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.

 

 

 

 

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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. 

La Casa del Jerez 


Was literally driving past Jerez today and thought I would swing by this little institution of a store – La Casa del Jerez.

It is small and perfectly formed – dedicated exclusively to sherries and brandies with a small space for catas and even a row of botas to drink from (no photo – just forgot, sorry). That wine is from Bodegas Faustino Gonzalez, of Cruz Vieja fame and owned by the same family, but there certainly doesn’t seem to be any conflict of interest – just about every bodega you could name was represented on the shelves and I picked up three interesting bottles in a flying visit. 

I would strongly recommend a visit to anyone visiting Jerez itself – can often be surprisingly tricky to pick up wines there curiously – and am delighted to update my list of stores accordingly. 

Vibaveflor

Had a chance to try something a bit different last week in Reserva y Cata  – a viura from Rioja that had had some time under “flor” (not clear whether we are talking about the genuine saccharomyces though – when I first tasted it I thought it was closer to a rancio).

Really interesting – in particular tasting it next to a viura with no biological ageing from the same producer. There was a clear difference in profile and volume. (The caramel and vanilla of the straight viura came across as candy floss or a spongecake in the Vibaveflor.) There was also a big difference in appearance – while the straight viura was clean and golden this was slightly cloudy like a cider and had a touch of orange. 

In sherry terms it lacked muscle and minerals, but very nice nonetheless. In general it is curious the way that biologically aged wines appear to be popping up around Spain – none that I have tried have seemed a serious threat to the boys down in Jerez and Sanlucar but it is great to be able to observe the effect of biological ageing on different kinds of wines. 

As you can see, this is very much an experimental wine and I do not think it is commercially available. I didn’t even make a note of the maker’s name – let’s hope I get another chance some day. 

Post script – More recently I had a 2011 Montbourgeau that seemed a better, and fairer, comparison – would be good to try the Vibaveflor side by side with one (if I ever see it again).

 

 

Reserva y Cata

About time I posted something on one of my favourite spots for picking up interesting wines in Madrid. Reserva y Cata has a cracking range of sherries, with old classics and hard to get modern classics. In fact, this was the only place I know of in Madrid that was selling the Manzanilla de Añada back in the day.

I won’t be able to remember all the wines I have had from here but they have all the Tradicion wines (including different sacas – at the moment three sacas of the fino, and only because I too the last 2014 – but really all you need is the majestic May 2015), they have the wines of Finca Matalian (Arroyuelo, Arroyuelo en Rama, Fossi, and Viña Matalian 2013 and 2015) and indeed this was the first place I found the Viña Matalian. They have had the Maruja, they had the Maruja Manzanilla Pasada (I took the last one) and they also had the Cream. A good source for Fernando de Castilla Antique wines, they had the Williams Vintage Fino, the Guita en rama, they have all the Gran Barquero wines, the Electrico en Rama, in fact I could go on all night (but won’t).

In fact to be honest I may be writing this at the wrong time – they generally have an even better collection  and are expecting some new arrivals shortly, but as is often the case the small production indy sherries you can pick up here run out quickly – only yesterday some joker bought the last 2014 Tradicion and the last Maruja Manzanilla Pasada (he looks guiltily at his wine cabinet).

So get down there – and if you don’t believe me read this piece by proper journalist Spanishwinelover.

Cuatrogatos Wine Club

Fede

“Cuatrogatos”, or “four cats”, comes from a joyous Spanish expression meaning “very few people”. I am pretty sure the name was chosen in reference to the very few people that drink the adventurous, indy wines that the club is focussed on but it is also true that there are very few guys around like Federico Ferrer, the fantastic bloke behind the Cuatrogatos Wine Club (for some reason pictured above with something foamy).

My first contact with the Cuatrogatos was last September when looking for one of the most exciting wines of the last year: the Callejuela Manzanilla de Añada. I remember seeing a picture of this revolutionary liquid on twitter and tweeting to find out where I could get it. Within seconds I was directed to the Cuatrogatos – making that my most important tweet of the year by a distance.

Because that amazing wine was the first of many gems I have discovered via the club – other highlights include the El Cerro oloroso, an old vine PX from Callejuela, the spectacular Fino by Alexander Jules (and the Manzanilla which isn’t too shabby either), the Maruja Manzanilla Pasada, the Encrucijado and the Pandorga. And all that was before I managed to persuade the Cuatrogatos to send me the full catalogue and discovered more than a distributor of exciting sherries. The catalogue reads, in fact, like an A-Z of up and coming winemakers in Spain, with names like Zarate, Albamar, Coto de Gomariz, Zorzal, Tentenublo, Barco del Corneta, Charlotte Allen, Silice, Losada, Mengoba, Quinta Milu, Altos de San Esteban, and Bernabé Navarro alongside Alexander Jules, Juan Piñero, Primitivo Collantes, Callejuela and Cota 45.

It is a fantastic selection of stuff that is both interesting in itself and hard to get elsewhere, and a testament to the passion of the guy behind it all. I will never forget meeting Federico earlier this month – not only did he introduce me to one of the most exciting winemaking talents around and help organize an inspirational visit to the vineyards of Jerez and Sanlucar, he brought more than his share of good humour to the party – even as we were pillageing his 100 year old birthday-present amontillado (no greater love hath any wine lover, etc.).

The great Marx (G) was famed for not caring to be member of any club that would have him as a member, but even old Groucho would have approved of the Cuatrogatos. As the web says: no membership card is necessary, only the desire to have fun.

Carnet

Tesco, Hampton, Cambs


Quite a strange experience today hunting out sherry here in a big UK supermarket – and an interesting comparison with a Spanish supermarket on the Brit-friendly Costa del Sol.

First, unlike in Spain, in this UK supermarket the sherry was nowhere near the wine section: wine was aisle 16, beer and cider aisle 15 and sherry on the end of aisle 14, after the liqueurs, spirits and port. I find that a bit bizarre I must admit.  

Second, the range of sherries is of course different – both in terms of brands and styles. Brandwise, of the sherries we would get in Spain there are only four – Tio Pepe, Solear, La Gitana and Canasta (and maybe Croft Original and Harveys Bristol Cream, but you wouldn’t call them Spanish brands even if Croft is owned by GB). More importantly, there is a big contrast in terms of styles: including the Spanish interlopers I count three finos and three manzanillas, two amontillados (including the Croft Particular) and one oloroso; compared to 7 creams, 4 medium drys, and 4 pale creams (and four ginger wines). Nine dry sherries against 15 sweet (and I am not sure about Croft Particular – might be 8:16). By comparison with Supersol, the numbers would have been 7 fino, 4 manzanilla, one oloroso, one cream, and three px. Overall 2 sweet blends in Spain (not counting the monovarietal px) against 15 or 16 in the UK. 

Third, although at first it was heartening to see a biggish selection, just as in Supersol, a closer look left me a bit less optimistic. Not a lot of high quality wine here and the price range is depressingly similar. Tio Pepe is almost the most expensive wine in both places. Now Tio Pepe is great, but it is cheap – there were Ports on the shelf next door that were 3, 4 or 5x as expensive as the costliest of the sherries. 

Must admit to being a little disappointed – even if we are talking supermarkets. It seems to me that sherry has a lot of ground to make up (in both countries).