Supersol, Elviria (Malaga)

  
I have been visiting Elviria, on the Costa about 10km shy of Marbella (coming from Malaga), a good 13 years now to visit my in laws. The beach is good, the lifestyle relaxed, there are plenty of good golf courses around but generally I struggle to find anything interesting to drink. (In fact, somewhat ironically, this blog was actually born down here at Easter.) Let’s be fair – I had a choice of Tio Pepe, La Guita, La Gitana and Solear, so I should not overdo the complaint, but it wasn’t the offering a thirsty traveller dreams about. 

So imagine my joy at witnessing this vastly improved sherry offering at the local Supersol just now (in fact I couldn’t fit the top shelf in the shot, so it is even better than it looks). The sherries are of course sharing the shelf with the malaga wines, and ok, we are not looking at the top end of the range, but there is nonetheless a cracking choice of finos and manzanillas here. In the end I picked up a bottle of the Las Medallas that I tried recently in Taberna Palo Cortado, but I am looking forward to having a good go at these in general. In any event,  it must be great news to see a bigger selection of these great wines on the shelf. And just look at the prices! 

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Cata de Palo Cortados en Enoteca Barolo

A good friend made it possible for me to attend this and it was a cracking event.

The title – “Palo Cortado – the most mysterious sherry wine” – suggested a bit of blarney but in the end nothing to worry about – maybe a bit of blarney but overall a good, punchy and knowledgeable introduction with some interesting nuggets and some key background facts on each wine – a well prepared and well conducted tasting.

We started with Obispo Gascon – by Barbadillo in Sanlucar (on the left below). The colour is an orange amber/chestnut – absolutely crystal clear. It wasn’t super expressive in the nose – salty with a bit of sweet pastry. On tasting the salinity is nicely integrated and it is maybe not creamy but a little oily, with flavours of caramel to burnt caramel – and very long. Nice start. (16/20)

Next up was the Tradicion – seen here between the Obispo and the Gutierrez Colosia Viejisimo. Similar in shade  to the Obispo Gascon although not as crystal clear – a suggestion of cloud. More nutty on the nose – more almond pastry/bakewell tart rather than the honey pastry of the Obispo and not the same noticeable salinity (this lad is from Jerez). Noticeable acidity in the mouth and it is full of darker caramel flavours – maybe a little bitter/burnt in the aftertaste. Always notice the structure of this wine and it has a nice, savoury, nuttiness to it. (17/20)

The Gutierrez Colosia is called “very old” and it looks it. It was at least a shade darker than the other two – but crystal clear – and again a little bit of sea air on the nose (this fella is from Puerto de Santa Maria). Also a bit of yeast on the nose – a more vegetable sensation. Big and rich on the tongue and it has that old fruity christmas cake taste to it, caramel flavours, baked orange, a suggestion of nuts. Really full in body and maybe a touch more width/breadth than the other two. Lovely wine. (18/20)

Next up – Roberto Amillo Espiritus de Jerez. In colour it is a little browner and my glass – in fact the bottle – was a little cloudy. A bit less expressive on tje nose. On the tongue it not as rich and on the palate it is acidic, spicey and sharp with flavours of walnut tending to walnut skin. For me not as rich and structured as the Tradicion or the Viejisimo – a racy, spicey glass though. (15/20)

The fifth wine (middle of this picture) is the Equipo Navazos 48. Deep bright red in colour – light ruby and a really distinctive nose – a bit of the diesel, varnishy garage forecourt smell, with bitter orange and minerals and even lactic notes (cheese rinds). I can understand it not being everyone’s cup of tea on the nose but in the mouth it is fabulously rich, with a whole new range of flavours. You get dark chocolate and tobacco, the jammy marmalade, and of course the nutty toffee. I found it a really expressive, rich wine and a little extra dimension on the palate compared to the others. (18/20)

Finally, on to the Cardenal by Valdespino, an old school palo cortado made from wines that stepped off the “true path” of the Fino Inocente (and therefore all from the Macharnudo Alto pago). In colour it is another dark one – chestnut brown. Then a salty, iodine in the nose, and burnt caramel for me (but others reckon yeast). In the mouth it is enormous – treacly, maybe even too concentrated. The range of flavours is not quite as wide as the 48 – absolutely massive and relatively balanced even if possibly not as multifaceted as the Navazos wine. A magnificent wine no doubt. (18/20)

Overall favourite: the Equipo Navazos 48 – just for the range of aromas, flavours and notes – but this was a superb range of palo cortados and an excellent event.

La Guita 2009, 2011, 2014

2014 on the left, 2009 on the right – just look at the colours. It is immediate on the nose, and on the palate too.

We started with the 2014 and it was light, fresh, dry, fruity, saline and refreshing – a lovely drop (15/20). Next stop was the 2009 and the oxidation was really interesting. The fruitiness had become nuttier – it had maybe lost a little of its freshness while gaining a bit of power (16/20). Last, the 2011, which unsurprisingly had gained some complexity while maintaining more of the fruit and lightness of the 2014 (16/20).

Not sure which is “better” but they really are different wines and it was an excellent experiment (made possible, it must be said, by the guys at Coalla Gourmet who somehow got their hands on the 2009 and 2011). My own favourite was the 2011 – maybe I will have to keep some en ramas after all.

Enoteca Barolo

Credit where it is due – these guys were the first to get me really interested in sherry with an inspired recommendation (an Equipo Navazos Palo Cortado) and it was also the scene of one of the best wine tastings I have ever attended – a magnificent tasting with Juanma Martin Hidalgo from Emilio Hidalgo (the best was at the bodega itself). It is one of the best places in Madrid to browse for sherries and they have some interesting stuff as you can see in this photo. 

 

Coalla Gourmet

The Ramones have been on my mind this week. Not the band – what little I know about them doesn’t give me reason to believe they were big sherry lovers, but rather two chaps called Ramon that I met this week.

The first was Ramon Coalla, of Coalla Gourmet, a fantastic delicatessen in the heart of old Gijon. A lovely spot (as the picture below shows) and a true gent who invited a thirsty traveller to a glass of Marc Hebrart blanc de blancs champagne. 

 

 

He has a fantastic selection of wines of every stripe, but in particular some top notch sherries – the limits of my photographic skill do not do it justice.

 
The second Ramon boasted an even bigger range of sherries in an even more remote location: an alleged 200 varieties at his sherry bar Viña y Mar (some problems with the web but this is the one he gave me so bear with it), which can be found in Vejer de la Frontera – probably as far from Gijon as you can get in Spain (while keeping your feet dry). I met him in Madrid and was immediately impressed by his ability to combine wine drinking and roll-up assembly – a pilgrimage is clearly called for.