Fino en rama Arroyuelo in Media Ración

Not had the Arroyuelo en Rama in a while but was delighted to break that duck over a spot of lunch. The star fino from Finca Matalian and probably the Southernmost fino in el marco, rather than periodic “sacas” these are bottled to order and this was from January 2017.

As you would imagine given that date it was very very biological – a really pungent nose, sharply zingy salinity (for all those 14 months in the bottle) and a slightly bitter and very spicey, rocket salad palate with a finish that was mouth watering and stinging at the same time.

An absolute belter. Top class fino with a unique personality. It occurred to me how similar it is to the similarly impeccable Solear en Rama from the opposite end of the region. I may be imagining it but must try a side by side.

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Fino en rama Fernando de Castilla en la Tasquita de Enfrente

As good a start to a meal as anyone needs, an aromatic, punchy and juicy fino. This bottle was from June 2017 and still had plenty of apple on the nose and baked apple in the palate, wrapped up in that haybale aromatic and salty volume and zing. Brilliant little bottle.

La Fleur 2015 in Taberna Palo Cortado

Bodegas Forlong are a bit of a dark horse – not much spoken of but quietly trotting along making lovely wines with subtly different but still imaginative approaches. As a result anyone wanting to know what can be done with palomino fino, in particular, could do worse than buying up their range.

This is one of the most recent additions to the stable and one of my favourites. In fairness this bottle had been opened a while but I wanted an esteemed visiting colleague to try it and Taberna Palo Cortado didn’t let me down.

Maybe because of that time open it seemed to me to have lost some of its aromatic delightfulness but the aromas of sweet apple pie were still there. I remember this being a little short in body but this time it seemed to have a bit more oomph, compact and saline.

Am convinced it will be terrific after a few months in the bottle (but in my house it wouldn’t have that luxury).

Amontillado VORS Piñero

The end of a very enjoyable lunch – one of those where you rock up to have lunch by yourself and end up finding a friend at the bar, then between laughter and more laughter you fill up with the superb cooking and wines that Taberna Verdejo are famous for.

By the end we felt like the occasion deserved a special wine and it occurred to us to go big with this.

And it is a special wine: a Sanlucar dagger of sawdust and salinity, a fierce wine with rough edges for all its age. Lovely light chestnut colour and a piercing, vinegary sawdust nose. Then that sharp salinity and a palate that matches the nose before a sandpaper dry finish.

A memorable end to a brilliant lunch.

Fino Capataz Solera de la Casa in Taberna Verdejo

There have been a heap of Montilla Moriles events the last couple of weeks in Madrid – or so it seems from my twitter timeline – and I have managed to miss all of them, so it felt only right to try and make up a bit of missed time at the bar of one my of top happy places in Madrid.

This really is a magnificent, nutty old fino. Gorgeous colour and a nose that is pungent with almonds and haybales. Then a zingy, zippy finish, roasted almonds on the palate turning to bitter almonds and then lasting a looooooong time as the salinity comes back to water the tongue.

Absolutely first class and makes a chap sorry to have missed out on all the fun.

Solear en rama winter 2017- the Marsh Harrier

Has warmed up in Madrid of late and out for a stroll I found myself in need of a pit stop. As luck would have it, I was in the vicinity of Surtopia, a spot which is never short of the good stuff.

And this is very good stuff: the seasonal saca of the legendary Solear. This edition has all the characteristics of the legendary series. Gorgeous old gold colour, intense aromatics and powerful zing and flavours. The definition of an intense wine and for me the definition of an inland manzanilla (or manzanilla pasada if you must).

Superb stuff – I picked up two more to take home from a local retailer.

Palo Cortado Antique in Zalamero Taberna

I have had my moments with mussels, after years of living in Brussels I have become accustomed to bivalves of a certain level. These, red curry notwithstanding, were at that level and this palo cortado was a perfect match.

The Antique range from Fernando de Castilla are some really nice wines. Not VORS but with enough concentration and barrel in them to give them heft without heaviness. My personal favourite is the oloroso, which is just that touch juicier than this palo cortado, but this is a great wine for any kind of pairing, and perfect for a pairing like this with a bit of spice in it. The photo isn’t great but you can see it is a dark amber in color – nice and clear -, a nutty aroma with just a hint of volatile and a nice, clean palate. Sharp, acidic entry, rich nutty flavours, a turn to bitter heat and then a sizzly finish.

Quality wine and top pairing.