Fino la Barajuela 2013 (Saca de 2017) in Media Ración

It must seem as if I am obsessed with these wines – it has got to the point where my blogging colleagues gently pull my leg about it on social media. Of course there is an element of truth in that, but in my defense I am also in a virtuous loop in which the places I go to tend to stock them, the sommeliers I know are aware of my interest and it is so hard to say no when they are offered.

In fact at one point I did start saying no, on the basis that if I drank all the wine on offer it would defeat the object of writing about them (one establishment told me they had been sent two bottles of one vintage, of which I had accounted for 75%) since noone else would be able to drink them anyway.

And to be honest I am a little mystified as to why more people have not done so. As I have mentioned before on here I find these wines fantastic: top notes, bottom notes, body, concentration, shape, salinity, the full package. Neither do I believe I am alone in this: every time I have shared a bottle with friends from outside my bubble they have loved it (even Mrs Undertheflor enjoys a glass or two) and better judges than I seem to share my enthusiasm.

Anyway, I reckon I have allowed you all a fair crack so be warned: my admirable self restraint, and with it your chance to enjoy these wines, is coming to an end.

 

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Manzanilla Gabriela in Zalamero Taberna

A beautiful sight, and I am not just referring to the skillful composition and masterful control of light and perspective in the photo. The beauty is in the centre of shot: the words “Viña Las Cañas, Pago Balbaina”. This sort of thing makes the old heart hum along with the band: I strongly believe that those that can put the vineyard’s name on the label should do so. (In fact without wanting to take too much credit I did in fact mention that it might be worth putting these details on the label when I met up with Sanchez Ayala back in September.)

More importantly, this is a classic manzanilla, pure, clean, fresh and crisp. About the most refreshing thing you could drink and still no push over. And a bargain, when you consider that you can buy the same wine at considerably higher prices under other labels.

 

Fino la Barajuela 2014 in Lakasa

Barajuela alert and this is just such an awesome wine. White fruit at the top salt at the bottom and really astonishingly muscular at the waterline. The perfect white wine for the lunch table – and when the table is Lakasa you need something of this quality. An absolutely outstanding lunch once again.

Manzanilla Arboledilla Levante y Poniente

In my opinion Barbadillo don’t get the credit they deserve and I am not sure why. They produce quality wines across the range, the Solear en rama series is a masterpiece, Pastora is a gem and lately they have been producing some really interesting stuff: the Beta bubbly and Nude tintilla to start with but even more so their spikey, spicey white wine Mirabras and the cracking Zerej boxed sets.

And now these Arboledilla wines – which have been around for a while but which I only came across in Reserva y Cata recently. It is yet another fascinating project and an attempt to demonstrate the power of the “other terroir” – the bodega. Specifically, these are two manzanillas of the same age and from the same solera (the Solear en rama if I am not mistaken) which is housed in a famous old bodega called Arboledilla. What is fascinating about them is that one of the bottles – “Levante” (sunrise) – is taken from a butt at the Eastern extreme of the bodega, while the other – “Poniente” (sunset) – is taken from the Western end. The idea is to demonstrate the effects of small climactic differences within the bodega itself.

They are both zingy, high intensity manzanillas and the differences are pretty subtle. Having said that, you can definitely detect a sharper, finer and more vertical style in the Poniente (which I am guessing is the cooler end of the bodega), and a slightly richer, wilder style in the Levante, which certainly has a hint more sweetness on the nose.

Really interesting stuff and definitely worth trying (if you think about it the worst that can happen is that you end up with two bottles of a classic manzanilla).

#4GWFEST2018 – Part 4 – the Callejuela single vineyard manzanillas

There is just so much to like about Bodegas la Callejuela. It is hard to think of a more likeable couple of blokes than these big, friendly guys, and although at first glance they don’t look like the kind of hipsters you would imagine revolutionizing the scene in Jerez I can tell you noone is doing more than they are.

To start with they have a quality bodega with a really solid range of wines, from the unfortified blanco de hornillos via the manzanilla fina, manzanilla madura, manzanilla en rama, amontillado, and oloroso all the way up to the outstanding older wines, Blanquito, La Casilla and the unbelievable El Cerro (and the PX). But they are a lot more than a bodega with a good range. They are the source of the wine which, with the help of a touch of Ramiro Ibañez magic, has become one of the truly iconic projects of the new Jerez – the Manzanilla de Añada 2012 -, they were involved in the Manifesto 119 and have since launched a range of unfortified vineyard specific white wines that for me are really pitch perfect. These guys really get it.

I have already had the chance to write about their latest releases – first at the bar of the late, beloved Territorio Era, and later at an excellent event organized by Montenegro vinos. They are single vineyard manzanillas, and in fact they are also single vintage wines – from 2014-, although they are not able to market them as such since not all “i”s were dotted and “t”s crossed, so at the time I first wrote about them I called them something different. Anyway here they are, resplendent at the Cuatrogatos Wine Fest with their clear bottles (which I personally think is a quality touch), classy new labels and their official title of “manzanilla” (a reminder once again that although two of the three are from Jerez vineyards, what counts is where they are made into wine for these purposes).

And three quality wines too. The Callejuela (vineyard) is the most biological of the three with haybales on the nose, a touch more zing and a sharper profile. The Macharnudo is absolute class, with that aromatic and metallic mineral quality and an elegant, compact shape, while the Añina is even visibly more evolved, slightly oxidated, smooth but nevertheless fresh.

I find it very hard to choose between the three of them, I must admit. Perhaps I need to try them again!

 

 

#4GWFEST2018 – Part 3 – Corta y Raspa Vol II: the Mayeteria Sanluqueña strike again

It was at the Cuatrogatos Wine Fest last year that I first met the Mayetería Sanluqueña and it was great to see the three lads again and try the new vintages.

The mayetería are mayetos (the small scale owner/growers who traditionally supply fruit to the cooperatives and other producers) that instead of selling all their production are making and selling their own wines under the brand “Corta y Raspa” (“Cut and Scrape” – there is more explanation in last year’s post).

It was great stuff last year and this year’s vintages, bedecked in red, confirm the potential. There are four wines, one from Atalaya (a vineyard and pago with coastal influence near Sanlúcar) by Jose Manuel “Manu” Harana Yuste, that is all freshness and minerals, Casabon (Pago Añina) by Rafael Rodriguez Jimenez – which had a much more appley nose and a similar freshness, Los 40 (Pago Añina), also by Rafael Rodriguez Jimenez, again with apples on the nose and a touch more structure and bitterness on the palate, and last but by no means least La Charanga (Pago de Maína) by Antonio Bernal Ortega, which if not the best was certainly the most expressive, with a sea-air and apple bakewell on the nose, a touch more zip to start with and peppery spiced almond in between.

Four little gems that are once again well worth hunting out.

 

Barajuela Finos again

The boys down in Jerez tease me for the amount of these Barajuela wines I am able to find but to be honest most of the time they seem to find me. I am honestly trying to hold back, and now only order it if I can share it with at least one newcomer to the breed. This was one of those occasions – a lunch at Bache with an old colleague-, and yet again I can confirm that the people love it.

What I love about these wines is how much fruit is there, how the fruit seems to reach down the savoury registers into salinity making a massive iceberg of a wine: as much or more below the surface as above it. On that score, the 2014 Fino has the same white blossom and white fruit nose and top end of the palate as the 2013 Fino (saca of February 2017), but more of the savoury, sapid mountain. It also has less time under flor – isn’t quite as sharp or mineral – but has an even bigger, fuller frame. On the other had, while it is not strongly biological on the nose the 2013 – particularly this second saca – has, if not quite haybales, then at least a little bit more dry herb in the nose and again that sharper profile.

More importantly, both are brilliant white wines for sherry lovers, sherries for wine lovers, just brilliant wines.