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.




Viña Matalian 2017 in KultO

One of the most criminally under-rated wines I know of and just the perfect wine for summer. Really fresh, fruity, smooth, just a hint of mineral texture and salinity that makes your mouth water. Beautiful profile to it – like an almond in shape – and has a bit of that almond umami on the palate too. This one has even more fruit on the nose and palate than other vintages I have tried but still has the lovely freshness.

Cute as a bug’s ear and I could drink this by the litre – but get yourselves down to Kulto and you won’t have to because they have it by the glass.


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.