The Enoarquia on Albariza


Signing off for a few weeks of family vacation but before I go I couldn’t not post links to two quite fantastic long form pieces on albariza – the white, calcium rich soil that characterizes the pagos of Jerez, Sanlucar, Chiclana and Montilla Moriles. You can find them (in Spanish) here and here

They really are excellent: required reading for anyone who really wants to understand the wines of the region. It is typical of the author – Carlos wrote for me the best backgrounder on the velo de flor (also in English) and in general the writing on enoarquia.com is top drawer. 

So get studying chaps. If you need an excuse to learn Spanish this is it! 

Amontillado Viejo Hidalgo y Cia

I am really not sure what happened here. I can clearly remember writing a blog post about a very enjoyable lunch with Jens Riis at Angelita and about how this wine was class but a bit long in the glass (it is a bottle from October 2007 which I got from the guys at Vila Vinoteca).  But then when I happened to open the blog this morning the post had gone.

It is not the first time it has happened. Other posts have disappeared in equally mysterious circumstances, and neither is it the most serious: the post about the first time I tried the Encrucijado 2012 is missing without trace and given how unique that wine was, and how much of an eye opener tasting it was, I feel the absence keenly.

It is nevertheless very annoying and also quite curious – when I look at my twitter timeline I see that the now empty link to the blog post has been retweeted numerous times. It is almost as if people retweet based on the picture without reading the post first!

 

 

Oloroso el Cerro 

This is one of the top wines around. It’s mere appearance can’t begin to tell the story. A wine with a big structure that is still rapier fine and beautifully balanced. A rare oloroso from Sanlúcar – from the guys at Callejuela, one of the new power houses.

A dark brown in colour as you can see. The aromas are all burned sweetness, fruits and nuts singed to an inch of their life. Then on the palate it has that sharpness of acidity and then a big density of flavour, again half burned sugary raisins and walnuts, with a turn to the bitter but not too much. Real solidity to the middle part of the palate and then a remarkably clean finish. No astringency, just a long fade away.

Beautiful. A must try. (And if you don’t believe me, this was one of the wines of the year according to elmundovino in 2015.)

La Bota de Fino 68 – Macharnudo Alto 

When I first had this six months ago I was really impressed and when offered another glass today I jumped on it. It didn’t let me down. Not quite as flashy – I remembered an absolutely stinging salinity – but sharp enough, and full of the spicey cider, toasted almond, savoury nutty bread flavours I remembered. The minerals are still there too – makes your mouth water almost like a manzanilla, giving it a super fresh finish.

A really top class wine – a little cut above its cousin, the classic Inocente fino from Valdespino.

 

 

 

 

The Wines of Alba Viticultores in Wine Attack Madrid

img_7267

I finally finish writing up my notes of a really fun tasting at the end of June. It was a really good laugh for a number of reasons, but at least in part because these wines seem to have fun embedded in their DNA. Seven bottles in total, four bubbles (two ancestral and two brut, of which one was rosé) and three dry white wines.

First up was the Ancestral Alegrías del Carrascal 2015 – 11,5%, 100% from 50 year old palomino fino vines from the Alegrías vineyard on pago Carrascal (de Sanlúcar).  2015 was a very hot year and the wine was fermented in 1000l stainless steel tanks for 14 days before being bottled at the end of September. No added ingredients here and while we had tasted one with 7 months on the rack last year this one had a further 12 months before disgorging. A curious combination of the most vertical and atlantic of the Sanlúcar pagos in one of the warmest recent years, it was fresh and very amenable, the slight residual sugar making it very appetising, with nice tight bubbles, appley sweetness and fresh grass, a touch of salinity and a slightly bitter finish.

Second came the Ancestral Confitero 2015 – 11,9% vol – from 35 year old vines on the El Confitero vineyard on pago Miraflores (just inland of Carrascal), very near to the legendary “Armijo” of Gaspar Florido. Again ancestral method with only 3 gr/Hl of so2 before pressing and no additives. This one was fermented in plastic containers for 12 days before bottling then spent 17 months on the rack was disgorged by hand and refilled with the same wine. Pretty decent bubbles these – a bit broader in the shoulders flavourwise but didn’t hold together quite as well. A bit more serious, more wine/vine/root-like, not quite as much residual sugar and less of a defined shape.

After the ancestral wines we turned to the methode champenoise wines, starting with the Brut Nature 2014. This comes from palomino fino from different Sanlúcar pagos, is fermented in stainless steel at controlled temperatures, then aged in deposit, initially with a little flor for around 5 months. Then it is put in 16 litre demijons for six months where flor again develops. Then it is bottled and has spent 25 months on the rack. Once again, only 4gr/Hl of so2 before pressing.  The result is a quality bottle of bubbles – tighter, sharper bubbles – with a bit more bite and crispness. Has those same apple and herb aromas and flavours and a compact, elegant profile. Really top class and probably my favourite wine on the day.

That was followed by the Brut Nature Rosado 2014, pink bubbles made from 93% palomino fino and 7% tintilla de rota, all grown on vineyards in Sanlúcar. Fermented in stainless steel and bottled in June 2015, with 25 months on the rack. 3 gr/Hl of so2 added before pressing and then no other additives, disgorged by hand and refilled with the same wine. Again a quality bottle of sparkling wine and full flavoured, with quite brash red fruit flavours and a bit of the heavy metal effect you get from cavas with a lot longer on the rack. Again bags of potential here.

The first of the still wines was the Alba sobre tabla 2014 (Bota 2). 100% palomino fino from different vineyards in Sanlúcar, a white wine fermented in stainless steel and aged there until January 2015, when it was put in a manzanilla butt. For the 2014 vintage there were three butts of Sobre Tabla: Butt III was bottled in August 2015, Butt I was bottled in March 2016 (and was part of last year’s tasting) and Butt II was bottled earlier in 2017. None of the three butts developed flor except this Butt II which saw some develop in the last few months. The wine was excellent and there was general agreement that of the wines tasted it was the wine with most fruit and, at the same time, oxidated “sherry” character. Has a nice tingle of salinity/acidity and ripe apples on the nose and palate and a slightly tingling, mineral finish.

That was followed by Alba Flor 2014, essentially the same wine but whereas the Sobre Tabla was in a butt that was filled to the top this one was placed into a three quarter full butt for four months under flor.  I must admit I found it hard to spot the difference between this and the previous wine. Slightly finer maybe? By a hair’s breadth if anything. Then again it was my sixth wine of a very enjoyable lunch. Still a very fragrant, tasty white wine by any measure.

The final wine was La Charanga 2014, from the eponymous vineyard in pago Mahina. This wine is from the oldest and best palomino fino vines tended by legendary mayeto “el Bolli”, on a vineyard that faces West to the breezes from Doñana. The wine was fermented in an oloroso butt and was aged for a year in a manzanilla butt. I had placed this wine last in the order on the basis of it’s being from the beefiest of the Sanlúcar pagos and a memory of it having a fair structure to it but on the day it came across as lighter and more floral than I expected. Nice slightly sweet floral/herb flavours and a long elegant finish.

Seven quality, imaginative and well made wines, a lot of fun and yet again a demonstration of the value of what can be achieved by working the vintage and the vineyard.

 

 

 

Cream Santa Petronila 

Another wine from remarkable little Santa Petronila, this time the cream. As readers of this blog will know, with few exceptions creams are not exactly my bag.

I don’t really know a lot about this one so can’t tell you age or blend or the like. What I can tell you is that it is an attractive red in color, perhaps a touch murky (everything is en rama without the slightest filtration), and like the oloroso and the palo cortado has a slightly sharp, acidic character to it. That acidity gives it a nice attack that is less syrupy than many creams on the palate, and although the orangey, sugary fruit catches up with you it too is relatively light in profile, there is just a touch of bitter chocolate flavour that gives it a nice balance and on the whole it is a lot fresher than you might expect.

Not bad at all: we had this with Miguelitos de la Roda in Territorio Era bit I bet it would be cracking with some ham.

El Muelle de Olaso 2016

A dry white palomino wine from the Corregidor vineyard on Pago Carrascal.

Corregidor is the source of the two most exciting wines from Jerez at the moment – the Barajuela Fino and Oloroso – and this wine is the little brother of those two giants. It is made 80% from grapes collected/discarded while “clearing” the vines in the months prior to harvest and 20% from the mosto used for the Barajuela itself. And even better, there is a lot more of it: whereas the Fino and Oloroso are about as common as singing unicorns there are no fewer than 10,000 bottles of this. It is fermented in Bota de Jerez and then spends six months in stainless steel.

Curiously, despite coming from prime Jerez real estate the name of the wine is a reference to a landmark not of Jerez but of Sanlucar: el Muelle de Olaso, or Olaso dock. A pier built from concrete between 1911-22 on Bajo de Guia and used for many years by the shipping lines before being demolished in 2005. A symbol of Sanlucar’s past importance in exports for the region.

I have only had this in convivial occasions and it contributed significantly to each – a really fun wine. What strikes me is the relatively sparky acidity and the richness of the fruit on the palate. It is quite a lively lemon yellow color and has a really nice nose with almost tropical fruit like pineapple, then it is a big juicy mouthful but still fresh thanks to that sparkiness up front and a faintly mineral finish.

Very drinkable indeed – in fact maybe even better than that because this is a serious wine, and while I don’t often talk about prices on this blog this is cheap as chips – less than a tenner. No excuse for not getting stuck into this this summer people.