With the cold weather, your correspondent finds himself flocking to winter watering hole Asturianos and once there there was no question of trying anything other than this majestic fino from Equipo Navazos.
But has it ever evolved – on the left the glass I had here back in January, and on the right, today’s effort. Much deeper and slightly darker in colour – you wouldn’t recognize it in the glass. It had changed on the nose too – whereas back in January it was all savoury and haybale aromas, now it is still aromatic but with more sweet, dried flower or herbal tea. Finally, on the palate too it seemed a little softer and less defined – still rich in flavour and maybe even more complex, with maybe just a hint of hazelnut but also some bitter almonds.
I think I prefer these finos straight up on release but I can see the opposite also being true – this may not have the power and definition of its youth but in only 10 months it is already richer, gentler and slightly more complex.
The standout wine of a terrific and interesting dinner at La Malaje this week with Carmen Fandino of Williams & Humbert was this new saca of an old favourite.
Part of the outstanding Williams Colección Añadas, it has been a lot of fun to follow the progress of this wine in particular. You would say the first saca, in February 2016, was already on the cusp of amontillado and certainly a lot more hazelnut richness than your average fino, while the February 2017 saca was a step closer to the precipice (and maybe even nicer). This one seems to have just stepped over the other side, and Paola Medina apparently agrees: we were told this would be the last bottling of this wine as a fino.
But, as someone once said, what’s in a name? I certainly hope it isn’t the last we will see of the wine itself because it really has a lovely hazelnut sweetness to it – on the nose in particular – which makes it extremely approachable. In general I find that añada wines sometimes have less turbopower than their solera brethren, and this one is certainly a shade less punchy and mineral than a solera fino with eight years under flor would be. But it has a nice balance with that hazelnut and none of the bitterness you can get with the more powerful finos.
One of the great joys of añada wines is this kind of variety. Wines of different añadas start with different characteristics, and then develop differently. As a result they are always worth trying (and buying). Like Forrest Gump’s chocolates you never know what you are going to get.
¡Vive la différence!
Not long ago I was in a favourite restaurant and an enthusiast of the wines of Montilla Moriles asked our host if he had any of the dry wines from that region. The response could have been more diplomatic: “yes indeed, we use it when braising the kidneys”. (I nearly choked on my fino but I think we got away with it.)
No danger of that kind of response these days – the dry wines of Montilla Moriles are gaining traction all the time and seem to attract really enthusiastic enthusiasts – the moment I started this blog I was under siege to include the region in the description. here is no doubt that there are some really superb wines coming from Montilla Moriles, as the four or five keen followers of this blog may have noticed, and I certainly have no problem with enthusiasm in general.
Nevertheless, it does grate at times that the fans of Montilla Moriles seem to dedicate an inordinate amount of their time comparing their wines to those of Jerez, as if to praise one you need necessarily disparage the other, and perhaps without knowing it seem a little chippy about the latter’s greater world reknown. Always strikes me as a little unnecessary. (In fact, it strikes me that the region is well placed to benefit from the resurgence of these traditional wines since in general they are free of association with the mistakes of Jerez’s more recent, less discerning past.)
In any event, this wine, on a label owned by the outstanding Perez Barquero and with a moniker as long as one of my intros, is certainly well placed to benefit from such interest. It has a lot of my favourite variety of seaside grass on the nose, with nice raw almonds and a dry punchiness to it. Slightly full and greasy in texture, and on the mineral end it is warming and mouthwatering without really sizzling.
A very decent alternative to a fino from you know where …
One from the backlog, a nice tasty en rama fino this – nearly a year in the bottle and had gained in colour and maybe a little touch of character. Big hay barn nose, salty air, bakery aromas and roast apples. Fresh and sharp but had a savoury character to it like burnt cheese on a pan or brown crusty bread. Tasty stuff.
A fringe benefit of having this blog is that good friends sometimes offload their unwanted sherries in my direction and this here is the product of just such an act of charity/disposal.
I certainly won’t be giving it away – it is a lovely wine. Bottled in July 2015 this was once a famous old Domecq solera – now, I believe, under the Harveys label – and it has a bit of class about it. Also has a lot of macharnudo in it unless I am mistaken. Smooth and not excessive in any direction but aromatic on the nose and full in flavour with almonds, yeast, spices and salty mineral heat.
Very nice indeed. Bring out your unwanted sherries people!
This was one of the absolute highlights of an unforgettable Wednesday night at Taberna Palo Cortado. Two absolutely exceptional wines, from the same vineyard, by the same hand and in the same style but different years, and what a difference a year makes.
First, both have a superb balance of concentrated white fruit and honeysuckle top and savoury bottom but the 2014 (which as far as I know was not an exceptionally warm summer) seems to have even more mass behind it than the 2013 did – a really epic punch of flavour.
Second, while the 2014 still has a fruitful richness to it, the additional year under flor seems to have pushed the 2013 over the boundary into the sharper, dryer, more elegant world of the fino. It is still an exceptionally full bodied fino by today’s standards, but next to it’s little brother it comes across as a touch reserved.
I am trying to be balanced here but I obviously like the 2014 best. They are both great wines though, and the kind of wine that any wine lover would enjoy.
This was one of the first Equipo Navazos magic numbers that I tried back in the day and I had been hanging on to a bottle for nostalgia’s sake, but some recent experiences with bottle aged finos persuaded me to get stuck into it.
And I am glad I did. It is a top quality fino. In aromatic and mineral terms right up there. The nose in particular was fantastic after opening, and it was a lovely bottle to have open (if not for very long).
But I am also glad I opened it now rather than waitig. There is no doubt that these wines – in particular the finos and manzanillas – evolve with the years and I am far from sure that they improve after the first two or three. Comparisons may be odious but when I compare this to the current, absolutely outstanding release from the same source, I find the new wine to have more pep, more body and more all around pizzazz. The flipside of that is that the wine becomes more elegant, more gentle with years, and the time also seems to result in a change in flavour profile from roasted to slightly burnt, bitter almonds.
So a lovely wine opened just in time. How does it evolve once open? Sadly we will never know.