It has taken a little while to organize but, at long last, here it is, a chance to open the second Volume of the Pitijopos. Whereas Volume I covered the entire Jerez region, from Trebujena in the North to Chiclana in the South (via Sanlucar, Rota, and Añina and Macharnudo), Volume II is all about Sanlucar and sets up a contrast between the vineyards near the Atlantic and those inland, influenced by the Guadalquivir river.
Yet again, it is a quite fantastic piece of work: a case of six “mostos” from 100% palomino grown in six specific sites in Sanlucar, fermented without temperature controls in bota at Cota 45, and released as a boxed set together with the above fact sheet. (Just behold that magnificent diagram indicating the relative distances from the sea and altitudes of the different sites.)
- El Carrascal (“the austerity of the Atlantic extreme”) – not to be confused with Carrascal de Jerez, this is the closest pago to the atlantic (7,4 km) billed as having the “purest and most homogeneous” area of “antehojuela” albariza, said to produce the freshest, most vertical wines. And it certainly was fresh – had a metallic, mineral and almost smokey and lemon juice nose, and a really sharp, fine profile, with metallic flavours and what seemed like a fair whack of volatile acid upfront (lacquer) and behind (esparto grass).
- Miraflores Alta (“balance and precision”), further inland (7,9 km) where the antehojuelas give way to the tosca cerrada, making for wines with more structure but maintaining some of that Atlantic freshness – considered amongst the finest pagos and associated with some historic names. This was frankly superb, with a lovely elegant profile, juicy, jammy citrus flavours and saline zing. Powerful but silky/slippy. Again the volatile was evident but much better integrated.
- Cuadradillos/Charruado (“structured but fluid”), the furthest of the three from the Atlantic (9,45 km) characterized by tosca cerrada in the higher areas and albariza of lesser purity lower down. That distance from the sea, its orientation and the types of soils are said to make for wines of greater weight and fruit. Again, it certainly lived up to its billing. Had the most extraordinary fruity, doughy nose- for all the world like a chardonnay that had been under the veil – and a big fat fruitiness to it first up, but then it disappeared a little on the palate and didn’t hold together with the same finesse as the Miraflores Alta.
- La Atalaya (“diagnosos bipolar”), said to be a fascinating “hybrid” pago halfway between the river and atlantic pagos, 10,75km from the sea and characterized by albariza antehojuela which makes for direct, fresh wines, albeit tempered by the inland location and climate. Again top class, with a very aromatic nose of lemon and seaside air, a fresh start, nice juicy volume and a long, mouthwatering saline, seafood shell finish. A little bit more potent than 2 and elegant but maybe not quite as silky.
- Maína (“the sapid empire”), or “Mahína” is found on the flood plains of the Guadalquivir, 12,75km from the sea and in an area said to be characterized by albariza de barajuela and the largest quantity of silicate fossils anywhere in the Jerez region, the famous “diatoms” said in turn to produce wines of incredible sapidity (the “diatom bombs”). It did indeed have a big stewy, rockpool nose and lots of concentrated, slightly more vegetable and peppery flavour, with a metallic, almost rusty finish. The tastiest of the six but maybe not as balanced as two and four.
- Cabeza Gordo (the gates of hell), the Sanlucar pago that is furthest from the sea (14,25 km) and closest to the Guadalquivir. It is characterized by tosca cerrada with lower levels of diatoms that offers wines that are structured but more “docile” and “unctious”. Another big bodied wine, with a nose of ripe apples, almost pineapples, but only just a hint of shape – and like three a little diffuse at the back end (where the volatile is noticeable again).
Overall the wines were cracking good – in particular Miraflores Alta and the Atalaya – and the general level was excellent. More importantly, yet again a fantastic demonstration of the kind of expression of terroir that is possible in these wines. Bravo!
And really a brilliant night, thanks in no small part to our hosts for the evening, David and Diego at Territorio Era, which quite apart from the absolutely top class cuisine on offer, has in a short time come to be almost a second home to this blogger and a sort of day care centre for those passionate about the wines of the Jerez region. 102 wines by the glass of which 72 are fortified wines, including some of the most sought after wines you will ever read about. If you haven’t been yet, you really ought to.