An old bottle of La Ina

One of the classics, and here in a classic form, a bottle that must be ten years or so old, with the famous name of Domecq across the top. I tried this one at the bar of Territorio Era (a top spot if you want to try bottle aged and other rare sherries).

As you can see, the colour has certainly evolved in that time. It is beautifully clear but has taken on a hue halfway between yellow and orange amber.  On the nose it is nutty and baked applet but just a little bit flat – not a big aromatic profile. Then on the palate it is dry and saline and, again, almond and baked apple flavours, with a bitter finish.

Very interesting – although maybe short on exuberance.

Amontillado Seco Valdivia Dorius (2006)

Another long lost label – this one once of Ruiz Mateos, later absorbed by Garvey, recently acquired itself by Fundador – but David at Territorio Era has somehow got his hands on a few bottles, including this one dated 2006. A middle aged amontillado with a deepish colour, relatively quiet, nutty nose (with a bit of reduction first up that soon blows away), then a palate that is relatively mellow and roasted-nutty with a little bit of bitterness from the time in the bottle. 

Amontillado Fino Agustin Blazquez 

The second of two very special wines served after an already brilliant tasting with Bodegas Tradición at Taberna Palo Cortado last night, this one was a homage to the star of the evening, Jose Maria Quiros, who had for a time worked at the legendary and now disappeared bodega of Agustin Blazquez. It was very generously opened by Paqui, who had already given up her evening to host us and had laid on the usual delicious tapas – I just wish I had a wine good enough to have reciprocated.

Because this wine was also top drawer. Estimated as being bottled in around 1950, it came from an original wooden case and was wrapped in original straw packaging (you can just see it above). The cork had not survived the passing of the years, or rather had been partaking a bit too heavily, which explains the debris in the glass above, but otherwise the wine came across as as clean as a whistle.

This would have started as an amontillado fino – probably not unlike the older finos that Tradición make today – and has probably gained some colour. As you can see, a lovely clear brown (interesting to me how similar it was in colour to the manzanilla of the same kind of age that we had tried just before). This had just a touch of reduction on the nose and aromas that were a bit more serious, like bitter almonds. Then on the palate again it was still compact and clean in profile. Not a big structure or punch but a little bit of acidity and a nice deep, almond to bitter almond flavour.

This must have been some wine when it was a young’un – and in many ways it still is.





Manzanilla CZ 

I went to a special tasting of singular wines by Bodegas Tradicion last night at Taberna Palo Cortado and after the official program there were some even more exceptional extras. The first was this Manzanilla CZ – the original brand of the Rivero family, current owners of Tradicion – which had no date but based on label and bottle must have been from the 1950s or maybe even earlier (or so the experts concluded last night anyway). It was brought by the massive legend and outstanding cameraman Abel Valdenebro.

Just look at that colour – evolved from a manzanilla, but not as evolved as some en ramas that are currently on sale (naming no names), and so bright and clear. It looks incredibly clean and appetising, and you get the same impression from the nose – slightly sweet of esparto grass, but by no means honeyed or nutty. It has wandered from the path of the manzanilla but I would place it as a manzanilla pasada, although it didn’t have quite the same saline punch as either.

Finally on the palate again clean and fresh, a compact profile with no dustiness. Not a big profile or an exuberant wine and not much structure left but a nice waxiness and an even better range of flavours across the palate, from a slightly sweet of esparto grass start through a warming salinity to only a slightly bitter finish.

This is what is known as growing old gracefully – a beautiful old wine. Many thanks Abel!

Fino Soto 

This has been a fair time in the bottle and it shows, at least at the beginning, with a pretty flat nose and a lot of liquorice on the palate. Improves after a little air and loses those more jarring notes on the nose. Had a serious palate with good salinity – even heat – but still a little too liquorice heavy for my tastes. 

Not really my bag but worth tasting – the bodega has quite a history or so I am told. One of the 105 (!!!!) generosos now available by the glass at Territorio Era

La Panesa – 1a saca de 2010

An interesting couple of days for evolved finos alright. The Panesa is, for me, the special fino, and this is an example from what the bodega considers was a special saca. It is a fascinating wine any day of the week and this one, with its fifteen years in the bota and seven years in the bottle, is extraordinary. It was donated and opened in Territorio Era on Saturday by Juancho Asenjo, who very kindly asked them to keep me a glass – and to be fair to the wine I have kept it waiting a little.

There is no mistaking the age. Several shades darker in colour, and loads of haybales and almost sawdust on the nose – almond dust in the background, almost like marzipan (great shout from my man David), but also that sulphurish bitterness of a sherry with time in the bottle. On the palate it is a similar story – gentle start, soft and integrated sensations and toasted bakery notes, long finish with almonds that are just a touch gingery and bitter. Still spicey and zingy, but a touch more restrained.

We take our “work” seriously on this blog so I paired this regal old Panesa with a 2016 version – and just look at the visual comparison below. 

There is no doubt about the evolution and complexity of the old’un – it has developed characteristics of its own, and there is greater integration. On the other hand for me (and again, this may be my fault since it was open several days) it lacks the spring and spark of its younger colleague – and maybe has a shade more bitterness than I am looking for.

And the verdict? I am boringly predictable in this respect, so you won’t be surprised to learn that I preferred the 2016 – I am not saying that the bottle ageing doesn’t bring something (I have had crackers that were two or three years old) but maybe this one was just a little long in the tooth. Nevertheless, a fantastic opportunity for a close look at bottle ageing for which I am very grateful. 

La Bota de Fino 2 – Jerez de la Frontera 

The first of the epic series of finos released by the guys at Equipo Navazos, of which I have had the good fortune to taste several (including the Nº35, the Nº54 and, my favourite so far, the Nº 68). This was bottled way back in June 2006 and as you can see from the ficha even back then the makers were thinking in terms of its evolution in the bottle.

As you can see, ten years later it is no longer gold with a greenish hue: a lovely rich amber instead. The nose is all hay bales and crusty bread – a real rustic bakery nose -, it has a nice profile of zingy/salinity and mouth watering finish and the flavours in between are savoury and rich in umami. A really class fino, even ten years later.

And yet there is a but here, because I can’t help comparing this refined, elegant old wine with the swashbuckling, punchy Nº68 that I enjoyed a few weeks ago. I may be in the minority, but not for the first time I find this glory (and there is no doubt it is delicious wine) to be a little faded. (Of course it may be confirmation bias: the excuse I am looking for to stop worrying about cellaring and drink up these cracking wines as soon as I can.)

I look forward to the debate on that. In the meantime, I want to take a moment to show my appreciation to Fernando at Cuenllas, who made it possible for me to try this and some other special wines during what was an absolutely phenomenal meal yesterday. Absolutely top drawer.