#4GWFEST2018 – Part 3 – Corta y Raspa Vol II: the Mayeteria Sanluqueña strike again

It was at the Cuatrogatos Wine Fest last year that I first met the Mayetería Sanluqueña and it was great to see the three lads again and try the new vintages.

The mayetería are mayetos (the small scale owner/growers who traditionally supply fruit to the cooperatives and other producers) that instead of selling all their production are making and selling their own wines under the brand “Corta y Raspa” (“Cut and Scrape” – there is more explanation in last year’s post).

It was great stuff last year and this year’s vintages, bedecked in red, confirm the potential. There are four wines, one from Atalaya (a vineyard and pago with coastal influence near Sanlúcar) by Jose Manuel “Manu” Harana Yuste, that is all freshness and minerals, Casabon (Pago Añina) by Rafael Rodriguez Jimenez – which had a much more appley nose and a similar freshness, Los 40 (Pago Añina), also by Rafael Rodriguez Jimenez, again with apples on the nose and a touch more structure and bitterness on the palate, and last but by no means least La Charanga (Pago de Maína) by Antonio Bernal Ortega, which if not the best was certainly the most expressive, with a sea-air and apple bakewell on the nose, a touch more zip to start with and peppery spiced almond in between.

Four little gems that are once again well worth hunting out.



#4GWFEST2018 – Part 2 – Primitivo Collantes and the king of grapes

Another of the wines on my wishlist at the Cuatrogatos Wine Fest this weekend is in the almost unmarked bottle on the right above: a white wine from Uva Rey planted and grown by the great, criminally unheralded, Primitivo Collantes.

A lot of good things are happening down in Andalucia these days and whatever good things are happening Primi isn’t far away from the action. His vineyard, called Finca Matalian, is situated in Chiclana de la Frontera at the Southernmost end of the region, just 7km from the sea but 100m above sea level and lashed by strong Atlantic landward and seaward breezes. It must I first came across his wines as a result of Volume I of the Pitijopo: the Chiclana pitijopo was my favourite on the night, and stood out for its range of fruit and mineral flavours. I was so impressed that I set out to track down the wines from Finca Matalian, from the Arroyuelo Fino en Rama to the Fossi Amontillado, Viña Matalian and then Socaire, the unfortified but fino-barrel-tempered white wine that has quickly attained cult status (the wine that brought you “Socairismo“).

But he hasn’t stopped there, or with the top class Cuartillos moscatel (or the sweet version of Viña Matalian which I must admit I have not tried yet). On the contrary, the guy is probably the leading producer of Uva Rey wines in Chiclana. Uva Rey (aka Mantuo Pilas) is one of the 119 varieties (autoctonous or otherwise) that made up the pre-phylloxeric vineyards of the region and that the signatories of the so-called Manifesto 119 are seeking to recognize and recover.

This is not the first Uva Rey I have tasted (the pre-phylloxeric palo cortado “Encrucijado” wines have had a decent dose) but it is the first 100% Uva Rey and it was one I was curious to try. Primitivo had told us at a tasting in Madrid a while back about how resistent the grapes were (and specifically that two days of sun drying didn’t seem to have any visible effect whatsoever).

And it didn’t disappoint. This is the first harvest, the 2014, fermented in demijon and straight in the bottle (no wood, no innox) where it had been the three years since. I cleverly failed to take a picture of the wine in the glass or note down what it looked like – which probably means that it wasn’t very distinctive looking, but it certainly had a distinctive nose : tyre rubber reminiscent of a riesling, with citrus and esparto grass underneath. On the palate it had a more abrupt start than you expect from a palomino – maybe a touch more acidic and a lot of body and structure, with flavours that were again between citrus and dry grasses.

Exciting stuff: the body it has hints at a lot of potential, and this is only the first vintage.



Amigo Imaginario 2016

Here is a wine that has been eluding me for nearly a year. Unless I am much mistaken I first missed out on trying it at last year’s Cuatrogatos Wine Fest. Subsequently, I acquired a bottle, and even took said bottle to dinner with friends, but it was somehow forgotten and has been occupying space in said friend’s wine cabinet pending a return fixture. I then missed out on trying it at Taberna Palo Cortado when Alejandro and Rocio hosted a tasting there recently. All the while, I heard about it, saw it on twitter and in a clip by the great Colectivo Decantado and was generally haunted by it until, having finally gotten around to acquiring bottle number two, Paki offered me a glass last week in Palo Cortado.

It is a 100% palomino that has been made “like a red wine” and, amongst other things, has spent eight months in an old oloroso butt. No time under flor or oxidation involved – just contact with the oloroso impregnated wood. There is no doubt a lot more to it but I missed the official tasting and in any event I am glad to say that after such a long build up the final product didn’t disappoint in the slightest.

It is yet another example of the aromas, structure and flavour that palomino can produce in the right hands. This glass started off relatively quiet but grew in aromatics, with hints of sawdust and other woody aromas mixed in with the blossoms and white fruit. Then on the palate its savoury salinity and sapidity it comes across as more solid and potent than its 12,9º would have you expect. The salinity gives it a nice shape, contoured rather than smooth but piercing at both ends, and refreshing despite the weight in the middle.

Excellent on its own, and like many other palominos it is a fantastic wine with food – the freshness of the salinity and savoury flavours perfect with almost anything.

UBE Maina 2015

Like the other UBE wines this is a 100% unfortified Sanlúcar palomino by Ramiro Ibañez at Cota 45, but whereas the first two in the series were from Carrascal (de Sanlúcar) and Miraflores, this is from Finca la Charanga, a vineyard on Pago Maína that is a byword for producing the most corpulent, flavourful wines in Sanlúcar. The reason may be partly climate, since it is tucked inland a little way from the coast, but is probably more strongly linked to the soil involved, since the albariza here is of the barajuela variety (layered like the deck of cards for which it is named) and in addition the pago is said to be very high in marine fossils – the famous diatoms.

For whatever the reason, it is the most “horizontal” of the Sanlucar wines and I enjoyed this bottle immensely. On the nose this time I really noticed leaves, herbal tea in there but real green foliage as well, and dried apricots underneath. Then on the palate it has that savoury quality, like bouquet garni and coating the sides of the throat. It is a really meaty white wine, and although I once described this wine as broader than it is tall it is, in fact, really long. There is salinity there but it doesn’t cut through and there is fruit on top, again reminiscent of dried apricots.

Once again I feel obliged to point out that these palomino white wines need time in the bottle and you get the most out of them when you have time to enjoy them in relaxed fashion over the course of an evening. If I was organizing a cata I would treat them like a chablis – big decanter, on ice if you like but not too cold, and let them breathe for a goodish while before showtime. (Or maybe I am reading this all wrong. Maybe the truth is that they are great from the beginning but it takes my little mind time to adapt to them.)

Absolutely top drawer. .

Las Viñas de Callejuela – the 2014 editions

The genial Blanco brothers from Callejuela were in Madrid for a few days just when I was away in the countryside, but despite missing each other in the capital they were kind enough to leave me a little present at my preferred fuelling post of the time Territorio Era.

You may have read about the vineyard specific wines that these guys first released. Those were the 2015 and were terrific enough, but these little fellas are the 2014s and have even more personality.  Once again, there are three wines from three vineyards/pagos (two of which you can locate on this cracking gigapan posted by Paco Zuleta):

  • 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);
  • 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).

One of the noticeable things about the 2015 wines was their exuberance – tasting the macharnudo wine against other unfortified wines from the same pago recently it was noticeable how much power the La Choza had – and these wines, having been longer in the bota, seemed to have even more punch.

As a rule I would usually taste them in that same order – from sea to inland, low to high altitude, but in this 2014 edition the Añina is visibly more evolved so instead I go Callejuela, Macharnudo and then Añina, and it is quite a trip. The Callejuela has a nose that is all stables, mulchy, musty hay, a dark color and then is really potent, intense and buzzy. The Macharnudo – probably just about my favourite of the 2015s – is absolute class, with a typically aromatic nose with suggestions of sweetness and juice and then an elegant, compact solidity on the palate. Then the Añina does indeed have a more evolved, oxidated nose and colour. On the palate it is maybe just a notch less punchy than the two others, is smoother, softer (I actually have the word “fluffy” written in my notebook) and very likeable indeed.

These will be released soon and they will be worth not just seeking out but fighting over if necessary. Top bombing fellas and thanks for leaving them for me to try!

Alba Sobretabla 2014 and Ancestral las Alegrías at Angelita

Another quick but incredibly interesting lunch at Angelita yesterday, the highlight of which was the chance to have another look at two of the wines of Alba Viticultores: the Sobretabla 2014 and the Ancestral Las Alegrias del Carrascal. (I should maybe point out that they are not on the winelist – David had opened them to taste them with some friends and was convinced that I had heard the bottles opening/smelt them, so uncanny  was my sudden and unexpected appearance.)

The Ancestral Las Alegrias was particularly interesting. It is a 100% palomino fino from a vineyard by the name of Las Alegrias on the Pago Carrascal in Sanlucar. I think this was harvested and fermented in 2015 although I have no idea when it was disgorged – I reckon it didn’t have long on the rack but there was no indication on the bottle and David was working too hard to be interrupted. I was struck by the nose, with its suggestion of sweetness and leafiness: a bit like having your head in a lemon tree or something. Then on the palate you have a first suggestion of sweetness, then a shock and buzz of carbonic acid and then a bitter fruit palate between a lime and a grapefruit, then length that is mouth watering, buzzy and tart on the tongue.

The Sobretabla 2014 by comparison came across as a little muted. Again I don’t know which of the “botas” this was, but in principle I believe it is 100% palomino fermented in stainless steel, then aged for 14 months in a 500 litre butt that had held manzanilla for over 50 years. Maybe it was an unfair comparison with the Ancestral, which of course has the added dash of the bubbles and carbonic, but it seemed a little shy. Even so, it had a nice salinity and structure, a much more muted flavour between citrus and ripe apples with leafy herbs.

And those two were only the highlights, I started with a very decent pet nat with the oeuvre bouche and with the callos a la asturiana I had yet another dorado de rueda (of which more later) before finishing with a cracking rice – not a great pairing to be fair but it was delicious and just what I needed.



Raya la Barajuela 2015

The third of the wines – all from the very top drawer – of a really memorable lunch at Alabaster recently this is something unique and special indeed.

The name “raya” refers to the old categories given to wine – whereas the finest wines were “palmas” destined to become finos, the rayas were heavier wines, over rich, that would be sent down a different path. This one is not a raya by chance: it is from fruit that was harvested from the el Corregidor vineyard in the very last of their many passes. A late harvest palomino, you might say.

The first time I tried it I must admit I struggled to understand it – the nose is sweet and rich, really in the style of a Riesling almost, while the palate is solid, dry and grapefruit bitter. In isolation I found it a strange combination.

The next time I had it was not in isolation: a fantastic tasting of the Barajuela project wines in Taberna Palo Cortado. On that occasion, coming hot on the heels of the epic oloroso, the richness and extremes of this wine seemed to make much more sense.

This time the context was provided by some fantastic pairings: a terrific red scorpionfish and a meaty, flavorful horse mackerel. The two dishes really complemented the wine, or vice versa: the sweetness of the nose with the scorpionfish and the bitterness and salinity with the horse mackerel.

A couple of things were very noticeable: first that the bitterness here was the grapefruit, baked orange bitterness of the fruit, not the burnt almond, woody bitterness I associate with process. The other was the utter contrast in profile with the fino. While the fino’s zing and salinity lets it slip in and out without a ripple, here the flavours are massive from the first sip to the long, long tail. On that finish the salinity is there but so is that over-ripe fruit – a long, long, long finish of fruit rather than just salt and spices.

And the potency – I was dragging this out but was still amazed at the intensity that made the tiniest sip enough.

It is probably my third favourite of the wines from this awesome little plot, but it is still a brilliant wine in its own right and fantastic with a strongly flavoured meat or fish dish like these.