La Bota de Fino 68 – Macharnudo Alto 

When I first had this six months ago I was really impressed and when offered another glass today I jumped on it. It didn’t let me down. Not quite as flashy – I remembered an absolutely stinging salinity – but sharp enough, and full of the spicey cider, toasted almond, savoury nutty bread flavours I remembered. The minerals are still there too – makes your mouth water almost like a manzanilla, giving it a super fresh finish.

A really top class wine – a little cut above its cousin, the classic Inocente fino from Valdespino.





Fino Santa Petronila 

Santa Petronila is said to be the smallest bodega in el Marco de Jerez and it is certainly one of the newest. They also have a small but very vocal group of supporters, and seem to at least say the right things. 

Although the majority of their wine today is acquired from the cooperative, I gather they have a small vineyard and intend to vertically integrate over time. In that regard they are in the right place geographically – either in or near Macharnudo depending on who you listen to – and where they are well ahead is in the tourist side of the business. They give a great tour (maybe hence the passionate support) and you can even stay the night there. 
Most importantly, the wines have a bit of character about them. For my money this, the fino, is the strongest of their wines, but they are all worth trying.

And this glass of fino was a very nice way to start a bite of lunch in Territorio Era with my countryman Nick Drinkwater of Quaff Spain (and Devour Madrid). It is from a saca on December 3, 2016 but had evolved quite a bit in the nearly seven months since. The colour, as you can see, is a dark amber (somewhere between this one with three months in the bottle and this one with ten) then it has a big expressive nose on it with a touch of oxidation – hay bales, salty air, yeasty aromas and sweetish roast apples. A similar story on the palate too: nice crisp salinity, then a tasty mouthful of yeasty, crusty bread and roast apple with a long smoky, mouthwatering finish.

Funny looking back at those other tasting notes from three and ten months – based on the description I would say that this wine is right in the sweetspot. It certainly didn’t last long on the day.


Fino CB 

The second wine from my epic lunch with Alvear last week was the Fino CB, a six year old fino, once again from 100% pedro ximenez, and from wine that did not require fortification. Am realizing that it is a house that venerates its former capatazes and here is another example: it is apparently named after Capataz Villanueva (in the, erm, old Spanish, Billanueva). 

As you can just about see it was a pale straw colour with just a hint of green. A punchy nose with a touch of yeasty bread about it. Was interesting to try it after the Marques de la Sierra, because whereas that wine was leafy and had notes of fennel and anise this one takes it up a notch and has that liquorice root flavour I associate with pedro ximenez finos. Has a slightly richer texture to it. If the Marques was silky this has a bit more velvety, oily body – and a warm, savoury palate and a nicely integrated salinity that is more sapid than saline. 

An underrated and enjoyable fino with its own character. Good old Captain Villanueva! 

Fino Capataz Solera de la Casa 

Although slightly out of order, after yesterday’s terrific lunch in Lua and after looking back at the archive this morning I couldn’t resist writing up my note of this top, top wine. (Not that the notes were much good. Yesterday’s lunch was one of those occasions when the conversation flowed even more emphatically than the wines, and between gulps and mouthfuls we touched on everything from geography, climate, soil types and harvest to branding and positioning, often in the same sentence. Frankly, I had better things to do than take notes.)

So it was confirmed that this is the unshaven version of the Fino Capataz of back in the day – by which I mean it is unfiltered and unclarified (although I remember the original as being pretty dark in hue in any event), and with a total of around 10-12 years of biological ageing.

On the nose this bottle has clear oxidative notes – from whence the nutty nose that I have always associated this wine I suppose – in fact almost fruity but with haybales too, like old apples packed in straw. Aftter the sweet and inviting nose it it impressively dry and punchy on the palate, a really concentrated sapidity and intense flavours, which start solid, then give way to nuts and then minerals, with a bit of a saline sting to the tail.

A really top fino. In fact a top wine in general.

Fino en rama Fernando de Castilla, December 2015

Had another little bottle from late 2015 lately that I really enjoyed so when this appeared from the back of the fridge its days were numbered. 
A very likeable fino this with a nice dark straw colour, a really aromatic, haybale to almost ammonia nose, a pungent palate with a mouth watering start, apple to baked apple flavour and a stinging saline finish. 

Fino Dos Palmas, 2016

Had this during a recent visit to Zaragoza’s sherry temple, Absinthium, and must say it was the perfect aperitif.

A lovely rich gold colour – as you can see it was maybe just a little chilly. Appetising nose with fresh, piercing, salinity and beach grass and almonds in the back ground. Then on the palate it is fatty/creamy in texture, has a nice edge of salinity and again a pleasing, almond flavour to it. Not a very long finish but a fresh one.

Elegant, tasty, and fresh. Lovely stuff.

Tio Pepe en rama, 2017

Other bodegas may have started earlier but noone puts more marketing heft into en ramas than the giant Gonzalez Byass. This was launched in an extravaganza here in Madrid a couple/few weeks ago (your correspondent was not invited) and no doubt around the globe. You have to give them their due. No one can match their distribution and they make full use of it, which must be for the greater good.

Even better, the subject is worth the attention. A very nicely made fino this one. Nice rich colour, green to slightly stewed apples and some haybales and salt on the nose, then a nice fresh almond/apple entry and spicey, salty finish on the palate. 

A top fino and a worthy ambassador. God speed!