La Fleur 2015 in Taberna Palo Cortado

Bodegas Forlong are a bit of a dark horse – not much spoken of but quietly trotting along making lovely wines with subtly different but still imaginative approaches. As a result anyone wanting to know what can be done with palomino fino, in particular, could do worse than buying up their range.

This is one of the most recent additions to the stable and one of my favourites. In fairness this bottle had been opened a while but I wanted an esteemed visiting colleague to try it and Taberna Palo Cortado didn’t let me down.

Maybe because of that time open it seemed to me to have lost some of its aromatic delightfulness but the aromas of sweet apple pie were still there. I remember this being a little short in body but this time it seemed to have a bit more oomph, compact and saline.

Am convinced it will be terrific after a few months in the bottle (but in my house it wouldn’t have that luxury).


Forlong Mon Amour 2016

They made two whole barrels of this – 1460 bottles of which I just inhaled bottle number 37. Watery gold in colour and pretty easy supping: sweetness suggested and then that french oak and then that salinity. Long finish of salinity, heat there on the tongue. A voyage downhill and South – no need to pedal and nicer weather.

Will never forget asking Alejandro about this wine and him telling me a long explanation about his mum being from France – what he failed to mention was that it had a few months in french oak. But when you drink it is unmistakeable and it works. Especially with that spicey salinity.

Another cracking wine from this brilliant little winery – one to drink by the barrel.

#4GWFEST2018 – Part 5 – La Fleur 2015

Has been an intense period of work lately and although the last few days have seen an uptick in the number of enjoyable lunches, a chap has not really had the time or the energy to keep up the blog, for which I am sorry. Not least because this little beauty, which I tried at the fantastic Cuatrogatos Winefest a little over a month ago nearly got lost as a result – if it hadn’t come up in conversation earlier today I may have never sought out my notes.

“La Fleur” is the latest wine from the Forlong stable and as the name suggests (in Alejandro’s mother tongue), this one has a little bit of flor influence (my rudimentary notes don’t tell me how much). And its name isn’t the only french thing about it either because although this is palomino it really has the sweet apple pie nose of a jura wine from savagnin, a touch more acidity and an overall higher register than you often get from palomino. Very elegant with that zippy acidic start and quite fine in body – I have the impression it might lack just a touch of oomph in the middle of the palate but maybe with a little time in the bottle …

But why wait, the nose really is incredibly inviting and while not as serious minded as some palominos this wine is seriously easy to drink.

#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. .