Amontillado Viejo Hidalgo y Cia

I am really not sure what happened here. I can clearly remember writing a blog post about a very enjoyable lunch with Jens Riis at Angelita and about how this wine was class but a bit long in the glass (it is a bottle from October 2007 which I got from the guys at Vila Vinoteca).  But then when I happened to open the blog this morning the post had gone.

It is not the first time it has happened. Other posts have disappeared in equally mysterious circumstances, and neither is it the most serious: the post about the first time I tried the Encrucijado 2012 is missing without trace and given how unique that wine was, and how much of an eye opener tasting it was, I feel the absence keenly.

It is nevertheless very annoying and also quite curious – when I look at my twitter timeline I see that the now empty link to the blog post has been retweeted numerous times. It is almost as if people retweet based on the picture without reading the post first!

 

 

Amontillado Gran Barquero, from 1996

In Territorio Era they have anything you might like to try, and these days you cannot sell these bottle-aged wines quick enough – the punters lap them up. I am not so sure, and this wine is a  good example of what makes me leary of them.  

The Gran Barquero amontillado is, in my view, one of the great wines, light and supple but structured, punchy and creamy caramel. But this one here has had 21 years in the bottle – and in my mind the first question is where? Label looks like it has had a fair bit of sun, or did they not use green back in the 90s? 

Whatever the reason is, the wine shows its age. A texture that has lost its creaminess and become a little bit dusty, and whereas the modern amontillado is all caramel and toffee this is woody and a touch bitter.  

Amontillado Pemartin 

After years of drinking sherry and enjoying it, and a couple of years of even writing a blog about it, I might have been expected to have come across most of the available sherries. But I have not. For a start, seems like every month there are new labels (not necessarily new wines, but more about that on another occasion) but it would be pretty good going even to get to know all of the 100+ generosos by the glass that are on offer in Territorio Era. I reckon I visit the establishment as often as anybody and nevertheless your man David can still surprise me with bottles of which I have never heard. And here is one.

It is called Pemartin, it is owned by Diez Merito, and it is a pretty decent amontillado. You would say it is at the youngish end of the scale both biologically and traditionally: not a lot of biological impact on the nose or profile or massive flavours on the palate, but a perfectly pleasant wine with a nice buzzy start, caramel middle and fresh finish. Just right for accompanying a quick mollete de oreja, which is just as well …

 

 

 

Amontillado Solera Fundacional 

To my mind this was the clear star of my recent lunch with Bodegas Alvear and one of the finest amontillados I have come across to date. 

I agree with the protagonists of Edgar Allan Poe’s great story. For me you cannot beat the amontillado style for flavourful elegance – manzanilla pasadas and older finos can be as elegant and complex but when the amontillado is good it can be exceptional. Experts tell me that back in the day the wines considered top of the pops were the amontillados and I believe them. And from what I have seen there is no doubt how they get their name: the amontillados from Montilla Moriles are as good as any you will find. (The Jerez propaganda about the style being named for the “ruined” wine that arrived by donkey from Montilla can be archived in the (overflowing) blarney file.) 

This Amontillado Solera Fundacion is one of the very best. It is taken, as its name maybe gives away, from the foundational solera and must be of a ripe old age, but wears its years with incredible grace. I may have been softened up a bit by the four top wines that preceeded it, but my notes are extremely, er, enthusiastic. 

It is very easy on the eye, crystal clear and a rich, hazelnut/amber in tone, and has just an outstanding nose. Concentrated, rich, compact nose with a lot of sides to it, like one of those 20 sided dice mathematicians love, with everything from caramel through nuts and leather to just the slightest hint of the darkest chocolate. (With the glass empty it was all sweet pine sawdust.)

On the palate it is the archetypal best of both worlds – elegant, silky and fine in profile but rich in flavour and expression. A sharp acid start, a controlled explosion in the middle involving a spectrum of flavours from nuts and caramel through cigar box and leather to dark chocolate and even coffee, then a smooth salinefinish with no astringency. 

Really fantastic. A touch of magic to this wine. 

Criadera /A

Am going with the short version of the name here. This was wine number four of an outstanding lunch with Bodegas Alvear last week and had a tough gig, wedged as it was between an outstanding fino (the Fino Capataz Solera de la Familia) and a quite sensational amontillado (Amontillado Solera Fundacional). 

Said to have an average age of around 13/14 years (compared to 10/12 for the fino) this is the “fino que va para amontillado” – the biological wine headed for the amontillado solera. It has had more oxidation than the fino – the flor starting to disappear for seasons from around eight years onwards – but hasn’t really had the full roast of oxidation of an amontillado. 

It is only slightly richer in colour than the fino, a lovely rich amber. On the nose it is less aromatic – you really notice the reduced exposure to flor – and although there is a touch more hazelnut in the nose there is less of the sweet wet hay aroma, making it seems less sweet overall. 

On the palate it is a similar story, a tighter, slightly less expressive wine compared to the fino, with a touch more intensity and a sharper profile. Punchy, acidic start and a fresh finish gives it a nice elegant profile. (Curiously once the glass is empty the aromas are much more lively – sweetness and haybales.)

Another very fine wine, elegance and intensity. 

Amontillado Fossi 1/3 Solera No 

I have written many times about the Fossi – a lovely amontillado fino that is one of the most underrated wines around – but here we have a very special edition. This is a magnum drawn from a solera of three “Botas No”: botas that have been set aside for years, without sacas, and only refreshed to replace the angels’ share. (I am not sure how many of these magnums were produced but probably not many – I tried this at the bar of Territorio Era.)

The first thing I notice about the wine is the colour – to me it is a shade more amber/straw coloured, and less caramel-hued than the standard Fossi. On the nose it is punchy and on the palate too it strikes me as more of a missile – sharp and direct, more concentrated acidity and salinity, slightly less juice and caramel flavour. Very fine and elegant, a nice structure and profile. 

A more serious version of the standard but I could still drink bucketloads.  

Fino que va para amontillado Criadera/A – 1/2017 

img_6648

I think we have now reached the limit in terms of length of wine name – this is getting to Riesling-like proportions. Was going to write this up as an amontillado fino but have gone with the manufacturer’s instructions.

It is the first saca of 2017 (or ever), one of the new releases by Alvear (you can try them all at Territorio Era), and as you can see is a pretty limited release – 1060 tiny bottles. 100% pedro ximenez with an age of around 10-12 years under flor and apparently from the criadera used to feed the solera of the amontillado VORS.

It has a bit more reddish brown than straw in colour and is pretty clear, if not quite cristaline. On the nose I find it much closer to an amontillado than a fino. I don’t get quite as much haybale biological action in the nose, just maybe a bit of sawdust whereas there is a piercing salty bitter almond aroma. On the palate too it wasn’t as fat or fatty as I expected. In fact I was surprised by just how dry and fine it is. An elegant palate, with a nice sharp acidity, a very piercing bitter almond flavour and a fresh, saline finish.

An elegant wine in a cheeky little bottle: get one if you can.