Fino el Pato Especial

One for fans of Montilla Moriles here: the “Special Duck” from Bodegas Luque. As the label says, it is a fino en rama without clarification or filtration. (Since the explanation is redundant I assume they must be trying to make a point.)

The wine certainly comes across as rough and ready – incredibly pungent and meaty, with a big heavy texture and flavours like chewing a ham bone and a stick of bitter liquorice. There is salinity too but not a lot of zing or definition. To be honest not really my cup of tea but you can’t deny it has character.


Riodiel Condado Viejo

The second wine from this bodega in el Condado de Huelva that I have tried. Whereas the Espinapura could almost fool you into thinking it was a fino, however, this traditionally aged wine was quite a different beast. 

It is a 100% palomino aged for over 20 years which is fully dry but seems rich on the nose and the palate. There is quite a lot of Christmas cake aroma and flavour – tending towards burnt Christmas cake – but there doesn’t seem to be much noticeable salinity. Maybe as a result it comes across as a bit heavy and its 18% alcohol seems very noticeable.

Bags of flavour but maybe missing the elegance of its cousins further South. 

Monge en rama 

Not a sherry this one, but a palomino fino aged in solera under flor at the mouth of the Guadalete, a trib of the Guadalquivir that meets the sea at Puerto de Santa Maria. Not clear to me why this isn’t under the DO – the bodega’s address is in el Puerto as well. 

There is a little bit of reduction/farmyard on the nose which is a bit off putting and you don’t get much pungency, then again on the palate the salinity is restrained, there is a little bit of fruit to it but not much punch, bite or power. 

File this one under interesting I think. 

Palomino fino en rama Tosca Cerrada

Was in Taberna Verdejo for a quick bite of lunch (some fantastic migas and an even better panna cotta) and bumped into a nice chap from the business who happened to be supping on this. I have actually had it before – the first time I had it blind in Surtopia – but I must admit that my curiosity was piqued by a recent review I had read and wanted to give it another look.

It is of course named after one of the major types of albariza and is “by” Delgado Zuleta and “for” Mario Rovira – an experimental catalan winemaker who is said to be experimenting with biological ageing of his own palomino at his bodega in el Bierzo in Northwest Spain (Akilia). This one is from Cadiz, however, and is an unfortified 100% palomino fino with seven months in manzanilla botas – of which three or four months are under flor. (As an aside, it strikes me that the label “palomino fino en rama”, containing as it does the words “fino en rama” could be considered a bit misleading.)

A shade darker than I remembered it – whereas I expected a more radiant green gold this seemed slightly darker. As with the first time I found it had plenty of fruit, calcium and herbs on the nose – if anything this time it seemed even more herbal-  but on the palante the fruit and herbs took over a little. Really meaty texture to it and maybe could do with just a touch more acidity.

Overall I found it a little bit heavy and lacking in structure, but no doubt that is tasty stuff.



Don PX 2008


This is the kind of sweet wine that I struggle with – there is fruit there in the nose but on the palate it is sugar heavy and sticky. Above all heavy – just seems to have a syrupy profile and texture that I find hard to deal with. It is incredibly rich stuff, no doubt, and maybe it just isn’t a good fit for a man of my ascetic tastes. 

Manzanilla la Bailaora  

Yet another acquisition from the Grupo Estevez online store, this is a basic manzanilla and it does the job. 

A pale, watery straw colour and a mineral, almost metallic nose. On the palate it is salty lemons –  not as elegant as some but punchy and refreshing, full flavoured. 

Very swiggable. 

Fino Tio Mateo 

After all this manzanilla I thought I would go fino tonight and this one by Marques del Real Tesoro (like Valdespino, part of the Grupo Estevez) intrigued me.

Two things caught my attention:  an interesting Elmundovino piece about a Supreme Court judgment permitting the use of the phrase “low in histamines” (although the current label makes no mention); and the Estevez website’s intriguing claim that it is the first wine in Spain made using the “Estevez method“. In fact really there is only one issue, because it turned out the Estevez method was developed to eliminate the histamines from the wine. But that only made me more intrigued: why would you seek to eliminate the Histamines? Are people actually allergic to sherry?  Given that I had never heard of anything being low in histamines it seemed an odd marketing ploy to say the least.

In fact it appears that there is indeed a small percentage of the population (below 5%) that apparently do react badly (may suffer headaches and other allergy symptoms) to consumption of food and drink of different kinds (not just sherry but everything from champagne to strawberries). As such, while only a small percentage of that small percentage would have such a reaction to sherry, by eliminating the histamines you would be able to just about truthfully say that your sherry is “less likely to give you a headache”. (Which also explains the opposition to the marketing: the sector in general was understandably unimpressed by the suggestion that their wines were riddled with unhealthy histamines.) I wonder why they don’t say it on the label any more?

Anyway, the wine is also perfectly nice. It is a watery/hay bale gold and has a mineral, yeasty nose. It is zingy on the tongue – real bite and tingle to it and is thick in texture, and then developes a salty almond, nutty flavour.

I just can’t help wondering what it might be like with histamines.

Alba Confitero 2014

A white wine from a single vineyard of palomino in Pago Miraflores this has apparently been fermented in a tank and spent 7 months in a bota, no sulphites added and presumably no filtering.

The colour of it is remarkable – it is semi opaque and looks a bit like a very light style of honey. It also looks like a syrup when you pour it – a really gloopy type pour.

First opened (Saturday) I am finding it very restrained on the nose but it may be a little too cool. What there is is like the nose of a cider – very restrained appley notes. On the palate well, it has acidity no doubt, but it is carrying a lot of jammy apple fruit and seems like some residual sugar. Very like cider.

Coming back to this a day later (Sunday) the nose is in fact more like pineapple juice – it probably was yesterday to be honest. I am finding it much more similar to the Sobre Tabla that I tasted a while back from these guys. Also on the palate, a note somewhere between pineapple and grapefruit. Seems much sweeter than I remembered from yesterday.

I still struggle to understand the concept of this wine – I don’t really see what the makers are trying to achieve here. Having said that, it is another interesting experience in getting to know palomino and its characteristics – maybe there are enough crazy people like me for this to be a profitable exercise (hope so).

Sandeman Don Fino 

This was a pleasant surprise – I am removed this week to Vienna, a grand old city at the heart of Europe but not a city where I expected to have much access to my favourite tipple. I was quite wrong – at the hotel bar last night there were no fewer than four sherries on offer, including the great Tio Pepe and this. 

You can’t judge the colour here – it was very dark (as night always seems to be in Central Europe)  but despite the gloom there was no mistaking the straw/yeast notes in the nose. On the palate it was very smooth and pleasant, gentle salinity and nice nutty, bready flavours. Perhaps served slightly warm and I had the sense that it may have been open a while, but very nice.

More importantly, since I am here until Thursday it is good to know that these are on hand. 

Harveys Bristol Reserve

It is said that sherry was at one time so widely drunk in the UK that it was commonly referred to as “milk”, and that the characters at Harveys blended an oloroso so rich that it became known as the “cream”, creating the category that now dominates the supermarket shelves over here.

In fact a gander at the Wikipedia entry shows a far more complex blended beast – fifty different soleras, three types and two grapes – a typically complex wine, in fact, for a region where nothing is ever straightforward (I am not referring to Bristol).

In colour it is a deep brown – a little dense and not fully crystalline. Then the first noseful is all sweet raisins like a pedro ximenez – a sensation that doesn’t repeat when you go back to it – becomes more sugary treacle and a bit of baked citrus.

On the palate it is again like a (very light) treacle, sticky on the top and sides of the mouth. There is less of the raisins, a bit more burnt sugar and toasted walnut/walnut skin. Nice and long and a sweet, sticky finish.

Overall I find it pleasant and drinkable but a bit lacking in bite – the acidity of the oloroso never seems to really arrive.