Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Fino Camborio en rama Magnum 15%, Bodegas Juan Piñero

Gold with a faint brass tinge and bright golden highlights.
It has immediate appeal with considerable intensity and lots of lovely saline yeasty flor. It smells fairly concentrated and there are notes of straw, dried herbs, faint traces of oak and oxidation, blonde tobacco, almond and a hint of that aroma which can only be described as "bodega". 
The intensity continues on the palate; it is big with a delicious slightly almondy bitterness which substitutes for acidity and gives it perfect balance. It is bone dry and its 10 years or so of age and a  trace of cabezuela really show in its sheer sophistication, depth and length. This is a cracker.
This wine is superb. It is a saca from the best butt of twelve selected from the total of 300 in the Camborio solera which Juan Piñero keeps in a bodega in the Calle Francisco Javier in Jerez. The label charmingly calls it  "saca de floración" or late spring when the flor is at its best, or 27th May 2017 to be exact. Following the recent trend it is in a magnum and sealed with a driven cork and hand-dipped in wax. Wine ages better in magnum and the temptation is strong to lay it down for 2 or 3 years, but the temptation to drink it now was even stronger. This solera belonged originally to Fernando A de Terry who were taken over by Domecq and the solera languished till Juan Piñero bought it and got Ramiro Ibáñez to work his magic. This is a very limited edition unfortunately.
39.85 euros, Licores Corredera

Monday, 16 October 2017

Sherry Harvest Summary 2017

It has been a year of record summer temperatures. The Spanish state meteorological service AEMET reported an average of 35.1° - 1.3° above average since records began at the airport in 1952. Rainfall was scarcer with 93 litres per square metre less than average, but this year it came at the right time. The 2016 harvest was blighted by mildew which appeared in the more coastal vineyards as a result of humidity caused by late rainfall when temperatures were already high, leading to a harvest 25% smaller than 2015. This year everything went perfectly and despite the heat the harvest was considerably larger, close to the average, with perfectly healthy grapes, nearly 50% of which were harvested mechanically.

It was one of the earliest harvests on record, beginning in the first week of August and mostly completed, except for the later-harvested Moscatel and PX, by the first week of September. The 29 lagares, or presshouses, of the area pressed a total of 74,969,993 kilos of grapes with an average sugar reading of 11.8° Beaumé. Approximately 2/3 of this came from the vineyards of Jerez where the average sugar reading was 11.87°. A total of 6,989 hectares are in production, 6,362 of which are in Jerez Superior. Since the regulations permit a maximum yield of 80 hectolitres per hectare, a small percentage of musts will be disqualified from DO Sherry for overproduction, but can of course be used for table wines or various other purposes.

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Manzanilla Deliciosa en rama Spring 2017 15%, Valdespino

Strawy gold with a hint of amber and bright gold highlights.
Serious nose; zippy, salty, maritime with notes of dried flowers, yeast, olive brine, traces of bitter almond, apple, butter and a light oxidative note. This is much more "hecho" (mature) than the standard Deliciosa and much more complex. Great start!
Very fresh, clean, mineral and saline with plenty of flor bitterness and moderate acidity. It is lively and tasty with an interesting mix of oxidative flavours and those from the cabezuela giving real depth, and of course length and a perfectly clean finish. Delicious.
Selected from the most interesting butts in the La Guita solera by oenologist Eduardo Ojeda at the Misericordia bodega in the Barrio Alto. There are 6 criaderas plus the solera. This delicious wine is approximately 6 to 7 years old. Grapes are 100% Miraflores.
5.00 euros per half bottle, Licores Corredera

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Francisco Yuste: Manzanilla Needs to be Better Known Outside Spain

This interesting interview with Francisco Yuste by M Gutiérrez appeared in Wednesday’s Diario de Jerez. 

Where and when did the story of Bodegas Francisco Yuste begin?
I have always been attracted to the world of bodegas since I started working as a very young man with my father. My dream was to one day live in a bodega and I have been lucky enough over the years to be able to realise that dream. My passion for Sanlúcar and Manzanilla drove me to buy up wines from bodegas which were sadly disappearing and to recuperate the bodega buildings which were and still are Sanlúcar’s heritage. What began as a hobby is now a business for which I have high hopes; our wines have a great future.

Francisco Yuste with his beloved La Kika (foto:Fito carreto)

When did you start adding bodegas to your business portfolio?
Since I bought the first bodega in Sanlúcar in 1989 I haven’t stopped investing in recuperating the town’s bodega heritage, both in wine and in bodegas. The first was the bodega Santa Ana in the Barrio Bajo of Sanlúcar, where I now live with my family, after a refurbishment which took over two years. After that I bought the bodega Los Ángeles in the Barrio Alto and the bodega Miraflores which is close to the Pago which gives it its name. These bodegas are all dedicated to the production of Manzanilla. In Miraflores we also have a brandy bodega where we keep the treasures produced by the lost bodega Pedro Romero, Punto Azul Prestige and Heritage as well as the soleras of Pedro I and the Ponche and solera rum.

In the bodega Los Ángeles we nurture some of the oldest wines in the world; the soleras of the Conde de Aldama which date back to 1740, and in my house, the Bodega Santa Ana, we nurture one of the Manzanillas with the longest ageing under flor in Sanlúcar; Manzanilla La Kika, named in homage to my mother, and which has consistently been winning awards since its launch.

It is not all bodegas though; 20 years ago I bought the Viña Alamedilla, 46 hectares of vineyard in the Pago Carrascal near Jerez which I look after like a garden. The last important investment was the purchase of the historic Bodegas Herederos de Argüeso in 2016, with soleras like Manzanilla La E, probably the Manzanilla most widely consumed in Sanlúcar and which for the moment is only available on draught. And of course the iconic Manzanilla San León, which won the Manzanilla Trophy at the International Wine Challenge.

Which would you say is your star product, the one most popular with the public?
The star product is Manzanilla. It is a genuine Sanlúcar product and there are very few bodegas which manage to produce this wine under constant flor all year round. If I had to choose between our Manzanillas Señorita Irene, Aurora or La Kika, I would choose all three, but the wine which is the greatest treasure of those I have rescued over the years is the Amontillado Conde de Aldama, voted best Amontillado Sherry in 2017 and of great pride to us for its Sanlúcar origins. It is a wine averaging over a century of age and represents the maximum such a wine can achieve, and well worth tasting at least once in one’s life. Many people come and visit the bodega from all over the world, attracted by its perfume. There is definitely a before and after when tasting this wine which is derived from Manzanilla.

Which are the most important markets for Manzanilla in the world?
Europe, the United States and Japan are our principal customers, however we have a long way to go with exports. In Spain, sales of Manzanilla alone exceed all the styles produced in Jerez, but this national trend is not reflected in the export markets.

Manzanilla, which has had its own Denominación de Origen for over 50 years, needs specific promotion so that more people outside Spain get to know it, but it is the Consejo Regulador in Jerez which decides on promotional funding. Personally I can’t remember a single promotional campaign abroad specific to Manzanilla, and as we all know, if it is not promoted it just doesn’t exist.

Despite all this, Manzanilla sales continue to grow year on year even though Sherry sales are declining, and this is due to the enormous quality of the wines of Sanlúcar, where biological ageing began.

Friday, 13 October 2017

Bodegas: Hermanos Bernaldo de Quirós

Manuel Bernaldo de Quirós y Portilla (1788-1855) was a well-respected and wealthy man who was mayor of Cóbreces, Cantabria, no fewer than three times among many other local distinctions.  He owned a bodega with a chapel and vineyards in Jerez as well as other properties, both in Jerez and in Cantabria. He married Antonia Pomar y González in 1818 and they had nine children, all of whom died young except Antonio (1825-1901), his older brother Manuel (1818-1893) and a younger brother, Valentín (b 1833).

Manuel (L) and Antonio Bernaldo Quiros

Manuel and Antonio left Ruiloba and went off to Jerez when they inherited their father’s properties there in the 1850s and proceeded to make a great deal of money by selling top quality Sherries. Antonio was the more committed of the two to the bodegas and effectively ran them. The family was devoutly religious and Carlist and gave generously to various religious institutions, even founding a new monastery in Cantabria as well as an agricultural institute which still exists. Manuel died unmarried in 1893, having returned to the north, and Antonio died, also unmarried, in 1901 in Jerez having sold their vineyard El Corregidor and the bodega’s best soleras, amounting to 800 butts, to Sandeman in 1894. These very old soleras produce Sandeman’s top wines: Royal Esmeralda, Royal Corregidor and Royal Ambrosante. The vineyard turned out to be a bit of a poisoned chalice however, as Phylloxera arrived that very year.

Thursday, 12 October 2017

12.10.2017 Beltrán Domecq Promotes Sherry in USA

At the recent XXII Spain-United States Forum which took place in Williamsburg, Virginia, Sherry president Beltrán Domecq presented a Sherry tasting for the delegates including both countries’ ministers of Defence and Foreign Affairs as well as business leaders. The Forum covers common interests for a better mutual understanding in governmental, commercial, academic and cultural affairs, promoting investment in infrastructure, tourism and security among other things.

Beltrán Domecq was invited, as a representative of the Spanish wine trade, to participate in a round table on tourism and gastronomy where, along with the famous chef José Andrés he championed the important role of Spanish gastronomy as a cultural nexus between the two countries. He emphasised the role of Sherry in the Anglo-Saxon world and the strategic importance of the American market.

Afterwards he said: “It has been a great honour to place Sherry at the highest level representing Spanish wine at the most influential transatlantic forum. This unprecedented fact is one more sign of renewed interest in Sherry which finds itself in a good place, in that professionals worldwide are promoting its enjoyment at the table with the best gastronomy, both Spanish and international. It is worth adding that the Sherry bodegas are the most visited in Spain (over half a million visitors in 2016) and that wine tourism in the area is an industry in itself generating employment and wealth.”

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

11.10.17 Opening Date for Universo Santi Announced

The much anticipated restaurant, the only one in the world where all 45 members of staff are disabled in some way, will open on 26th October. It is situated in Jerez at the Finca El Altillo, former home of the founder of González Byass, and is surrounded by beautiful parkland, in some of which they will grow organic fruit and vegetables. The plan is to become a culinary reference point offering top level haute cuisine. It will also include schools of catering and gardening for the disabled. Antonio Flores, oenologist of González Byass, has been training staff in wine and there will, of course be a good list of Sherries. As to the cuisine, the idea is to follow the principles of the late great chef Santi Santamaría in using the best local produce and bringing out the best of its natural flavour without covering it up with extras and unnecessary technology. For more information: http://universosanti.com/