina wines are somewhere between the weight and style of Sanlúcar and Jerez, and this is right between the fuller Doña Francisca and the crisper Callejuela. It is very elegant with real vineyard character, precisely what the brothers were aiming for.
The pago Añina is nearer Jerez than Sanlúcar and the Las Mercedes vineyard is at 92 metres altitude, on good deep albariza with a warmer, drier climate than Callejuela, and it shows. These three wines were the brainchild of Ramiro Ibáñez, the extremely talented consultant oenologist for the Blanco brothers, to show the annual vintage variations and the key differences between the vineyards. The wines are totally natural and a little flor appears on them, but the wine is bottled before it has a chance to have much effect.
13.50, De Albariza

Friday, 19 July 2019

Ojo de Gallo 2017 12.5%, José Estévez

Bright pale strawy gold with golden highlights.
Fresh with notable minerality and plenty of Palomino apple, it has that gentle richness and elegance so typical of Macharnudo wines - emphasised a lille by lees ageing - and there is also a certain salinity. There is even the faintest honeysucle note after a while. Most attractive.
Lots of crunchy apple up front with a trace of malic acidity, then it softens off and some of that Macharnudo body comes through rounding it off nicely. There is a background trace of apple tart and custard too which almost obscures the classic chalky texture and trace salinity.
This is the third release of this excellent and successful table wine made from the firm´s own extensive vineyards in the pago Macharnudo Alto, one of the highest vineyard areas of Jerez and the farthest from the sea. The vines are around 25 years old and the must is fermented in stainless steel tanks using natural yeasts. After fermentation the wine is left on fine lees for six months before stabilisation and bottling in spring.
8.20 euros, Licores Corredera

Thursday, 18 July 2019

Bodegas: Peter Sisseck

Peter Sisseck is a Dane who has lived and worked in Spain for 30 years and has been famous for the almost legendary and very expensive (usually over 1,000 euros) Ribera del Duero red “Pingus” since 1995 and more recently the second wine “Flor de Pingus” and another fine red called “PSI”. He is also the oenologist and partner with Carlos del Rio González-Gordon, of the González Byass family,  in another Ribera del Duero bodega: Hacienda Monasterio and works in Bordeaux as well. For years the two men have been thinking about producing a white wine of a similar quality to Pingus and decided on Fino Sherry. So in 2017 Peter and Carlos bought a mid XIX century bodega in Calle Francisco Javier from Juan Piñero. It contains 444 butts of fine quality Fino.

L-R: Carlos del Rio, Peter Sisseck and Ángel Zamorano in the bodega

Juan Piñero had bought the bodega in 2006 from the almacenista Ángel Zamorano - who had run it for 33 years having started from scratch in 1974 - and installed the Fino Camborio solera (originally Terry) which he now owned. His oenologist Ramiro Ibáñez separated out 65 butts which were removed to the Piñero bodega in Sanlúcar, where he retained and continues to use the brand name. The rest of the Camborio solera had been refreshed using mostos from the pagos Macharnudo and Añina produced by Viña Callejuela.

At about the same time as they bought the bodega, Peter Sisseck and Carlos del Rio bought 2 hectares in the pago Macharnudo Alto and the 8 hectare Viña Los Corrales in the highest part of the pago Balbaina (at 92 metres) which are 35 to 40 years old and now being cultivated organically and as soon as practical biodynamically. The solera system was divided into two - one Macharnudo Solera and one Balbaina solera, and they are now refreshed with mosto from their own vineyards, but it will take a while for the effect of the change to become apparent in the finished wine. As things stand, the two soleras in the bodega total 444 butts, both arranged as five criaderas plus solera: Solera AZ (Ángel Zamorano) from Macharnudo and Solera PS (Peter Sisseck) from  Balbaina.

(L-R) José Luis Blandino and Miguel Calvo Gil

Sherry is very different to Ribera del Duero or Bordeaux and Peter Sisseck admits he has a lot to learn about it so he is in no hurry to release the wine. So far neither the exact specifications for the wines nor brand names have been decided, nor even has a name been decided for the bodega itself, let alone a price for the wine, but the plan is for vino de pago, probably two, and they will be sold en rama. The possibility of unifying or making a blend from the two soleras has not been ruled out though quality will naturally be paramount. A small saca from selected butts may appear fairly soon. Many repairs to the bodega have been carried out in the meantime and it is very ably run by the capataz, Miguel Calvo Gil, ex Valdespino, and his assistant José Luis Blandino, grandson of Pepe Blandino, capataz at Tradición CZ.

Water spinner for rinsing butts

Wednesday, 17 July 2019

17.2.19 Historic Jerez Signs Saved

The Junta de Andalucía has stepped in to prevent the removal of historic illuminated signs from the iconic Gallo Azul in Jerez. The building, which was constructed in 1929 by Domecq in celebration of the Exposición Iberoamericana held in Sevilla that year, is currently undergoing renovations, and the city Council had granted planning permission which allowed for their removal. Now the Junta´s culture department has insisted that they remain as they form a part of the city´s commercial heritage, much of which has disappeared already. The signs  go beyond brand advertising and are an integral part of the cityscape. This ruling has important implications for other signs such as the Garvey one near the Consejo Regulador.

(image Cristo Garcia) The La Ina and Fundador signs on the Gallo Azul. The lettering has faded somewhat as can be seen from the recently replacement R, but it looks good at night and can´t be allowed too go.

Tuesday, 16 July 2019

16.7.19 Tio Pepe Cuatro Palmas: Champion of Champions

The International Wine Challenge, considered the top international wine competition, has awarded Tio Pepe Cuatro Palmas its top award, Champion of Champions. Thousands of wines from 60 countries are tasted by 450 experts in what is regarded as the most rigorous competition, and the Champion of Champions Trophy goes to the best of them all. This magnificent wine comes from one of only six butts which have spent an average of 53 years aging in the bodega La Constancia ant the final selection was made by González Byass oenologist Antonio Flores and Master of Wine Natasha Hughes. A Palma is a particularly fine wine derived from Fino which has outstanding fragrance and delicacy and which is classified from one to four according to its age and complexity. They are rarely seen nowadays, in fact these are the only ones commercially available. 

Monday, 15 July 2019

Cobijado 2015 14%, Barbadillo/Carvajal

Opaque rim with fairly tight young deep ruby red rim with purple traces.
Full, open and and ripe as you´d expect from a hot place and with with distinct and fairly tangy and very fresh black fruit aromas and a faint balsamic trace. It is still just a little bit closed still but you can see much of its effusiveness already with Cabernet and Syrah to the fore perhaps and the others also noticeable as they start forming the bouquet.
Full bodied, tight yet generous and smooth with lots of texture and a good refreshing acidity and a fine minerality. The tannin level is well controlled and offers structure and firmness rather than bitterness and it just oozes character. Naturally there is a trace of salinity and chalkiness being from Cádiz, and that only adds to its character which will develop well over the coming years.
This excellent red Vino de la Tierra Cádiz is a coupage or blend of grapes grown in Barbadillo´s vineyards in Santa Luíca and Gibalbín. For some years now Jaime Carvajal has had an agreement with Barbadillo to select wines to create his own high quality blend to really show that Cádiz is more than capable of producing fine red wine. It has been very successful and production has more than doubled since the first release in 2014 to 18,660 bottles. This 2015 vintage is a blend of Tempranillo, Petit Verdot, Syrah, Cabernet, Merlot and Tintilla fermented in stainless steel tanks. It is aged for 14 months in a mix of 225 litre French and American oak barrels and further aged for eight months in numbered bottles before release. The word "cobijado" means shelter, or in Vejer de la Frontera, where Jaime Carvajal´s mother came from, it is a traditional poncho-like garment. A new Cobijado Primeur version has been launched recently.
15 euros, Licores Corredera

Sunday, 14 July 2019

Manzanilla 2015 Pago Callejuela 17%, Viña Callejuela

Mid depth brassy strawy gold with old gold highlights.
Quite full with lots of doughy strawy yeastiness, you can really smell humidity here and lots of flor and autumnal aromas. Being a vintage wine and not having been topped up it is more concentrated than usual for its age, deeper and more serious, less zip and more depth. There are hints of briny sourdough and even traces of oxidation. Very complex and interesting.
It is very full, quite a lot fuller and more concentrated than the solera Manzanillas and is quite masculine with  loads of nuances. There are slightly buttery, faintly oxidised and very bitter notes giving layers of wonderful complexity which just keep on building and lingers for ages. Lovely.
Bottled in May 2019, this is one of the three second releases of three "Solera de Almacenista" single vintage single pago Manzanillas from the Blanco brothers at Viña Callejuela. The grapes came from their own vineyards, from which they also produce their table wines, in the pagos Macharnudo, Añina and of course this Callejuela. Once fortified, the wines from each pago are aged biologically and statically in "sobretablas" and not in solera, much as they were in the past. The wine therefore faithfully reflects the characteristics of the vintage and the vineyard. Callejuela is close to the sea at an altitude of some 60 metres, and you certainly notice that in the wine. Production was around 600 x 50 cl bottles.
26.80 per 50cl, De Albariza

Saturday, 13 July 2019

13.7.19 Bodegas Urium Expand into Sanlúcar

The expansion of Bodegas Urium into Sanlúcar is beginning to reach its conclusioin. For nearly three years the Ruiz family have been working through all the procedures and formalities to convert their old building back into a bodega. This historic site was once the bodega of Viuda de E Manjón whose famous brand was Manzanilla El Rocío and which latterly belonged to González Byass till they dropped it a decade or so ago. Sine then the building was used as a restaurant (called Currito) for a while before falling into disuse till the Ruiz family decided to age their own Manzanilla. 

All the butts have been refurbished

This is not straightforward and naturally requires considerable investment, so the bodega has been filling up slowly, starting with 50 butts from Francisco Yuste and adding to that the best-seasoned butts they could find around the trade. They now have 104 which will suffice for the time being. There is still plenty of space however, as the restaurant only occupied part of the building, and one idea for that is a tasting room. Meanwhile they are working on a special limited edition Manzanilla to launch the bodega, and later on an Amontillado as well.