La Bota de Manzanilla Pasada 60 – Bota Punta

One of my happy places here in Madrid – the bar of Media Ración – where in swish surroundings and with very pleasant dishes (honorable mention in Metropoli’s yearly awards) you can partake of little gems like this.

One of the “noughty” manzanilla pasadas by Equipo Navazos, this is one of the chalkiest wines you will find anywhere, and with its nearly three years in the bottle the mineral zing and mellow flavours seem to have dimmed a little leaving that chalk above the waterline.

May not sound tasty but it really is – lovely wine.


Manzanilla Arboledilla Levante y Poniente

In my opinion Barbadillo don’t get the credit they deserve and I am not sure why. They produce quality wines across the range, the Solear en rama series is a masterpiece, Pastora is a gem and lately they have been producing some really interesting stuff: the Beta bubbly and Nude tintilla to start with but even more so their spikey, spicey white wine Mirabras and the cracking Zerej boxed sets.

And now these Arboledilla wines – which have been around for a while but which I only came across in Reserva y Cata recently. It is yet another fascinating project and an attempt to demonstrate the power of the “other terroir” – the bodega. Specifically, these are two manzanillas of the same age and from the same solera (the Solear en rama if I am not mistaken) which is housed in a famous old bodega called Arboledilla. What is fascinating about them is that one of the bottles – “Levante” (sunrise) – is taken from a butt at the Eastern extreme of the bodega, while the other – “Poniente” (sunset) – is taken from the Western end. The idea is to demonstrate the effects of small climactic differences within the bodega itself.

They are both zingy, high intensity manzanillas and the differences are pretty subtle. Having said that, you can definitely detect a sharper, finer and more vertical style in the Poniente (which I am guessing is the cooler end of the bodega), and a slightly richer, wilder style in the Levante, which certainly has a hint more sweetness on the nose.

Really interesting stuff and definitely worth trying (if you think about it the worst that can happen is that you end up with two bottles of a classic manzanilla).

El Triángulo in La Antojá

Quick bite of lunch today and very pleasant one too – sardine sandwich, black pudding on toast and a few meatballs washed down with a lovely sharp and fresh xarel-lo (Pardas Rupestris) and this cracking tintilla de rota wine, tight acid up front and stewed blackberries all the way through, just the slightest hint of green pips.

Love it – punchy in exactly the right way.

Fossi and veggies in Taberna Verdejo

Not just any veggies – the superb “Verde que te quiero verde” in Taberna Verdejo: horseradish, artichokes, borage, chard, asparagus and whatsit broccoli. Pairs with this gem of an amontillado – sharp, smooth and savoury rich – like a metaphorical glove.

Appropriately enough too – although these days everywhere in Madrid seems to have a good sherry list Verdejo was one of the first and in particular one of the first to really embrace the #chiclanapower of Primitivo Collantes.

Amontillado Tio Diego

A classic amontillado and one you see surprisingly little of. It is by Valdespino and like its finer brother the Fino Inocente is sourced exclusively from their vineyards on Macharnudo Alto. I was fascinated to learn at a dinner with Eduardo Ojeda that Tio Diego and Inocente share more than terroir: they come from soleras in parallel and with the same number of criaderas – the principal difference being not the total age but the speed of rotation down the solera (one saca and rocio per year rather than two).

And although the resulting wines are quite different the family resemblance is there.

Evidently this is much darker than the fino and on the nose not as aromatic – even a little shy, with a nuttier, almond nose (to be fair I had a cold on the day). Then on the palate it was very sharp at each end, intense and with that bitter, burnt almond taste that I in fact associate with macharnudo finos with time in the bottle. Very compact and nothing out of place.

Classic stuff, terroir power!

Fino Alexander Jules 22/85 – May 2013

Yes, the table in the background is at Angelita, but this wine is not on their list. It was a special treat brought to Madrid by the great Federico Ferrer of the Cuatrogatos Wine Club and generously shared over lunch this week.

I am a huge fan of Alexander Jules. I wrote a piece a little while ago about marquistas that some people took as being critical, but it wasn’t at all my intention to write off all bottle selectors. When done right, I think they bring a lot of value and Alexander Jules is one of the guys that definitely gets it right. Specifically, he selects cracking wines, he tells you where the wine comes from (right on the label), what makes it special and what to look for, and then he goes out and sells of them in places (mainly the United States) that they otherwise might not reach.

The first fino of his that I tried was a selection from the Camborio solera and although it was noticeably distinct from the Camborio I knew it was so good it made me look at Camborio in a different light. This one is not from Camborio, but from another of my favourite soleras: the Fino Perdido by Sanchez Romate. And again, it will probably make me look at that wine in a different way.

Like the wine I know it is beautifully aromatic, with all the apple pie aromas – I love the mention of cinnamon on his ficha, we are definitely in the same ball park. Then on the palate it is just spectacular, sharp around the edges but broad in flavours, like a broad arrowhead. And the breadth of flavour is there too: stewed apple with peppery rocket flavours and a salt and pepper finish. And despite spending going on five years in the bottle , unlike some of the more aromatic finos it is still as compact and as fresh as a daisy. A really good sign.

So many many thanks Fede and many congratulations again Alex, a cracker!


#4GWFEST2018 – Part 4 – the Callejuela single vineyard manzanillas

There is just so much to like about Bodegas la Callejuela. It is hard to think of a more likeable couple of blokes than these big, friendly guys, and although at first glance they don’t look like the kind of hipsters you would imagine revolutionizing the scene in Jerez I can tell you noone is doing more than they are.

To start with they have a quality bodega with a really solid range of wines, from the unfortified blanco de hornillos via the manzanilla fina, manzanilla madura, manzanilla en rama, amontillado, and oloroso all the way up to the outstanding older wines, Blanquito, La Casilla and the unbelievable El Cerro (and the PX). But they are a lot more than a bodega with a good range. They are the source of the wine which, with the help of a touch of Ramiro Ibañez magic, has become one of the truly iconic projects of the new Jerez – the Manzanilla de Añada 2012 -, they were involved in the Manifesto 119 and have since launched a range of unfortified vineyard specific white wines that for me are really pitch perfect. These guys really get it.

I have already had the chance to write about their latest releases – first at the bar of the late, beloved Territorio Era, and later at an excellent event organized by Montenegro vinos. They are single vineyard manzanillas, and in fact they are also single vintage wines – from 2014-, although they are not able to market them as such since not all “i”s were dotted and “t”s crossed, so at the time I first wrote about them I called them something different. Anyway here they are, resplendent at the Cuatrogatos Wine Fest with their clear bottles (which I personally think is a quality touch), classy new labels and their official title of “manzanilla” (a reminder once again that although two of the three are from Jerez vineyards, what counts is where they are made into wine for these purposes).

And three quality wines too. The Callejuela (vineyard) is the most biological of the three with haybales on the nose, a touch more zing and a sharper profile. The Macharnudo is absolute class, with that aromatic and metallic mineral quality and an elegant, compact shape, while the Añina is even visibly more evolved, slightly oxidated, smooth but nevertheless fresh.

I find it very hard to choose between the three of them, I must admit. Perhaps I need to try them again!