Wednesday, 23 August 2017

23.8.17 Williams & Humbert to Launch Organic Sherry

Sometime next year W&H will launch a three year old organic Fino from the 2015 vintage while an organic Oloroso is still ageing as it needs more time. These will be the first organic Sherries from Jerez. A couple of years ago Delgado Zuleta successfully launched an organic Manzanilla called “Entusiastico” and behind both projects is Pepe Cabral, a passionate advocate of organic viticulture and leader of Mostolé, a group of like-minded growers who supply the grapes for the organic Sherries. Having approached a few bodegas with the idea without success, the Medina family who own W&H immediately saw the opportunity and signed a contract with them in 2015.

Since the 11 members of Mostolé only own just over 20 hectares of vineyard between them, quantities cannot be large, but the quality is excellent, and W&H bought nearly all the grapes. The firm’s oenologist, Paola Medina, is delighted with the wines’ evolution so far and says that “the idea sounded good from the start since the increase in interest in Sherry coincides with increasing interest in organic wines”. While the Spanish market hasn’t yet shown much interest in organic wines, the northern European one has great possibilities. Nonetheless, the fledgling project has attracted considerable interest from the trade.

38 butts of 2015 organic Fino at Williams & Humbert (foto:AGonzalezdiariodejerez)

For the moment W&H are keeping the wines as añada but are not ruling out the possibility of starting soleras; it depends on how the wines develop. And of course some may develop into Amontillados, Palo Cortados… When the grapes were pressed the must was allowed to ferment spontaneously without any yeast inoculation. To gain organic certification, the fortifying alcohol also needs to be organic and the Comité Andaluz de Agricultura Ecológica (CAAE) must verify the traceability of the complete product from vineyard to bottle.

So far the firm has not come up with a name for the wine. One possibility is to use an existing brand name like Fino Pando Ecológico and the other, obviously, is to create a new one. Certainly a new name would avoid any risk of confusion, but would need time for design and registration.

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

22.8.17 Latest on Harvest; Tio Pepe Sherrymaster

Due to a persistent Levante wind and the high temperatures it brings the harvest is being brought in as quickly as possible. These temperatures cause evaporation from the grapes reducing their weight and therefore value as they are paid for by weight. It looks now as if the 75 million kilo harvest predicted might be more like 65 million, but that is still 8 million more than the difficult 2016. Nearly all the lagares are now working with a few exceptions in coastal areas, but they should be working shortly. According to the Consejo, up to and including Sunday, 21 million kilos had been picked, or just under one third of the total, with an average sugar reading of 11.55° Beaumé.

The V edition of the Tio Pepe Sherrymaster takes place on the 6th and 7th September led by oenologist Antonio Flores. There will include visits to the vineyards, the bodegas and the firm’s archive as well as various tastings, one in the mosque of the Alcázar. Sherry will be matched to gastronomy at the hands of Andoni Luis Aduriz and Guillermo Cruz of the two Michelin star restaurant Mugaritz. This is a great way to learn more about Sherry and one can book here:

Monday, 21 August 2017

21.8.17 Harvest is in Full Swing

Santi García and photographer Miguel Ángel González of Diario de Jerez shadow Manuel Valcárcel, oenologist at Fundador, as the grapes arrive at the lagares.

The lagares (press-houses) are working flat out as thousands of kilos of grapes arrive constantly from the vineyards. Fundador is processing six tons a day. Things have changed, and not only with respect to mechanical harvesting, but also in the lagares where spotlessly clean equipment can process the harvest more efficiently than ever before. Another advance is the speed of transportation as it is very important that the grapes wait the absolute minimum time for processing to avoid loss of juice and oxidation.

Before leaving the vineyard the grapes are classified into grade A or B and only grade A will be used for wine production. When they arrive at the lagar they are discharged into one of three stainless steel hoppers with Archimedean screws which transport them to the appropriate destemming and pressing plant. One hopper is reserved exclusively for grapes arriving from the firm’s vineyards in the Pago Macharnudo, while the other two receive grapes from their Pago Santa Barbara vineyards and those from contracted suppliers. Fundador has eight horizontal rotating plate presses, four of them exclusively for Macharnudo grapes.

Pressing takes about two hours and is divided into three parts. The first pressing (or yema) releases 60-65% of the juice and is the finest quality, destined to be Fino and perhaps fine Oloroso, the second pressing (segunda yema) releases a further 20-25% of the juice and will produce fuller bodied blending wine, while the third pressing is destined for the distillery and will never be used to make Sherry. Now the juice (mosto) is pumped to the temperature controlled stainless steel fermentation tanks. The must ferments quite violently for the first four or five days, giving off lots of carbon dioxide and growing in alcoholic strength. As the fermentation slows, the mosto is racked into other tanks to finish the fermentation. This stage needs careful attention to temperature and sugar levels and once complete, the new wine can go to the sobretablas stage to begin ageing.

Manuel Valcárcel says that the grapes this year are very healthy with good sugar levels which average about 12° Beaumé, and some were as high as 13°. Fundador was the first Spanish bodega to win the IWC Best Wine in the World for Harveys very fine old Amontillado VORS, and the grapes came from the Macharnudo. Manuel says that this pago gives something special, something other pagos do not, the grapes give incredible structure. It is for this reason that Fundador makes such an effort to keep these grapes separate, and can assure the customer of the quality, flavour and essence of the Macharnudo.

Sunday, 20 August 2017

El Triángulo 2014 13.9%, Bodegas Luis Pérez

Dense plummy black red with purple-tinged pink at a tight rim.
Soft, fresh and just beginning to shed its most youthful fruit yet lots of brambles and plums and fresh forest berries. The grapes were obviously good and ripe and there is a hint of compote and a passing balsamic note. It invites you in, more than willingly. 
Medium to full bodied with an attractive texture and mid-weight structure with no aggressive tannins. It is very smooth and almost soft thanks to perfectly ripe fruit, though I'd imagined it would have had a touch more minerality, even acidity, but there is no shortage of character; you can easily spot mild French oak notes and the Tintilla siganature. It is dangerously easy to drink and deceptively complex.
This must be the little sister to the Luis Pérez Tintilla. It also comes from 100% Tintilla grapes, grown in the Pago Balbaina near the coast on tosca cerrada albariza soils. The vines are around 15 years old and are trained on espaldera (trellis). The grapes are harvested by hand at night and selected both in the vineyard and on arrival at the bodega. 85% of the grapes are de-stemmed, and a cold soak precedes a coolish fermentation at 22C in stainless steel tanks with regular pumping over. Malolactic fermentation takes place in used French oak barrels where it is aged for 5 months and 15 months in tank before bottling with no filtration at all. Great value and really versatile, works very well slightly chilled in summer.
9.00 euros, Guerrita

Saturday, 19 August 2017

Bodegas: Miguel M Gómez SA

Don José Esteban Gómez y Gómez was born in Almendro (Huelva) and founded this once well-known firm in Cádiz in 1816. It was one of only three Sherry bodegas in the city, along with Abárzuza and Lacave, and the only one to hold a Royal Warrant from King Alfonso XIII.

Don José married María Luisa Aramburu Fernández who came from a banking family in Cádiz and was a grandniece of the bodeguero and benefactor Manuel Moreno de Mora of El Puerto de Santa María. They had nine children, three of whom married into other Sherry families. Always in family hands the firm also owned vineyard near Jerez, though it was latterly sold off.

In 1969 the firm needed to move its old soleras to modern installations in the Avenida de la Libertad, 15 not far from the Campo de Guia area of El Puerto de Santa María. This was due to a change in the DO regulations in that year which excluded Cádiz from the Sherry production zone.

In 1999 they moved again, to old, early XIX century bodegas at Calle Los Moros, 3 in the heart of the Campo de Guia. These bodegas were of the classic design of the day, with two 1,000 square metre main warehouses and a gardened patio between them.

The firm limped through the hard times after the 1970s and was finally dissolved in 1999, though the wine was available for a while longer. The bodegas, however, were restored and are now used as a venue for celebrations called Bodega Alameda in recognition of the firm’s well regarded Fino.

Main brands: Amontillado Fino Cádiz, Amontillado Viejo and Oloroso Hércules, Fino Alameda, Fino Arillo, Palo Cortado Gómez and the prize-winning yet strangely named Amontillado Fino Volapuk (Volapuk is/was an artificial language like Esperanto)

Friday, 18 August 2017

Tiento Fino Añada 2007 16%, Williams & Humbert

Amber tinged straw - gold with golden highlights.
Rich, and more powerful than usual for a Fino and very clean. It is very complex with noticeable flor, hints of salinity, straw, dry leaves, a background trace of super ripe apple and its skin, and, well, concentrated Fino. It is a really sophisticated wine and you can smell the heat and dryness of the vineyards and even a slight oxidative note which fits in very well.
A serious wine, full and textured, dry and bitter. There is an attractive chalky feel in that body and a certain mineral salinity along with a real bitterness from the flor, helped by decent acidity. It has a rapier-like flavour; sharp and straight to the point, but if you roll it around the palate it shows more breadth with autumnal flavours and the faintest trace of tannin. It has incredible length, almost interminable. Superb.
This incredible wine comes from a May 2017 saca of 1100 bottles, all filled en rama. It comes from two butts (numbers 5 and 6 out of 20) which managed to maintain flor for ten years despite being sealed and having no refreshment, quite something. Grapes came from the Pagos Añina and Carrascal and the wine was made from the first pressing, whose must was carefully selected. It was fortified to 15% and has gained another degree despite the flor, though being statically aged there will have been some transpiration over ten years. This has to be one of the most interesting Sherries - or even wines - that I have tasted, and is a real credit to its maker, Paola Medina, whose experiments with vintage Sherry are producing some fascinating wines. W&H have decided to release a series of vintage Sherries named after Flamenco palos (or styles) which best suit the character of the wine. This first one is named after the Tiento, a profound, majestic and slow style which certainly suits this wine.
25.50 euros per 50cl bottle, Licores Corredera

Thursday, 17 August 2017

17.8.17 Lots of Interesting News

New Palomino White from Mahara – and new Bodega
The Gómez Lucas brothers, Miguel and José, have produced their first white wine, made from Palomino grown on albariza and arena soils in Chiclana. It is called Amorro and just over 5,000 bottles will be available. The name comes from the expression “beber a morro” meaning drinking from the bottle and was chosen as the wine is so easy to drink, and the word "amor" is in there too. Their new bodega is in the industrial estate of Polvorines de Fadricas in San Fernando which was once the site of the navy’s gunpowder stores. We can look forward to more interesting wines from this bodega in the future, as they now have the space to experiment.

Universo Santi Restaurant Set to Open Late September
This unique project is located in the Altillo, the former house of Manuel María González Ángel, and will be staffed exclusively by people with some form of disability. Employees have been receiving training in wine from González Byass. Jerez city council owns the building while the project is financed by various charitable foundations and supported by top chefs and sommeliers and is a not-for-profit enterprise, which means that haute cuisine can be offered at sensible prices. It deserves to be a great success as everyone wins – diners and the disabled.

Sherry Sales Surge at Majestic
The UK wine retail chain Majestic Wine has reported huge growth in sales of Sherry with an overall increase of 46% over the last 12 months and an amazing 71% for the dry, more up-market styles. The firm attributes this to “hipsters” who may use the wine for tapas or mixing and also buy craft ales and gins, proving that Sherry is finally moving on from the “drink for grannies” image. Meanwhile, the International Wine & Spirits Record is predicting growth in Sherry sales of 18% over the coming five years. іOjalá! as we say here (let’s hope so!)