Macharnudo Sideral – Macharnudo under the stars.
It has taken a long time to write this post – mainly due to eight weeks or so of shoulder knack and related antiobiotic gah – but also because it was just one of those events that beggar belief and stretch my ability to put words of the same level on the page.
It was, in short, an unforgettable dinner organized in the vineyards of Macharnudo themselves by the irreverent genius behind Tohqa – Edu and Juanito Perez – and headlined by Willy Perez (no relation) – but the full cast read like a sherry version of a Hollywood epic: Luis Perez Sr (Bodegas Luis Perez and famously of Domecq), Eduardo Ojeda (Valdespino and Equipo Navazos), Salvador Real (Fundador), Carlos del Rio (Gonzalez Byass and Finca Corrales), Peter Sisseck (Finca Corrales, Pingus and others), Ramiro Ibañez (with your man Willy, De la Riva) and last but not least the great Juancho Asenjo.
Between them they represented all the bodegas currently making wine on Macharnudo – and some of the great names of the past too – and all in all I feel very lucky to have grabbed a ticket.
We started up at the Castillo de Macharnudo – with a lovely glass of Harvey’s Fino, which I identified blind (one of the great blind tasting successes of recent years, since the only clues were the fact we were stood at their most emblematic vineyard, and I had been handed the glass by the winemaker.) A really nice aromatic fino to start, and from there we span over to the Angel – and Macharnudo’s highest point – for a couple of really special bottles.
We stood at the top of that hill, gazing at the views of flourishing palomino on white soils all around us and none other then Eduardo Ojeda produced a couple of special bottles of Inocente. There was a 2009 and a 2015 and they were a vivid demonstration of the two key facets of that wine – probably Macharnudo’s best known ambassador – one explosively aromatic and the other grooved and mineral. Juices properly flowing now.
From there we meandered down and took a look at some more famous vineyards, before heading out to a Lagar that Edu and Juanito had rigged up as a kind of miraculous temporary Tohqa for the night.
It was time for some of Macharnudo’s more modern ambassadors and they were sensational. La Escribana, Navazos Niepoort, De la Riva and even the new single vineyard fino from Peter Sisseck – with only a couple of years of criadera and solera. After the stately old finos these were fresh, fruitful, and delicious like fruit juices, but if anything the chalk was even more present, drying the mouth and balancing, bedding down the white fruit and mountainside flowers. Really superb chance to drink a few of these wines together.
And of course a chance to discuss and learn from these greats. Willy lead the charge with some quality maps, facts and infographics, charting the history from Macharnudo’s origins as the “bare hill” where nothing would grow to the prices of the great wines down the centuries and to the orientations and characteristics of the famous old vineyards we had visited. It was a superb tribute to a special plot of earth that deserves to be as famous as any in the world of wine.
And while all this took place dishes started appearing from this tiny little shack, with no mains electricity and minimal gear, and such dishes too.
If you know Tohqa in Puerto de Santa Maria you won’t need me to tell you how good it was, but even then you would have been surprised at the high level of technical difficulty in preparation and presentation – your man was working with little more than a lantern and a camping stove! Really superb skills, a set of dishes that worked perfectly together and flavours that perfectly matched the setting and the wines.
And as the courses came and went the wines only became more magnificent, as we dived deep into the oxidative wines considered Macharnudo’s crowning glories – you can see the bottles above but I still can’t quite believe them. Some stellar old wines – famous names and labels that more than lived up to their reputations. I won’t attempt to describe them: I am just not capable.
Overhead, a satellite came crashing down through the atmosphere and lit up the sky like a great shooting star. It felt like a premonition, and soon we too had to head back to earth after a night on the moon and under the stars. Over far too soon but magic doesn’t nearly cover it.