Coalla Gourmet, Madrid

Coalla Gourmet is an institution up in the north and has long been a friend of this blog. An outstanding selection of sherries (and wines of all kinds), coupled with a superbly efficient web and logistics add up to an awful lot of boxes for my daughters to play with, while the contents of those boxes account for a goodish percentage of the posts on this blog.

There have been some outstanding wines over the years, and although I don’t get up to Gijon as often as I would like, when I do I make a point to stop in at the counter of their cracking space in Cimadevilla for a glass or two of something dry with a sliver or two of top quality ham, or a wedge of first class cheese, or maybe some sardines … and the list could go on and on as they produced hams, cheeses, jars, cans and bottles of quality rations from every corner.

So I was delighted to learn they were opening a store in Madrid, and I am even more delighted now that I have seen it. It is a fantastic space – 350 square meters on two floors – with lots of bar space and plenty of bottles open and cooling – and just like the mother ship in Gijon it is crammed to the rafters with the kind of bib and tucker that makes life worth living.

It opened last Saturday to massive crowds and unanimous applause from every side and has been packing them in ever since. If you haven’t been yet there really isn’t any excuse (unless you don’t like wine, fine food, or fun of course) and there is no doubt that it is a great addition to the Madrid scene – not least for wine lovers. The entire top floor is given over to wines and you can see the muscle of a major distributor here – an absolutely awesome selection of wines from all over Spain and the world, and what is more you can literally take any bottle off the shelf and tuck in, with a very generous corkage policy (free for bottles of €18 or more, bottles below €18 cost €18 in total).

And best of all, it is no more than a 5 minute walk from my home – so I will be able to make regular checks on the wellbeing of Don Ramon and his merry crew.

Welcome to the neighbourhood guys!

Cambridge Wine Merchants

Popped into Cambridge Wine Merchants (Kings Parade) this week and I have to say I thought it was top class.

For a start they had a cracking range of sherries. The above photo doesn’t really do it full justice – they had a few (five or six) shelves worth – maybe eight to a hundred references – and very nicely chosen stuff, a really full selection of Barbadillo, Hidalgo-La Gitana, Williams & Humbert, Gonzalez Byass and Equipo Navazos and a few really top end bottles dotted around. Really cracking selection – different to the wines we usually see in Madrid too.

And you could also sense a lot of enthusiasm from the guys in the store. Helpful notes on the wines, when they saw me lurking in the corner they were over and full of advice and when I came to pay there were appreciative comments – you literally cannot do more to sell wine than these lads do.

And all this was just one of their stores – and not even the mothership. Really great stuff – I strongly advise UK based sherry fans to check out their website or even better, go and have a nosey at one of the stores. Cheers fellas!

The One Wine, Madrid

With only one or two (admittedly high quality) sherries by the glass and a small but well chosen selection on the shelf The One Wine may not quite make it into the “sherry temple” category but it is still a very pleasant spot to enjoy a glass or two of wine with assorted trimmings.

It is not a restaurant or tavern as such, but there are lots of goodies in tins and on toast and the like. The tomatoes with tuna that I had were excellent – nice bread too – and most importantly the wines are high quality offerings.

A cracking little store/bar and a great place to try top-end stuff.

Vino & Compañia

Have made it my goal this year to break out of my usual loop and discover new places and it is already paying dividends. Strictly speaking Vino & Compañía (Plaza del Olavide 5) isn’t a new place or even new to me, because I remember buying a few bottles here a while ago, but since then they have made a massive, quantum leap in their offering of wines from el marco, and it felt like a different reality this time.

The above pictures give you an idea – the shelves are stuffed to the rafters with almost everything you could wish for. Andrés, the owner, was kind enough to ask me what was missing – I came up with a few suggestions but it wasn’t easy and there were not many.

And that was before he explained that they were still trying to find an arrangement so they could have all the wines from the region on display. For instance, they have all three UBEs and all the Tres Miradas, but just didn’t have a big enough space for all the unfortified white wines from Andalucía (and who would have imagined that a couple of years ago?) and were working on a solution. Moreover, the reason space is limited in general is that the rest of the wide world of wine is amply represented – a really fantastic range of wines from every corner of Spain and key regions abroad (including Champagne).

It is a quality offering, and Andrés was telling me that a reason for the growing weight of the traditional wines of Andalucia was that they have seen an increase in demand and, in particular, a lot of interest in tastings to introduce wines of the region.

On that front these guys take tastings seriously – they have a dedicated space, have tastings for beginners every Friday and tastings with cheeses every Saturday and will set up a private tasting for groups of six or more. It is a fantastic effort with visible results – in the short while that I was in the shop on a rainy Friday afternoon they knew almost everyone who came in by name.

There’s no doubt about it, if you are a winelover in Madrid, and in particular a fan of the wines of Andalucia, this store should be on your radar – although they are busy making their own crop of winelovers just in case.

Vila Viniteca

Behold the magnificent cover of the Vila Viniteca catalogue for 2017 – fantastic stuff.

The contents are even more heartening for devotees of the traditional wines of Andalucia  – 200 top end wines from Jerez and Sanlucar and another 55 from Montilla Moriles. It is a superb and growing selection (in 2015 I count a total of 183) and there are some unique and expensive wines there (and here I refer to the three pages of sherries, not the rest of the tome).

Kudos to Vila Viniteca, which although based in Barcelona has a fantastic tasting room here in Madrid and has played a nice little role in the sherry “revolution”. Their blog has been a forum for some really top class posts (this one by Armando Guerra and this one by Alvaro Giron stand out), they have organized some first class tastings down the years and sherry also gets a look in at their Cata por parejas and La Musica del Vi – two of the standout events on the Spanish wine-tasting scene. Most importantly they have this cracking selection of wines – some interesting stuff and, as I mentioned, a really strong selection at the top end.

Great to see and I look forward to going through this catalogue in detail.

 

Bodegas Tradición in Reserva y Cata 

Viva Sherry Week. What an outstanding tasting this was. Bottle ageing, seasonality of sacas, wine making, static and dynamic effects. Tasting a line up of brilliantly made finos, with a clear family thread but fascinating individual personalities, and with the information to make sense of some of it. And the Tradicion Amontillado to finish – absolutely epic.

I will write this all up – 8 1/2 pages of notes – as soon as I make sense of it all. For now, just sincere thanks to Reserva y Cata and Bodegas Tradicion for a really top class event.

Sherry Week in Madrid (and beyond)

sherry-week-2

This coming week, November 7-13 is International Sherry Week, a fantastic week-long, worldwide celebration of the top class wines of Jerez, Sanlucar and el Puerto promoted by the Consejo Regulador and the team at sherry.wine.  They have an absolutely brilliant search tool to help you find local events, of which there appear to be no fewer than 71 planned in Madrid.

I am feeling a little bit sheepish about the whole thing since my other commitments have limited my availability a lot lately and I am not sure of being able to take part in many of the events over the next week. In fact doubly sheepish, since all the events are probably sold out and this post is thus probably too late to be of practical use for many people. Even so, I wanted to celebrate some of the outstanding events that are lined up (and you never know there may be the odd place available).

Monday, November 7 –

Tuesday, November 8 –

Wednesday, November 9  is a holiday in Madrid and there isn’t as much going on

Thursday, November 10 –

  • Taberna Palo Cortado has arranged a pairing menu matching the wines of Bodegas Tradicion and the salazones and conservas of Herpac
  • Although not on the official Sherryweek program – and sold out long ago – Taberna Verdejo will be hosting Paola Medina of Williams & Humbert and Juancho Asenjo for another tasting/paired menu based around the excellent Colección Añadas

Friday, November 11  –

But this list is really only scraping the surface – you can take a look at the 71 official events in Madrid, the 889 in Spain or the many hundreds or even thousands around the world on the official website.

And neither should we forget the other places where every week is Sherry Week. At Enoteca Barolo they will be hosting the 11th sessions (two groups) of their awesome course on the traditional wines of Andalucia and at Surtopia, Angelitala Fisna, Territorio ERA and elsewhere it will be sherry business as usual. I am looking forward to another great week and to getting my sherry on. Don’t be surprised if your twitter timelines take on a radically pro-sherry flavour in the coming days!

 

Sherry Boutique

 

Happy news for fans of the wines of Jerez in the UK – as of today you can get the wines of Bodegas Urium and Cruz Vieja from sherryboutique.com

It is the project of Helen Highley, aka Criadera, a certified sherry educator and one of the friendliest, most enthusiastic members of the worldwide sherry blogging fraternity. There is no doubt whatsoever about her passion for and knowledge of these wines and the wines and the bodegas involved, both relatively small, family run and high quality,are a testament to that.

Bodegas Urium is run by the Ruiz family, Alonso and his daughter Rocio, who fulfilled a lifelong dream by acquiring an old bodega with some old, old wines, where they produce a cracking, well priced range with everything from Fino En Rama and Manzanilla Pasada to an extra special 100 year old Palo Cortado. I had the chance to try the wines and meet Rocio back in June and it was a great night – these are fun wines and I can recommend them without exception.

Bodegas Faustino Gonzalez was founded in 1971, when a local doctor bought soleras dating back to 1758 and moved them to his wife’s bodega in the part of Jerez known as Cruz Vieja – the old cross, but have only been on the market since 2014. The wines are en rama and very small production – runs of 1000 bottles each year – but they have already achieved quite a following. The wines I have tried are full of character and the owner seems a good bloke too – he runs la Casa del Jerez, a brilliant store in Jerez itself, and really knows his stuff.

So there you go. No need to worry further about Black Friday, Christmas shopping or whatever, just get on sherryboutique.com and get clicking.

 

 

 

 

Holiday Market, Royal Oak

Absolutely top spot here in the greater Detroit area with a range of over 20 sherries that covers every necessary base and even has some stuff I haven’t tried. In fact a brilliant range of Spanish wine in general, and champagnes, and frankly of just about any wine you feel like. And that is only one corner of this sprawling store full of tasty stuff. Really top class.