A blog and review on all things Sherry. It is about tasting, enjoyment and learning more about the World’s Finest Wine. "Sherry is a thoroughbred" as Javier Hidalgo rightly puts it. Included are the amazing local Brandies and the remarkably good table wines also produced in the province of Cádiz.
Juan Antonio Tosar Hernández was the son of
Antonio Tossar, of Italian descent, and Beatriz Hernández. The family lived in
Cádiz where youngJuan Antonio, or simply
Antonio as he was known, married Bárbara Martínez García who was of noble birth
and who bore him seven sons and two daughters before dying around 1835.Antonio
was in the business of trade with the Spanish colonies in the Americas. As this
trade began to decline, Antonio moved with his large young family to El Puerto
de Santa María to try and restore their fortunes in the wine trade.
By 1838 he had a modest bodega at Calle
Espíritu Santo, 19, next to some houses in Calle Rosas which he had inherited
from his mother. Over time these installations would be extended by two of his
sons, Manuel and Francisco Javier Tosar Martínez who changed the company name
to M&F Tosar and also installed a cooperage in an adjacent plot in 1846. Antonio
died in 1850. Another son, Adolfo (1822-1880) went to London where he set up a
sales office, and it would be he and his successors who would continue the
business till the end. The brothers were hard working, efficient and husbanded
their wines with great care, and by the 1860s they were among the leading firms
in the area, despite the modest scale of their bodegas. They bought a house at
Calle de la Plata, 6, where Manuel lived, remaining a bachelor, and in the
basement they installed a sales office, tasting and meeting rooms.
The family home still stands, now a bridal wear shop
Francisco Javier died, also unmarried, in 1865
and divided his share of the business between his brothers Manuel and Adolfo
and sister Amalia. When she died, her share was divided between Manuel and
Adolfo and the company continued as M&F Tosar for another decade until the
death of Manuel. By now the firm had reached its maximum potential and employed
20 people and had some 5,000 arrobas of stock including dozens of wines as well
as brandy and vinegar. Everything had to be split among the remaining
inheritors, but at least there were not many. In 1870 Adolfo married Manuela Zurutuza
Fesser (b 1840). In 1873 he was back in El Puerto with his wife and two
children to run the business at the behest of his elder brother who was ageing
and infirm, but he did need to return to London from time to time. He was there
when Manuel died in 1874. Adolfo’s two sons, Antonio and José, inherited one
third each of Manuel’s share of the business and Adolfo continued to run it on
his own as Adolfo Tosar & Cía till his death in 1880.
A label blank from the later years
The business continued in the hands of his wife
Manuela Zurutuza and their now four children under the title Viuda de Adolfo
Tosar & Cía. The name M&A Bayo Tosar was also occasionally used. The firm, which held a royal warrant, ceased trading in the
early years of the XX century. At about this time, one of the daughters married
an Osborne and another married José Antonio Ruiz de Cortázar who ran Bodegas
Alonso Pajares. In 1901 Manuela’s two sons,
Manuel and Francisco Javier, established a brewery and sparkling waters
business, Fábrica de Cervezas Tosar, in Calle Cielo, but despite a good start
and a change of name to Cervecera Portuense in 1904, it didn’t last very long.
Very bright pale gold with distinct notes of green and silvery gold highlights. Nose
Exotic, fragrant and quite intense with notes of lychee, very slightly under-ripe peach, pineapple, honeysuckle, orange blossom and a trace of almost ginger-like spice. Classic Gewürztraminer nose and very fresh.
Super fresh fruity and tangy - the acidity is very good for the grape and the place, and all that fragrance carries through on the palate. It seems light at first but definitely has some body and there is a gentle, slightly chalky texture and considerable length.
Gewürztraminer is very unusual as far south as Cádiz being more of a northern grape, and one which can complete its ripening quickly leaving very low acidity, especially in a hot place. It is not one of the varieties permitted in the Vino de la Tierra de Cádiz regulations so it is legally simply a table wine, though it might contain a little Sauvignon Blanc, which is allowed. Nevertheless, it is a beautifully made wine with real character. The cortijo is located in a beautiful place about 25 km north east of Jerez on mixed soils with some albariza. The grapes were picked by hand at night for maximum freshness, cold fermented in stainless steel, stabilised, bottled without ageing and labelled by hand.
Bright mid brassy gold with golden highlights. Nose
Full, rounded and quite complex with notes of straw and a hint of fruit: ripe apple, quince and ripe grape pulp. There is a restrained note of flor which balances well with the fruit and there is a gentle mineral salinity from the soil, and a general feeling of weight from the extra ripeness of the grapes.
Clean and very fresh with an attractive tension between the flor, decent acidity and the fruit, it has a lovely tanginess too, not to mention a slightly dry chalky mineral feel. It is different from the usual Fino being fruitier as it is made the old fashioned way and the result is a very sophisticated and interesting wine with lots of flavour and terrific length. Comments
Made with Palomino grapes from the El Corregidor vineyard at the heart of the inland pago Carrascal. The soil here is one of the many kinds of albariza: barajuela, which is composed of very thin layers which resemble the side of a pack of cards (baraja). The vines are over 40 years old so the yield is low. The harvest is picked in various passes over a two month period to achieve the ideal ripeness for the various wines. The first grapes, not yet ripe enough for wine, are used for a brandy project and the next ones, which will be used for the Fino, are sun dried for a day or more to increase sugar content as the wine will not be fortified. The must is filled unfiltered straight into butts where it ferments without temperature control. After fermentation a selection is made as to whether the wine will be aged biologically or oxidatively and the level of wine in the butts selected for Fino is kept comparatively high so that the flor will not overpower the character of the vineyard. The ageing of the wines is assiduously observed as the flor yeast strains can vary. This is one of the very few vintage Sherries, and one of the fewer still which are not fortified and has a DO Sherry. It might seem expensive for a Fino, but an enormous amount of work has gone into it, and it is delicious. The back label has a little block with the blank symbols of una palma, dos palmas, tres palmas and cuatro palmas with the una palma symbol overprinted, so one wonders what else might be in the pipeline...
The excellent Ciclo de
Conferencias (Cycle of Lectures) offered by Williams & Humbert since 2014 continues on Thursday 26th
April with a fascinating lecture entitled “Tránsitos de Ida y Vuelta: La
Anudación de Tres Continentes” (Return Journeys: the Ties between Three
Continents) by María del Carmen Borrego Plá, Professor of History at the
Universidad Hispalense in Sevilla, author of various books and co-proprietor of
Bodegas El Maestro Sierra. She will explain the connections and cultural,
social and economic exchanges between Europe, Asia and America which took place
during the XVI century - including the wines and their customs – which have
lasted till the present day without us being aware of their origins. The
lecture will take place at the bodegas of Williams & Humbert at 19.30 and a
glass of Sherry will be served afterwards. Go if you possibly can, there is no
charge, but places are limited.
Opaque browny black fading to amber at the rim, viscous. Nose Very fruity, predominantly pasa but hints of prune and dried fig too. It has that lovely smell of raisins on their redores (esparto mats) out in the sun as well as notes of carob, molasses and Christmas cake. Palate Amazing viscosity with an attractive dried grape pulp texture, pure raisin concentrate! Super smooth and mouth-filling with just enough acidity to mitigate some of the sweetness giving it a soft treacly tang and very good length. Comments
This lovely PX has an average age of over 12 years and comes from a small solera in the bodega San Jorge in Calle Arcos, Jerez. Fernández Gao is the welcome reincarnation of a historic old bodega of the same name whose origins date back to 1750. In 2014 Jerez businessman Antonio Sánchez Gago bought two disused bodegas in Calle Pajarete (formerly Real Tesoro) and Calle Arcos along with the original firm's various brand names and, using family soleras as a starting point, set up the new firm along with his brother Juan Carlos who is the oenologist. It is early days but the wines are very good and have already received some deservedly good scores from the critics.
Mahogany with copper highlights fading to amber. Nose Complex and refined, it has developed a bouquet of subtle nuances like oak, nuts, Oloroso, caramel and vanilla all nicely melded together. It might contain some aguardiente, but not much, this is mostly holandas and it has an air of quality. Palate Very smooth and quite rich with hints of dried fruit and caramel rounding it off. It holds the alcohol well too, which helps, and there is a gentle texture. There are gentle brown sugar and orange peel notes and there might be a trace of sweetening (perfectly legal) but it has been well done, and the Oloroso is not excessive. Long, harmonious and very satisfying. Comments
The soleras for this excellent brandy were established in 1860 by the now lost firm of Pedro Romero in Sanlucar, and they were bought by Francisco Yuste after Romero went bust. The brandy itself has an average age of nearly 20 years, spent in butts made from American oak from Costa Rica. I'm not sure if it is named after Pedro Romero or after King Pedro I of Castilla and Leon, a XIV century monarch known as "Pedro the Cruel" or "Pedro the Just" depending on which side you were on.
and very interesting article by Ángel Espejo and video by Miguel Ángel González
appeared in yesterday’s Diario de Jerez. The video is in Spanish but is well
worth watching nonetheless.
*His wine has a privileged place in the royal
household and also refreshes the criaderas of Tio Pepe.
*Curro of La Blanquita is the creator of this
Fino without a name from the historic pago of Balbaína.
El Kubala used to enter the royal Zarzuela Palace*
just like Pedro did his house. He always went well provided with a few arrobas
of Fino wine from La Blanquita to refresh the butt which Pedro Pacheco* had
gifted to King Juan Carlos* during his time as mayor. Rafael García González -
better known as El Kubala or Kubalita for his resemblance to a Hungarian
footballer and his skill with the ball when he competed in the lower divisions
– looked after the royal barrel with the same care he put into the maintenance
of the small solera in the little private bodega of the ex-mayor of Jerez,
which was also refreshed with the wine of La Blanquita, the 50 hectare vineyard
in the historic pago Balbaína which belonged to the Barba family.
The connection with royalty was interrupted by
the sudden death of El Kubala. The monarch ceased to reign and the ex-mayor was
deprived of his liberty. But that is another story. By one of life’s many coincidences,
the La Blanquita Fino regained its connection with royalty, but by another
route, brought about by the friendship between the elder son of Francisco Barba
González, “Curro de la Blanquita”, and José Manuel Zuleta, Duke of Abrantes and
equerry to Queen Letizia, childhood classmate of the vine-grower’s son, and by
which the despatch of Balbaína Fino to the palace for the annual refreshing of
the royal barrel was re-established.
News came directly to the ears of Curro de la
Blanquita about the refusal of the King Emeritus* to accept any wine which did
not originate from his vines after Pacheco was relieved of the mayorship. “So
they say” said the veteran Sanluqueño vine-grower, who was more worried about
the quality and prestige of his wines, which also refreshed the criaderas of
Tio Pepe at González Byass.
Curro Barba invested the money he had managed
to save in Barcelona as a painter, the first place he went after completing his
military service at the La Parra base*, in the purchase of the vineyard on the
last day of the year back in 1969. Four million of the old pesetas which they
gave him to pay half the asking price for La Blanquita, a parcel located on the
left of the Jerez-Rota road in the first few kilometres, in the municipality of
El Puerto, and which then consisted of 15 hectares of vineyard presided over by
the casa de viña La Blanquita whose whitewash shone brightly in the sun giving
the vineyard its name.
Barba had only seen the vineyard as a young man
working as a day labourer in Sanlúcar, but he quickly adapted to the new role
of vine-grower where he soon saw the need to make the change to wine maker
because of the slim margins provided by the sale of grapes to the bodegas.
“I had no idea about wine but it couldn’t be
too difficult and I knew something about vineyards”, explains the official
provider of wine to the royal household, who continues “I had a rough time of
it at the start since grapes offer very low returns, but after much hard work I
completed the payments for the vineyard for which they gave me a reduction for early
payments, then I grubbed up the very old vines and re-planted it”.
In the mid-1970s, with his financial affairs in
order, Curro assumed another debt to build a press house, and years later, in
his tireless search for stability, he again re-mortgaged the family home in Sanlúcar
to construct another building to house the necessary tanks as he became a wine
producer. “From selling grapes I went to making mostos which I sold straight
from the butt to González Byass, and later installed the tanks from which I
could sell wine which had been racked for a higher price.
With great effort and sacrifice the business
began to finance itself and allowed him to triple the size of the vineyard to
45 hectares with the purchase of another two parcels in the area and establish
a modest solera of 180 butts of Fino “as my little treat”, that is to say for
personal consumption or with friends – now limited in number by the ailments of
age – and for sale in bulk. No Amontillado or Oloroso or any other types of
wine, just Fino, but Curro takes care not to allow the wine to get fat, by what
he calls “false sales” or withdrawing part of the wine and refreshing it with
younger wine so it doesn’t end up losing the flor and becoming Amontillado.
Curro of La Blanquita misses the excitement and hope of
those years, despite the hard daily work in the vineyard, but at almost 83
years old his main worry is that he doesn’t see his legacy go beyond his son Francisco
Barba “Currito”, the only one of his three children interested in being a
With 52 springs on his shoulders, Currito runs
the business in which he began working 13 years ago and he doesn’t want any of
his four children anywhere near it. Curro and Currito agree that it “provides a
living given hard work, but not much more. It is very demanding and you have to
be on top of things all day, every day”.
With a considerable production of some 600
butts per year – between 250,000 and 300,000 litres – La Blanquita remains a
small family business far from the winds of change blowing through the area, and
this distance doesn’t hold out much hope, in the short term at least, of
resulting in increased grape and must prices for the growers.
Curro father and son don’t understand new
Sherries or new grape varieties. Theirs is the Palomino, from which they make
their Fino, and “the more the merrier”, because according to Curro “Jerez is
still one of the few DOs which still pays by the kilo, so how can they ask a
grower for more if they don’t pay for it”.
Although this family of cosecheros lives beyond
the new airs blowing through the area, they agree on the vital importance of
looking after the vineyards and also that of the pago from which the grapes come,
in their case, Balbaína “whose wines are famous for their finesse” affirms
Francisco Barba senior, who insists that “this provides a living given hard
work, and if you don’t have the capacity for such work you would be better trying
something else, because only with constant work and attention will the vineyard
La Blanquita has other attributes however; the
vineyard has beautiful views looking towards Jerez, though they have changed in
recent years with the uprooting of vineyards “where we reached 22,000 hectares
and now only have 6,000”. The abandoned appearance of some of the nearby slopes
resulting from the uprooting saddens Curro, though while there are still some
plots dedicated to producing Sherry there are others, like the neighbouring Viña
del Caballo, bought by a bodega to plant other, non-Palomino, grape varieties
to make Vinos de la Tierra de Cádiz. “At least it is still a vineyard”, he
While he is still physically able, Curro de la
Blanquita will keep on going every day to his vineyard, in winter only in the
mornings and in summer, mornings and afternoons “to attend to everything that
happens here”. And he will continue to do it with an amiable smile, a
reflection of his good-natured character to which the inscription on a plaque
presented to him by his friends for his 80th birthday refers. It
hangs on the main door of the bodega and reads: “We will always be able to count
on you because you are a person with a good heart”.
*In 2014 King Juan Carlos I abdicated in favour
of his son, now King Felipe VI, married to Queen Letizia, and now holds the
title of King Emeritus.
*The Zarzuela Palace in Madrid is the residence
of the King/Queen and the royal household.
*Pedro Pacheco was mayor of Jerez between 1979
and 2003. He was imprisoned for municipal irregularities in 2014 and is now
nearing the end of his sentence.
*La Parra was an air base built close to Jerez
in 1936 and is now the city’s La Parra Airport. Parra means “vine”.
Bright old gold with golden highlights. Nose Full, forthcoming, complex and very fresh with beautifully harmonised notes of bitter mature flor, buttery toasted almond and faint oxidation. There is also plenty of straw and dried herbs and scrub as well as a distinct salinity. There is a nice dry air about it, presumably since it was selected in summer when the flor is thinner. Palate Big, quite intense and very clean with beautifully balanced acidity. Lots of straw and dried herbs, yeasty sourdough, distinctly maritime and at a lovely stage of maturity. It is very dry with a slight chalky texture and finishes with a very long and impressive flourish. Comments
This wine is the only saca of 2017 (so far, but probably) and comes, as it often does, from the bodega of Francisco Yuste who has stocks of some great Manzanilla. It was selected in July and bottled en rama in November. The hot dry spring had left its mark on the flor giving the wine great depth, personality and elegance, and it is a Manzanilla Pasada, well over eight years old, though that is not mentioned on the label. Despite great success with his wines, Antonio Barbadillo seems ever less inclined to use the electronic media, so unless you bump into him it is difficult to keep up to date and offer more information. Still, this is a lovely wine, classic Manzanilla.
Bright pale golden straw with golden glints. Nose Fresh and forthcoming with herbal and slightly floral aromas of grass, straw and camomile there is a salty edge too, and of course some flor bitterness, but not enough yet to obscure traces of apple and fresh apricot. Young and zippy, still with some vino blanco character. Palate Plenty of tangy freshness, clean and appley with an attractive gentle herbal bitter note and a dry, chalky feel from the albariza and a mineral hint. It gives you the impression of open sea air on the beach near a meadow, and arouses a strong desire for seafood tapas. Comments
The name Victoria has long been a popular name for Sherries having been used by a number of bodegas like Otaolaurruchi, V&F González, Bobadilla and Bodegas Internacionales. This brand will have come from the latter due to the purchase of parts of Internacionales along with Diez-Mérito by Marcos Eguizábal in the 1980s after the collapse of Rumasa. It was then sold under the name of Federico Paternina, the umbrella name of Eguizábal's company, until Diez-Mérito was bought by the Espinosa family in 2016. The wine has an average age of over three years and is excellent value for money.
The 9th release of Tio Pepe en rama is now available. After
an initial selection of 120 butts in October, Antonio Flores has selected the wine
from just 62 butts from the Constancia and Rebollo soleras, both of which are
made from Macharnudo musts. Autumn 2017 was very hot and followed by a cooler
winter, with decent rainfall into spring which gave the wine a healthy layer of
flor which is reflected in the wine’s yeastiness. For the first time it will also be available in magnums.
Bright pale golden straw with golden glints. Nose Attractive and quite intense Moscatel nose, fragrant - almost perfumed - and very floral with notes of jasmine, citrus blossom and honeysuckle and a definite grapiness with the faintest hints of mineral and salinity. Palate Fresh and dry with loads of grapey flavour up front. Acidity is fairly low but you wouldn't really notice as there is a clean mineral backbone which helps maintain balance, and a faint creaminess, and there is a chalky texture too, no doubt from the albariza. It has a long delicate fragrant finish. Comments
This is the first release of this interesting wine made by three girls in El Puerto de Santa Maria. It is named in honour of their viti-viniculture tutor Araceli Molinero and is made from Moscatel grapes grown in albariza soil. The must is fermented in tank and the wine is aged, surprisingly, in old Amontillado and Oloroso butts for 3 months on its lees before bottling without filtration. It spends two months in numbered bottles before release. A vintage date on the label would be helpful.
Polished antique chestnut with brassy glints fading to amber at the rim. Nose Fresh and gently crisp at the start with notes of fine oak mingling with toasted almond and hazelnut along with traces of marzipan, pastry filled with orange cream and tobacco. It is aromatic, elegant and complex as it opens out with some hints of Oloroso, and slightly stronger hints of Amontillado. Palate Mouthfilling and generous yet super refined flavour up front with lots of nuts, pastry, a faint hint of ginger and orange cake and those fine, almost aromatic woods. There is remarkably little tannin and the texture is exceptionally well rounded and smooth with a hint of sweetness, probably from glycerine, which gives it great balance and impeccable charm. Delicious! Comments
Pata de Gallina translates as "hen's foot" and relates to a cask marking denoting an oxidatively aged wine with a particularly well rounded, smooth, almost viscous character. Equipo Navazos have worked with Bodegas Ferando de Castilla for some years - in fact their logo derives from a photo taken there. In the case of this particular wine, it came from a selection made at the Jerez bodega of the almacenista Juan García Jarana five or six years ago, from which La Bota 34 was drawn, and which has been kindly stored at Ferando de Castilla in a tiny six butt Equipo Navazos "little altar" (3,2,1) solera. So this wine comes from that same solera but with five years more ageing, and it has an estimated average age of around 30 years and was bottled in January 2017, unfiltered naturally, at La Guita.
Vinoble is back with a
bang this year (3-5 June), the crisis is over and strenuous efforts have been
made by the city council and Consejo Regulador to make this tenth edition the
best yet. It is the
perfect event to show off the wines of Jerez and also the gastronomy and
culture of the city. There will be a free daily tasting with capacity for 100
people as well as a special Tokaj tasting for 30 people. There will also be
tastings of Fondillón Sweet Bordeaux and Port among others, not to mention
Sherry and some of the leading bodegas will do their own. Two sessions will be
devoted to the pagos and the Consejo will do a tasting of vintage wines made
from the treading of the grapes at the Fiesta de la Vendimia and looked after
at its bodega San Ginés. There will also be the opportunity to try wines from
the Poets Laureate butts and one laid down in honour of the visit of Prince
(now King) Felipe. Vinoble is special because it is the only exhibition to
specifically promote fortified and sweet wines which, as Consejo Director César
Saldaña put it, “tend to disappear behind a tide of red and white wines at most
Meanwhile the dates
have been announced for International Sherry Week 2018. This, the largest celebration of
Sherry in the world, will take place on 8 – 14 October. The dates have been put
forward so they fall while it is still summer time and it doesn’t conflict with
European Wine Tourism Day. Registration for events is open now so it is time to
plan yours! The chance of winning Sherry to the value of 1,000 euros for the
most innovative and original event is a great incentive.
The Consejo Regulador was a little worried at
the end of 2017 as sales had dropped by 5% with a volume of 3.3 million litres,
but the start of 2018 has brought some cheer. In the course of January and
February this year sales rose 4% to 3.8 million litres or 140,000 litres more
than in the same period last year.
In the home market, which has been very
encouraging recently, sales were about 1.5 million litres after a slight drop
of 0.4% in the first two months of 2018, but it is hoped that this drop can be
recovered in the coming Feria season of April and May in Andalucía, where large
amounts of Sherry are consumed. Exports, on the other hand, grew by 6.6% in January
and February to 2.37 million litres. This growth in sales abroad, where ever
falling sales of the cheaper lower quality BOBs are concentrated, is wholly
thanks to the UK, traditionally Sherry’s biggest market and where the Consejo
has high hopes of recovery. Here sales jumped by an amazing 40% in the first
two months of 2018.
Sales to the UK rose from 557,000 litres to
780,000 litres for the same period, a rise of some 225,000 litres. Of the other
two large traditional export markets, Holland saw a fall of 3% with a little
under 600,000 litres sold in January and February and Germany saw a 0.2% rise
to 324,000 litres. Across the Atlantic, and after a promising year in the US,
sales in North America lost steam in the first two months and fell by 18.5%,
with volumes in the US remaining largely unchanged at around 160,000 litres,
very slightly above the 2016 figure. In Asia, although sales volumes are small
at around 34,000 litres, they shrank by 25% in January and February although
the principal Asian market, Japan, saw growth of 5% to around 25,000 litres.
This recovery at the start of 2018 is not
enough to balance out the 4.65% (3.27 million litres) drop in sales over the
course of 2017 with the home market falling by 1.7% and export markets by 6.3%.
On Friday night
Antonio Peña who runs the great wine shop De Albariza put on a really
It consisted of comparing some classic Sherries, bottled 40 years ago or more, with
the same wines bottled recently. Antonio Barbadillo (Sacristía AB) gave a
fascinating talk and brought two Manzanillas of his own. It was a wonderful
tasting, and here is a
list of the wines along with brief comments:
Manzanilla Sacristía AB Primera saca 2011 (@ 7 years in bottle)
in colour, slight hint of Amontillado, traces of biscuit, caramel, complex,
AB Primera saca 2017 (@ 1 year in bottle)
complex, full, saline and rounded, classic.
Palo Cortado Wellington, Hidalgo La Gitana (@ 40 years in bottle)
of diesel, cardboard, slightly drier but opened out beautifully, delicious
Palo Cortado Wellington VORS, Hidalgo La Gitana
(@ 1 year in
slightly darker, sweeter, hints orange, cinnamon, saline, charming
Amontillado del Duque, González Byass (@ 40 years in bottle)
leaner and cardboardy at first but opened out beautifully,
Amontillado del Duque
VORS, González Byass (@ 1 year in bottle)
sweeter, hint of tobacco, delightful. These two were remarkably similar.
Amontillado Quo Vadis,
Delgado Zuleta (@ 40 years in bottle)
first but remarkable complexity as it opened out, crisp saline, elegant, long
Amontillado Quo Vadis VORS, Delgado Zuleta (@ 1 year in bottle)
sweeter, even a faint fruit note but still saline, crisp and long
Sherry Crema, González Byass (almost certainly well over 50 years
This was without doubt the oldest wine but it is sadly no longer available so we couldn’t
obtain a newer version. It was fruity, balanced, not over sweet and quite delicious, made with a
little Moscatel as well, as was the style in the past, and it was aged as a blend.
It had the most sediment, so it had certainly lost both colour and sweetness - but certainly none of its appeal.
It was fascinating to see how well the old wines had
developed in bottle and how things have changed. Firstly it was hard to date
the old bottlings precisely as they had no lot numbers on the label, and no
back label, so we had to make educated guesses. The recently bottled Palos
Cortados and Amontillados were all VORS, but as the system was only introduced
in the year 2,000, that qualification was not available to the old wines though
they have the same solera age, being effectively the same wines, just with more
bottle age. The old corks showed their age more than the wine. They were all of
the T type which is not terribly suitable for laying-down and so have a
tendency to dry out, and with one exception they all broke. Not unexpectedly, the old wines were
a little closed and showed a hint of reduction, requiring persuasion to open them
out, and naturally they were very slightly paler and drier. Once they had
opened out they were reassuringly similar to the new wines which all had a
little more up front charm, at least at first. Times have moved on, labels have changed, but Sherry
is as good as ever.
Bright mid strawy yellow with golden highlights. Nose
Quite full and subtly complex with a certain richness and noticeable flor bitterness with slight floral and herbal hints like camomile. There are also gentle fruit notes of quince, apple and yellow plum and a touch of mineral. There are even slight Fino notes.
Full and very tasty. Perfectly balanced acidity with just the right tanginess helped by a zing of flor, lots of appley fruit and minerals and attractive strawy herbal notes. Again a hint of Fino, but more fruit. The finish is long and clean with apple and mineral and a faint bitter flourish.
Palomino grapes for this excellent wine were picked in the pago Macharnudo and pressed lightly for maximum quality (mosto yema). The must was fermented with indigenous yeast in 40 year old butts where it remained under flor for nearly a year before bottling with minimal filtration in 2017. The idea behind this wine is to reproduce the style that was widely drunk in the area in the XVIII century. Wines for export were generally fortified but for local consumption were not, so this is not unlike a Fino, but without the extra alcohol, and with less time under flor. It now has at least a year in bottle and is opening out nicely, and it should be be rewarding to keep for at least 5 years.
Bright deep amber - chestnut with old gold reflections.
Elegant and attractive with lots of almond and hazelnut with a hint of salted caramel and the faintest background bitterness. It resembles a fairly young Amontillado and there are gentle notes of vanilla and American oak, and a faint suggestion of orange peel, really quite fragrant.
Again elegant, and reasonably light, perhaps more in the Amontillado style, but there is a little more weight on the palate. It has a decent acidity and lightness of touch which could only come from Sanlúcar. It is at a lovely stage of development where one can make out clearly the origins of the wine and there is a distinct and attractive Manzanilla note to it.
This is one of a new range consisting of Oloroso, Amontillado and Palo Cortado all sold at 12 years old. It replaces the equivalent old range and the bodega assures me it is exactly the same, just a new label, though I seem to remember a little more body. The choice of name is down to what they feel would sell better in export markets. Nonetheless, it is a delicious wine. The mosto is supplied from the pago Hornillos by Vina Callejuela, and the PC solera has three criaderas with one saca each year.
Bodegas Hidalgo La
Gitana have patented a system for serving Manzanilla La Gitana on draught, like
beer. It consists
of a 16 litre bag-in-box beneath the counter which feeds chilled Manzanilla to
a bar-mounted dispense-tap in the shape of a large bottle of La Gitana. The
firm invested 100,000€ in the system, and it almost floundered with the Consejo
Regulador’s ban on BIB, but the Junta decided to allow it in the catering
The firm is careful to protect its image by
only offering the system to better quality bars, and over 270 are now using it.
It has been very successful; some say they were selling the equivalent of 40 cases a year before,
but are now selling 400. Most of the systems are to be found
in bars in Andalucía, while some 10 bars in the USA have them as does the
Sherry Club in Ginza, Japan. Hidalgo’s excellent single vineyard Manzanilla
Pasada Pastrana is also available, luckily not quite so cold, on draught in one Sanlúcar establishment; Restaurante
Puerta de la Victoria, a few steps from the bodega itself.
The last few years have seen a wave of new wines
being produced in the Marco de Jerez which is attracting much attention by revitalising
traditions, recuperating old native grape varieties, reviving old artisan winemaking
practices and focusing on the terroir. It has attracted the interest of both
producers and institutions and these characterful wines, which so beautifully express
their origins and traditions, will be the subject of debate in a new commission
set up by the Consejo Regulador to look into their possible incorporation into
the regulations. The idea is to study the viability of including what is
already happening in the area, both with the big bodegas and the dynamic young
winemakers, to find a way to legalise their production to open the door to commercialising
the wines with a DO seal, which many undoubtedly merit.
This parallel reality encompasses traditional
winemaking methods such as unfortified Sherries made from extra ripe grapes,
perhaps sunned and with little or no crianza, wines made from almost lost local
grape varieties which have been resuscitated like Mantua and Perruno as well as
other older clones of Palomino.It also
encompasses other types of wine like mosto and sobretablas used to make Sherry,
and those made by cooperatives and bodegas located in the production zone,
which can only be sold with the name of the type of wine and its town of origin
but without the DO seal.
The plan is to study, avoiding where possible
any conflict, the new winemaking realities which are taking off in the area in
terms of what Sherry used to be before the DO regulations restricted the
possibilities with fortification and ageing requirements. While the commission
was formally constituted on Monday, there is no set calendar for meetings so
far, but at a preliminary meeting the various topics for debate were put on the
table with a view to trying to achieve consensus through debate before
submitting them to a full Consejo meeting for approbation. Attending the
meeting were officials from the Consejo, Fedejerez, Asevi-Asaja and the
cooperatives, that is to say all interested parties – except the Manzanilleros
of Sanlúcar, who are not happy with the inclusion of the contentious issue of Fino
from Sanlúcar, which Fedejerez wants to veto.
On the agenda are certain other conflictive
issues which have been festering such as the extension of the ageing zone to
include the production zone, but the focus has been switched to look at other
formulas to commercialise the wines of those communities which are not in the
ageing zone and thus unable to use the DO seal. Another issue is the definition
of grape quality parameters to more accurately assess prices. The Consejo
director, César Saldaña, says the agenda is not closed, and any issue which is reasonable
and would need a modification of the regulations can be added. He also
expressed the desire of the Consejo that the Manzanilleros reconsider their
position so that the commission can count on the participation of everybody.
José Alonso y Pajares founded a bodega in El
Puerto de Santa María in 1870 in the Calle Postigo on the corner with Calle Santa
Fé. He operated successfully as an almacenista and exporter and while the
bodega was small it was busy, sending its wines and spirits all over the world.
In fact he won various medals and diplomas for quality at exhibitions in Europe
and America, and supplied more than one royal household.
A late XIX century label blank
Wine was sold in bulk under the style J Alonso
and in bottle under the style José Alonso Pajares and was as natural as
possible, something he made a feature of. Labels for the bottles were produced
by the best designers and printers in Paris, Málaga and Jerez. The range of
Sherries was considerable, with all the standard styles as well as Manzanilla
Fina and Moscatel Superior and Vermouth. Various other lines were produced in
their own small distillery: Anís, Ojén (a style of anís made famous in Ojén
(Málaga). They even had the nerve to promote their “Cognac Fine Champagne” at
the great exhibition in Paris, while they also sold red and white table wine
from La Mancha.
José was married to María de los Dolores Ruiz
de Cortázar y Calderón but since they had no children she inherited the bodega
after his death using the name Viuda de Pajares until her brother José A Ruiz
de Cortázar Calderón took over, reverting to the name José Alonso Pajares and
adding “Sucesor José A Ruiz de Cortázar” by 1902. He also moved to premises in
Calle Albareda, and interestingly was married to one of the daughters of the
bodegueros Adolfo and Manuela Tosar. At this time there were no fewer than 25
bodegas, 8 distilleries and 18 cooperages operating in El Puerto; how times
change! After José's death in 1937 the
business was wound up.
Full strawy yellowy gold with bright golden highlights.
Very slightly floral with a trace of orange blossom and lots of ripe Chardonnay fruit; apricot and ripe peach. There is a certain richness which comes from the greater ripeness than that of Burgundy for example yet the Chardonnay character is unmistakable.
There is definitely some body here which is nicely balanced with a decent acidity and a gentle texture, and the wine has plenty of tangy ripe yellow fruit. A hint of mineral gives away the albariza. After a full, quite intense start the wine has a fresh, clean, slightly mineral finish.
This is Vino de la Tierra de Cádiz Chardonnay grown in a Sherry vineyard! While the firm is based at Arcos where it makes the red wines, it also owns a 160 hectare albariza vineyard in the pago Balbaína (bought from Osborne) where Chardonnay now accounts for 17% of their total vines. It sits at between 100 and 200 metres above sea level. The wine was first released in 2012. The must is pressed from hand picked grapes and fermented in stainless steel tanks at very low temperature (@ 12 C) for around three weeks. Then it rests on lees before stabilisation and bottling. The wine is complex for the money despite no oak ageing - something Taberner know a lot about.
Dense, completely opaque and completely black except for a tiny narrow brown to amber edge. It is viscous and stains the glass for a while. Nose
Intense, concentrated, serious and super complex, you can immediately tell this is very old. It is not the usual up front fruity raisins which predominate but distinct, almost bitter oak aromas from the long ageing in wood, along with toasted notes like coffee, a trace of volatile acidity, licorice and hints of spice. The dried fruit notes are there of course, intense but less dominant, and it doesn't smell as sweet as most.
The unctuous, luscious dried fruit - but older and more reduced - presents first and is soon followed by those delicious, ever so slightly bitter toasted notes almost like burned coffee on toast mixed with toffee. Then it all comes together in perfect balance with the richness on one side balanced by the bitterness and decent acidity on the other. It is incredibly nuanced, super long and, well, wonderful. Comments
This is one of the truly great PX wines. A VORS must have an average age of at least 30 years, but in fact this one is over 60. The solera dates from the end of the XIX century and consists of only 8 butts, so naturally it is not released very often. Selected wine of well over 10 years of age from the firm's PX El Candado solera is used to refresh the youngest criadera of this solera, and the final wine contains some 440 g/l sugars but is well balanced by 5.7 g/l acidity (expressed as tartaric acid) and the subtle notes of oak imparted by age. It is quite magnificent and scored a well deserved 98 Parker points.