Las viñas de Callejuela 

Lunch with new friends couldn’t have started better. “What kind of wine do you like?” I ask, and “Something different, terroir-driven and expressive” comes back the reply. Bingo, as they say. 

And it was a nice day for it too, because the lads at Territorio Era had just taken delivery of three wines with exactly those characteristics: the new vineyard specific wines from Callejuela. Three examples of 100% palomino fino from three different vineyards, located on three different pagos. 

Specifically, the wines in question are:

  • Hacienda de Doña Francisca, a vineyard at an altitude of 62m on pago Callejuela (Sanlucar) – which must be one of the higher altitude Sanlucar vineyards, located to the North East of the town in an area influenced by the river;
  • Las Mercedes, a vineyard at 83m on Pago Añina (Jerez), one of the more Atlantic-influenced Jerez pagos;  and 
  • La Choza, a vineyard at 74m on the famous inland pago Macharnudo (Jerez). 

Just as they did the first time I tried them back in February, the three wines really did express their roots. The Callejuela wine, despite being a more river influenced pago and its altitude, was vertical and fresh, the Añina wine had more structure and body, and the Macharnudo had a really full flavoured profile. They are also very good in their own right. Young wines, but finer and more refined than a mere mosto and with nice acidity and salinity, which gives them a nice shape in general.

I also have to say that for a project aimed at educating in relation to terroir, the packaging is perfect: the labels are modern and informative, with the name of the vineyard, a profile of the slope (is it the actual profile? Seems steep), the altitude and even a photo of the vineyard. 

Good things come in threes indeed. Worth trying and I would recommend these to anyone wanting to learn about the wines of the region. 

UBE Miraflores 2016

UBE (de Uberrima) is the white wine brand of Ramiro Ibañez’s Cota 45 and he now boasts not one but two wines, shortly to be three.

The first wine is now known as the Carrascal – after the pago in Sanlucar from whence it comes. It is wine from a specific vineyard of old vines and three kinds of palomino. This second wine is from neighbouring Miraflores, like Carrascal an atlantic pago (and probably the most famous of the Sanlucar pagos) and specifically from a combination of five selected vines in Miraflores Alto and Miraflores Bajo. (The third wine, due to be released in September, and is from palomino grown on Pago Mahina, a river influence pago with a huge concentration of diatoms.)

What they have in common, and this is no surprise coming from the creator of the Pitijopos and the manzanilla de añada, amongst others, is their focus on expressing vintage and terroir. Unfortunately they also have in common the fact that production is tiny: 1,000 bottles of each of the Carrascal and Mahina, 3,000 of this Miraflores.

The wine itself starts off as austere with minerals and then grows with herbal, vegetable characteristics. As you can see it is a pale, slightly greenish straw in colour. The nose is austere and mineral first with some savoury stewy herbs in the background like a kitchen far away. On the palate it is fine in texture, nice acidity first up and after that fresh start rather than fruit there is a herbal, almost meaty (in flavour) sapidity to it, fading to a fine finish with lots of minerals.

By comparison to the Carrascal 2015 (a different vintage and pago and a year longer in the barrel) it maybe has a touch less mineral edge, but even so it is a serious, mineral wine and no shortage of flavour.

UBE Carrascal 2015 

The third vintage (at least that I have tried) of this imperious white wine from Sanlucar. (You can see my notes from the 2013 here and here and the 2014 here, here and here.) It comes from some very special vines and vineyards in Carrascal (Sanlucar) and although it is simple enough to explain (it is an unfortified white wine) it is nevertheless one of the more challenging wines you will come across. It is made by Ramiro Ibañez’s Cota 45 and a total of 1,000 bottles were made. 

These are elegant, mineral wines, and I associate them with aromas and flavours of citrus and mountain herbs. By comparison to previous years, the 2015 has a greater concentration of citrus fruit, surprising acidity and a nice buzz first up – a chalky tingle on the gums and tongue. Then the flavours grow in intensity and are herbal and savoury. The citrus flavours persist and turn slightly bitter like gooseberries. 

As I was drinking this – minding my own business at the bar of Territorio Era, a passing genius chose to come and explain to me that there was no point drinking palomino, that it lacked expression and was  only good as solera fodder. I just smiled and looked around for the hidden camera. I have said it before, if there is any argument about palomino and expression, UBE is the answer. 

Ancestral Las Alegrias del Carrascal 2015  

Was on a mission for fish and chips at La Berenjena de Chamberi (thanks to Victor de la Serna, my personal fish and chip consultant) and observed that they had a few nice wines on the winelist – Fino Arroyuelo, el Fossi and a couple of other goodies, and most eye-catchingly this. On another day I would have put to the test my theory about manzanilla and fish and chips but couldn’t resist this.

By Alba Viticultores, it is a 100% palomino fino from a vineyard by the name of Las Alegrias on the Pago Carrascal in Sanlucar. Harvested and fermented in 2015 and this one was disgorged in October 2016.

I was having too much fun to take notes but from memory it had a little bit of reduction first up but then a very pleasant nose of herbal apple sweetness and fresh grass. On the palate it was dry, with muted appley fruit, salinity, maybe a suggestion of creaminess and a slightly bitter, carbonic finish.

Very pleasant all around – will have to come back to try the manzanilla and chips another day.

La Bota de Vino Blanco 57 – Florpower MMXII 

Out for a walk on a beautiful sunny afternoon I stuck my head into Taberna Averias and happened upon this remarkable white wine by Equipo Navazos. I must have last had it about a year ago down in Puerto de Santa Maria – on an occasion that was memorable in a number of ways – and have a bottle stowed away so was interested to see how it was faring.

As I failed to explain the first time I posted about this wine it is an interesting beast: palomino from Pago Miraflores fermented in inox, then eight months under flor in botas, then into more inox for another 18 months or so with some flor (full ficha here).

The resulting wine has a bit of everything. a nice rich colour, it still has a healthy amount of appley fruit to it on the nose and the palate but none of the pungent edge of a mosto. On the other hand there is just enough chalky tingle and mineral outline to give it crispness and a nice herbal or yeasty bitterness too.

Very good stuff – a glass is never the same as a full bottle but I reckon I am going to keep the one I have under wraps for a while yet.

 

Blanco de Hornillos 2015 

Enjoyed this very much at lunch today at Surtopia and was surprised to find that I had not posted about it before. It is by Callejuela, one of the most active bodegas in Sanlucar and fast becoming a new big name.

It is a fatty, citrussy, raw almond mouthful of unfortified palomino. Very mellow vibe to it, very low acidity and none of the palulu (liquorice root) bitterness of the manzanilla en rama. Neither is there a big mineral edge – just a big, mellow, refreshing mouthful with a dry finish. Very easy to drink.

Las 30 del Cuadrado 2015

This is not an easy wine to get hold of by any means, so it was a small thrill to see it on the wine list at Surtopia, still for me Madrid’s supreme temple to all things Sanlucar.

The only other time I had tried it before it was still a prototype just over a year ago, and that time in the bottle has really helped it come along.  Almonds and sweet herbs on the nose and the dry/sweet flavours of almond and herbs on the palate too. Mineral and saline with those tasty mountain herbs and a fresh finish. After a little while open the aromatics and flavours grow a little more intense and become almost stewy.

A really nice balance of subtle fruit and savoury. I can’t help seeing these wines as evidence in the argument about the qualities of palomino and its ability to make quality white wine. This one certainly shows that it can.