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.
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.
The other place in full effect. This was one of the wines that Borja at Bache gave us the other day during yet another enjoyable lunch. I don’t know much about it and didn’t have much time to study (what with all the eating and socializing that was going on) but it was very nice stuff.
Palo cortado is not a category that was historically associated with Montilla Moriles although you see more and more of them since the recent resurgence of the category. I do not know the legal definition up there (“is there anything he does know?”, you might well ask) but judging by the bottle and what it says here it seems to be along the same lines as in Jerez: a wine that has the nose of an amontillado and the body of an oloroso. Nowadays wines with those characteristics can be achieved in various ways: a bit of biological here, a bit of free run juice there, or even by pure selection. Judging by the nose and the information provided I guess that this one falls into the latter two categories.
However it was made or selected it is a very nice wine. I am always on the lookout for heaviness when PX is involved but this one is very fine, nice and sharp at both ends with acidity and salinity and nutty and a little bit woody in the middle (and the finish). Not overdone at all and a nice age – I would have guessed 20 years or so and I would have been right.
These 1730 are an underrated and great value range of old wines that seem to fly under the radar. By Alvaro Domecq, a scion of that legendary family that acquired what was formerly the almacenista Pilar Aranda, they make and sell some really nice old wines at what seem like very generous prices. I tried the VORS amontillado a while back, and even before that I remember a very decent palo cortado too.
I had this PX in Taberna Palo Cortado a couple of weeks ago and it really hit the spot: sweet as nectar but had that little bit of mineral, almost steely bitterness and concentration that you get in particular from the older Jerez PXs, with just enough salinity to keep it (relatively) fresh. Very very easy to drink, for all the sugar per litre, which is never a bad thing after a nice long lunch.
Not long ago I was in a favourite restaurant and an enthusiast of the wines of Montilla Moriles asked our host if he had any of the dry wines from that region. The response could have been more diplomatic: “yes indeed, we use it when braising the kidneys”. (I nearly choked on my fino but I think we got away with it.)
No danger of that kind of response these days – the dry wines of Montilla Moriles are gaining traction all the time and seem to attract really enthusiastic enthusiasts – the moment I started this blog I was under siege to include the region in the description. here is no doubt that there are some really superb wines coming from Montilla Moriles, as the four or five keen followers of this blog may have noticed, and I certainly have no problem with enthusiasm in general.
Nevertheless, it does grate at times that the fans of Montilla Moriles seem to dedicate an inordinate amount of their time comparing their wines to those of Jerez, as if to praise one you need necessarily disparage the other, and perhaps without knowing it seem a little chippy about the latter’s greater world reknown. Always strikes me as a little unnecessary. (In fact, it strikes me that the region is well placed to benefit from the resurgence of these traditional wines since in general they are free of association with the mistakes of Jerez’s more recent, less discerning past.)
In any event, this wine, on a label owned by the outstanding Perez Barquero and with a moniker as long as one of my intros, is certainly well placed to benefit from such interest. It has a lot of my favourite variety of seaside grass on the nose, with nice raw almonds and a dry punchiness to it. Slightly full and greasy in texture, and on the mineral end it is warming and mouthwatering without really sizzling.
A very decent alternative to a fino from you know where …
One of the highlights of a top class recent shindig organized by the guys at Vinoteca Tierra was the chance to catch up with Ramiro Ibañez and try his new wines: the UBE Maina 2016 and this, the Pandorga of the same vintage.
Like almost everything Ramiro touches this is the latest in a series of ground breaking wines. A single vineyard, vintage specific, pedro ximenez – interesting stuff to there. But more importantly a wine that, rather than attempting to smooth out the differences between vintages, seeks to accentuate them. After a cooler 2014 season, very little asoleo and (naturally) lower temperatures of fermentation, the hotter 2015 growing season accentuated by more asoleo and a (naturally) warmer fermentation. The results were fascinating: the 2014 was apricot jam and the 2015 fresh, ripe apricot juice.
This 2016 is somewhere in between. Unbelievably, I failed to take any note of the alcohol or sugar content, and the subsequent dinner wiped the details from the “soft memory”. Nevertheless, I couldn’t forget the wine itself, and it has all the same characteristics but maybe greater overall balance, superb acidity, lightness and sweetness in a tight profile.
Not sure when it will be released but it is one to save up for.
Glory be to Angelita Madrid. Yet another absolutely cracking lunch yesterday with some top wines by the glass and a really special one to finish. A rare old wine and a privilege to taste it – there can’t be many of these bottles still in circulation (there were only 2,600 seven years ago). But how had it stood up to the seven years in the bottle?
I had high hopes given the provenance (originally Perez Barquero) and the quality of the 2013 release, but by comparison to that wine this seemed to have faded. The acetaldehide hay bales had gone and bitter, bottle age notes seemed to have taken over the nose, and while still zingy and potent on the palate it seemed much less interesting in shape – the bitter almond finish taking over all too soon.
So, a privilege for which I am very grateful but this one is more evidence for the case against excessive bottle ageing. I still have a bottle of the 45 and will get drinking it based on this.