Salcombe Gin “Finisterre”

If you are going to have lunch with some top finos you need something really dry as an aperitif and here you go. A dry martini made up of a gin made by Salcombe in Devon and aged in a former fino bota shipped over by Bodegas Tradicion and a decent splash of fino from the same chaps.

When it comes to dry martinis I have very classic tastes but this fragrant, woody and saline version is very suppable indeed. Great stuff.

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Precede Miraflores 2013

Complete with a good size section of the great barrier reef …

This is another under-rated palomino, even among the fans, probably because there was so little of it (and I have drunk an unseemly number of the 700 bottles) and maybe also because of its enjoyable fruity concentration and profile. Rich baked savory pineapple flavours with saline heat and a long fresh/hot/fruity finish.

This was my last bottle and I am missing it already!

Lustau 3 en rama 2018

These were very generously sent to me by Lustau but be not afraid: this largesse will not affect the low standards of professionalism and objectivity for which the blog is barely known.

It is a terrific gift to receive. The 3 en rama set is a great idea by Lustau: three selected en rama wines from each of the three centres of el marco: Sanlucar (manzanilla), Jerez de la Frontera (Fino), and El Puerto de Santa Maria (Fino del Puerto). The wines are distinct and, in my limited experience, a good introduction to the characteristics of biological wines from the three centres.

The Manzanilla de Sanlucar de Barremeda is all fresh green slightly salty apples on the nose and the start of the palate, a nice bite of zing then again a fresh, apply finish. Very inviting indeed.

The Fino de Jerez de la Frontera is slightly more serious, more tangy vegetable than apple and a more intense, peppery zing. It seems to have more metals in the minerals more weight and a metallic tang on the finish.

The Fino del Puerto de Santa Maria is my favourite every year and yet again it stands out. It has a brilliant nose of sweet rockpools and is as complex on the palate – with sweet and herbal touches and a zingy, fresh finish. Really a top, top class fino.

Desencaja

Desencaja is a brilliant restaurant, a bit of a hidden gem but with a lot of faithful customers. It is famed for its game during the season but just high quality at any time of year: a really top class chef – a chef’s chef so they tell me -, some fun presentations, an interesting and fairly priced wine list and a really friendly crew. One of the things I like about it is the choice of menus – you don’t have to go super big to put yourself in their hands.

And the sherry list is not at all shabby. Unusually for me, I have all the information: 21 wines by the glass covering all possible bases and another 13 by the bottle, some of which are pretty special and, well, I already said they were fairly priced …

No doubt about it, this is one for my list.

The Williams 2009s in El Escaparate de Vallehermoso

It’s nice to discover new places and it’s nice to run into old friends, so you can’t argue with running into old friends in new places. These two wines – which I was able to enjoy yesterday at El Escaparate – are definitely old friends.

I first came across the 2016 sacas of these released as part of the Colección Añadas – in fact they were among the first añada (vintage specific) wines that I had tried.

The two have a lot in common: from the same palomino in the same vineyards in Añina and Carrascal (Jerez), aged for the same eight years in botas of american oak of 500 and 600L before the saca in April this year. The difference is that the fino was fortified to 15º after fermentation, allowing it to develop flor, whereas the oloroso was fortified to 18º and allowed to age “traditionally”. It makes for a great opportunity to compare and contrast the effects of the biological and oxidative ageing.

It is also really interesting to contrast the various sacas. The first saca was in february 2016 and there have been two or three before this one in April 2017, and it has been interesting to see how the fino, in particular, has changed over time.

It was always a rich, juicy fino with a touch of oxidation, but this one for me has gone over the top from fino to amontillado, with slightly less sharpness and caramel complementing the hazelnuts that, foe me, characterized this vintage. Just look at the colour of it for a start: it is barely distinguishable from the oloroso.

The oloroso too has changed: it always had a spirity, volatile heavy hazelnut nose but this one seems a little quieter by comparison – but maybe the bottle had been open a while, or maybe it was just the change in the fino that made them closer in character.

Two lovely wines, and absolutely perfect with the various delicious meats on offer at El Escaparate (they certainly did the job with Higinio’s finest breasts of Barbary duck and wood pigeon).

El Escaparate de Vallehermoso

Terrific lunch today at a cracking little bar in the corner of a market. May sound familiar but today a new venue in a different market – and a top quality find – El Escaparate (and when I say find I mean recommendation – many thanks Javier!)

Nothing too fancy here – classic little plates of high quality produce (we had breasts of barbary duck and wood pigeon from the great Higinio Gomez) including some slow roasted torreznos (little chunks of pork belly with their crackling) that are rightly famous.

All too often lately I have been starting posts with a “not quite a sherry temple” but no worries here – 16 by the glass, including four finos, three manzanillas, two amontillados, two palo cortados, four olorosos, a cream and a pedro ximenez. Jerez, Sanlucar and the other place represented and a strong selection featuring amongst other things the Bien Paga, Williams Añadas and the Fino, Amontillado and Palo Cortado by Bodegas Tradicion.

And although I didn’t study it in detail I had the impression they had a pretty good list in general – in particular if you are a fan of German Blanco (and you should be) – as well as beers of every description. Fun for all the family!

The One Wine, Madrid

With only one or two (admittedly high quality) sherries by the glass and a small but well chosen selection on the shelf The One Wine may not quite make it into the “sherry temple” category but it is still a very pleasant spot to enjoy a glass or two of wine with assorted trimmings.

It is not a restaurant or tavern as such, but there are lots of goodies in tins and on toast and the like. The tomatoes with tuna that I had were excellent – nice bread too – and most importantly the wines are high quality offerings.

A cracking little store/bar and a great place to try top-end stuff.