Cuatrogatos Wine Fest IV

Otro año mas han vuelto, los grandes, grandes gatos de tan selecto club, organizando lo que viene a ser el evento de vino de este y cualquier otro año – el Cuatrogatos Wine Fest IV.

Sera este sábado, 16 de febrero, en la Hacienda el Pinar del Puerto de Santa Maria, y como en anteriores ediciones habra un montón de winemakers allí expuestos con sus productos, entre otras atracciones.

Un servidor no estará esta vez, y lo llevo francamente mal. En ningún caso deben perderlo ustedes, porque se pasa el día francamente bien bebiendo como dios manda, aprendiendo alguna cosa y riéndose mucho.

Ahora perdonadme, pero quiero estar solo un rato …

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An evening with Pepe Blandino in Taberna Palo Cortado

A fella hasn’t had a lot of time for wine tasting lately, and even less time for writing them up, but couldn’t not write up this one after a cracking night with Bodegas Tradición in Taberna Palo Cortado.

The wines we already know: superb, compact finos from the latest saca and those of the last couple of years and a couple of fine amontillados, including one from the first criadera and of the course the famous VORS. And boy that old amontillado is class. But on this occasion the star of the show was the human element, Pepe Blandino, the capataz of the bodega.

If the enologist is the architect, the capataz is the foreman in the cellar, and although the role may not be unique to the sherry region there are very few areas where they have the same importance. The sheer amount of time that these wines spend in the cellar sets the region apart from most (even the finos on the night were over ten years in the making),  and the wines are not just sitting in the barrels either. The solera processes and the range of ageing styles give the enologists and cellarman a range of options, and challenges, that simply don’t arise elsewhere.

As such it was a real privilege to hear from one of the big names, and one of the real characters too. You had the impression that he enjoyed himself and he definitely had the crowd  in the Taberna spellbound. Let’s be honest, there was plenty of shtick and a fair few anecdotes about the good old days. There were even a few disclaimers of the “I don’t know the fancy words” variety.

But underneath it all your man gave the impression of a really canny operator – frankly you wouldn’t expect anything less from a quality outfit like Tradición-, and there were some fascinating technical details in there about the processes, the classification and the way the wines are used. He also had some very clear views about the merits of terroir vs selection, static and dynamic ageing.

I was also told that Pepe was personally responsible for the hand-numbering of the labels that go on the wines and it struck me as perfect. Tradición has always been the embodiment of a modern approach to making the most traditional of wines, those labels are a great example of just that and for all the shtick on the night the hand numbering is precisely the kind of attention to detail you would want from your capataz. An honour to meet him and a great night as always in Palo Cortado.

Macharnudo Blanco 2016, M Ant de la Riva

This wine was brought to dinner last night by a true gent and new friend and what a treat to have another crack at this, maybe the classiest of all unfortified palominos.

It is class in every respect. From an old, famous name, the bottle and label are an elegant, respectful homage to that tradition and are frankly pretty damn smart looking. The other name on the bottle also has some lineage as the most famous of all the pagos: macharnudo.

More importantly the wine just oozes class. It is a beautiful rich gold in colour – it just looks delicious, so inviting. Then you have gorgeous nose that seems like a blend of honey suckle and apple blossom and wild herbs on a mountainside, and the palate is maybe the classiest of all: a floral, white fruit start with just a hint of mineral bite to it, that grows with sweet, savoury, aromatic herbs in the middle and shapes away to floral fresh sweetness at the end.

Really superb stuff – an iron fist in the silkiest of velvet gloves.

Por debajo de la flor

Me han dicho que eso de escribir un blog sobre vinos que forman parte de la historia, patrimonio y cultura de España esta muy bien, y que se entiende porque lo hago en ingles, pero por otro lado seria un guiño al personal que vive en el antes aludido territorio traducir los posts de forma que se pueden leer en cristiano. (Estoy resumiendo un poco, porque me lo han dicho de una forma muy insistente, con muchos argumentos y no poca persuasion.)

Y la verdad es que tenían razón. No porque me puede traer mas lectores, o porque permitiría mi (muy querida) suegra seguir mis movimientos, sino por respeto a los aficionados españoles de undertheflor.

Mas de la mitad de los lectores accedan al blog desde este maravilloso pais y dentro de poco “celebraremos” el cuarto aniversario del blog, pero en todo este tiempo no he tenido la minima consideración con los castellano-hablantes (por no hablar de la gente de Jerez y Sanlucar).

De hecho, por si escribir en ingles fuera poco, he utilizado en todo momento un verbeaje de lo mas rebuscado, imposibilitando el trabajo del traductor automático mas asiduo. Esparto grass es poco, soy consciente.

Pero, por favor, no me lo tomáis mal. No es que no os quiero. Después de 16 años, 11 meses y 22 dias Madrid ya es la ciudad donde mas tiempo he pasado en mi vida (y los mejores tiempos ademas) y sois muchos los amigos que he hecho a través de este blog.

El mundo del vino, y especialmente del vino de Jerez, es una cosa muy especial, pero sobre todo por la gente que tiene dentro. Muchas gracias a todos por compartir tantas cosas conmigo. No me salen tan fácilmente los chistes en español pero vaya, lo intentaremos de vez en cuando.

Fino de la Riva Balbaina Alta

Just look at the quality of that photo. The shadow of the phone at the bottom left is unfortunate, but on the whole the composition is pretty top class. The content, though, is even better.

Because this is a class fino. Lovely old gold colour, haystacks, nuts and sea air on the nose, buttery mouthfeel and then an elegant palate that starts with fresh, zingy salinity, has roasted almonds, nutty bread. A fine profile that tapers away quickly to a consistent, slightly bitter but fresh finish.

It is one of the wines released by the reborn De la Riva marque, which was registered by Ramiro Ibañez and Willy Perez after years of disuse, and this specific wine is from a solera acquired by them and refreshed with wines from Balbaina Alta.

Fantastic photo, even better wine.

Fino la Barajuela 2014 en Lakasa

Here we go again with one of my very favourite wines (of which I recently enjoyed a glass in one of my very favourite places).

Fino la Barajuela is, depending on your point of view, the white wine of finos, or the fino of white wines. The semantics should be irrelevant, because what matters is the liquid genius of it: big and powerful with a lovely aromatic profile, mineral sharpness up front and salinity in the finish to keep it fresh despite the weight in between. And that in between is quite something: a big mouthful heavy in texture (a natural, unenhanced 15% + here) and a flavour profile from honeysuckle to honey and citrus to savoury stewed herbs that fill out the throat.

It all makes for a wine that is a massive, massive legend but light on its feet and easy to drink, and for all that it is at the cutting edge in terms of the new Jerez, it is immediately recognizable to wine drinkers from across the spectrum. In fact, perhaps ironically, it is almost more widely accepted outside the sherry world than it is within. In the sherry world you get the feeling it is seen as an awkward upstart that doesn’t fit in any of the established categories, – an ugly duckling -, whereas like the eponymous juvenile aquatic bird, the reality is quite magnificent.

Tio Pepe 1000 posts later

Bit of blog history here – the other day I posted my 1,000th post and tonight I happened across (and finished) this bottle in my sister’s fridge.

Lovely drop of sherry as always – nice bit of nutty almond to it – but it was only afterwards that I realized that this is the very same bottle I started 1,000 posts ago.

I didn’t notice much difference after nearly four years – maybe a bit more fruity – will have to get her another bottle even if I am the only one who drinks it.