The Williams 2009s in El Escaparate de Vallehermoso

It’s nice to discover new places and it’s nice to run into old friends, so you can’t argue with running into old friends in new places. These two wines – which I was able to enjoy yesterday at El Escaparate – are definitely old friends.

I first came across the 2016 sacas of these released as part of the Colección Añadas – in fact they were among the first añada (vintage specific) wines that I had tried.

The two have a lot in common: from the same palomino in the same vineyards in Añina and Carrascal (Jerez), aged for the same eight years in botas of american oak of 500 and 600L before the saca in April this year. The difference is that the fino was fortified to 15º after fermentation, allowing it to develop flor, whereas the oloroso was fortified to 18º and allowed to age “traditionally”. It makes for a great opportunity to compare and contrast the effects of the biological and oxidative ageing.

It is also really interesting to contrast the various sacas. The first saca was in february 2016 and there have been two or three before this one in April 2017, and it has been interesting to see how the fino, in particular, has changed over time.

It was always a rich, juicy fino with a touch of oxidation, but this one for me has gone over the top from fino to amontillado, with slightly less sharpness and caramel complementing the hazelnuts that, foe me, characterized this vintage. Just look at the colour of it for a start: it is barely distinguishable from the oloroso.

The oloroso too has changed: it always had a spirity, volatile heavy hazelnut nose but this one seems a little quieter by comparison – but maybe the bottle had been open a while, or maybe it was just the change in the fino that made them closer in character.

Two lovely wines, and absolutely perfect with the various delicious meats on offer at El Escaparate (they certainly did the job with Higinio’s finest breasts of Barbary duck and wood pigeon).


El Escaparate de Vallehermoso

Terrific lunch today at a cracking little bar in the corner of a market. May sound familiar but today a new venue in a different market – and a top quality find – El Escaparate (and when I say find I mean recommendation – many thanks Javier!)

Nothing too fancy here – classic little plates of high quality produce (we had breasts of barbary duck and wood pigeon from the great Higinio Gomez) including some slow roasted torreznos (little chunks of pork belly with their crackling) that are rightly famous.

All too often lately I have been starting posts with a “not quite a sherry temple” but no worries here – 16 by the glass, including four finos, three manzanillas, two amontillados, two palo cortados, four olorosos, a cream and a pedro ximenez. Jerez, Sanlucar and the other place represented and a strong selection featuring amongst other things the Bien Paga, Williams Añadas and the Fino, Amontillado and Palo Cortado by Bodegas Tradicion.

And although I didn’t study it in detail I had the impression they had a pretty good list in general – in particular if you are a fan of German Blanco (and you should be) – as well as beers of every description. Fun for all the family!

The One Wine, Madrid

With only one or two (admittedly high quality) sherries by the glass and a small but well chosen selection on the shelf The One Wine may not quite make it into the “sherry temple” category but it is still a very pleasant spot to enjoy a glass or two of wine with assorted trimmings.

It is not a restaurant or tavern as such, but there are lots of goodies in tins and on toast and the like. The tomatoes with tuna that I had were excellent – nice bread too – and most importantly the wines are high quality offerings.

A cracking little store/bar and a great place to try top-end stuff.

De la Riva Blanco de Macharnudo 2016

One of the most hotly anticipated white wines in ages, this is a white wine from palomino fino grown in Macharnudo and sold under the reborn label of Antonio de la Riva, acquired by Domecq back in the 1970s but now in the hands of none other than Ramiro Ibañez and Willy Perez. I took it to a really fun blind tasting a couple of weeks ago.

At first it came across as a delicate flower. A really inviting sweet, apple blossom nose and a nice mouthful of fresh white fruit on the palate, with some salinity at the end. Fresh and vital but elegant and refined rather than big and bold. Lovely stuff, no doubt about it, but as I happened to remark at the time, it surprised me at how delicate and floral it was, missing the intensity and concentration that the Barajuela wines have us accustomed to.

And that just shows why you shouldn’t take top class palomino white wines to a blind tasting, and why indeed you should keep your lip buttoned if you do. Because like all these palomino white wines even after just a little while open this seemed to grow in intensity and presence, and suddenly I was regretting my decision to share my bottle with seven other winelovers, however likeable.

And in fact I managed to nurse a glass long enough for the gods of blind tasting to punish me for my second error. Hearing my earlier comments, the aforementioned deities chose to serve me a wine I know pretty well – the Barajuela Fino 2013 (Saca de 2017) – two wines later such that I had both in the glass at the same time. And that intensity and presence? By now the De la Riva was singing at the top of its lungs whereas the Barajuela was fresh open, and maybe if not twins as such, the resemblance was uncanny.

I have heard this called the best of the blancos de albariza and I would not dispute that at all, it is a really top class white wine. I just wish I had kept the bottle to myself.



Callos and the pairing of callos

No sherry here, just a spot of scientific research into alternative possible pairings for callos at the bar of Media Racion with some white, red and bubbles.

The bubbles, a recommendation by David Outeiral, the new somm here, actually work pretty well: that sharpness and acidity really stands up well and cleans out the palate.

But for me you still can’t beat an oloroso – it not only stands up to the callos, it lifts them up. Fight fire with fire people!

Amontillado el Fossi in Fismuler

I said I would be back and when it comes to having an enjoyable lunch with nice wine I can generally be relied on. Cracking little list here at Fismuler and the food is cracking too.

There has been a lot of chat this week about sherries with a sense of place and El Fossi is exactly that. A uniquely fine, punchy amontillado that is absolutely a product of its unique habitat a patch of albariza to the South of Jerez, a mere 7km from the sea but 100m above the aforementioned briney called Finca Matalian.

I have written about this little beauty quite a bit and you can see the posts here. Suffice it to say that it is killing it with this clam and artichoke rice right here.

Terroirpower right enough.

Lunch in Taberna Palo Cortado

Your average Friday in Palo Cortado means a lineup of wines that you cannot find anywhere else.

Absolutely outstanding stuff today, helping wash down some chicharrones, carne mechá, tomatoes, octopus and pluma iberica, starting with Beta, the tasty, biscuity Sanlucar bubbles from Barbadillo, via an outstanding 1952 amontillado from Toro Albala (the other place), a Marques de Poley Amontillado (also t o p), a gorgeous Harveys oloroso (from Jerez but supertop) and finishing with the Wellington palo cortado from Sanlucar and a whiskery old Garvey oloroso.

Or not quite finishing because there was time for another glass of Beta – which was really good – and a last sup of the Atamán Inquina – a lovely bitter-sweet and surprisingly drinkable tonic.

Absolutely outstanding – I have said before that we don’t deserve Palo Cortado and there has been no better demonstration than today. Viva!