Oloroso la Barajuela 2013 

This wine was only released a couple of months ago and in minute quantities but it is already a legend. The maker, the excessively tall and talented Willy Perez, describes it as “the wine of his life”, while one of the leading critics of the modern age calls it “by far the finest white wine I have had from Jerez”.

To be quite honest since last June I have been a little smitten with the Fino la Barajuela and maybe didn’t give this wine quite the respect it deserved (to be fair I didn’t have any to drink anyway). But albeit in thimblefulls I have been fortunate to have tried it on a number of occasions over the last few months, in February at the Cuatrogatos Wine Fest, in April when Ramiro Ibañez used it as an example of the wines from years gone by at another cracking tasting at Palo Cortado, at the Bar of Territorio Era (where else?) shortly after release and most recently at a superb tasting with the man himself at Taberna Palo Cortado. It just seems to get better and better.

The other night in Palo Cortado it was just superb. Just so powerful and complete in its range: everything from high notes of white fruit and blossom at the top on the nose through concentrated fruit and hints of nuts to mineral power at the bottom, with a richness that doesn’t seem heavy and a balance and perfect shape to it. A fascinating comparison with the finer profiles of the two finos that we had prior to it and with the richer, but slightly heavy, raya that came afterwards – the context really showing off the characteristics of all four.

I wasn’t in the best of shape at the time and it looking back at my notes it all became a bit too much: there are a number of swear-words in different languages, a lot of words underlines and block capitals everywhere. I also remember losing my composure in a number of other respects: I was almost overtaken by jealousy of my table mates, convinced that they had been poured 5 ml more than I had, and when the last of the liquid was gone I was overcome with sadness, like that old Jedi in Star Wars when the planet gets blown up. There was talk on the night of a further release years down the line of this wine at 15 years. It is hard to imagine it getting any better, but it is something to look forward to even still.

What an absolutely sensational wine.

 

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Oloroso Santa Petronila 

I remember the first time I had this thinking it was a palo cortado and it is definitely finer and sharper than your average oloroso. Has a sharp, vinegary nose, with nuts and caramel, sharp acidity first up on the palate and plenty of nutty caramel and salty flavour without having a big structure or solidity to it.

The fine, lighter profile makes it a good wine on the dinner table – and indeed I had this as part be of a cracking lunch at Angelita Madrid – and pretty distinctive stuff.

 

Soleras cincuentanarias (y una centenaria) de Perez Barquero

Fantastic cata last night at the Union Española de Catadores as José Ruz of Perez Barquero and Paco del Castillo lead us through the wines of this great Montilla bodega. 

As you can see, there were some real heavyweight wines to be tasted, and I for one learned a few interesting things. We started with Fresquito, a sparky vino de tinaja, then moved smoothly through the gears with the Fino en Rama Gran Barquero (Spring 2017), the Amontillado Gran Barquero, an Amontillado Gran Barquero bottled in 1996, the full range of Solera Cincuentenario wines – the Amontillado, the Palo Cortado, the Oloroso, and the Pedro Ximenez – and before that last one the Oloroso Solera Fundacional (Lot B). 

I am a huge fan of the Amontillado Gran Barquero – an absolutely world class wine – and it would take some persuading for me to choose any of the others over it last night. There was a lot of concentration and a lot of intensity on show, and some rare and expensive wines (sacas of 200 and 500 bottles), which really had very distinct profiles. 

In fact, it was very interesting and quite disarming to hear that the Cincuentenario Palo Cortado – one of the stars of the night – was the result of barrel selection rather than any intentional process. Motivated by the current high fashion status of palo cortados the guys at Perez Barquero had selected from amongst their older olorosoa the wines they felt had that kind of profile – without really knowing why they did. It would not have been due to selection or mostos, because they were all olorosos, but it could have been some biological action in the tinaja before the wines entered the solera. (Perhaps there is some mystery after all.) In any event, and whatever the cause, there was no doubting the difference in character between this and the oloroso. 

It wasn’t the only star either. The Oloroso Solera Fundacional was an absolute beast – brandy, salinity, burnt Christmas cake and a finish like the after dinner cigar (and nearly as long). One of those wines that you consume with extreme care. 

I could and will write a note on all the wines because the standard was exceptionally high across the board, but the one I could drink gallons of is the current Amontillado Gran Barquero. It is the standout in terms of elegance, profile and all round flawlessness – a marvellous wine that only gained in comparison to the bigger beasts. 

And a word of thanks and congratulations to José and Perez Barquero, the UEC and Paco del Castillo for a fantastic tasting – really top class. 

Oloroso Valdivia 

Another experiment in bottle ageing thanks to the absolutely remarkable collection of wines on offer at Territorio Era. This is an oloroso from a bodega that is no longer around (although I gather there is a hotel that was the bodega) and the wine itself has been 11 years in the bottle. I don’t know much about the wine itself which makes it hard to judge the effects of the time in the bottle but it certainly shows all the hallmarks. 

As you can see it is a dull amber/brown in colour and a little bit of precipitation in the bottle. A bit of reduction on the nose when first opened which made it hard to judge what else was in there (I turned down the chance to go back at 18:00 and try it again – wonder if there is any left). 

On the palate it was really interesting, a sweet nutty, almost coconut start, a big spike of acidity/alcohol and then a big turn for the bitter, with a lot of bitter almond flavour. Didn’t seem to have held together all that well – came across as somewhat disjointed – and it seemed like the years had pulled the wine in different directions.

Nevertheless, very pleasant and very interesting with all those nut flavours there. Definitely worth a try. 

Oloroso Barajuela 2013


Bottles of this are about as easy to get hold of as unicorns with wings so the fact that you can try a glass of this at Territorio Era (but hurry, this was his last bottle) is remarkable even by their standards.

I am unable to write objectively about this wine (or a few others on this blog if I am honest). First, there is a special pleasure in drinking a wine that is extremely scarce, a frisson proportional to the envy you know will be provoked by your post. Second, it is a great pleasure to taste wines that accord so exactly with your own views on vintage, terroir and wine making. (Third, the fact that it is made by such a good bloke is very hard to ignore, even if he is taller than is strictly polite.) 

On the other hand, the expectation and hype that has been generated – most recently a 19/20 from elmundovino – would be almost impossible for any wine to live with. Not to mention the buildup – despite the occasional sighting in the last 18 months its official release has been delayed and delayed due to wrangling about whether it can be called an oloroso. 

And in defense of the DO you can see why – the oxidation, the barrel and the concentration haven’t taken over here as they have in the olorosos you may be accustomed to. Rather, the dominant characteristic of the wine is still its fruit, with a nice depth of minerals and a richness from those four years of oxidation.

The result is by far the finest white wine I have had from Jerez. It lacks the sizzling profile of its younger brother, the fino, and struck me as less potent than I remembered – slightly closed on the nose and not as much power in the middle – but what it might have lacked in power it made up in character and elegance. Given time, both the nose and the palate had a delicious richness of nuts and dried fruits, almond tarts and the like, all in a nice profile with a very long middle and finish. 

A really outstanding wine. I would drink gallons if there were any available! 

Oloroso Fernandez Gao 

Another wine by the glass in Territorio Era and one that I have not seen before. Some cursory research on their web reveals that it is an old name (as you might have guessed from the subtle reference to the 18th Century on the label) that has been resurrected under new ownership. 

What isn’t all that clear is where the wine has come from. The web talks about recovering old cellars but there isn’t much detail of the origin of the wine itself. I am assuming it can’t all be from the old days – would make it very old indeed. 

In fact therw was some talk of the wine being forty years old with ten years in “estatico”, but it certainly doesn’t have any of the concentration of volatile acidity that that would imply. I would have guessed 18-20 years and according to the website I would have been right – 20 years on average. 

Not that there is anything wrong with that – the dinosaurs are fun but can be hard work. This has a lovely clear darkish walnut colour, has a nutty aroma and is nice and balanced, lively acidity and intense nutty flavour, quite alcoholic and potent but very drinkable. I started it with savoury but it almost paired better with sweet, which for me is a good sign in an oloroso.  

Another new old name and one to watch. 

Oloroso el Cerro 

This is one of the top wines around. It’s mere appearance can’t begin to tell the story. A wine with a big structure that is still rapier fine and beautifully balanced. A rare oloroso from Sanlúcar – from the guys at Callejuela, one of the new power houses.

A dark brown in colour as you can see. The aromas are all burned sweetness, fruits and nuts singed to an inch of their life. Then on the palate it has that sharpness of acidity and then a big density of flavour, again half burned sugary raisins and walnuts, with a turn to the bitter but not too much. Real solidity to the middle part of the palate and then a remarkably clean finish. No astringency, just a long fade away.

Beautiful. A must try. (And if you don’t believe me, this was one of the wines of the year according to elmundovino in 2015.)