Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Brandy Milenario Solera Gran Reserva 40%, Luis Caballero

Deep chestnut with copper highlights through amber to a trace of green at the rim, legs.
There is some age here with notable touches of wood and plenty of Oloroso, traces of cinnamon, caramel, vanilla and pronounced notes of walnut. It smells comparatively dry and is tight and quite complex yet well rounded.
Slightly sweeter than expected, quite intense but well balanced with traces of candied orange peel, Oloroso, vanilla and caramel, very slightly spicy with a hint of grip from the wood tannins. A serious and excellent quality brandy.
This fine brandy boasts soleras established in 1795 which predate the foundation of Caballero in 1830. In 1908 Caballero bought the soleras from Marqués de Misa and moved them from Jerez to the San Francisco bodega in El Puerto de Santa María. The name Milenario comes from the supposedly thousand year old Drago Milenario (Dragon Tree) which was long ago brought from its native Canary Islands and grows in a patio at the bodega. The branches are supported by chains in case they collapse from their own weight. This is Caballero's top brandy and its final solera consists of only 5 butts through which the brandy ages for 20 years. Just to confuse things there are also Milenario Solera and Milenario Solera Reserva
23 euros

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

OVNI Palomino Fino 2015 12%, Equipo Navazos

Pale strawy gold with golden highlights.
Fresh and very Palomino with notes of apple quince and a certain very slightly saline chalkiness and something of fresh country air in a meadow as well as a trace of flor. There is an element of Fino about it, but not quite. It is very attractive.
Clean and tasty with chalky mineral notes followed by gentle fruit then traces of salinity and bitterness. It is well balanced despite comparatively low acidity and could only come from Jerez. Decent length with a very clean finish, and a little moreish.
OVNI is Spanish for UFO and is the name of a joint project with online food and wine retailer Coalla Gourmet. The grapes come from Jerez vineyards and before fermentation in stainless steel tanks some Jerez flor was added to the grape juice. After fermentation the wine was left in tank for six months under a thin veil of flor, but not enough to profoundly influence the wine's character. This is not unnatural as flor yeasts are everywhere and will settle on any wine not fortified to 17/17.5%. This wine is not intended to be laid down, but will develop interestingly over the next year or two.
9.50 euros, Er Guerrita

Monday, 24 July 2017

Manzanilla Pasada Goya XL 15%,(saca 2016) Delgado Zuleta

Amber tinged strawy old gold with golden glints.
Delightful pasada nose, almost pungent yet complex and refined. Behind the full-on dried herbs and flowers and notable salinity of the flor, there are all sorts of nuances; apple, slightly toasted almond, olive brine, ozone, sea water and hints of oxidation and autolysis. Mature Manzanilla at its very best.
Full and super fresh despite its age thanks to the flor which leaves its trademark yeasty bitterness. Balance is perfect and there are wonderful buttery savoury flavours from the bottom of the butts as well as slightly oxidative notes. It is very dry with a gentle chalky mineral feel and very long. Classic.
I haven't tasted this superb Manzanilla for years - partly because it is so hard to get - being released only "when a series of exceptional circumstances comes about". The wine, which is the bodega's top Manzanilla, is from selected butts in the La Goya solera (marked with XL) and "reposed" a further 2 years, being bottled en rama at 10 years old. Not surprisingly it won the IWC Manzanilla Gold Medal and Trophy in 2016 and scored 93 from Robert Parker. The solera is very old and special, having once been stored in an old underground bodega close to the Bajo de Guia. This bottle is from a 2016 saca. If you see it, buy it!
18.20 euros per 50cl, Licores Corredera

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Amontillado de Bandera VORS 18.5%, M Gil Luque

Burnished antique mahogany fading through amber to a trace of green at the rim.
Forthcoming and fragrant, textbook Amontillado and more; fresh and crisp with that enticing aroma of toasted nuts and a trace of almost caramel sweetness, notes of fine quality oak - even exotic woods and a faint hint of linseed oil and resin -  and none of it spoiled by excess alcohol, which is modest for its age of over 30 years. Enough tartaric/volatile acidity to give it the necessary bite.
On the full side at the start but opens out into an excellent, supremely elegant, dry, nutty characterful wine. Gently crisp acidity provides freshness and poise unhindered by tannin and balances beautifully with the glycerol and nuts. This is an outstandingly stylish Amontillado with amazing length.
The bodega dates back to the end of the XIX century and acquired its name when bought by Manuel Gil Luque in 1912. Shortly before it was taken over by La Guita in 1984, Gil Luque bought some very old soleras from Fernando Carrasco Sagastizábal, which may have belonged to Tomás Geraldino Croquer (the Irishman Thomas Fitzgerald) whose bodega was established in 1840. In 2007 La Guita was bought by Grupo Estévez, and the De Bandera wines have all but disappeared from the market, though the soleras are still looked after. The brand name De Bandera translates as flagship (not in the naval sense) and this wine certainly is. It is sealed with a stopper cork smothered in wax. I was rather lucky to get hold of this slice of history.
80 euros, Er Guerrita

Saturday, 22 July 2017

22.7.17 Consejo Predicts Excellent Harvest

If the benign weather conditions persist between now and the harvest, the Consejo Regulador is optimistic of a larger harvest than last year and one of great quality. They estimate that if the Levante wind behaves as it has during this first month of summer, production could be at least 20-25% higher than last year.

Rainfall has been equal to the historic average (620 litres per square metre per year) with certain variations according to location as some vineyards are closer to the sea than others. Importantly the rain fell evenly and without storms, maintaining a good moisture level in the vineyards and not causing soil erosion which happens when torrential rain falls in a short time.

During spring 200l/m² fell in the form of various showers which allowed the soil to recuperate the water consumed by the vines and evaporation from the rise in temperatures. The summer has been very dry so far, but some morning dew has fallen after periods of intense heat and the albariza soil’s extraordinary capacity to retain the humidity from the spring rain and supply the vines with their needs has meant that they are not suffering any hydric stress.

Between January and the middle of May the Levante wind made its presence felt, even causing some damage at the end of spring, but it has moderated so far this summer, only bringing a couple of periods of intense heat, and this has been compensated for by a few days of the cooler Poniente wind and early morning dewfall.

The Consejo says that the health of the grapes couldn’t be better and there have been very few incidences of insect damage, while mildew, which caused so many problems last year is all but absent, along with oidium, and any incidences have been isolated to more humid coastal vineyards.

All in all the grapes have ripened very well and it looks as though the harvest will begin at the end of the second week of August, 7-10 days earlier than last year. It promises to be a great one - if the weather stays fair.

22.7.17 Fedejerez Celebrates 40th Anniversary

After nearly 40 years of the Franco regime’s state controlled single trade union, known as the Sindicato Vertical and to which both workers and bosses were obliged to belong, the new democratic government repealed it. This allowed the constitution in 1977 of Fedejerez, the association of bodegas. Many members of the trade attended the association’s 40th anniversary event at the Consejo’s Bodega San Ginés yesterday.

The last 40 years have seen massive change in the Sherry trade, and in his address to members, Fedejerez president, Evaristo Babé, said the next ten years will bring further dramatic change and this needs a “change of mentality” as well as unity and loyalty towards each other as well as to Fedejerez. He said “it is a critical moment and there is not enough coherence between what is said and what is done”, alluding to the inconsistency of price of certain Sherries.

After praising the work of his predecessors, he mentioned five decisive factors in the evolution of the trade over the last four decades. The changes in ownership of many bodegas, unthinkable forty years ago, such as Domecq, Garvey, Croft, Sandeman, Palomino & Vergara, Bobadilla… some now lost, but some” fortunately” absorbed by other bodegas.

Anniversary toast in the Consejo Patio, Evaristo Babe in front (foto:pascual/diariodejerez)

Spain’s joining of the European Union in 1986 had positive aspects, but also a negative ones like the disappearance of tax relief on exports and the “radical” tax increases which went with it. Thirdly he brought up the dreadful consequences of many bodegas’ obsession with quantity and the internal disputes to obtain maximum market share over competitors. Fourthly he pointed out the enormous difficulty of modernising labour relations, and lastly the “enormous collateral damage” inflicted on the trade by the rise and fall of Rumasa.

Looking to the future, Babé said that “the Sherry trade is enormously privileged for the excellent and unique quality of its wine, for the value of the brand, for its patrimony - both material and immaterial - and for its degree of internationalisation, something many others dream of”.

“Bodegas which have relied too heavily on trade and public institutions to solve their problems have the responsibility to make changes at this crucial moment to adapt as fast as possible, for the next ten years will pass very quickly. Unity and loyalty among bodegas and towards Fedejerez are essential”.

Friday, 21 July 2017

21.7.17 Table Wine Harvest Already Underway in Cádiz

The hot weather of the last few weeks has ripened the non-Palomino grapes very quickly and they are being harvested now to conserve freshness and acidity. As global warming advances, harvests are ever earlier; in 2000 and 2014 the harvests were earlier than usual, but this year is earlier still, and most are harvesting at night, especially Chardonnay (the first to ripen), Sauvignon Blanc and Gewürztraminer. Plantings of these are not huge, but these varieties of cooler northern origins need to be picked soon before they over-ripen. The red varieties are also ripening sooner than usual, but there is less pressure here and they will probably be picked starting in the third week of August at about the same time as the Palomino, which is, of course better acclimatised. The quality of the grapes appears to be very high and there are no signs of ill health. Much still depends on the weather over the next few weeks, however.

Night harvesting at Bodegas Luis Perez' Vina el Corregidor (foto:Pascual/diariodejerez)