Socaire 2016

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.

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Viña Matalian 2017

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!

Thinking outside the box: Pitijopo Volume 2, Number 2

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.

La Fleur 2015 by Bodegas Forlong

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.

UBE Carrascal 2015

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.

Precede Miraflores 2013

Complete with a good size section of the great barrier reef …

This is another under-rated palomino, even among the fans, probably because there was so little of it (and I have drunk an unseemly number of the 700 bottles) and maybe also because of its enjoyable fruity concentration and profile. Rich baked savory pineapple flavours with saline heat and a long fresh/hot/fruity finish.

This was my last bottle and I am missing it already!

De la Riva Blanco de Macharnudo 2016

One of the most hotly anticipated white wines in ages, this is a white wine from palomino fino grown in Macharnudo and sold under the reborn label of Antonio de la Riva, acquired by Domecq back in the 1970s but now in the hands of none other than Ramiro Ibañez and Willy Perez. I took it to a really fun blind tasting a couple of weeks ago.

At first it came across as a delicate flower. A really inviting sweet, apple blossom nose and a nice mouthful of fresh white fruit on the palate, with some salinity at the end. Fresh and vital but elegant and refined rather than big and bold. Lovely stuff, no doubt about it, but as I happened to remark at the time, it surprised me at how delicate and floral it was, missing the intensity and concentration that the Barajuela wines have us accustomed to.

And that just shows why you shouldn’t take top class palomino white wines to a blind tasting, and why indeed you should keep your lip buttoned if you do. Because like all these palomino white wines even after just a little while open this seemed to grow in intensity and presence, and suddenly I was regretting my decision to share my bottle with seven other winelovers, however likeable.

And in fact I managed to nurse a glass long enough for the gods of blind tasting to punish me for my second error. Hearing my earlier comments, the aforementioned deities chose to serve me a wine I know pretty well – the Barajuela Fino 2013 (Saca de 2017) – two wines later such that I had both in the glass at the same time. And that intensity and presence? By now the De la Riva was singing at the top of its lungs whereas the Barajuela was fresh open, and maybe if not twins as such, the resemblance was uncanny.

I have heard this called the best of the blancos de albariza and I would not dispute that at all, it is a really top class white wine. I just wish I had kept the bottle to myself.