Bruto 2014

Now here is an interesting wine: 100% palomino from a single vineyard, spontaneous fermentation in the butt, then 12 months “under flor” and 4 months in inox. 948 bottle in total. And from Rueda of all places. 

Quite a geographic shift (about 600 km north as the urraca flies) but I am told it is less of an innovation than a throwback to the times when a lot of palomino was grown and aged in the North. It is also from an impeccable maker – Beatriz Herranz of Barco de la Corneta – who has a cult following for making serious wine from a grape (verdejo) and in a region that are too often synonymous with egregious mass production. 

Most importantly it is pretty tasty stuff. I wouldn’t have said it had 12 months under flor – if anything I would have said a good few months oxidation – and neither was it the most expressive, but there is pungency, solidity and salinity there. 

As experts in Madrid bar tops will know from the picture, I tried it in Angelita, where this month all the wines are from female winemakers, but you can find interesting wines by the glass all year around. 

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Lacum Listán Dulce 2014


A sweet wine from palomino fino (listán Sanluqueño) that I was first told had been aged in Sanlucar in old oloroso barrels but I have since been corrected – inox all the way.

I have only ever had a couple of sweet palomino wines and haven’t really warmed to them. (In fact to be honest I am not the biggest fan of sweet wines in general.)

This has a nose of sweet tomatoes and a nice mineral, sweet herb sweetness on the palate. It has a nice texture and isn’t over the top in sugar or alcohol, but for me lacks a bit of acidity up-front and has a slightly sticky bitterness – like biting tomato seeds – on the finish. Comes across as a bit heavy and a bit two ended – no real shape to it. 

File this one under interesting. 

Encrucijado 2014 

I had another glass of this at the bar of Angelita and it left me in two minds.

On the one hand, I feel privileged to have had the chance to try another glass. It confirmed my growing impression that it is a wine of some stature and getting better: an aromatic butterscotch and hazelnut on the nose, zingy acidity and more butterscotch on the palate and a sapid finish.

On the other hand, it depressed me to find that such a wine hadn’t been exhausted long ago. I wrote about this wine being available by the glass in Angelita on March 15, and even given the diminute reach of this below average blog it is shocking to me that the half dozen or so readers didn’t tool up there and drain the swamp in the nearly two months since. You hear a lot about the “sherry revolution” these days and you can’t chuck a half brick in Madrid without inadvertently vandalizing a so-called “sherry temple”, but here we have a bona fide cathedral to wine and on its list they have one of the most exciting wines being made, in tiny amounts, in the sherry triangle, and in two months they haven’t sold out. There really can only be two causes: people are not going to Angelita as much as they should (a scandal itself in my view) and those that do are not trying the right wine. It is enough to make a fella weep.

Let’s be clear: if you love wine, you should be supporting places like Angelita and the other fantastic bars and restaurants that Madrid is blessed with; and if you want to understand anything about the “sherry revolution” that is possible, you should be trying wines like Encrucijado.

Forlong Rosado 2016 

I am pretty sure this is the first Cabernet Sauvignon on this blog and it is another of the fresh and inventive wines from the guys at Forlong in Cadiz. I first tried it at the Cuatrogatos Wine Fest a while ago and had another chance to have a closer look this week.

As you can see it is  a clear pink/orange or orange/pink – maybe pink/gold. The nose is floral and summery fruit but also has some nice dairy and bakery notes. On the palate it is fresh on entry, maybe even has a bit of zingy salinity, a nice buttery texture, some summery red fruit and a bit of undergrowth. Again a fresh, slightly mineral finish with notes of baked fruit. 

One of the top cabernet sauvignon wines I have tried from Cadiz, no doubt. 

CGWF17: Part 7 – The winemakers

Some final great memories from the Cuatrogatos Wine Fest in Puerto de Santa Maria. Hard to believe that it is already a couple of weeks ago (a fine testament to the velocity with which I write up my posts). It was billed as wine and laughter and vice versa and delivered on both promises.

For a start, some absolutely cracking wines you can drink by the gallon from makers like:

  • Jose Crusat (Entre os Ríos) and his fantastic range of wild and woolly whites including the leesy and buzzy Altares de Postmarcos, the super sharp Vulpes Vulpes, his two wild albariños Komokabras Yellow and Green, an even wilder one with time in a tinaja and a funky ancestral called “Bubbles from Rivendell” (which I missed out on on the day);
  • German R. Blanco and his range of reds from across the North, including juicy fresh Quinta Milú and La Cometa, increasingly refined mencias from Altos de San Esteban the fascinating range of parcel specific wines from Casa Aurora, and his new Rioja, La Bicicleta Voladora (which I again missed out on on the day – you snooze, you looze);
  • Javier Castro and Sonia López (Bodega Ziríes) and their garnachas from Toledo – four wines that were in turns mineral, fresh, aromatic, concentrated and expressive;
  • Beatriz Herranz, the “Verdejusticiera” (Verdejo law maker) from Barco del Corneta with what are probably the best wines being made in Rueda, mineral and rich, serious stuff, and also a really interesting palomino (Bruto);
  • Cristina Carrillo (Bodega Finca Fuentegalana), whose stand seemed to be mobbed every time I stepped near it (to the point where I could only try one wine at a time) had a really interesting stuff range of wines from albillo to shiraz; and
  • many other cracking bodegas (I would write them all up if I was a half decent blogger/had time), including Xabier Sanz and his fantastic feathered friends from Navarra (Viña Zorzal), Eulogio Pomares and Rebeca Montero, Miguel Montoto and Inma Pazos (Vinos de Miguel: Coto de Gomariz, Ailalá y Vinos de Encostas); Xurxo Alba (Albamar); Charlotte Allen (Almaroja); Verónica Ortega (Verónica Ortega); Cuatro Ojos Wines, Clos Lentiscus, Casa Castillo – the list could go on and on.

There was plenty of laughter too. Shouldn’t really have been a surprise given that we were all there thanks to the genial Federico but in addition to it was genuinely a fun place to spend the day.

And for me it was a fascinating and inspiring day. When you think about it wine making is miraculous – and I refer to all winemaking, not just the water into wine at wedding stuff – and to me there is something not quite canny about winemakers – people that can look at a vine and consider how to prune it, how many leaves and bunches it can support, when to harvest the fruit etc,  let alone all the decisions and judgments needed thereafter in terms of cepage, batonnage, barrel age, and other words ending in age. It requires a lot of knowledge, skill and, frankly, hard work and I find it extraordinarily inspiring to chat to really good winemakers and let the technical knowledge wave over me. When they are as friendly and generous as this bunch were it makes for a really uplifting and educational experience.

Encrucijado 2014 

Another taste of this – currently available by the glass at Angelita – and it seems to be improving by the day. I enjoyed it the first time I was able to try it a couple of months ago, but really enjoyed it in Palo Cortado at last week’s tasting and am loving this too. Seems a sharper, more defined entry and then that elegant, butterscotch structure. 

Really worth trying if you get the chance so get down to Angelita! (On the other hand, looks like it is getting better in the bottle so mine is staying buried in the minibar.) 

Encrucijado 2014 

Here it is, the second edition of the most unique wine being made in el marco.

It is by Ramiro Ibañez‘s Cota 45 label and is an evolution of the Encrucijado 2012: whereas that was 50% palomino and had six varietals in total (10% each of Beba, Cañocazo, Mantuo Pilas (aka “Uva Rey”), Mantuo Castellana and Perruno) this is 40% “Uva Rey”, 40% Perruno and only 20% Palomino. The fruit was dried in the sun for two days to bring up concentration, fermented in bota, given a couple of months on the lees and then two more years in bota – including four months or so under flor. I am not sure of the historic back story but the back label has a reference to the old classifications of rayas, palmas and cortados, of which this would presumably be a cortado.

Dark gold in colour and has a spirity, honeysuckle, overripe melon nose. It is fat in texture for a two year old wine and on the palate it has an initial dash of that overripe melon but quickly turns to a grapefruity citrus. It seems more potent than my memory of its predecessor with less butterscotch, more grapefruit bitterness, and more obvious alcohol. However it is sharper in its features and has a more defined, elegant structure to it: there is just a little bit of acidity (some esparto grass from the empty glass at the end?) and a nicely integrated salinity  leaving a mouth watering, fresh finish.

Overall this is different, even exciting, enjoyable and feels like it might get better with time. Only just 1,000 bottles made though so get it if you can. (I am having a glass at the bar of Territorio Era, since you ask.)