Oloroso el Galeon

A delightful wine and a delightful pairing. We were having a spot of lunch in la Chula de Chamberi and this magically appeared in the centre of the table ar more or less the same time as a bevy of grilled razorclams (navajas a la plancha). Or maybe I should say hoved into view, because this is Oloroso el Galeon.

It is a 100% palomino, 20 year old oloroso by Sanchez Ayala in Sanlucar (better known for their Gabriela and Gabriela Oro manzanilla, not to mention the special bottlings of their wines by Equipo Navazos and Sacristia AB) and it was indeed delightful. It is, as you can see thanks to my much improved photography, a beautiful red amber colour – just look at the brilliant reflections in the glass. On the nose it had a nice salty caramel effect – very appetising indeed – then on the palate it lived up to that billing and them some: tasty, light on its feet, salty but with an almost delicate acidity and lovely balance.

Really good stuff – and an excellent pairing with the salty, juicy razorclams.

Oloroso Rio Viejo (with callos)(in the sunshine)


Didn’t take many notes but when I asked for an oloroso to accompany my callos it was a nice surprise to see the Rio Viejo coming out and, just as I expected, it was a delicious combination. 

Can’t find a ficha for this one but it doesn’t seem a particularly old wine – dry, nice touch of acidity, nutty caramel aromas and flavours, nicely integrated alcohol. A very drinkable wine indeed. 

Sherry Christmas


Just about everyone is having a go at recommending sherries for these next couple of weeks so I thought I might share my tuppence worth even if, as is certainly the case, I will certainly not be allowed to choose the wine chez mes parents.

With nibbles you of course want a nice light, refreshing fino or manzanilla I reckon the optimum wine would be the Callejuela Manzanilla de Añada 1/11 but given the scarcity it might be better to settle for a nice elegant fino like Tio Pepe or the Fino Maestro Sierra I had the other day. There are a lot of more intense wines (such as my favourite fino) but you probably don’t want to start too big.

The prawn cocktail and its marie rose sauce are a famously tricky pairing and in theory you would want something nice and fruity. Riesling is the classic and along those lines the fruit and suggestion of sweetness of the Exceptional Harvest might be a good bet (I had originally thought of the Forlong blanco for this role but going back to it I don’t think it has enough sweetness) or, just maybe, the Alba Sobretabla (Lot I).

With the turkey, taters, carrots, sprouts, gravy, bread sauce, cranberry sauce, stuffing and chipolatas  I would go Amontillado Fino. Specifically, my number one call would be el Tresillo, but a Fossi or a classic Viña AB would go down very nicely too. You could also try a manzanilla pasada but you would want one at the fruitier end of the scale like the lovely Maruja.

With the Christmas pudding, and all that brandy, brandy butter and cream, you need something that will stand up to it and as balance you might even want a big dry oloroso – a Villapanes or an El Cerro. If you can cope with the sugar rush it could also be an excuse to go sweet: my top pick would be the majestic Noe, which has masses of backbone to balance up all that sweetness. A happy medium might be one of the excellent PX olorosos: Gran Barquero or the Asuncion.

Don’t ask me why, but quite often in our house a second round of dessert then appears – Christmas cake or a Yule log. If it is a log, then this is your chance to definitely hit the Noe (or maybe the Callejuela PX), but if it is a Christmas cake I reckon it would match up pretty well with an Apostoles.

With the stilton, a decent Port and some walnuts (some things just can’t be improved upon). However, once the cheese is cleared away it may be time for a drop of Privilegio or even some Toneles. At the very least, a spot of Tresillo 1874.

And then it would be time to rest one’s eyelids for a few moments while enjoying a comfy sofa.

Pedro Ximenez Callejuela  

Well this is a sad sight – I can’t believe this bottle is over.

The last week or so we have had a glass of this with a chocolate from the Cacao Sampaka complete edition – a collection of 64 different pieces of high-end high-cocoa chocolate from one of my favourite stores in Madrid. The chocolates are great, the wine is really great and together just another level altogether.

It is a dark, not black brown, has a thick, syrupy consistency and a raisin and yeast, uncooked Christmas pudding aroma. It is sweet and sticky with lots of raisin flavour then burnt sugar and sweet, black coffee bitterness. Lovely, serious flavour to it.

Really superb wine by any standards.

La Panesa with … chocolate 

This was an interesting experience – half way through my glass of La Panesa an unexpected pairing was thrust under my nose by the remarkable Ana Losada at the Chula de Chamberi.

Probably the last pairing I would have thought of – seems to break all the rules – and one I am not sure about. The chocolate really accentuates the bitterness, saltiness, and alcohol of the fino – but seems to suppress the umami and the old fruit. It is really interesting, no doubt, and gives you a look at the wine from a different angle. It also has that salty chocolate vibe. Having said that, not sure if it passes my pairing test: do I like the fino better with the chocolate, and vice versa?

Maybe with any other wine – when it comes to something as beautifully balanced as La Panesa I am less prone to adventure.

La Bota de Fino 35 – Macharnudo Alto 

I haven’t had this for a while. A classic from Equipo Navazos

Love the colour – quite a dark brown  like old hay. The nose too is all hay bales and granary bread – an incredibly biological nose. 

It also has a great, bready, savoury flavour – nice balanced acidity and salinity. Not quite as intense and structured as some but flavourful and elegant. 

Very interesting pairing too. It was served in the superb Punto MX  with a mexican dish of roast tuetano (bone marrow) eaten in tortillas with a salsa and onions, chilli and lime- a  fatty, meaty, bready, spicey and citric combination. Great thing about sherry is that it can stand up to anything like this, and the savoury nature of the wine really worked.