It is one thing to have an overdose of gainful employment and a backlog of posts, but it is quite another thing to fail to acknowledge an absolutely cracking lunch like the one I had with the guys from Tradición in Palo Cortado at the end of June.
We kicked off with a “martini” made with Salcombe gin and fino and there were bubbles and a superlative Amontillado to finish, but the stars of the lunch for me were the finos that came in between. First and foremost a bottle of the May 2013 saca of the Tradición fino, a little bottle of the fino bottled for Mugaritz and a magnum of the November 2017.
Really fascinating to see that 2013 again. The only other time I had tried it was at a superb vertical tasting of all the sacas at Reserva y Cata in Madrid in November 2016 and even then I remember the complexity and additional dimension it had. A year and a half longer in the bottle and there was caramel softness to it, and a bitter almond and butter feel to the flavours. Really fascinating and almost enough to make me want to keep a bottle for a few years (if it were not for the ease with which the November 2017 were slipping down). One day I will invest in a cellar that is far enough out of reach to protect the wines from erosion.
For the time being all you can do is give thanks that wines like these are being made year after a year and at such a high level. It certainly makes for a brilliant lunch.
I said I would be back and when it comes to having an enjoyable lunch with nice wine I can generally be relied on. Cracking little list here at Fismuler and the food is cracking too.
There has been a lot of chat this week about sherries with a sense of place and El Fossi is exactly that. A uniquely fine, punchy amontillado that is absolutely a product of its unique habitat a patch of albariza to the South of Jerez, a mere 7km from the sea but 100m above the aforementioned briney called Finca Matalian.
I have written about this little beauty quite a bit and you can see the posts here. Suffice it to say that it is killing it with this clam and artichoke rice right here.
Terroirpower right enough.
Recently I am starting a lot of posts with “not exactly a sherry temple but” and here is another one. Just two sherries open by the glass, but never mind the thickness, feel the quality …
This is a lovely, lively fine wine. Just on the orange side of old gold, with a brandy like nose of hazelnuts and polish and just a bit of sweetness. Then on the palate it has an acidic sharpness and a very elegant, fine palate with flavours of nuts, yeast, and minerals.
Absolutely top drawer. Enjoyed with a tomato salad and some smooth jazz but more of that in another post!
Absolutely top class dinner last night in Taberna Verdejo featuring a lot of laughter some first class cooking and above all three absolutely classic wines from Emilio Hidalgo.
First, with mussels and rubio (sea robin) in escabeche (and in fact even before the food arrived) we started with La Panesa, which is just a class fino. So much power and body, a really buttery mouthful and a no vibrato purity and solidity of flavours. These bottles were from 2016 and the almond and roast almond flavours just had that suggestion of bitterness before the long long finish.
Then another escabeche, this time a rabbit (another of Verdejo’s strengths, small game) and, having exhausted the supply of La Panesa we moved on to the Amontillado Fino Tresillo. And my goodness what an impact this wine makes – such sharpness and elegance, finer in feel than the fino and a touch of dry honey to the almond flavours – almost hazelnut-, all with that sizzling salinity, which comes across much more clearly in this finer profiled wine. Really lovely, really drinkable wine.
And then with the sweetbreads (oh, the sweetbreads) and rabo de toro (stewed bull’s tail) a glass (or two) of the Gobernador oloroso. Another beautifully made wine – packed with acidity and flavor but with excellent crispness and balance. In fact I was struck by the freshness of it – really clean lines.
All three wines were individually superb but also great company for the solid matter, but the less said about the Rives Special Gin from El Puerto that followed the better …
The end of a very enjoyable lunch – one of those where you rock up to have lunch by yourself and end up finding a friend at the bar, then between laughter and more laughter you fill up with the superb cooking and wines that Taberna Verdejo are famous for.
By the end we felt like the occasion deserved a special wine and it occurred to us to go big with this.
And it is a special wine: a Sanlucar dagger of sawdust and salinity, a fierce wine with rough edges for all its age. Lovely light chestnut colour and a piercing, vinegary sawdust nose. Then that sharp salinity and a palate that matches the nose before a sandpaper dry finish.
A memorable end to a brilliant lunch.
A classic amontillado and one you see surprisingly little of. It is by Valdespino and like its finer brother the Fino Inocente is sourced exclusively from their vineyards on Macharnudo Alto. I was fascinated to learn at a dinner with Eduardo Ojeda that Tio Diego and Inocente share more than terroir: they come from soleras in parallel and with the same number of criaderas – the principal difference being not the total age but the speed of rotation down the solera (one saca and rocio per year rather than two).
And although the resulting wines are quite different the family resemblance is there.
Evidently this is much darker than the fino and on the nose not as aromatic – even a little shy, with a nuttier, almond nose (to be fair I had a cold on the day). Then on the palate it was very sharp at each end, intense and with that bitter, burnt almond taste that I in fact associate with macharnudo finos with time in the bottle. Very compact and nothing out of place.
Classic stuff, terroir power!
When we discuss bottle ageing we tend to be talking about the effects of between a few and a good few years in the bottle: legendary finos from the 1950s that have held it together miraculously and brutal old amontillados that have mellowed over decades. I probably don’t have enough patience (or storage) to really study on those kinds of timeframes but I think it is equally interesting at times to see the effects of even a short time – a few weeks or a year or so – in the bottle. The impact on some wines – especially the more aromatic biological ones – can be significant,
Here is a good example, the 2003 Amontillado from the Williams Colección Añadas, which I enjoyed during a cracking lunch at Taberna Verdejo. At least from my memory of it at previous tastings, this has sharpened up, on the nose and the palate, after just 18 months in the bottle and 12 months since I first tasted it (admittedly, that was the february saca).
I remember it being a spirity nosed, rounded and mellow wine, and maybe that is why I am surprized today by how zingy, sharp and acidic it is. The hazelnut that I associate with the Williams Colección Añadas is there on the nose but also there are notes of alcohol like a sweet, nutty vinegar. There is not a lot of haybale (or esparto grass) in evidence and it is not as spirity as it was. On the palate too there is nice acidity upfront and salinity at the back, and altogether it seems more vertical than this time last year.
More defined and even more elegant, but maybe a little less wild than it was last year.