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.
Three years now since the first night of the Pitijopos (Volume I) – for me one of the most memorable and educational nights as a wine drinker.
For the uninitiated, the Pitijopos are sets of six “mostos” from 100% palomino grown in six specific sites – in Volume I from across the sherry region and in Volume II from around Sanlucar, fermented without temperature controls in bota at Cota 45, and released as boxed sets with the aim of demonstrating the different terroirs and the characteristics they can imprint on the wines of the region.
Volume II – which a few colleagues and I tasted together back in January last year – is all about Sanlucar and sets up a contrast between the vineyards near the Atlantic and those inland, influenced by the Guadalquivir river – and this is one of the wines from that particular box (which if you are interested are currently on sale in single file at Reserva y Cata).
Specifically, it is the wine from a pago called La Atalaya, said to be a fascinating “hybrid” pago halfway between the river and atlantic pagos, 10,75km from the sea and characterized by albariza antehojuela which makes for direct, fresh wines, albeit tempered by the inland location and climate.
When first released it had a very aromatic nose of lemon and seaside air, a fresh start, nice juicy volume and a long, mouthwatering saline, seafood shell finish (or so I wrote at the time at least).
A year and ten months later it is still aromatic and fresh but seems much more complex. The citrus nose now has a strong air of bicycle inner tube and a hint of diesel, and you have that same mineral complexity on a palate that is still juicy and jammy, with salinity that is really only noticeable in that fresh finish. I really like it in fact – would even say it has improved in those two years (as these palominos tend to do imho).
Long live the Pitijopos and bring on Volume III!
There she goes, the third vintage of Chiclana’s finest, and a wine that has in its short history acquired its own cult – socairismo. It is by Primitivo Collantes, a 100% unfortified palomino from the vines on Finca Matalian (I think), fermented and aged for more or less two years in botas that had formerly held Fino Arroyuelo. Not necessarily under flor, bot not necessarily not under flor either: there is definitely a touch of biological on the nose and the palate (although that might be accounted for by the barrel).
Whatever the process, the result is a cracking wine. A clear gold in appearance, has a nose of chalk, ripe apples, nuts and chamomile, then a zingy, tangy palate that is rich with a mineral finish. An exuberant, tasty wine (for connoisseurs, this is much closer to the explosive first vintage in 2014, with a touch less acidity and a touch more shape than the 2015).
Love to see the date proudly displayed on the label too – about time the authorities recognized and encouraged these wines. I had this when I visited Primitivo this summer with some chicharrones and a slice of the excellent local cheese. As I wrote then, the most impressive thing about Primitivo is not just the wine he makes, but the progress he has made against the tide. This wine is almost the embodiment: when he first had the idea he couldn’t convince the company, so paid for and bottled at least the 2014 himself.
Class wine from a class bloke.
Viña Matalian 2017, seen here just South of its natural habitat in Chiclana but not in its natural vessel.
The simplest of the wines from Primitivo Collantes‘ Finca Matalian in Chiclana de la Frontera (see this link for a not very up to date summary of the full range (it is missing Socaire for a start)), this has always been a favourite of mine for summer drinking. It is as cheap, as they say, as chips, but is fresh, unassuming and beautifully gluggable.
This vintage seems to me to have a bit more fruit and concentration, which you notice more as you get into the bottle, but even so it is far too easy to drink, even from a rental property egg cup like this one!
Eighteen months ago when a group of friends and I sat down to share Volume II of the Pitijopos this wine, from Miraflores Alta, was my pick of the crop so when I saw them being sold individually in Reserva y Cata recently I couldn’t resist picking it up for another dip.
And I am glad to say it is just as good as I remembered – maybe even a little finer. A little closed first up but the clouds soon burnt off and it grew into a really class, fresh and “vertical” (in the parlance) white wine with a lot of enjoyable lemony umami citrus on the nose and the palate and just a classy touch of salinity on the finish.
Lovely stuff and great memories.
I get a bit of stick for the number of wines on this blog that have never been under the proverbial flor, most often when I write about unfortified white wines (for some reason noone raises a sniff about olorosos and palo cortados – probably because they have all had some biological ageing but that is another story altogether). Fortunately this problem is avoided here because this little gem, another small production, high quality wine of 100% palomino from this jolly little operation in Puerto de Santa Maria, has indeed had a modest stay under the veil, a stay which has added considerably to its charm.
100% palomino from the albariza of Pago Balbaina, this is given a little bit of sunshine (asoleo), fermented in bota and then spends around two years in the bota, with some or all of that time under a veil of flor. The bottle is little, and there aren’t many of them available but they are worth looking out for (they had at least a couple of bottles in Zalamero Taberna last time I checked).
In style this is one of these in between wines – a little bit of flor but by no means a fino – that I really believe are a winning combination. It preserves the fruit – here sweet apple pie – but has just a touch of almond and the fine, saline, punchy and above all fresh quality that is the gift of the albariza and the flor. And the aromatics, too: has a really lovely nose of apple and chamomile, like one of those fruity teas you see around and really similar to the nose of some jura wines.
Lovely stuff, really a great little wine.
Sorry for the radio silence everybody: have been running around a lot lately and haven’t found time to get the posts out. Rest assured, however, that I have maintained my blood alcohol level and that the silence does not indicate abstinence. Rather, I have accumulated a big stack of draft posts.
Of which this is one: an encounter with the 2015 UBE Carrascal, by Cota 45. The original UBE and for me still my favourite: a wine that starts fresh, sharp and mineral and just grows in breadth and stewy, beefy flavour as it opens in the glass. A really expressive wine – this one started a little chilly but soon warmed up – and one that shows that you don’t have to compromise between freshness and flavour.
Fresh, expressive and flavourful. Top drawer.