This was a second very special wine brought to lunch by Juancho Asenjo – the man is a legend – in Territorio Era recently.
It had some tough competition on the day – a quite outstanding 20 year old Fino Carta Blanca – and has a tough act to follow in the form of its own descendants. You see it is a manzanilla pasada La Guita from (I think – memory is a bit hazy for some reason) the 1970s and would be a lineal ancestor of the outstanding “noughty”‘manzanilla pasadas released in more recent times by Equipo Navazo, which are among the very finest wines I have tried from the region.
And this was a fascinating wine. Was a rich old amber in colour and was pretty clear, maybe just a hint of cloudiness. On the nose it was still there – a bit of old apple and straw – although not as punchy as it might once have been, and on the palate it was extraordinary. Not so much the flavours, which were still there and were enjoyable if a little muted, but a quite amazing chalky, almost chalk dust texture.
The most mineral wine I have ever tasted without question – extraordinary stuff.
Just lately I seem to find Equipo Navazos wines everywhere I go but to be honest that is no bad thing – certainly not when they are as enjoyable as this one. This Number 59 is sourced from a special solera set aside at La Guita and has all the characteristics of a top manzanilla pasada: mellow, fresh, fruitful, saline, and elegant.
They are characteristics that make it a wonderful, versatile wine for the table and indeed a friend and I enjoyed a few glasses in Media Ración over lunch the other day. But it is also the kind of wine that is enough of itself – enjoyable but with plenty of complexity. This was bottled in June 2015 and looking back at my previous notes from October 2015 and February 2016 I would say it has held up very well – maybe a slight edge has been taken off it over time but it is still sharp and fresh.
Love this wine, salty seaside nose with nice hints of apple just gone into baked apple, more baked apple and vegetable spiciness softened and broadened on the palate, and all in a sleek, saline and acid profile.
A really nice wine and maybe would be a good place to start for a beginner learning to appreciate biological ageing. I had a glass yesterday in Territorio Era – another good place for anyone seeking to learn about these wines.
One of my favourite examples of one of my favourite styles of wine. From Juan Piñero in Sanlucar this is one of the older, more intense manzanilla pasadas around. In fact at a recent dinner I had the chance to try it against some other top examples and it blew them away (a great example of the advantage of opening several bottles at once, as if any excuse were needed).
It is a rich colour and has intense yeast, spice and herb aromas. Then on the palate searing, zingy salinity and savoury, spicey flavour, with just a hint of ftuitlike sweetness, like potatoes in a rich spicey tomato sauce. Hint of curry to it in fact. Then a finish that still sizzles.
Just what I needed after a tough day. A beautiful wine.
Lunch in Territorio Era and the chance to try yet another new wine from el Marco. This time, “La Bien Pagá”, a manzanilla pasada en rama from a single bota selected by the splendidly monikered “Hijos de la Albariza” (sons of the Albariza, a group made up of Juan Echanove, Pedro Hernandez and Xavi Saludes, founder of Vinoteca Tierra) from the solera of Goya XL at Delgado Zuleta (and named, I assume, for a classic song by copla legend Miguel de Molina).
Nice dark straw colour to it with just a hint of green maybe, and a subtle nose: not big haybales or roast almonds but aromas of sear air and the eponymous chamomile tea (manzanilla in Spanish), just a suggestion of sweetness. Then elegantly punchy on the palate – nice sharp, integrated salinity first up, then yeasty flavour with again a herbal tea-like sweetness, not quite the false fruit of some manzanilla pasada but not dry. That slight sweetness also hangs around into the finish, which isn’t excessively long but is fresh and pleasant.
A subtle, elegant and enjoyable manzanilla pasada. Not many bottles of this one around (I say that far too often) and worth looking for.
Happy families because these two wines come from vaguely the same soleras – I say vaguely because while the La Guita en rama was apparently bottled from botas selected from the solera used to produce La Guita and has an average age of four and a half years, the Manzanilla Pasada, while sourced from the same bodega, is a selection from two very special botas in a very special room.
In any event, the family resemblance is very clear, and once again the comparison between the two is very revealing. As you can see the manzanilla pasada is only slightly darker in colour than the manzanilla, and on the nose I would say it is a little more muted, with less haybales. But whereas the manzanilla en rama comes across as jauntily characterful – a combination of citrus, chalky mineral and herbs – the manzanilla pasada seems to have the same elements but in a profile that is both more compact and richer, more harmonious, and with an added savoury, toasted flavour. Perhaps doesn’t have the sharp saline opening and finish of its younger sibling but it is beautifully elegant nonetheless.
Really top class wines the pair of them.
For me today’s Feria started and finished at the stand of Callejuela Vinos – but whereas I started with their newest, as yet unreleased project I had to finish with these old beauties.
I utterly failed to take note of saca dates and any other kind of technical detail but the wines were as class as I remembered: the sharp, roast apple and salt and pepper Blanquito; the sleek, bitter-dry caramel Casilla; and the most elegant of olorosos – fine at both ends and nutty and juicy in the middle – El Cerro.
Fantastic to try them again – and to try them together too.