Thursday, 18 January 2018

Cream 1886 18%, Infantes Orleans Borbón

Appearance
Deep mahogany fading to an amber rim.
Nose
Quite serious with a nice integration and balance between the Oloroso and PX. There are aromas of old barrels, traces of exotic woods but principally oak, spice and decent Oloroso with more muted notes of raisins and dates. It smells a little drier than it is.
Palate
The fruity PX notes are more to the fore followed by those of the Oloroso with some sweetness coming through, but it is not excessive and finishes fairly dry, just what a good Cream should do. There is a decent grapeskin texture and a gentle grip, and the palate is left with flavour like a faint trace of coffee and fine oak rather than cloying sweetness.
Comments
The Duc de Montpensier, son of the French King and (failed) pretender to the Spanish throne fell in love with Sanlúcar when he visited Andalucía in 1849. He later planted the famous Torrebreva vineyard but rented it out. It wasn't till 1943 that his descendants set up a bodega, in the impressive stables of the Duke's palace. They had bought old soleras and the wines were good, but unfortunately there doesn't seem to be much happening these days. 
Price
10.95, De Albariza


Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Table Wine Bodegas: Compañía de Vinos Entre Dos Aguas

Miguel Flores Toscano and Francisco Coro Leveque are old friends who share a passion to make wine by traditional methods which bring out the character of the vineyard. Miguel Flores is the nephew of Antonio Flores, the oenologist at González Byass. They work with fellow enthusiasts Ignacio Soto and José Andrés Lucena as well as a few helpful friends, and have been producing handmade unfortified organic wines with minimal resources and maximum enthusiasm since their first vintage in 2016.

Miguel Flores Toscano with Aminea (foto:Manu Gracia)

The expression “entre dos aguas” (between two waters) implies indecision and is also the name of a spectacular guitar piece by Paco de Lucía, while a techo de dos aguas is a pitched roof of the type commonly used in bodegas. The name of this venture however, comes from being between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean. The lads are refurbishing a bodega near Mesas de Asta between Jerez and Trebujena which used to belong to Almocadén.

Miguel in the vineyard

Here completely artisan methods are used. Grapes are destemmed by hand, trodden by foot and pressed in an old hand operated basket press while the must is fermented in old butts. They make white wine from Palomino grapes from the classic pagos of the Marco de Jerez; Añina, Balbaina, Miraflores (Viña El Armijo) and Macharnudo, a project they call Los Cuatro Pagos. The only difference between these wines is the vineyard. They also make a sparkling Gewürztraminer (you read that right!) completely by hand and with very basic equipment either by the traditional method using organic cane sugar for the licor de expedición or the ancestral method using concentrated PX must. It is called Aminea and only 100 bottles were produced. Another project is a sweet late harvest Tempranillo picked in the third week of October. This innovative and enthusiastic bodega will surely earn great success.


Tuesday, 16 January 2018

16.1.18 High Parker Scores for Williams & Humbert

Luis Gutiérrez, the Wine Advocate’s Spanish wines specialist, has given some very high scores to Williams & Humbert. Wines scoring 90 to 96 points are “Outstanding wines of exceptional complexity and character, in short, these are terrific wines”. The firm’s Don Zoilo Amontillado and Oloroso scored 90 while Canasta 20 years old, launched at the end of 2016 scored 91. But more exciting still, were the excellent scores achieved by the Añada wines which oenologist Paola Medina has been working on since 2000. The Fino en rama Añada 2012 scored 94 and the Fino en rama Añada 2007”Tiento” scored 93. The Amontillado Añada 2003 scored 92+ while the Olorosos en rama Añadas 2001, 2003 and 2009 scored 92, 91+ and 90 respectively. These very high scores have given great recognition and encouragement to Paola’s pioneering work with single vintage wines, especially in the field of biological ageing, and she is to be congratulated.



Monday, 15 January 2018

Palo Cortado Los Caireles 19%, Portales Pérez

Appearance
Chestnut to mahogany to amber with bright copper tints.
Nose
Fresh and very nutty with lots of toasted almond and slight hints of turron, caramel, orange peel, cinnamon, and fine oak. It is very elegant and fairly tight with a faint saline twist reminding one of its Sanlúcar origins, but above all it has real charm.
Palate
Generously flavoured and clean, again with lots of nuts. It is medium bodied and dry but nicely rounded and again with that faint bitter saline note. It is a most attractive wine, beautifully balanced and with a little of that Sanlúcar verve and a very long clean finish.
Comments
This lovely wine was bottled from a small solera in early December as a special edition of just 500 bottles which will surely sell quickly as it is not only excellent but also well priced. The average age is over 15 years. This family- run bodega makes very good wine and deserves to be better known, and this could be the wine to give them the publicity they need.
Price
19.50, De Albariza

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Amontillado Perpendicular 18%, Las Botas

Appearance
Mahogany fading to amber with copper glints and the faintest trace of green at the rim.
Nose
Attractive, fairly intense and unusual with a distinct note of bitter orange along with toasted hazelnuts and almonds and gentle spice notes like vanilla and cinnamon. There are all sorts of nuances like pipe tobacco and oak.
Palate
It starts off quite full but soon displays considerable elegance, being well rounded and dry yet without any aggressive tannin. That orange character is still there but the nuts come through as it develops on the palate. There is a passing note of antique furniture as it fades, long and elegant
Comments
This wine is from the first saca of 700 bottles which comes from Bodegas Urium in Jerez. It is a blend of varying proportions of wine with a long period of biological ageing from four selected butts in the firm's Amontillado solera, and has an average age of over 20 years. The wine is bottled unfiltered. The name Perpendicular alludes to the two types of ageing involved; biological and oxidative. The Las Botas range is the brainchild of sommelier Raul Villabrille and César Velazquez of Balandro Vinos in Sevilla. Their first releases have been extremely good and the project augurs very well.
Price
29.80 euros per 50cl, La Tienda del Jerez


Saturday, 13 January 2018

Tinto Roble No Ni Ná NV 13.5%, Barbadillo

Appearance
Deep blacky red with a reasonably tight young cherry red rim.
Nose
Forest fruits: lots of berries like blueberry, bramble and raspberry with faint lactic and balsamic notes and a trace of Parma violet. There is a youthful jammy character with background traces of toast and spice from the oak giving it a touch of balancing seriousness.
Palate
Big and very fruity on entry, with all those fresh forest berries. Acidity is on the low side but it balances well and there is a faint ripe tannin undertow. It is on the commercial side but is rewarding easy everyday drinking and has lots of charm and general versatility.
Comments
The Spanish supermarket chain Mercadona is selling a new red Vino de la Tierra de Cádiz exclusively in all its branches in the province. It comes from Barbadillo’s Gibalbín vineyards and  is a blend of Tintilla, Merlot, Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah with two months ageing in a mix of American and French oak barrels. No vintage date is given, but according to the lot number on the back label it was bottled on November 23 2017, so one assumes it is from the 2016 vintage. Mercadona runs no fewer than 1,624 supermarkets throughout the country and has been highly successful thanks to its efficiency, partnership with suppliers and its willingness to react to feedback from customers whom it regards as its “bosses”. The majority of their wines are pretty pedestrian, but this - especially for the money - is better. The expression “no ni ná” is used in Cádiz to mean “yes of course”, the triple negative meaning affirmative. The province virtually has its own language.
Price
2.50 euros






Friday, 12 January 2018

Vermouth La Copa 15.5%, González Byass

Appearance
Deep mahogany fading to amber with copper highlights.
Nose
Aromatic with wormwood and quinine to the fore with raisin note from the PX behind, then come hints of Oloroso and orange before the whole ensemble comes together as an appealing bitter-sweet whole. It all seems perfectly balanced.
Palate
Initial sweetness gives way as the bitterness comes through but never takes over, it just balances nicely. There is a fullness, even a trace of viscosity which is kept in check by the bitter botanicals and it has a very long finish which dries a little leaving pleasant sensations.
Comments
In line with the resurgence of the popularity of Vermouth, González Byass re-launched its La Copa brand in spring 2016. The formula, which dates from 1896 and had been preserved in the bodega's historic archive, is exactly the same, as is the label. The brand "La Copa" or the glass was also used to brand the horses bred by the son of the firm's founder, the Marqués de Torresoto. The vermouth is made from a blend of Oloroso and Pedro Ximénez of at least eight years of age and the botanicals include wormwood, savory, clove, orange peel, cinnamon, nutmeg, angelica and quinine.
Price
7.99 euros, El Corte Inglés

Thursday, 11 January 2018

Mon Amour 2016 13.5%, Bodega Forlong

Appearance
Paleish bright lemony gold with golden reflections.
Nose
Very attractive, fragrant yet serious. There is plenty of fresh Palomino fruit with stewed apple, pear and hints of glacé fruits, lemon perhaps, even a tropical, floral note, and the oak is very subdued - effect rather than flavour. There is a trace of camomile and a creamy, almost buttery note along with a feeling of gentle texture. It is still very young and more bottle age will surely reveal more.
Palate
Very fresh and bursting with Palomino character - and a bit more. It is perfectly balanced and extremely elegant with all sorts of subtleties: traces of pineapple and banana, lemon fondant and apple with a faint saline mineral note along with a gentle grape skin feel. Long clean finish, lovely.
Comments
Another lovely wine from this bodega which always seems to have something new and exciting. This is made from 100% Palomino grown organically in the historic Forlong vineyard in the pago Balbaina Baja near El Puerto de Santa María. The grape bunches were picked at night to keep them cooler and sorted by hand, and on arrival at the bodega they were put in a cool chamber for 24 hours to reduce the temperature further - down to 5°. Next they were sorted again and de-stemmed before going to a pneumatic press under dry ice to minimise oxidation. After pressing, the must went to a rapid cooling tank where the temperature was held at 3° for 24 hours for decantation. It was then filled into used French oak barrels for fermentation. After fermentation the barrels were topped up and sealed, only being disturbed by some bâtonnage every 2 or 3 months over a period of 10 months to increase complexity by maximising contact with fine lees. Total production was 1460 numbered bottles. It took a lot of effort to make this wine, and it was well worth it.
Price
17.50 euros, Licores Corredera


Wednesday, 10 January 2018

10.1.18 Sanlúcar to Produce Whisky

A new project to distil whisky in Sanlúcar is under way run by the team which, among other things, operates the Weisshorn restaurant in Calle Sevilla, just opposite the Barbadillo bodegas. The restaurant specialises in North African cuisine, while they also make hand-made electric guitars and gin. The name Weisshorn refers to a ship which ran aground in 1994 carrying 6,000 tons of rice, which when soaked in sea water expanded till it broke the ship in two.

Distilling in the area has a long history dating back to Moorish times and most bodegas had stills, but the last one fell silent in 1970, leaving only its chimney as a reminder. It wasn’t only wine leftovers which were distilled; rice was also used, and a form of rice whisky accompanied Magellan on the first circumnavigation of the globe in the early XVI century. Roberto Payá of Weisshorn has already had success with Luciferi and 1522 gins and has now secured adjacent premises to distil the whisky with production expected to begin sometime later this year and a finished product on the market in 2022, the 500th anniversary of the return of what remained of Magellan’s fleet.

The definition of whisky is rather vague, being a distillate produced from cereals which must be aged for a minimum of three years in oak barrels, so rice can be used and that’s the plan. It will come from the Coto Doñana and the spirit will be aged in Sherry casks naturally, so it will be 100% Sanlúcar.

This is what it will look like

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

9.1.18 Sherry Marathon 2018

After the success of last year’s inaugural marathon, which attracted no fewer than 600 entrants, the 2018 edition will take place on 29th April. The event covers two stages; one in the historic city of Jerez and the other in the surrounding vineyards, and is open to anyone, with inscriptions open now. Runners will begin outside the Alcázar in Jerez, run through the city’s historic centre and then out through the vineyards and back to the finish line at the Alameda Vieja, close to the start line. In fact there are three events; the Sherry Marathon proper at 42 kilometres, the 22km Sherry Media run, and the 13 km Sherry Promo run, the latter two being through the vineyards only. There will also be a version for ramblers who can take their time and stop for a glass and a bite at the various “refuelling” points along the course run by the leading bodegas. There will also be a huge number of parallel events, so it is well worth coming even if you are not a runner. For full information:
www.sherrymaraton.com and here is a promotional video: http://www.sherrymaraton.com/video-ing




Monday, 8 January 2018

Zerej II Vino Blanco 2014 14.5%, Barbadillo

Appearance
Strawy gold with golden reflections.
Nose
Attractive, elegant and fairly serious with lots going on. There is a certain ripeness along with slight traces of flor and delicate floral notes with distinct aromas of camomile, then there are hints of stewed apple, apricot and even a creamy note, and it is all developing nicely into a lovely bouquet.
Palate
The wine has a certain presence with a gentle texture and perfect acidity. Despite the impressive floral and fruit flavours and a passing white Burgundy note, there is no getting away from the strawy chalky appley mineral backbone which reminds one of Manzanilla. Delicious.
Comments
!00% Palomino grown in the Cerro de Leyes parcel of the the firm's Santa Lucía albariza vineyard near Jerez. A few years ago, Montse Molina, the Barbadillo oenologist, decided to do something more with the plot and make something special. After some years of experimentation she came up with Mirabrás, a high quality white table wine, already released. The grapes were hand picked and briefly sunned, and after fermentation in ex Manzanilla butts and natural decantation, the wine was left on fine lees and briefly aged biologically. It was then stored in stainless steel tanks until ready for bottling without fortification. Interestingly, while the wine spent a brief period under flor, there is a slight oxidative element too. A complex and interesting wine which could be considered as an unfortified sobretablas of very fine quality.
Price
No individual price as this is part of a set of four magnums which cost 180 euros. Naturally the individual wines will have different prices.


Sunday, 7 January 2018

Manzanilla Apartada 15%, Las Botas

Appearance
Bright gold with a faint amber tinge and golden highlights.
Nose
Beautiful and intensely aromatic - more so than the colour would suggest, and hugely complex with all sorts of nuances. There is plenty of bitter yeasty flor and lots of salted almond up front with slight herb and dried flower notes along with sourdough and olive brine behind. Then there are subtle notes of oxidation and cabezuela - there is so much going on and it is all tightly packed into a super fresh wine which is still very much Manzanilla. Lovely!
Palate
Intense, beautifully balanced and so very clean. It is huge on entry with lots of flor, nuttiness and oxidation and then calms down a bit, offering tangy yeasty doughy saline marine notes. Then all the multifarious flavours seem to join together in a flourish into one super tasty wine with terrific length which just keeps on giving. Superb!
Comments
This outstanding Manzanilla is one of 2,000 bottled with no clarification whatsoever in September 2017. It was sourced from a few butts which showed the desired characteristics of biological influence, salinity and bitter almond in the very old San León Reserva de Familia solera in Bodegas Herederos de Argüeso in Sanlúcar. The grapes came from Miraflores and Balbaina and the wine has an average age of between 12 and 14 years. Different quantities were withdrawn from different butts to create a blend with all the characteristics mentioned above and a little oxidation as well. The Las Botas range is selected by sommelier Raúl Villabrille and César Velazquez of Balandro Vinos in Sevilla, and the name "Apartada" refers to that oxidation which sets the wine apart from just biological flavours. These wines offer exceptional value.
Price
15 euros per 50cl bottle, La Tienda del Jerez



Saturday, 6 January 2018

Brandy Solera Reserva 36%, Sánchez Romate

Appearance
Deep mahogany with copper highlights and a trace of green on an amber rim.
Nose
Full with plenty of Oloroso and vanilla with a hint of dried fruit and faint traces of cinnamon, orange peel and oak. There is an element of class with delicate hints of polished furniture and there is an attractive freshness.
Palate
Oloroso and caramel at the start then those warm spices and a trace of pipe tobacco follow through. It has a lot of flavour and a hint of sweetness which is quite tightly packed without any aggressive tannins and it has a long clean finish.
Comments
Sánchez Romate are the producers of one of the finest Jerez Brandies, Cardenal Mendoza, so even with their more basic Solera Reserva they don't mess about. It has an average age of about two and a half years. The minimum age for a Solera reserva is one year and that for Solera Gran Reserva is three, so this is upmarket for a Solera Reserva. It is aged in  a solera whose butts previously held Oloroso and is very good value. 
Price
9.95 euros, Licorería La Latina


Friday, 5 January 2018

Bodegas: Viña La Zarzuela

José Manuel Bustillo Barroso, known to his friends as “El Busti”, comes from a long line of vine growers in the Marco de Jerez where he was born in a vineyard and has lived in one ever since. For much of his life he was a capataz de viña, or vineyard manager for one of the big Sherry firms as well as working with the Rancho La Merced, the research and training institute of the Junta de Andalucía, all the while looking after the family vineyard. He has also been working on wine tourism with Spirit Sherry and helping oenology students with vineyard visits. Now “pre-retired”, he has been devoting more of his knowledge and experience to his dream: making his own wines.

Vina La Zarzuela (foto:tripadvisor)

He owns the Viña La Zarzuela a 4 hectare vineyard in the pago La Zarzuela between the famous pagos of Balbaina and Añina, not far from Las Tablas which borders on the Las Conchas vineyard of Williams & Humbert. The vines are planted half way up a gentle slope which faces west giving it good exposure to the Poniente winds. It is mostly planted with Palomino but there remain a few old varieties: Perruno, Castellano, Mantua Pilas, Barcelonés, Cañocazo, even red varieties. Some believe it was these old varieties which propitiated the appearance of Palo Cortado. José Manuel sells most of his Palomino grapes to Williams and Humbert and has fun with the rest.

Jose Manuel Bustillo
Anyway, El Busti produces tiny quantities of wine including a Palo Cortado, but it is mostly for the use of family and friends. A very little Palo Cortado Viña la Zarzuela is bottled by the online wine shop La Tintoreria under their “El Marginal” label. The grapes are sunned for 3-4 days in the almijar, or yard, outside the vineyard house and only mosto yema – the first pressing – is used. The wine is not subjected to any treatment whatsoever, even fortification. It is an añada of some 20 years of age and bottled en rama with a wax capsule. Needless to say it is hard to find but worth the effort.




Address: Autovia A-480 Jerez-Sanlúcar, salida 21, carretera hacia Las Tablas
Telephone: 625705236

Thursday, 4 January 2018

Arroyo Alquitón 2013 13.5%, Hacienda Parrilla Alta

Appearance
Dense opaque black red with a tight rim which has turned a youthful red.
Nose
Cracking nose; fresh, aromatic and attractive with lots of black cherry, plum and bramble fruit and just a trace of violet. There is still some youthful padding with some faint balsamic, lead pencil and spice notes from the French oak, all beautifully integrated. The overriding impression is of zesty fruit with a slightly more serious background. Great start.
Palate
Lots of upfront black fruit with a refreshing acidity which keeps it lively and the alcohol is not over the top and is nicely integrated. There is a decent structure without excessive tannin and the palate is round, balanced, almost zippy and elegant, substantial but not too strong or heavy. This is a classic example of how just good Tintilla can be.
Comments
This classic Tintilla comes from a steeply sloping west facing albariza vineyard with an altitude of over 180 metres near San José del Valle, south east of Jerez. This vineyard is ideal for the slow ripening of Tintilla, and yields are kept low. It is the estate's star wine but production is limited to around 2,000 bottles. The grapes are picked and de-stemmed by hand before undergoing a 7 day cold soak. The wine is fermented in oak using natural wild yeasts and the malo-lactic fermentation also takes place in oak before racking into French oak for 12 months ageing. The wine is subjected to the minimum filtration and was bottled in spring 2015 with a very good quality cork.
Price
15.90 euros, La Tienda del Jerez


Wednesday, 3 January 2018

Manzanilla Superior en rama 15%, Elías González Guzmán

Appearance
Bright deepish amber tinged gold with golden highlights.
Nose
Full and rich with lots of briny saline bitter flor, scrub, straw, wax and traces of butter and faint traces of oxidation. There is a lot of complexity here yet it is extremely fresh with loads of character.
Palate
It has lots of flavour too. Quite intense and dry with attractive briny bitterness balanced by notes of sourdough, almond and butter. This is virtually Manzanilla Pasada, though it doesn't say so on the label, and is delicious with a lovely long clean finish.
Comments
This bodega is located on the broad Avenida Quinto Centenario, open to the Poniente and only a few hundred yards from the beach, which explains its classic Manzanilla character. The wine is from an old solera made up of toneles, which are double sized butts and not uncommon in Sanlúcar. It is bottled en rama at about seven years old. This excellent and quite sophisticated wine would develop really well in bottle.
Price
12.95, De Albariza




Tuesday, 2 January 2018

2.1.18 González Byass Launch Solera Reservada Club

GB has launched an online club selling an exclusive selection of special Sherries which are not generally available. Membership is free - you just need to buy the wine - and offers various benefits which include 15% discount on GB products; auction of historic bottles from the firm’s cellar; two free visits to the bodega per year; 20% discount on tickets for the Tio Pepe Festival and direct access to the winemaker. There is an annual saca and the Sherries (and a fine vinegar) come in a set of 21 which includes:

3 x Fino Almendroso: selected 4 year old Fino en rama
3 x Amontillado: Over 40 years old, selected from 3 butts still showing traces of Fino
3 x Palo Cortado: Over 20 years old, selected from 4 butts
3 x Oloroso: Over 40 years old, selected from 4 butts for their elegance and complexity
3 x Dulce Palomino: Over 31 years old, made from overripe Palomino sunned at the vineyard
6 x Jerez Vinegar: Gran Reserva which has well over 10 years of solera ageing (half bottle)

Also included is a polished wooden cabinet to store the bottles. The complete set costs 1,950 euros including delivery. http://www.lasolerareservada.com/la-solera-reservada





Monday, 1 January 2018

Manzanilla 15%, Covisan

Appearance
Bright pale golden straw with golden highlights.
Nose
Fresh and attractive with lots of gentle strawy grassy herbiness and a note of camomile - even a faint trace of lemon peel - up front followed by some sourdough then some salty olive brine. This is not a particularly old wine, and while there are some light flor notes they are not especially pronounced.
Palate
Broadly similar on the palate and there is a certain zestiness helped by a yeasty saline minerality. The faintest oxidative note is there, giving a very gentle savoury character, and there is a certain flor bitterness. There can be no doubt that this comes from coastal vineyards.
Comments
This wine, which has a lot of character for the money, comes from the well-equipped Cooperativa del Campo Vitivinicola Sanluqueña or Covisan, which is next door to La Guita's installations at the Pago de Sanlúcar Viejo in the Barrio Alto. The cooperative, which was established in 1968, supplies some of La Guita's grape requirements, and of its own production, over 80% is Manzanilla. Most of this is sold on draught to people bringing their own containers, but they also bottle some.
Price
2 euros per half bottle ex bodega