Giving Thanks

Restaurants

I envy our american cousins and their thanksgiving holiday, and not just because I would like the Thursday off and enjoy roast turkey. I like the idea of taking a moment to acknowledge how much we have to be thankful for, and thought I would share my own thanks for those who have helped me and this blog over the last year and a half.

So here we go, in an approximate chronological order:

  • Cesar Saldaña at the DO, who first gave me the idea, and Ana Losada, who encouraged me to get on with it and make it a reality;
  • WordPress for their cracking app which is easy enough to use that even I can manage it with moderate proficiency;
  • My wine drinking buddies here in Madrid, including David at Vila Viniteca, Guillermo, Manuel, Raul and Jason, all legends that have humoured me, generously broadened my education with wonderful wines from all over the world in the face of my obsession with a single corner of Andalucia and now to be honest drink more sherry than I do;
  • My fellow sherry bloggers, including the international crowd – Ruben, Helen, Paddy, Erik, and Seanna (a friendlier, more welcoming bunch you could not imagine), and also the Spanish guys and in particular the Enoarquia and Spanishwinelover, both of which have been a source of ideas and an inspiration;
  • The guys off the wineberserkers bulletin board and in particular David Coffey – it has been fascinating getting the perspective of fans of other wines in the US and elsewhere (after all, what do they know of sherry, who only sherry know?) ;
  • The other characters on twitter for all their retweets, likes, comments and such, in particular Lori and Michael at Dracaena Wines for giving me an excuse to retweet blog posts as part of #sundaysips;
  • The restauranteurs and barpersons of Madrid and elsewhere, for giving me the opportunity to try so many wines by the glass, including Jose and Ruth at Surtopia, Ana Losada (again) when she was at the Chula, David and the guys at Angelita, Paqui at Taberna Palo Cortado and David and Diego at Territorio Era;
  • My dealers, and in particular Federico Ferrer of the Cuatrogatos Wine Club, Ezequiel at Reserva y Cata,  Santiago at Coalla Gourmet and Armando Guerra of the legend that is Der Guerrita;
  • The bodegas that have been generous with their time and in so many ways: in particular Carlos and the guys at Lustau, but also Manuel and Lorenzo from Tradición, Adela and José from Perez Barquero, Rocío from Urium, and Cristina from Williams & Humbert; and
  • The real experts, from whom I have learned a lot, including Alvaro Giron, Juancho Asenjo and Paco del Castillo, but in particular Victor de la Serna, who from the start has been a big support retweeting, commenting and on one memorable evening coming along to show us how to taste wines.

Most of all I am grateful to all the winemakers who have taken time to chat and share their knowledge, and of course for making the wines that give the whole thing meaning. In particular I would pick out Ramiro Ibañez, one of the most passionate and knowledgeable winemakers I have ever met, who has been a true inspiration and a fount of wisdom, but also thanks and kudos to Luis “Willy” Perez and his Barajuela Project, Primitivo Collantes and Finca Matalian, Paola Medina for her Colección Añadas and the many others that are creating exciting wines for me to taste and blog about.

Now begins the worry about who I have left out. If I have forgotten you don’t be dismayed – it is the way of this particular beast, and I guarantee as soon as I see you again I will remember and attempt to hastily amend this page with my mobile!

 

 

Sherry shopping suggestions

what-to-look-for

My latest post for the sherry.wine site was published today: What to look for on a sherry bottle.

I bet you can guess what it is about. In fact it is a little bit less/more than your standard explainer – if you look really carefully you will detect some of my personal preferences hidden amongst the mass of cogent, well made points. There are some equally telling omissions, for which I will no doubt have to answer at some point. In any event, I hope it helps.

100 up


The sun never sets on the undertheflor empire, and today the good folk of Malawi joined the party, becoming the 100th member of the United Nations to do so. Moni and zikomo Malawi! 

The end of en rama

This afternoon I deleted the en rama category off the blog. 

This is not a reflection on en rama wines. They are almost always more interesting than their filtered rivals and some are markedly better. Neither is it an objection to the concept: if you can save money on production  processes, make better wine and sell that wine for more money good luck to you. 

Rather, it had just got to the point that almost every wine on here was an en rama so as a category it became pointless – not discriminating enough and at the same time discriminating in the wrong way. While many many wines are “en rama” in the sense of being unfiltered or very lightly filtered many choose not to mention this. As a result the category ended up including all sorts of wines that for whatever reason made great marketing play of their unfiltered status and leaving out some other wines unfairly. 

But worry not – all the wines are still there in their respective categories. 

Bourbon 

I honestly do not remember what this Bourbon is called but it was the second of two at a splendid Washingtonian dinner this week and as refined and razor sharp as anyone could wish. 

I don’t know what the first one was called either – this is probably a low point in blogging terms – but they were night and day, horizontal and vertical, butter and toffee. 

In fact neither do I remember what the difference was in terms of the barrels used. Do I win a prize? 

Filter Coffee

Just had an eye opening experience – finished dinner, had a coffee (a shot of expresso) and while the flavour was still in my mouth, poured myself one of the remaining glasses of Solear en rama. The sensation was all fruit – the wine has always been splendid but with a low, vegetable register, and after the coffee it sings sweeter. It was like an instagram filter for the tongue.

It was great – so armed with a triple expresso and a couple of bottles I have repeated the experiment with success. Some super dry wines have shown up sweeter. Now this may be absolutely bog standard stuff to the experts but I find it very interesting – how flavours react with following flavours. Also I am interested about this one because coffee is a flavour you find so often in the great wines of Jerez in particular. Surely no coincidence.

 

Ifs and butts

image.jpg

Have been boning up on technical issues for a tasting tonight and realized that despite an early post with biological and traditional ageing in a nutshell and a post on the velo de flor (with thanks to Enoarquia.com and Jamie Goode), I have never really got around to tracking down pieces on the other half of the equation – traditional ageing and the role of wood.

For starters I found a couple of guest articles on the Sherry.wine website – by Paula Maclean and Jamie Goode, respectively – really interesting stuff. But by far the best piece I have seen is this one by Ruben at SherryNotes.com (and Whiskynotes.com) – in turn inspired (or provoked) by the Jamie Goode piece.

A really brilliant piece and one I recommend reading.

 

In der sherrygarten

One of the lads was in Munich for the semifinal yesterday and sent this cracking picture of one of the windows in the historic Dallmayr store (est 1700) in the main square. Bit of cecina and manzanilla la Goya  – lovely.

If this was an attempt to sell sherries to the Atletico fans in town it was probably a little optimistic (but I am pretty sure it wasn’t).

Swedish press roundup

svenska dagbladet

Highlight of this week’s Swedish Press roundup is this cracking article by Bengt-Goran Kronstam, one of Sweden’s foremost wine men, in the Svenska Dagbladet, one of the leading newspapers.

Great stuff – was sent to me by a friend in Sweden and even in swedish you can see they are on the right track: Inocente, Dos Cortados and Noe are pictured and Tio Pepe and La Ina are mentioned too.

For those interested I have now received a summary (in Spanish):

The article emphasizes above all the choice of sherry wines as the perfect accompaniment to sushi; the japanese cuisine that is very fashionable in scandinavian countries; picking out a glass of fino or manzanilla as the perfect ally for sushi, if you want to be in touch with the latest trend, as they are in  London and New York. Then it explains that the traditional accompaniments for these wines are without doubt tapas of all shapes and sizes. From salted almonds, to the magic spanish ham, a slice of hard cheese or the more sophisticated cuisine that can be served cold or hot – in that order. 

It briefly explains the production methods and characteristics of fino, oloroso, amontillado and palo cortado, highlighting manzanilla as a very special fino from the area of Sanlúcar de Barrameda. It mentions the palomino fino, pedro ximénez and moscatel grapes used in the area,and the delicate production process of the wines. Fino it describes as one of the most sensitive wines in terms of storage and as a result it recommends that the reader buy small bottles, serve the wine quite cold and moreover to finish it at one sitting, since the next day the fino will have already lost its spark.

Mr Bengt-Göran Kronstam then describes the three wines that have been tasted (Fino Inocente, Dos Cortados Palo Cortado 20 años and Noe Pedro Ximénez) underlining their properties and flavours and recommending pairings. 

In general a concise article dedicated exclusively to the wines of Jerez, depicting it as a trendy, very fashionable wine and the perfect pair for a variety of different cuisines.

Overall must be good news, despite the old chestnut in there – not at all true – that fino is difficult to store and needs to be drunk in one sitting (not that you need to space it out either). More importantly, the main thrust of the article is about pairing these wines with food, which is exactly the right idea.

I wish I could think of a signoff that didn’t involve the Swedish chef from Sesame Street.