Amontillado Don Jose Maria

The last of the wines I wanted to write about from a memorable dinner last week at Territorio ERA

This one is a decidedly strange fish – I would swear that it wasn’t that old, and if it didn’t say it on the bottle I would say it wasn’t an amontillado either. In fact I am pretty sure it had had a little sweet stuff added to it. (Not encouraging to be told that the  Jose Maria in question was Jose Maria Ruiz Mateos either – not exactly a heroic figure.)

On the other hand it isn’t bad – nice hazelnut nose and juicy hazelnut flavour on the palate. Not piercing or zingy but saline all the same, then for me a slightly ashy finish. Not unpleasant, just a little bit of a mishmash. 

Oloroso Solera 1842 

I am not big into the sweeter wines but I thought this one – a VOS from Valdespino – was worth a dip. Neither is it all that sweet – you would say abocado or encabezado (not sure what the order is) and since it calls itself an oloroso I guess it is under 15% PX. 

Not all that expressive first up – came out of the wine fridge at 11 degrees and may be a little on the cool side.  A bit of a woody aroma like a pine forest and a nice a grapey/nuttiness to it on the palate. Very nicely integrated and balanced but I must admit I expected more oomph.

Will come back to this one. 

Fino Cesar Florido

A brief sojourn in Detroit in the company of at least one wine lover and although I hadn’t brought any sherry with me I was taken to a cracking market. Once there I picked up a few bottles – one of which is the above referenced. 

By Cesar Florido in Chipiona this is not a sherry and does not have the DO’s official seal. Nevertheless, it is 100% palomino aged for three years under flor and in a solera in a seaside town on the coast a few miles down from Sanlucar so it is not that far away. This had also spent a fair bit of time in the bottle – I reckon it was bottled in 2010 (so trade may have been sluggish).

It has an old look to it – the straw gold just a little tarnished-, and on the nose it has that pungency of bitter almonds and salty water. On the palate too it has a seawater like salinity – voluminous and warm but not zingy really. First up the flavours are of those bitter almonds but then the bitterness seems to fade and it has a nice chewy, soft almond finish. 

Not strictly speaking a sherry but not a bad little bottle at all. 

Palo Cortado De la Cruz de 1767

I have never had a bottle of this to myself or really had time to study it but having encountered it twice before (at the Feria de vinos and the Salon de los Vinos Generosos) last night it was brought to a cracking dinner in La Piperna. Third time lucky I thought and I even took a couple of notes. It is a relatively new release and the only wine, as far as I know, from Bodegas Arfe, an old old building (the 1767) but under the brand new management of the former enologo of Garveys, Luis Arroyo. I think they literally released their first wines this year.

As you can see it is a brown-yellow amber colour and at least this bottle last night wasn’t entirely crystalline – just slightly cloudy. On the nose it has nuts and sawdust, and the spicey, gingery and tobacco aromas I associate with old barrels. More a bundle of aromas than a strong, punchy nose.

A very similar story on the palate. It is not over concentrated or astringent and by no means overpowering – almost light, and maybe a bit lacking in body. Has a nice caramel and nuts at the beginning, buzzy salinity and acidity and spicey, gingery flavours, with sawdust and tobacco flavours on the finish but overall gives the impression of a new wine in an old barrel.

A nice, distinctive wine but lacking in power and uniformity.

Bombilla Fino Eléctrico 

This is the standard fino (not to be confused with the en rama) from Toro Albala in Montilla Moriles – where they make some of the very finest old pedro ximenez wines I have ever tasted – and is in the shape of a lightbulb in homage to the fact that the bodega occupies a building that was once a power station. In fact, the locals refer to this wines as a “calambrazo” (which translates to electric shock but is a much more vivid word).

I had this at lunch today at Taberna Verdejo – one of my favourite watering holes here in Madrid and note that the above photo has been through an instagram filter thingy. It is not absolutely true to life, but I thought it was appropriate given the wine and packaging involved (and don’t get me started on the packaging again).

As luck would have it the Toro Albala web appears to be down as I write this but in any event this will be 100% pedro ximenez and I believe it has had around five years under flor. It is a very pale lemony gold in colour and as always with a pedro ximenez fino it has soft almonds and a bit of lemony citrus on the nose and then those same flavours on the palate, with a bit more juicy volume/slightly less bite than its palomino cousins – both reasons why I reckon these Montilla Moriles wines to be pretty accessible even if not always as elegant or defined as the palomino finos.

Almonds, citrus and juicy volume – very pleasant in fact and not at all the shock you might be expecting.




Puerto Fino Pavón

I am partial to a Fino del Puerto and this is a classic example. Pavon is the famous fino brand of Caballero and the name is plastered over the wall of a bodega in the heart of Puerto de Santa Maria (I walked past it a couple of times when I was down there in March). Although it is now under the same ownership as Lustau (also part of the Caballero group), this comes from a different solera to the stunning Lustau 3 en rama Fino del Puerto and to that of the also brilliant Fino del Puerto from the almacenistas range.

It must be said the ficha isn’t all that informative but according to this typically excellent note on Sherrynotes this has around four years under flor. As Sherrynotes points out, you don’t see it around all that often but to my surprise I found it in the supermarket this morning and, with no sherry on the horizon for the next couple of days, thought I ought to seize the chance.

It is a pale gold in colour. On the nose it is all seawater and minerals, maybe a bit of almond in there too. On the palate it is bulky and voluminous: seawater like saltiness, although not really sharp or zingy on the tongue. Mineral, pebbly flavours to it and bitter almonds, getting more bitter as it finishes. Very tasty, just quite challenging and a bit heavy: just lacking a bit of definition and lightness.

Muscular, strong stuff.



Beta Brut

Another happy surprise from my trip to the supermarket this morning (not my usual supermarket but temporary summer location on the Malaga coast) was this Beta Brut, the traditional method sparkling wine made by Barbadillo from palomino and chardonnay. I first tried this mixed with some cantaloupe in a faux Bellini ages ago at the start of a great night in Surtopia, and have often wondered if I would see it around. Now I have, and the timing is perfect (bubbles are always welcome after all).

First the technical details. It has an absolutely cracking ficha on the web, specifying the pagos from which the fruit has come (the classic Barbadillo pagos of Gibalbin and Santa Lucia), the date of harvest, levels of acidity and sugars, even the type of pruning the vines have undergone. I love the way the ficha also explains the stemware you should use and even how to pour it – they are clearly preparing to blaze a trail through a market segment not accustomed to sparkling wine. Curiously, however, it doesn’t mention the amount of chardonnay relative to the palomino.

Nice colour to it – straw gold with just a hint of green. Not a big nose to it – typical palomino apple and herbal aromas there. On the palate it has a nice crispness – not a lot of acidity but good carbonic bite to it. Sweet creamy start and a bitter finish that makes it seem drier than it it is.

Great stuff – fresh crisp and creamy bubbles.

Cream el Trovador

I only mentioned yesterday that there was a cream from Finca Matalian that I hadn’t tried and, a mere hour or two later I was given some with my cheese at Angelita Madrid. A genuine coincidence and a happy one because like many of the Finca Matalian wines this is very easy to drink.

Apparently a blend of 70% oloroso and 30% moscatel, it has a dark, dark brown hue but clear, then the sweet vegetable/stewed tomato notes of the moscatel on the nose. A chutney-like sweetness (that went perfectly with the cheese, of course) on the palate too.  Not very acidic or complex in sherry terms but not too heavy or too sweet either, and not at all sticky.

Another balanced, drinkable wine.


Ovni Palomino Fino 2015 

This was a very pleasant surprise I must say – the generous chaps at Coalla Gourmet threw this (and its twin) in with the last case of sherries I bought from their brilliant online store and, although it took me a while to realize what had happened (said case was stored while I was not around to supervise) it was a doubly pleasant surprise to find it in the cabinet when the time came.

Not the first time I have tried it and I refer to that first review for the background. It is a sobretabla with six months under flor – so an example of a palomino white wine with just a little biological ageing. Very pale as you can see, it has a lot of the aromas of a “mosto” in the nose (think farmyard!), as you would imagine, but has a little bit of mineral bite to it.

I think it could do with being a little cooler than the 12 degrees of my wine cabinet so it has gone into the fridge, but that is no bad thing as the summer starts to warm up.

Many thanks guys and don’t mind if I do!