8a Cata de Vinos by Vinoteca Tierra

Salon season is in full swing in Madrid and one of the best events of the year was last night at the Fundacion Pons. It was the 8th edition of Vinoteca Tierra’s annual tasting of the new catalogue and there were some really cracking wines on show. 

The sherry action was in the courtyard. Most exciting new release for this blog was a sneak preview of the Pandorga 2016 by Cota 45. It was absolute nectar and only one of two new wines by Ramiro Ibañez, who also brought the incredibly horizontal UBE Maina, said to be very nearly ready for bottling, plus bonus bottles of the Carrascal and Miraflores and even an Encrucijado. 

Ramiro was, appropriately enough, sharing a table with his mucker Primitivo Collantes and while Primitivo didn’t bring anything new, with wines like the Arroyuelo Fino En Rama and Fossi neither does he need to. 

To their left was Mario Rovira of Bodegas Akilia. He had a cracking range of earthy but fine natural reds, his Tosca Cerrada and, most interestingly, a buzzy, lively palomino with 16 months in cement. Really good stuff and worth looking out for. 

And on their other side was Fran Asencio of  Bodegas Alonso, with whom I was able to finally catch up after numerous near misses. Worth catching up too because the wines are top drawer – the Velo de Flor I knew all about (which didn’t stop me having some) but it was a great opportunity to try the three oxidated wines. Fascinating to try them together since they couldn’t be more different in character: a smooth and silky palo cortado, an oloroso that is at the same time burnt caramel but light and ethereal and a super fine, super dry amontillado. But most surprising of all – and interesting – was an unfortified palomino with a couple of years in the barrel, on its way to becoming a “Sanlucar vin jaune”. 

And even then there were more sherries: la Bien Pagá and its mother ship Delgado Zuleta, who were showing off a new amontillado. The only disappointment was that Fernando Angulo of Alba Viticultores didn’t make it. 

And there were also some excellent wines from other regions inside – the garnachas from Bodegas Ziries, German Blanco and his ranges from Bierzo, Ribera del Duero and Rioja, Olivier Riviere and Viña Zorzal, to name just four of the producers. I had the chance to catch up with Colet, a traditional cava maker that has successfully teamed up with Equipo Navazos for several years – they didn’t have the Colet Navazos with them but you can’t beat some quality bubbles.

And, finally, there were also some top quality drinkers around: friendly faces all over the salon, a lot of laughter and as the evening wore on even a few smooches. 

Absolutely top bombing – may they celebrate many more! 


Manzanilla Solear en rama – Spring 2017

My excitement t getting my hands on a first few bottles of the new saca of the Solear en rama manzanilla was tempered by my guilty conscience at the big backlog of draft posts accumulating on the blog, of which this is one. I appreciate that this might be disconcerting, implying as it does that I actually take some time to write these posts (against all evidence to the contrary) but it is true. The silence in social media over the last few weeks was less an indication of monastic self denial and more an indictment of my lack of blogging discipline. In my defense, I would plead that many of the wines in the backlog were knocked back during pretty convivial lunches (many of them, like this one, at Territorio Era) that it would have been a shame to interrupt, however rapid a chap’s thumbs have become over the years.

But enough excuses, this wine deserves a write up, even if it isn’t the first, and even if I don’t have anything useful to add (but after all noone comes here for that). It is one of the most “biological” of the recent sacas – a real buzzy yeasty and salty pungency to the nose that goes beyond sea air and strays over onto rockpools and low tide, and then a very sharp, sizzling profile on the palate. It has that big, spicey and slightly bitter green leaf favor and then again a super fresh, saline finish.

An absolute belter. Bring on summer!

Oloroso Santa Petronila 

I remember the first time I had this thinking it was a palo cortado and it is definitely finer and sharper than your average oloroso. Has a sharp, vinegary nose, with nuts and caramel, sharp acidity first up on the palate and plenty of nutty caramel and salty flavour without having a big structure or solidity to it.

The fine, lighter profile makes it a good wine on the dinner table – and indeed I had this as part be of a cracking lunch at Angelita Madrid – and pretty distinctive stuff.


Colet Navazos Reserva Extra Brut 2011 

Really top class Spanish bubbles these: 100% chardonnay from Penedés as the base wine with 41 months of secondary fermentation and rack and licor de expedición made up of manzanilla and manzanilla pasada.

A nice deep, gold color as you can see and tight, well integrated bubbles. Although it is dry it is big and rich in body, and elegantly shaped – not too much of the “diesel” I sometimes find in cavas with a lot of rack time. Maybe a hint of nutty and roasted flavours like an oxidated blanc de blancs, and mouthwatering mineral freshness at the end to make the finish extra clean and fresh.

In fact a great combination of a big tasty wine but with a sharp acidity up front and a fresh salinity behind. Really excellent.



La Bota de Fino 35 – Jerez – five years later

This was one of the first Equipo Navazos magic numbers that I tried back in the day and I had been hanging on to a bottle for nostalgia’s sake, but some recent experiences with bottle aged finos persuaded me to get stuck into it.

And I am glad I did. It is a top quality fino. In aromatic and mineral terms right up there. The nose in particular was fantastic after opening, and it was a lovely bottle to have open (if not for very long).

But I am also glad I opened it now rather than waitig. There is no doubt that these wines – in particular the finos and manzanillas – evolve with the years and I am far from sure that they improve after the first two or three. Comparisons may be odious but when I compare this to the current, absolutely outstanding release from the same source, I find the new wine to have more pep, more body and more all around pizzazz. The flipside of that is that the wine becomes more elegant, more gentle with years, and the time also seems to result in a change in flavour profile from roasted to slightly burnt, bitter almonds.

So a lovely wine opened just in time. How does it evolve once open? Sadly we will never know.

Manzanilla Pasada en rama Pastora 

Love this wine, salty seaside nose with nice hints of apple just gone into baked apple, more baked apple and vegetable spiciness softened and broadened on the palate, and all in a sleek, saline and acid profile. 

A really nice wine and maybe would be a good place to start for a beginner learning to appreciate biological ageing. I had a glass yesterday in Territorio Era – another good place for anyone seeking to learn about these wines.