Saturday, 16 December 2017

Vermut Rojo 15%, Lustau

Appearance
Deep black brown fading to amber with coppery glints. 
Nose
Really herbal, bitter and spicy, the wormwood and gentian really come through and there is a faint curry note from the coriander before the sage appears. There are distinct Sherry notes with a trace of volatile acidity and cinder toffee sweetness. It is quite full on, nicely integrated and characterful.
Palate
While the sweetness is just right, it is countered by the bitterness and a very slight tannic grip, then the orange comes through. Part of the fun is that one can pick out many of the botanicals, yet they all work so well together. It has texture and considerable length and is frighteningly moreish. Great stuff.
Comments
Vermouth used to be produced by many bodegas in Jerez but fell out of fashion until quite recently. Now many are re-launching the product, mostly using original formulae. This delicious vermouth, launched in March 2016, is made from a blend of two solera wines, both over 10 years old: a dry Amontillado (80%) and a PX (20%) which is enough to give the product 150g/l sugars. The sweetness is balanced out by ten botanicals, including orange peel, gentian, angelica, wormwood, sage and coriander are macerated separately before being blended with the wine according to an old Lustau formula. This was one of the last projects of the bodega's much loved and sadly missed oenologist Manuel Lozano. 
Price
About 13 euros, widely available



Thursday, 14 December 2017

Bodegas: Celestino Díaz de Morales

The history of so many bodegas in Jerez is tortuous and that of Celestino Díaz de Morales is no exception. The firm arose from two older bodegas which became linked by marriage and inheritance. It all began at the beginning of the XIX century, 1800 in fact, when the Sanluqueño José Ubreva established a bodega which soon contained some excellent wines known as the “Soleras Ubreva”. A little later in the early XIX century Pedro López de Villegas, born in 1788 in Cóbreces (Cantabria), also founded a bodega of great repute. By the end of the XIX century it was located at Calle Ferrocarril, 10, moving to Calle Cervantes in 1916.

The bodega in Calle Zaragoza

Celestino Díaz de Morales was born in Jerez in 1893 and in 1934 married Petronila Ysasi Ivison, descended as her name suggests from bodega royalty. Celestino established a bodega under his own name in 1964 using the soleras he inherited from his father, Pedro Díaz y López (Jerez 1866), who already had established brands such as Amontillado Alcalde, Solera Real and Quina Cantabria. These soleras had been founded by his grandfather, the aforementioned Pedro López de Villegas. Celestino’s bodega also contained wines inherited from his mother’s side of the family in 1916. Her name was Mercedes de Morales Ubreva (Jerez 1872). Her parents were Miguel Morales y Morales (Arcos 1826) and Cayetana Ubreva Bardayo (1840-1920) and had inherited the famous soleras of José Ubreva. These would reach great heights in the hands of Celestino.


Miguel de Morales Ubreva

Miguel de Morales Ubreva (1864-1904), son of Miguel Morales and Cayetana Ubreva went to London as the representative of the family business. Here he met and married María Lasa Eguibar in 1884 but died young of nephritis leaving four daughters. Of Miguel Morales y Morales’ other eight children, José María de Morales had a mainly almacenista bodega at Calle Ávila, 6, but was also known for his brandies Uno, Dos and Tres Racimos. He died aged only 38 but his widow kept the business going till 1909. His brother Rafael also had a bodega at Calle Bizcocheros, 16, where he specialised in spirits, while yet another brother, Manuel, had a bodega in Calle Paralejo, moving in 1913 to calle Zaragoza. Having no children, Manuel took on as a partner Juan José Palomino Jiménez of Palomino & Vergara who gradually absorbed the firm.

Packaging at Bodega Jose Maria Morales

From the late XIX century the family home was located at Calle Tornería, 7. The building was converted into flats a few years ago. In 1900 the Guía Oficial de Jerez places the firm at the Plaza de los Santos where the bodegas included offices and a cooperage, and there were other bodegas at the Plaza Peones and Plaza del Cubo.



Miguel Morales y Morales owned several vineyards, among which were San Cayetano, San Miguel and Nuestra Señora del Carmen which were located in the Pagos Macharnudo, Carrascal, Balbaina and Carrahola. He also owned several famous brands: Jerez del Abuelo, Amontillado Selecto, Solera de la Serranita, Amontillado NPU 1810, Pedro Ximénez 1820, Naranja 1780, Gran Coñac Español, Anís del Corzo, each carrying the distinctive “H” logo.




The firm of Celestino Díaz de Morales, which had inherited from Miguel Morales y Morales and Pedro Díaz y López remained in business until it was taken over by Rumasa in 1976 and subsequently disappeared. Among their brands were Anís del Canario, Fino Carrascal and El Grillo.

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Medium Sweet 17%, Fernández Gao

Appearance
Copper tinged mahogany fading through amber.
Nose
Lots of fresh fruity raisins and hints of figs and dates but behind that there are aromas of toasted almonds and traces of oak, all nicely balanced. There is an attractive freshness as well as a degree of sophistication in this wine which is a little different from the norm.
Palate
Sweet and raisiny up front yet fresh and fairly light, then a slightly more serious side makes an appearance, charged with traces of oak and almond and a hint of marzipan. It has a gentle texture and good length, finishing quite dry with no sign of cloying.
Comments
This wine is most attractive and slightly unusual. It is made from a blend of Amontillado - not Oloroso - and enough Pedro Ximenez to provide 100 g/l sugars in the finished wine. It sounds sweet, and it is quite sweet, but not as sweet as a Cream which contains at least 115 g/l sugars. It is this which gives it its character and charm, especially as the PX is younger than the Amontillado and still has lots of grapiness. The wine has an average age of 12 years. The quality of the wines from this firm is very good and they deserve the success which they will undoubtedly achieve.
Price
24 euros per 50 cl ex bodega

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Brandy Dios Baco Solera Gran Reserva 40%, Bodegas Dios Baco

Appearance
Bright mahogany chestnut with gold and copper highlights.
Nose
Fresh crisp and quite fruity, good clean spirit with notes of oak, dried fruit, vanilla, caramel, toasted nuts, tobacco, and of course Oloroso, all enhanced by faint notes of exotic wood. The aroma is quite complex with plenty of character and charm.
Palate
Again crisp and fruity at the start followed by a slight caramel sweetness flavoured with dried fruits and vanilla. It is quite powerful but never loses focus and has virtually no aggressive tannins. The finish is very long and tasty. This is an excellent brandy.
Comments
Behind this magnificent label is an excellent brandy. It is one of two Solera Gran Reservas made at Dios baco. This one is aged in a solera of Oloroso butts and the other, Luis Enrique, in a solera of PX butts, so what is basically the same brandy ends up in two very different forms. I've heard this one referred to as Bodegón, but there is no mention of this on the label. It could have something to do with the solera's location. Anyway it is a jolly good brandy.
Price
22.50 euros, Licores Corredera


Monday, 11 December 2017

Ponche Caballero 25%, Luis Caballero

Appearance
Mahogany fading to amber with coppery gold glints.
Nose
Very fresh and clean which avoids over-sweetness and not over alcoholic. There is a lovely balance of brandy and spices as well as an attractive fruitiness. Cinnamon and vanilla are perhaps the most prominent spices, and there is lots of orange with nutmeg not far behind. Lovely.
Palate
Sweet, naturally, and very tasty with hints of toasted almond, caramel, orange, cinnamon and vanilla. There is a gentle tanginess which mitigates some of the sweetness while all the different flavours bind together to form a liqueur better than the sum of its parts. No cloying and gently spicy finish.
Comments
This is the best selling Ponche, and that's because it is very good, and was arguably the first. In fact it is the top selling liqueur in Spain and in the top ten worldwide. The formula has been used by the firm for 180 years and needless to say it is a secret, however it contains spices from all round the world which have traditionally been imported into El Puerto de Santa Maria for centuries. They include vanilla, cinnamon, clove, orange peel and nutmeg, based on brandy. In 1943 the bottle was wrapped in silver paper as a homage to the old silver punch bowls, and in 1969 a better process was invented, and copied by many. Grupo Caballero produces Milenario brandy and the lovely Miura cherry liqueur among others, and owns Bodegas Lustau in Jerez, (they also bought Burdon and Cuesta) as well as being a large drinks distributor. Ponche is lovely straight from the fridge or on the rocks.
Price
9.35 euros, Roali



Sunday, 10 December 2017

Finca Moncloa 2014 14.5%, Gonzalez Byass

Appearance
Dense black cherry red with a tight purply-pink rim.
Nose
Attractive polished fragrant nose with pronounced oak notes of vanilla and cedar and plenty of bramble and blueberry fruit with a faint balsamic note. The wood and fruit notes balance nicely and it smells smooth and almost creamy with all that black fruit along with a hint of spice.
Palate
Full bodied and well structured with plenty of tannin but it is ripe and unaggressive giving a firm -feeling wine but with lots of that black fruit. It shows a high degree of ripeness as one would expect of a wine from Arcos, and a correspondingly lowish acidity, but it has a real touch of elegance giving it class. Two or three years longer in bottle would round it off nicely.
Comments
Gonzalez Byass started a table wine project in 1972 and in 2000 bought the 45 hectare finca near Arcos where they could put their experience into practice. The results have been excellent and while this wine is a blend of many grape varieties, they all seem to shine. They are: Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Tintilla, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc and Tempranillo. The grape bunches are all sorted before leaving the vineyard for the nearby bodega and each variety undergoes a cold soak before temperature controlled fermentation in stainless steel. After malolactic the wines are aged for at least 12 months, again separately, in a mix of new and used French and American oak barrels before the final blending and bottling with only a light filtration. This is a "limited edition" of 54,585 bottles.
Price
13.25, Licores Corredera


Saturday, 9 December 2017

Amontillado Laureado 18%, Bodegas CAYDSA

Appearance
Warm mahogany tinged amber with copper highlights.
Nose
Predominantly toasted almond with a little turron and a faint hint of caramel, then in the background there is a distinct salty note along with a gentle bitterness from the flor. This is a comparatively young wine so it is still obvious.
Palate
Quite full, dry and well rounded with a trace of glyceric sweetness. It is nutty with a toasted, almost smoky note  and that bitter hint as well as very slight traces of oak but there is little or no tannin and it has a long finish. This is an inexpensive, very pleasant to drink Amontillado with a bit of character.
Comments
CAYDSA stands for Criadores, Almacenistas y Distribuidores SA and it is the brand name of one of the Sanlúcar cooperatives, Cooperativa del Campo Virgen de la Caridad, so you can see why they use initials. It was originally a private bodega established by the Italian Francesco Bozzano, later bought by the growers. It also passed through the hands of Nueva Rumasa, during which time it was renamed Bodegas Teresa Rivero, but was bought back in 2009. 
Price
7 euros, Er Guerrita