It is Salon season in Madrid and there are few events on the horizon. Today I was lucky enough to be invited to the presentation of the new catalogue by Distribuciones Navarro and it was an absolutely top class event: held at the NH Collection Eurobuilding in one of the nicest salons I have seen. Top, top wines too, and although I only had time for a flying visit, it was enough for a couple of cheeky glasses of champagne and a chat with a bodega I have wanted to catch up with for a while – Sanchez Ayala.
Sanchez Ayala is an old name (the family ran the bodega through most of the 20th Century with an even older bodega (dating back at least as far as 1798) and has also been the source of some fantastic wines under other people’s labels: a couple have achieved near legendary status under the Equipo Navazos label and Antonio Barbadillo’s first Sacristia ABs were from the same source. More recently, the bodega have been distributing wine under their own label more widely after years of serving the local market.
And impeccable wines they are too. Both the Gabriella manzanilla and its en rama, selected big sister the Gabriella Oro go through 9/10 classes and are top class manzanillas, with a characteristic apple, salt and hay bale profile. Oloroso el Galeon is a lovely little saline, elegant and tasty oloroso, and the 45 year old Amontillado Don Paco (seen here in the background and due to be released in the coming year) is as sharp and as saline as any Sanlucar VORS.
And you always learn something new when you have an opportunity to chat to these guys. Amazingly, the wines are apparently all sourced from a single vineyard – las Cañas, on Balbaina Alta (and in the right kind of neighbourhood too, bang opposite El Cuadrado). Fantastic stuff.