Bruto 2014

Now here is an interesting wine: 100% palomino from a single vineyard, spontaneous fermentation in the butt, then 12 months “under flor” and 4 months in inox. 948 bottle in total. And from Rueda of all places. 

Quite a geographic shift (about 600 km north as the urraca flies) but I am told it is less of an innovation than a throwback to the times when a lot of palomino was grown and aged in the North. It is also from an impeccable maker – Beatriz Herranz of Barco de la Corneta – who has a cult following for making serious wine from a grape (verdejo) and in a region that are too often synonymous with egregious mass production. 

Most importantly it is pretty tasty stuff. I wouldn’t have said it had 12 months under flor – if anything I would have said a good few months oxidation – and neither was it the most expressive, but there is pungency, solidity and salinity there. 

As experts in Madrid bar tops will know from the picture, I tried it in Angelita, where this month all the wines are from female winemakers, but you can find interesting wines by the glass all year around. 


Oloroso Valdivia 

Another experiment in bottle ageing thanks to the absolutely remarkable collection of wines on offer at Territorio Era. This is an oloroso from a bodega that is no longer around (although I gather there is a hotel that was the bodega) and the wine itself has been 11 years in the bottle. I don’t know much about the wine itself which makes it hard to judge the effects of the time in the bottle but it certainly shows all the hallmarks. 

As you can see it is a dull amber/brown in colour and a little bit of precipitation in the bottle. A bit of reduction on the nose when first opened which made it hard to judge what else was in there (I turned down the chance to go back at 18:00 and try it again – wonder if there is any left). 

On the palate it was really interesting, a sweet nutty, almost coconut start, a big spike of acidity/alcohol and then a big turn for the bitter, with a lot of bitter almond flavour. Didn’t seem to have held together all that well – came across as somewhat disjointed – and it seemed like the years had pulled the wine in different directions.

Nevertheless, very pleasant and very interesting with all those nut flavours there. Definitely worth a try. 

Socaire 2015

This year’s release of the premier white wine of the Cote de Chiclana emerged in the spring but has somehow evaded the blog up til now. 100% palomino from Finca Matalian, famed for its high altitude, high calcium and high winds so near to the sea at the Southernmost limit of the Marco del Jerez. 

It is made by Primitivo Collantes, probably the most unsung and under-rated of the guys making wines down there (although he has a growing following in Madrid after some cracking tastings) and is the second vintage of a wine that was a sensation when it came out. 

By comparison to last year’s harvest this one seems (from memory) a quieter soul. It is a lovely watered down gold in colour and has a very fresh nose but instead of the overripe fruit I remember it is more herbal, green leaves over almonds. More concentrated fruit and herb on the palate and still has a nice bite of minerals, but a quieter, less punchy wine than last years. I guess this has been made in the same way so the variation must be down to the conditions in growing season down there. Yet again, a demonstration of the power of vintages. 

In any event it is absolutely killing it with this tomato salad. 

Oloroso Fernandez Gao 

Another wine by the glass in Territorio Era and one that I have not seen before. Some cursory research on their web reveals that it is an old name (as you might have guessed from the subtle reference to the 18th Century on the label) that has been resurrected under new ownership. 

What isn’t all that clear is where the wine has come from. The web talks about recovering old cellars but there isn’t much detail of the origin of the wine itself. I am assuming it can’t all be from the old days – would make it very old indeed. 

In fact therw was some talk of the wine being forty years old with ten years in “estatico”, but it certainly doesn’t have any of the concentration of volatile acidity that that would imply. I would have guessed 18-20 years and according to the website I would have been right – 20 years on average. 

Not that there is anything wrong with that – the dinosaurs are fun but can be hard work. This has a lovely clear darkish walnut colour, has a nutty aroma and is nice and balanced, lively acidity and intense nutty flavour, quite alcoholic and potent but very drinkable. I started it with savoury but it almost paired better with sweet, which for me is a good sign in an oloroso.  

Another new old name and one to watch. 

Manzanilla Madura Callejuela 

A spot of lunch in one of my happy places: the bar of the wonderful Taberna Verdejo. No sooner have I sat down than a glass of this heat killing manzanilla madura is produced (and it disappeared almost as quickly).

I am not sure if this is from Pago Callejuela or not, but if I had to guess I would say so –  a river influence manzanilla that while not absolutely as vertical, fresh or direct as its atlantic cousins is still sharp enough and with a bit of body about it. It looks like serious, solid stuff – clear but not too much sparkle – and has a seaside and mature apple nose. On the palate a mildly zingy beginning, apple and herb flavours with a suggestion of oxidation and a fresh, fluid finish.

Hit the spot: a cracking way to start an excellent lunch.


Criadera /A

Am going with the short version of the name here. This was wine number four of an outstanding lunch with Bodegas Alvear last week and had a tough gig, wedged as it was between an outstanding fino (the Fino Capataz Solera de la Familia) and a quite sensational amontillado (Amontillado Solera Fundacional). 

Said to have an average age of around 13/14 years (compared to 10/12 for the fino) this is the “fino que va para amontillado” – the biological wine headed for the amontillado solera. It has had more oxidation than the fino – the flor starting to disappear for seasons from around eight years onwards – but hasn’t really had the full roast of oxidation of an amontillado. 

It is only slightly richer in colour than the fino, a lovely rich amber. On the nose it is less aromatic – you really notice the reduced exposure to flor – and although there is a touch more hazelnut in the nose there is less of the sweet wet hay aroma, making it seems less sweet overall. 

On the palate it is a similar story, a tighter, slightly less expressive wine compared to the fino, with a touch more intensity and a sharper profile. Punchy, acidic start and a fresh finish gives it a nice elegant profile. (Curiously once the glass is empty the aromas are much more lively – sweetness and haybales.)

Another very fine wine, elegance and intensity. 

Fino CB 

The second wine from my epic lunch with Alvear last week was the Fino CB, a six year old fino, once again from 100% pedro ximenez, and from wine that did not require fortification. Am realizing that it is a house that venerates its former capatazes and here is another example: it is apparently named after Capataz Villanueva (in the, erm, old Spanish, Billanueva). 

As you can just about see it was a pale straw colour with just a hint of green. A punchy nose with a touch of yeasty bread about it. Was interesting to try it after the Marques de la Sierra, because whereas that wine was leafy and had notes of fennel and anise this one takes it up a notch and has that liquorice root flavour I associate with pedro ximenez finos. Has a slightly richer texture to it. If the Marques was silky this has a bit more velvety, oily body – and a warm, savoury palate and a nicely integrated salinity that is more sapid than saline. 

An underrated and enjoyable fino with its own character. Good old Captain Villanueva!