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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3 Miradas Vino de Pueblo 2016

After a cracking unfortified Cadiz palomino at the weekend thought that this would be an interesting comparison – an unfortified pedro ximenez from Montilla Moriles and the “basic” wine of the “3 Miradas” project between Alvear and the guys from Envinate.

3 Miradas (“three looks”) is a project aiming to show the potential of dry white pedro ximenez wines and also the impact of terroir. The first “mirada” is this wine – a dry white wine from eight selected vineyards in the style of a Borgougne “villages”. The second “mirada” is a set of six wines, from three different parcels and with and without skin contact, respectively.  The third “mirada” is apparently going to be some years in the making – the idea is to show the effect of different kinds of ageing on the wines.

As a starting point you have to say that this is pretty good. I always come at pedro ximenez a little bit predisposed to find it heavy and full of liquorice but this is fresh and light, with a nose of grapey fruit and maybe just a hint of leafy anis, and a sweetish, fruity palate, again with grape written all over it.  Maybe just a hint of salinity on the finish.

Overall a nice drinkable white wine – not complex but very nicely done.

 

#4GWFEST2018 – Part 5 – La Fleur 2015

Has been an intense period of work lately and although the last few days have seen an uptick in the number of enjoyable lunches, a chap has not really had the time or the energy to keep up the blog, for which I am sorry. Not least because this little beauty, which I tried at the fantastic Cuatrogatos Winefest a little over a month ago nearly got lost as a result – if it hadn’t come up in conversation earlier today I may have never sought out my notes.

“La Fleur” is the latest wine from the Forlong stable and as the name suggests (in Alejandro’s mother tongue), this one has a little bit of flor influence (my rudimentary notes don’t tell me how much). And its name isn’t the only french thing about it either because although this is palomino it really has the sweet apple pie nose of a jura wine from savagnin, a touch more acidity and an overall higher register than you often get from palomino. Very elegant with that zippy acidic start and quite fine in body – I have the impression it might lack just a touch of oomph in the middle of the palate but maybe with a little time in the bottle …

But why wait, the nose really is incredibly inviting and while not as serious minded as some palominos this wine is seriously easy to drink.

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.

#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.