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.
This was a present as part of one of the nicest gestures I can remember – a guy staked his wine against contributions to a cat rescue operation, and far too generously at that. Needless to say the cats will be looked after, and I will be toasting their health and his with every sip of this too!
It is also an absolutely lush wine. It has a beautiful colour, a wonderful nose and a lovely precise, elegant and compact profile. The colour is old gold with just the slightest touch of green. The nose is almost perfect, you would say: a combination of hints of yeast and haybales with a rich buttery caramel. Then on the palate after a cool zingy start there is a smooth full mouthful or a rich salty caramel, saltiness coming through in the fresh finish.
Really excellent. The only problem with it is that you take a sip and immediately start worrying about how small the bottle is.
I mistakenly posted this when I was uploading the photo and there was a big reaction to the mistaken post so thought I ought to hurry up and write the note. (Which I started to do, before forgetting about it in the drafts file for a wee while.)
Anyway, it was the second wine of a cracking lunch in Bache a couple of weeks ago. It is also a classic: one that I remember reading about years ago and even trying back in the pre-blog days. Back then the bottle was an old one too and I remember being really hacked off at the dry wax seal. (This time that wasn’t my problem of course.)
It certainly comes across as an old wine: has a darkness and the impression of a slight murkiness to the naked eye (I didn’t have a lined surface to check the turbidity – must get myself a finely lined handkerchief or similar). On the nose it is quite piercing – I remember the elmundovino guys saying once that it had a nose of antique wax polish and that is spot on. Then on the palate it is really, really acidic, almost caustic first up, then that blackened, burnt wood flavour, like the burnt crust of wholemeal bread or a pint of Guinness, as dry and bitter as you expect from an old Sanlúcar amontillado and still stinging as it finishes. The whole thing is sharp and old like an antique wood rapier.
Very old, very old school Sanlúcar amontillado.
Second of two amontillado finos at lunch in Surtopia and one of the all time classic amontillados.
The first waft of this across the nose was divine – hazelnuts in honey. A closer inspection and the salty minerals are more prominent but there is no missing the sweet caramel notes and nuttiness.
Then on the palate well, it is all there – zingy, salty buzz to the tongue, and then super dry and intense but with flavours that suggest sweetness: caramel, nuts and even orange marmalade. Lovely long finish that seems to actually get better.
Brilliant wine for a brilliant lunch.