Amontillado Viejo Argüeso

I mistakenly posted this when I was uploading the photo and there was a big reaction to the mistaken post so thought I ought to hurry up and write the note. (Which I started to do, before forgetting about it in the drafts file for a wee while.)

Anyway, it was the second wine of a cracking lunch in Bache a couple of weeks ago. It is also a classic: one that I remember reading about years ago and even trying back in the pre-blog days. Back then the bottle was an old one too and I remember being really hacked off at the dry wax seal. (This time that wasn’t my problem of course.)

It certainly comes across as an old wine: has a darkness and the impression of a slight murkiness to the naked eye (I didn’t have a lined surface to check the turbidity – must get myself a finely lined handkerchief or similar). On the nose it is quite piercing – I remember the elmundovino guys saying once that it had a nose of antique wax polish and that is spot on. Then on the palate it is really, really acidic, almost caustic first up, then that blackened, burnt wood flavour, like the burnt crust of wholemeal bread or a pint of Guinness, as dry and bitter as you expect from an old Sanlúcar amontillado and still stinging as it finishes. The whole thing is sharp and old like an antique wood rapier.

Very old, very old school Sanlúcar amontillado.


Manzanilla madura Callejuela

The author was in need of refreshment after slogging his way across Madrid to Kulto for a bite to eat recently and this glass of manzanilla madura by the guys at Callejuela ticked the box.

This is the more serious of the two standard manzanillas (as opposed to the En Rama, the Añada and the exceptional Blanquito) and has slightly more weight behind it. As you can see it is a very slightly greenish gold in colour and it has a bit of that greenery on the nose: a little bit grassy and herby with maybe slightly older apples underneath.

On the palate it is sharp and fresh, with a zing of salinity then has some heft, with a slightly bitter apple flavour and leafy notes on top before a fresh, fluid finish.

Oloroso Callejuela

One of the wines from a recent stop in at Kulto this was a perfect accompaniment to the manitas (pigs trotters) in thai red curry, and given that combination you can probably guess that this was tasted in less than laboratory-like conditions. A real world tasting, you might say.

The wine is characteristically drinkable. It slips in easily enough and a burntish caramel sweet taste, then slight sawdust and woody flavours, which turn to burnt wood bitterness and a really intense, long burn at the finish – acid and salinity. It is a very tasty wine alright – more than a match for the curry – but fine and elegant for all that.

Top bombing once again from the guys at Callejuela.


El Fino Perdido

This is a class fino and the fact that it was the first wine I was offered, before seeing the wine-list, in Bache the other day sent a very positive message.

Eight years under flor and only minimally filtered, it is a lovely dark gold color and for me it has a nose that is old apples packed in straw. On the palate it is sharp at first and then salty, bready baked apples, a slightly darker tang and a fresh finish.

Refreshing, an elegant profile and attractive aromas and flavours: what’s not to like?


Manzanilla pasada La Guita (1970s)

This was a second very special wine brought to lunch by Juancho Asenjo – the man is a legend – in Territorio Era recently.

It had some tough competition on the day – a quite outstanding 20 year old Fino Carta Blanca – and has a tough act to follow in the form of its own descendants. You see it is a manzanilla pasada La Guita from (I think – memory is a bit hazy for some reason) the 1970s and would be a lineal ancestor of the outstanding “noughty”‘manzanilla pasadas released in more recent times by Equipo Navazo, which are among the very finest wines I have tried from the region.

And this was a fascinating wine. Was a rich old amber in colour and was pretty clear, maybe just a hint of cloudiness. On the nose it was still there – a bit of old apple and straw – although not as punchy as it might once have been, and on the palate it was extraordinary. Not so much the flavours, which were still there and were enjoyable if a little muted, but a quite amazing chalky, almost chalk dust texture.

The most mineral wine I have ever tasted without question – extraordinary stuff.

Tosca Cerrada 2016

If you want to enjoy palomino white wines I have two top tips: first give them time in the bottle and then give the bottle time once open. In particular I have found that these wines by Mario Rovira have improved in the bottle – those lucky enough to still have the 2014s really sing their praises.

This one, the 2016, is probably a little unready: aromatic with an apple and sweet herb nose but slightly murky in appearance and just the slightest touch heavy on the palate. Fresh start then that apple and a touch of bitterness, then a touch of fennel leaf or anis coming out in a persistent finish.

Very enjoyable but I reckon you might want to keep this a year or so.

Palo Cortado Península

This is one of a pair of wines given to me by a grateful (and far too generous) client, together with its amontillado twin, the Escuadrilla. I say twin because the pair of them are twelve years old: whereas the Escuadrilla had four years under flor and eight of oxidative ageing, this had a brief year under flor and eleven of oxidative ageing.

The fichas on the Lustau website have some very interesting technical data, showing as you would expect that this palo cortado has slightly more alcohol and slightly more volatile acidity than the amontillado. Those differences may seem slight but they are noticeable, with the palo cortado having noticeably more nip and sting to it.

Otherwise the family resemblance is clear: the same hazelnut flavours. The differences are as distinctive – a touch more vanilla on the nose, a little bit more blackcurrant bitterness on the palate and a dryer finish with more tobacco flavour.