#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!




Amontillado Williams Coleccion Añadas, 2003

When we discuss bottle ageing we tend to be talking about the effects of between a few and a good few years in the bottle: legendary finos from the 1950s that have held it together miraculously and brutal old amontillados that have mellowed over decades. I probably don’t have enough patience (or storage) to really study on those kinds of timeframes but I think it is equally interesting at times to see the effects of even a short time – a few weeks or a year or so – in the bottle. The impact on some wines – especially the more aromatic biological ones – can be significant,

Here is a good example, the 2003 Amontillado from the Williams Colección Añadas, which I enjoyed during a cracking lunch at Taberna Verdejo. At least from my memory of it at previous tastings, this has sharpened up, on the nose and the palate, after just 18 months in the bottle and 12 months since I first tasted it (admittedly, that was the february saca).

I remember it being a spirity nosed, rounded and mellow wine, and maybe that is why I am surprized today by how zingy, sharp and acidic it is. The hazelnut that I associate with the Williams Colección Añadas is there on the nose but also there are notes of alcohol like a sweet, nutty vinegar. There is not a lot of haybale (or esparto grass) in evidence and it is not as spirity as it was. On the palate too there is nice acidity upfront and salinity at the back, and altogether it seems more vertical than this time last year.

More defined and even more elegant, but maybe a little less wild than it was last year.


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.

Amigo Imaginario 2016

Here is a wine that has been eluding me for nearly a year. Unless I am much mistaken I first missed out on trying it at last year’s Cuatrogatos Wine Fest. Subsequently, I acquired a bottle, and even took said bottle to dinner with friends, but it was somehow forgotten and has been occupying space in said friend’s wine cabinet pending a return fixture. I then missed out on trying it at Taberna Palo Cortado when Alejandro and Rocio hosted a tasting there recently. All the while, I heard about it, saw it on twitter and in a clip by the great Colectivo Decantado and was generally haunted by it until, having finally gotten around to acquiring bottle number two, Paki offered me a glass last week in Palo Cortado.

It is a 100% palomino that has been made “like a red wine” and, amongst other things, has spent eight months in an old oloroso butt. No time under flor or oxidation involved – just contact with the oloroso impregnated wood. There is no doubt a lot more to it but I missed the official tasting and in any event I am glad to say that after such a long build up the final product didn’t disappoint in the slightest.

It is yet another example of the aromas, structure and flavour that palomino can produce in the right hands. This glass started off relatively quiet but grew in aromatics, with hints of sawdust and other woody aromas mixed in with the blossoms and white fruit. Then on the palate its savoury salinity and sapidity it comes across as more solid and potent than its 12,9º would have you expect. The salinity gives it a nice shape, contoured rather than smooth but piercing at both ends, and refreshing despite the weight in the middle.

Excellent on its own, and like many other palominos it is a fantastic wine with food – the freshness of the salinity and savoury flavours perfect with almost anything.

UBE Maina 2015

Like the other UBE wines this is a 100% unfortified Sanlúcar palomino by Ramiro Ibañez at Cota 45, but whereas the first two in the series were from Carrascal (de Sanlúcar) and Miraflores, this is from Finca la Charanga, a vineyard on Pago Maína that is a byword for producing the most corpulent, flavourful wines in Sanlúcar. The reason may be partly climate, since it is tucked inland a little way from the coast, but is probably more strongly linked to the soil involved, since the albariza here is of the barajuela variety (layered like the deck of cards for which it is named) and in addition the pago is said to be very high in marine fossils – the famous diatoms.

For whatever the reason, it is the most “horizontal” of the Sanlucar wines and I enjoyed this bottle immensely. On the nose this time I really noticed leaves, herbal tea in there but real green foliage as well, and dried apricots underneath. Then on the palate it has that savoury quality, like bouquet garni and coating the sides of the throat. It is a really meaty white wine, and although I once described this wine as broader than it is tall it is, in fact, really long. There is salinity there but it doesn’t cut through and there is fruit on top, again reminiscent of dried apricots.

Once again I feel obliged to point out that these palomino white wines need time in the bottle and you get the most out of them when you have time to enjoy them in relaxed fashion over the course of an evening. If I was organizing a cata I would treat them like a chablis – big decanter, on ice if you like but not too cold, and let them breathe for a goodish while before showtime. (Or maybe I am reading this all wrong. Maybe the truth is that they are great from the beginning but it takes my little mind time to adapt to them.)

Absolutely top drawer. .

Fino la Barajuela 2014

I was dining at Lakasa last Friday night (and it was absolutely heaving – great to see) with a group of friends from outside my wine nerd bubble but nevertheless was allowed to choose the wine, and even (somewhat controversially) given free reign. I picked two wines that to me seemed blindingly obvious – the Cuvee Saint Anne by the brilliant Alexandre Chartogne and the Fino la Barajuela.

What I didn’t know was that they had run out of the 2013 and had just received the 2014 (in fact I didn’t know the 2014 had even been released) and suddenly a wine I had been waiting for for 18 months (give or take half a glass in a tasting with the man) was on the table in front of me.

This is the second vintage of Willy Perez’s outrageously good fino, and although the 2013 will always have a special place in my heart you have to say that this is even better. It has the same nose or honey-suckle to honey with golden yellow apple underneath, the same bite and palate of fruit but even more mineral sapidity and throat filling savoury flavours. It is frankly epic and totally delicious.

And as always happens with these Barajuela wines, my friends from outside the sherry bubble loved it. It is a tremendous source of frustration to me that when I read the views about this wine from sherry experts and tastings there are grumblings about whether it is really a “fino” yadda yadda yadda. Surely what is important is that it is an outstanding white wine, and one that paired with almost everything we proceeded to eat.

Now begins a heartbreaking period in which I am allowed to purchase a shockingly small allocation of bottles and then feel obliged to hold back when I see it in stores so that a wider public can try these wines. Please, don’t let my sacrifice be for nothing.