A good friend of mine recently gave me a chunk of liquorice root – known here as “palulu” – because he maintained that it was important to my wine tasting education to understand this substance. We duly chopped the thing into kindling (using ever larger and sharper knives in defiance of all health and safety regulations and indeed common sense) and gave the splinters a good old suck and chew. The flavour was fascinating – a bitter, sappy aniseed – not to mention the sensation of chewing wood.
He was dead right about its importance in wine tasting terms. It is one of those flavours that you find deep in a lot of the wines from down South, and in particular, I find, in some of these pedro ximenez finos from Montilla Moriles.
This fino by Lagar Blanco – with which we kicked off an excellent lunch at La Malaje yesterday – is one that I have wanted to write about before. It is a seven year old fino that has developed nutty aromas and flavours but underneath there is just a hint of palulu bitterness, which I must admit I had found a little disconcerting in the past (before I embraced the chewing of the root itself). Punchy nose and a gentle, seawater salinity to it – not as sharp or sleek a profile as some and plenty of volume in the mouth, with a nutty character of raw almonds and that hint of rooty devilry.