Fino 2010, Williams & Humbert

Williams & Humbert were kind enough to invite me to a cracking little party to celebrate the launch of their new añadas but amidst all the dancing, music, gossip and posing and after a few glasses my ability to appreciate the wines in detail was lightly impaired.

Luckily I caught up with this fino in the nearest thing we have to laboratory conditions – the bar of Angelita – and have had a proper run at it. One of the Colección Añadas and a fascinating contrast to its predecessor, the 2009.

The two wines are from the same vineyard in consecutive years, have been cellared in the same cellar by the same hand but they are as different as two sisters can possibly be. Whereas the 2009 was all lush gentleness, full of juice and hazelnut, this is sharp, zingy, with bitter liquorice flavours and heat from a salty, peppery finish.

Moody but magnificent – wish I had paid more attention the first time!

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Fino Caberrubia

Any of my regular 20 or so readers will know that I am quite partial to a drop of La Barajuela Fino, so it shouldn’t be a great surprise to hear that the little that I have of this is not going to last long.

Many of the things that make the Barajuela Fino one of the great wines of the world are here: the terroir and old vines (el corregidor, in Carrascal de Jerez), the winemaker (Willy Perez) and the very philosophy of making wine.

The difference are those two letters: NV. Non vintage. And I love it. There is no more eloquent, elegant way of making your argument in favour of vintages than this. The only question is: why aren’t the 99,9% of bottles coming out of Jerez that aren’t vintage properly labelled?

This wine is from the last couple of harvests – the 2015 fino that never appeared and the 2016 – and is so close to the Barajuela Fino itself that it is a joy to sup on. That combination of blossom, white fruit and savoury, that wine-like elegance.

The NV of the world indeed. Absolutely cracking.

Fino en rama “Los Mimbres”

No doubt that this was en rama – almost the last glass from the bottle and as you can see it was pretty murky in the glass, and positively swampy in the bottle.

A fresh moriles fino, 100% pedro ximenez – from a single pago in Lagar de Benavides – and biologically aged in solera for around five years.

Very fresh almond and a little bit of greenery on the nose, then punchy, almonds, very slight hint of liquorice and yeast, and a fresh finish. Not the sharpest or most corpulent of wines – straight through – but fresh and flavourful.

Will try and make sure I get the first glass of the next bottle …

Fino la Barajuela 2016 in Taberna Palo Cortado

A more detail oriented, aesthetically attuned blogger would probably have sought out a more appetising backdrop for the photo above but I am short on time and gas lately and the issue only occurred to me when I went to Instagram it shortly afterwards.

In any event, this wine don’t need no stinking backdrop. It is the finest Fino, the future of Jerez that is deeply rooted in its past, and a beautiful wine in anyone’s language.

Sharp in the entry and fresh in the finish, but full of juicy, high register white fruit and just enough of a mineral seam to it. Maybe not as big in the beam and the back of the throat as the 2014 and maybe not quite as deep, saline and complex as the 2013, it shares with both the top end of honeyed white fruit and with its finer, sharper profile comes across as almost ethereal.

A lovely palomino white wine, finer and with a bit of extra dash: not too bad at all and enough to bring the most miserly hermit out of his blogging doldrums.

La Bota 68 de Fino – Macharnudo Alto

This is the fino from Macharnudo Alto by Equipo Navazos that is a near relation of the all time classic Inocente by Valdespino and a comparison of the two – particularly if you could get a bottling of Inocente from the same date – would be very interesting.

Every time I try this wine I am reminded of the tremendous impact it had on me when I first tried it in January 2017 – it had such amazing zip and pizzazz and seemed to jump out of the glass at me. Since then I have found that it mellowed in July 2017, was hanging on in November 2017 and this time, in February 2019 had become fine and mellow to an extent that was unrecognizable from its original vigour. (It had also changed color noticeably, something I also noted in November 2017.

Of course the three later bottles might not have been stored in identical circumstances, the latter ones may even have been open a few days and these are living wines – you can never guarantee that they age the same way. But despite that all my experiences tend to point me to the conclusion that the explosive aromatics and flavour profile when first released – when you could accurately have described this wine as Inocente on steroids – are not sustained over the years in the bottle. In fact you get the impression that the wine is almost exhausted by all that early exertion – something I have never come across in an Inocente. (I will have to search one out with a December 2016 bottling to see if I am right.)

This wine is still a lovely drop: sweet, floral and herbal nose, soft palate with yeast, nuts and bitter almonds, and a fresh, mouth watering finish. But it is hard not to hanker after that younger, more effervescent incarnation.

Fino de la Riva Balbaina Alta

Just look at the quality of that photo. The shadow of the phone at the bottom left is unfortunate, but on the whole the composition is pretty top class. The content, though, is even better.

Because this is a class fino. Lovely old gold colour, haystacks, nuts and sea air on the nose, buttery mouthfeel and then an elegant palate that starts with fresh, zingy salinity, has roasted almonds, nutty bread. A fine profile that tapers away quickly to a consistent, slightly bitter but fresh finish.

It is one of the wines released by the reborn De la Riva marque, which was registered by Ramiro Ibañez and Willy Perez after years of disuse, and this specific wine is from a solera acquired by them and refreshed with wines from Balbaina Alta.

Fantastic photo, even better wine.

Fino la Barajuela 2014 en Lakasa

Here we go again with one of my very favourite wines (of which I recently enjoyed a glass in one of my very favourite places).

Fino la Barajuela is, depending on your point of view, the white wine of finos, or the fino of white wines. The semantics should be irrelevant, because what matters is the liquid genius of it: big and powerful with a lovely aromatic profile, mineral sharpness up front and salinity in the finish to keep it fresh despite the weight in between. And that in between is quite something: a big mouthful heavy in texture (a natural, unenhanced 15% + here) and a flavour profile from honeysuckle to honey and citrus to savoury stewed herbs that fill out the throat.

It all makes for a wine that is a massive, massive legend but light on its feet and easy to drink, and for all that it is at the cutting edge in terms of the new Jerez, it is immediately recognizable to wine drinkers from across the spectrum. In fact, perhaps ironically, it is almost more widely accepted outside the sherry world than it is within. In the sherry world you get the feeling it is seen as an awkward upstart that doesn’t fit in any of the established categories, – an ugly duckling -, whereas like the eponymous juvenile aquatic bird, the reality is quite magnificent.