Pandorga 2016

Apricots on the nose, bright acidity and a palate of pure apricot jam with a rich, sugary finish.

Pandorga, by Cota 45, is a single vineyard, vintage 100% pedro ximenez from Jerez that is unlike most pedro ximenez you may have tasted. Young and fresh, the grapes have had some sun-drying but not to the point of becoming raisins and the resulting wine is more opulent in fruit on the one hand and (slightly) less loaded with sugar on the other.

And like many of the wines from Cota 45 there is some fascinating wine making going on beneath the surface. Whereas many pedro ximenez wines are made in a way that minimizes the difference between vintages (more sun-drying in cooler vintages, less in warm ones), this wine is prepared in a “procyclical” way. As such, the relatively cool 2014 was given less sub drying, the much warmer 2015 much more, and this something in between. As a result you get three very different wines: just as an indication the 2014 had 12 degrees of alcohol, the 2015 had so little -5% – it couldn’t legally be called a wine, and this one has 11,5%.

Wines that express the varietal and shout out the vintage. And superb wines too!

1955 Palo Cortado by Perez Barquero in Taberna Palo Cortado

One of many long overdue posts from one of many really top class lunches at Taberna Palo Cortado, unquestionably the number one place for any sherrylover (with apologies to Perez Reverte) in Madrid. They have more wines by the glass than anywhere else, and it really is a case of whatever your heart desires.

The only problem with it, in fact, is that when I go I end up so pie-eyed that the notes are so sketchy and the list of wines is so long I never get round to writing them up. But in a fit of back to work puritanism here I am writing up some of the wines from a marvellous lunch just a few months ago.

This is an absolutely cracking old wine from the other place, Montilla Moriles, which to me throws up a few interesting issues.

First, the wine – this is a gorgeous old oxidated wine, 100% pedro ximenez but almost fully dry – maybe just the tiniest amount of sugar – nice acidity, lovely rich flavours in a nice spectrum and no edges. Really top class, elegant but rounded wine, the kind you could enjoy best with a good book and a comfy chair.

And then, the issues.

First, the “1955” is a touch misleading, at best. I am told it refers to the approximate age of the solera, as anyone who knows their way around will appreciate, but many punters will not, and given the price band, some punters may think they are drinking something that is older than it is.

Second, the term “palo cortado”. It is pretty surprising to find a wine from Montilla Moriles being called a palo cortado. Not these days – the marketing value of the palo cortado brand is not to be sniffed at – but I am not sure what historic usage of that term there was, and ten years ago there weren’t many such wines on the market, so it is surprising at the least that a solera of “palo cortados” was founded 64 years ago. It is what it is – a selection of the finer, more elegant olorosos – and it just seems odd to label it as something else.

But pardon my quibbling. The wine is outstanding and would be equally fine however it were labelled, let’s just enjoy it!

Fino en rama “Los Mimbres”

No doubt that this was en rama – almost the last glass from the bottle and as you can see it was pretty murky in the glass, and positively swampy in the bottle.

A fresh moriles fino, 100% pedro ximenez – from a single pago in Lagar de Benavides – and biologically aged in solera for around five years.

Very fresh almond and a little bit of greenery on the nose, then punchy, almonds, very slight hint of liquorice and yeast, and a fresh finish. Not the sharpest or most corpulent of wines – straight through – but fresh and flavourful.

Will try and make sure I get the first glass of the next bottle …

Pandorga 2014

The first vintage of a mould breaking pedro ximenez: the 2014 Pandorga by Ramiro Ibañez’s Cota 45.

No raisin juice here – this is all fruit. Pedro ximenez from Carrascal de Jerez, harvested late, given a few days of sun, then fermented and given a year in bota. The result is a wine that is sweet but sharp and fresh.

It is a honey-like amber in colour – not unlike a ripe apricot – and syrupy clear. On the nose it is apricot jam with a hint of grapefruit, then on the palate sweet and sugary, with nice acidity and then that apricot jam and grapefruit again. The finish is sweet without being sticky, fine apricot and grapefruit flavours.

A modern classic and a wine that might change the way you think about pedro ximenez.

Alvear Fino en Rama 2012 in Zalamero Taberna

The way I bang on about the new vintage finos coming out of Jerez you would think they were the pioneers but in fact it is not the case. Looking into this wine I discover that up at Alvear they have been producing single vintage finos since 1998 (a good few years before Williams & Humbert’s finos – at least as far as I know). In fact given the vocal supporters of Montilla Moriles I am surprised this hasn’t been pointed out to me before.

Anyway, you can see I am out of practice because I totally failed to note how long it had been in the bottle. It is obviously not long – five years or less and I would guess no more than four.

A beautiful The youthfulness is there in a bit of citrussy, grapey juiciness, but even so it has an almond nuttiness to it (I often find the almond more marked in px finos), and with the time in bottle (which I am guessing at two years) toasted notes. It is not as zingy as its big brother the Capataz, and in comparison big in the beam rather than fine and slippy, but still a fino in every respect and a fine one too.

So hail to the other place once again, and long live vintage wines!

Fino Capataz Solera de la Casa in Taberna Verdejo

There have been a heap of Montilla Moriles events the last couple of weeks in Madrid – or so it seems from my twitter timeline – and I have managed to miss all of them, so it felt only right to try and make up a bit of missed time at the bar of one my of top happy places in Madrid.

This really is a magnificent, nutty old fino. Gorgeous colour and a nose that is pungent with almonds and haybales. Then a zingy, zippy finish, roasted almonds on the palate turning to bitter almonds and then lasting a looooooong time as the salinity comes back to water the tongue.

Absolutely first class and makes a chap sorry to have missed out on all the fun.

3 Miradas Vino de Pueblo 2016

After a cracking unfortified Cadiz palomino at the weekend thought that this would be an interesting comparison – an unfortified pedro ximenez from Montilla Moriles and the “basic” wine of the “3 Miradas” project between Alvear and the guys from Envinate.

3 Miradas (“three looks”) is a project aiming to show the potential of dry white pedro ximenez wines and also the impact of terroir. The first “mirada” is this wine – a dry white wine from eight selected vineyards in the style of a Borgougne “villages”. The second “mirada” is a set of six wines, from three different parcels and with and without skin contact, respectively.  The third “mirada” is apparently going to be some years in the making – the idea is to show the effect of different kinds of ageing on the wines.

As a starting point you have to say that this is pretty good. I always come at pedro ximenez a little bit predisposed to find it heavy and full of liquorice but this is fresh and light, with a nose of grapey fruit and maybe just a hint of leafy anis, and a sweetish, fruity palate, again with grape written all over it.  Maybe just a hint of salinity on the finish.

Overall a nice drinkable white wine – not complex but very nicely done.