La Casilla and El Cerro: Elegant and more elegant even

Cracking dinner last night with a great friend, followed by some pretty poor snooker and some excellent wine.

As you can see, two pairs of related wines. First a formidable double from Saint Julien – a Leoville Poyferré 2000 and a Leoville Barton 2003. They were fantastic – incredibly fresh, full flavoured and elegant wines. Hard to choose between them but if pressed maybe I would just about pick the Poyferré by the merest whisker. (Newsflash: they make nice wines in Bordeaux.)

Next, two bottles from Callejuela: amontillado La Casilla and oloroso El Cerro. Although I have had both before I was particularly interested in tasting (drinking) them again after seeing a comment on twitter a few days ago. It was said that they were at opposite poles: concentration (the oloroso) vs elegance (the monty). At the time I said it struck me as dubious to cast them as opposites in those terms and after tasting them again last night I am certain I would not.

There is no doubt that the amontillado has a fresh, dryness that distinguishes it from the oloroso and makes it elegant in the nose, but on the palate it also has a good bit of structure, concentration, and alcohol. Elegant maybe, but rugged too.

More importantly, I find it incredibly unfair on this particular oloroso to talk about its concentration and suggest it lacks elegance. Yes, it has a powerful nose, a big structure, and intense flavours, but what I really like about this wine (and I really like it – one of my favourite olorosos to date) is the lack of apparent abrasiveness or astringency. For me it has wonderful integration and balance, alcohol and acidity are in there but the whole is nicely bound together. That, rather than any particular flavour profile, is my definition of elegance, and on that basis I would put the El Cerro on a higher plane even than its sibling.


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