After a week at home in the UK without even a single glass of sherry to lighten the mood I am back, and pawing at the ground, champing at the bit and generally keen to get back to my”vertical style” of wine tasting.
But first it seems a good moment to reflect on these last twelve months. It is only the second year I have been doing this blog, indeeed the first full calendar year, but I doubt I will ever again learn as much in a single twelve month period. It is no exaggeration to say that I learned just enough to understand how little I really know.
The outstanding memory of the year was of a trip to Sanlucar in March and a visit to the pagos of Jerez and Sanlucar lead by the phenomenal Ramiro Ibañez (and the phenomenally affable Federico Ferrer). Even reading my inadequate note of the occasion brings back memories of a day that was stunning in the sense that it literally took me days to work out what had happened, but which once the fog lifted left me with the beginnings of an understanding of the geography of the region. Later in the year I caught up with the other one of Haurie’s nephews, Willy Perez, and was treated to a tasting of the wines of his Barajuela project that in any other year would have been by far the highlight. Two exceptional days that will live long in the memory.
Willy Perez’s Fino La Barajuela 2013 was by far my wine of the year. It is a superb wine with concentrated, high register fruit, the body, touch, aromas and flavours of a fino and a sharp, deep mineral balance. I am running out of bottles and simply cannot wait for the 2014 (which was monstrous in a good way this summer). There were an awful lot of good wines along the way though – in fact the list would be just too long – there have been so many fantastic wines I wouldn’t be capable of summarizing.
It would also be a daunting task to rank or compare all the fantastic tastings. There were many brilliant nights, but it would be remiss not to mention tasting the Lustau Almacenistas (in Taberna Palo Cortado), the Wines of Alba Viticultores (in La Buena Vida), Toro Albala (in Taberna Palo Cortado again), Mons Urium (in Taberna Palo Cortado again), the Williams Colección Añadas (in Taberna Verdejo), the great Gran Barqueros (in Reserva y Cata) and a fascinating “vertical” of the Tradición Finos (also in Reserva y Cata), to which you would have to add a memorable dinner and lunch at Surtopia with the wines of Jerez and Sanlucar chosen by Mr Ibañez. In fact it is hard to know where to cut off this category – a lot of the dinners I go to lately end up turning into some sort of tasting: the worst/best culprits here are Angelita, Territorio Era and Taberna Verdejo, but the “problem” is spreading, and I am lucky enough to hang around with some guys that are not shy with their wine cabinets when we meet for dinner.
No doubt about it, it has been a fantastic year, and if I can match that in 2017 I will be very surprised indeed (and very pleased). Bring it on!