Finally getting around to writing up my notes – thumbs a blur across the iphone screen – of the fascinating tasting of Lustau biological wines at Taberna Palo Cortado last week. We got to try wines from all along the solera process – including the sobretabla and a wine from an intermediate criadera.
Anyway, here we go with my thoughts:
- Sobretabla – one year old wine that has been fortified and will be used to refresh the La Jarana solera. As a wine you would find it alcoholic, rustic, unready and undefined, but it has personality alright – a really earthy, punchy little brawler. Whatever, I still appreciate the chance to try these whenever I can, because they can give you an appreciation of where the wines come from.
- Fino Jarana – after the sobretabla you could really appreciate the fine quality of this and the work of the flor, of which it has had around four years. A very nice green apple and salty nose, and green apple on the palate too, with salinity giving it buzz and volume. A very decent young fino.
- 1a criadera of los Arcos. This wine was not a successor to the last – from the first criadera of amontillado, but fed with manzanilla (I guess the Papirusa) rather than the Jarana. It had four years under flor and around two of traditional ageing. Like the sobretabla it was exuberant and a little unmade/undefined – fascinatingly so. Light in colour and slightly turbid, it had a slightly fuzzy, still pungent and salty nose with a little hazelnut to it. Again on the palate you noticed the salinity, which seemed to slightly overpower the nuttiness when it came.
- Los Arcos itself is the real thing and showed some real benefit for its additional couple of years of traditional ageing (and of course finishing – whereas the previous wine was a bota sample this was a finished product). Four years under flor and four years traditional ageing this had greater clarity and sharpness. Refined hazel/apple or even tomato on the nose here – a sweet cherry tomato. Then a nice zingy bite on the palate and roasted nut flavours with a nice tasty finish.
- Escuadrilla – now we come back to Jerez, and an amontillado with four years under flor (the Jarana) and a further eight years of traditional ageing. This was a cracking wine, crystal clear and a lovely chestnut colour, with a nose of hazelnut spread – really appetising nose. On the palate too it just seemed to have a bit more flavour and class than its predecessor – nice rich hazelnut and a long mouthwatering finish keeping the flavour going.
- Amontillado VORS. It was followed by the senior amontillado of the range – a VORS (i.e., at least 30 years old in total). A rich red chestnut colour, again crystalline, this had a much more pronounced sawdust on the nose, then a palate that was more acidic first up, even dryer, concentrated flavour and then a very dry finish.
A really interesting group of wines and the kind of tasting that can be really instructive. I think my favourite was the Escuadrilla but there was no doubting the power and class of the VORS or the spriteliness of the Arcos. Excellent range of wines.
But there was more to come – a bottle of East India Solera was produced with the deserts, and although I am not in general a fan of creams and mediums this one struck me as most opportune and went down very nicely indeed.
And in fact there was even more to come because Abel Valdenebro, a genial chap and genius photographer, had brought along a lovely old Lustau amontillado from the 1960s, which was then followed by another couple of vintage bottles purchased by popular subscription (a whip around) from Paki’s fantastic collection, including a sublime Inocente that had been in the bottle at least forty years. (I rather cheekily asked Paki for a 2016 Inocente as a comparison and it was as stark a comparison as I can remember – will write on that anon.)
So many thanks once again to Carlos from Lustau and to Paki for a cracking evening, and to Abel and the other subscribers to the other wines. Top class all around.