I honestly do not remember what this Bourbon is called but it was the second of two at a splendid Washingtonian dinner this week and as refined and razor sharp as anyone could wish. 

I don’t know what the first one was called either – this is probably a low point in blogging terms – but they were night and day, horizontal and vertical, butter and toffee. 

In fact neither do I remember what the difference was in terms of the barrels used. Do I win a prize? 

Fino Cesar Florido

A brief sojourn in Detroit in the company of at least one wine lover and although I hadn’t brought any sherry with me I was taken to a cracking market. Once there I picked up a few bottles – one of which is the above referenced. 

By Cesar Florido in Chipiona this is not a sherry and does not have the DO’s official seal. Nevertheless, it is 100% palomino aged for three years under flor and in a solera in a seaside town on the coast a few miles down from Sanlucar so it is not that far away. This had also spent a fair bit of time in the bottle – I reckon it was bottled in 2010 (so trade may have been sluggish).

It has an old look to it – the straw gold just a little tarnished-, and on the nose it has that pungency of bitter almonds and salty water. On the palate too it has a seawater like salinity – voluminous and warm but not zingy really. First up the flavours are of those bitter almonds but then the bitterness seems to fade and it has a nice chewy, soft almond finish. 

Not strictly speaking a sherry but not a bad little bottle at all. 

Holiday Market, Royal Oak

Absolutely top spot here in the greater Detroit area with a range of over 20 sherries that covers every necessary base and even has some stuff I haven’t tried. In fact a brilliant range of Spanish wine in general, and champagnes, and frankly of just about any wine you feel like. And that is only one corner of this sprawling store full of tasty stuff. Really top class. 

Las Botas 60 and 61 

Two attempts at the 60 and like it more and more – this third time I am really loving it. Same story with the 61 in fact – I liked it the first time but even better this second time

Two classic Sanlucar wines that come from the same bodega and share so much: intense and rich in flavour, with mineral sharpness, elegance and freshness. But while the older amontillado is bitter, fierce and acidic, with flavours of tobacco and wood, the manzanilla pasada is smooth, has that illusion of fruit and and big yeasty, haybales and bread. 

If you want to appreciate that difference in styles these two magnificent wines are a great place to look for it. 


Las Añadas de Williams & Humbert

5e9b9cb3-ae40-4d2b-8a32-7f3c5ed34a0cHas been an intense start to the new academic year with a lot of work and, for some reason, a lot of hangovers, so apologies for the delay in getting around to writing up these notes of what was an absolutely fantastic tasting nearly two weeks ago (gulp).

I have written before about the genius concept of this Colección Añadas, about a few of the individual wines and also about an interloper in this tasting: the Vintage Fino from 2006. What made this tasting so interesting, though, was the chance to taste them all in close succession and the resulting comparisons were revealing.

Since the Collection is known as the “añadas” (or “vintages”) collection we felt we should go vintage by vintage (although it would also have been good to go biological first etc – if only we had had two sets, and time) so here we go in order.

  • 2012 Fino- I really liked it. Very clean nose of almonds, fresh, compact and elegant, nice sensation of acidity gives it an incisive entry and then it has decent salinity, stretching out the finish. Really good and to my mind another great advert for this style of younger finos. 
  • 2012 Oloroso – again very good. The almonds are still there on the nose and on the palate but they are toasted on the palate and there is a clear oloroso imprint to it. Bit heavier, slightly spicier flavour but not as much acidity up front and a touch less salinity. Less elegant in profile and a bit more boisterous, you would say. 
  • 2009 Fino – if anything the impression I had was that there was more fruit in the 2009 than the 2012 fino but this could be because it was slightly less compact. The saline zing up front and the fresh finish are more marked and the hazelnut/juiciness also seems more pronounced – gives it balance if not quite elegance. 
  • 2009 Oloroso – again big on flavour and this is for me the best of the olorosos. Again heavier bodied than the fino but now the sweet hazelnut flavours are much more pronounced making it a really juicy wine. 
  • 2006 Fino – probably my favourite wine on the night, this really had a bit of everything. Not a straight comparison with the other since this was bottled in 2014, so really had 8 years under the flor compared to 7 for the 2009, and has had two years in the bottle. Whatever the case you have to say it was bottled bang in its prime – a lovely combination of salinity and almonds that almost gives you dairy aromas, zingy minerals, a creamy texture, those flavours, a long fresh finish. Absolutely brilliant.
  • 2003 Amontillado – ran it pretty close however. This would be the smoothest, most elegant and drinkable 20% alcohol wine I can remember, with sweet hazelnut beginning to mix in with the bitter almond flavours and a touch of acidity to go with the minerals. Difficult not to enjoy this. 
  • 2003 Oloroso – had a tough task following those last two wines and was noticeably less refined and compact – the fino/oloroso gap opening over the years. Hazelnut flavours beginning to taste toasted, nice acidic spiciness and more obvious alcoholic heat. 

I feel like the tasting gave me an insight into the curve that these wines follow as they age under flor or in the open air. On the other hand, despite an identifiable common personality, given the different amounts of ageing I found it hard to get a feeling for the different vintages as such, and as I look back I have almost more questions than answers. In particular I would love to be able to taste the mostos that were used and know a bit more about them. 

As I say, at the end I wished I could start again (but as it happened a magnum of an excellent 2004 Finca Sandoval took my mind off it – thanks Victor!). 
No doubt about it though, seven excellent, enjoyable wines and educational too – well done to Williams & Humbert on a fantastic collection. 



La Bota de Amontillado 61 – Bota No 

Another exceptional wine by Equipo Navazos and a beautiful old Sanlucar amontillado by anyone’s standards. The second time I have had this one and I can see why I bought another (from the guys at Coalla Gourmet). I was inspired to taste it again – in part by my recent brushes with Sanlucar amontillados and olorosos, and in part because my kiwi mucker Erik Burgess has apparently been at dinner tonight with the great JB, but what put the thought in my head was really a brilliant solo tasting session by Victor de la Serna.

A gorgeous colour of old crystaline old amber, a polished wood nose and then a massive palate. Saline not excessively so and slightly more juice and tobacco than in some of the classics (still not a lot by way of sweet notes but a flavour like jammy wood nevertheless). A quite unbelievably long finish to it. I have written all this since my first sip – with my thumbs on an iphone – and the flavours are still there. In fact it seems like my head is full of spicey gas – wine with the cigar incorporated.

Serious wine, flavourful but elegant too.