El Tresillo (November 2018)

The bar of Angelita Part II and more pure quality. Emilio Hidalgo’s world class amontillado fino.

Intrigued to see the back label – it used to be that to work out the saca you had to decipher the lot number but now the month and year are proudly displayed – November 2018 in this case. I for one think it is the right move – more transparent, more information for us nerds, and a recognition of the fact that the wine changes both in barrel and bottle – even an amontillado like this one.

Not that this wine seems to change. Consistently one of the most elegant wines from Jerez, it has a silky feel and beautifully fine profile with layers of granary bread, nut and hazelnut aromas and flavours.

A timeless classic, dated.

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Fino 2010, Williams & Humbert

Williams & Humbert were kind enough to invite me to a cracking little party to celebrate the launch of their new añadas but amidst all the dancing, music, gossip and posing and after a few glasses my ability to appreciate the wines in detail was lightly impaired.

Luckily I caught up with this fino in the nearest thing we have to laboratory conditions – the bar of Angelita – and have had a proper run at it. One of the Colección Añadas and a fascinating contrast to its predecessor, the 2009.

The two wines are from the same vineyard in consecutive years, have been cellared in the same cellar by the same hand but they are as different as two sisters can possibly be. Whereas the 2009 was all lush gentleness, full of juice and hazelnut, this is sharp, zingy, with bitter liquorice flavours and heat from a salty, peppery finish.

Moody but magnificent – wish I had paid more attention the first time!

Manzanilla Olorosa Velo Flor

Have come across this a few times around Madrid in recent weeks – including with the man himself – but have just not had time to put thumbs to screen and bash out a post.

This is the “manzanilla olorosa” by Bodegas Alonso. An old style no longer officially recognized by the Consejo, it seems to fit in somewhere between manzanilla and manzanilla pasada. A more fragrant manzanilla, with a little oloroso character, which can be achieved in a variety of ways (as is so often the case in Jerez). In this wine it is achieved by giving the manzanilla eight months in an old oloroso butt. And it is certainly tasty stuff.

The first thing you notice about the wine is the bottle. If the standard velo flor bottle is tricky to rack, this magnum format looks even more of a wine storage headache. On the plus side, it would be hard to knock this bottle over in a breeze, and it looks pretty cool.

It’s a nice old gold colour in the glass, clear as a Madrid sky without quite shining. Then on the nose there is sea breeze, yeast and just that hint of baked apple, aromas that are backed up as it hits the tongue and back of the mouth.

A tasty, enjoyable manzanilla no doubt, and all the better for that brief stay in an old barrel.

La Bota de Palo Cortado 62 – Diez Años Después

Some barrel in the juice here.

This was a much anticipated wine when it was released – the 10th anniversary special edition – and typical of Equipo Navazos that they surprised everybody with a wine from a bodega in Chiclana.

And a cracking wine it is too. Lots of juice in this. Deep chestnut in colour with a bright, piercing, cherry brandy nose, then it has lively acidity on the palate and tobacco, barrel and church furniture concentration on the palate, leaving a burnt caramel flavour clinging to the sides of the mouth. Warm throughout – an obviously old wine but one with plenty of life to it.

Happy Anniversary to them!

Contratiempo y Desvelao: moscateles de albariza

I was unable to make it to this year’s Cuatrogatos Wine Fest – the best yet by all accounts – and in particular as described by Carmen Artola in this great piece from this week. But I didn’t miss out altogether. A fortuitous alignment of the planets allowed me to slip away from Madrid for the traditional pre-winefest dinner with the winemakers in El Arriate.

And it was a cracking dinner too. The most important ingredient of any dinner is the company and in that regard these cats are of the highest quality. There wasn’t all that much technical discussion on this occasion but it was great to catch up and hear the news of a group of people who are not only fun to be around, and utterly admirable, but complete nutters to a man, woman and child. They are and it was a blast.

The second key ingredient – and apologies here to the crew at El Arriate but I hope they will forgive me – is the wine, and there again the night was worth any number of hours in Renfe’s cold, unloving embrace. The assembled artisans produced bottle after bottle of evidence of their artistry – some really lovely stuff too (and there were some bottles from little known regions overseas such as champagne and saumur champigny that didn’t let anyone down either).

But for me the two bottles of wine I found most enjoyable were the two above. Contratiempo and Desvelao are two unfortified table wines from moscatel grown in the same vineyard on albariza by a really charming group of young lady winemakers. It wasn’t the first time I had tried them – in fact I had had them at the previous year’s winefest – but it was the first time I had the chance to try them at dinner and let them sit in the glass, and I found them very enjoyable.

Albariza is all the rage these days for palomino, but traditionally moscatel would be planted on sandy soils, and I had even had the impression that moscatel wouldn’t normally survive and thrive on albariza. But this one certainly has, and the resulting wine has all the sapidity and intense, savoury flavour you would expect from one of the new palominos, with what seemed to me to be just a touch more acidity up front and a really nice fruit/savoury finish.

But almost as interesting as that flavour profile is the contrast between the two wines: Contratiempo big, beefy and “horizontal” – full of flavour and growing in aroma in the glass – and Desvelao, from the same vineyard and vintage but with some time under a veil of flor was finer, fresher and sharper.

I gather there are only very small amounts of this available (if it is available at all), which strikes me as a shame. I for one wish there was more, and if you do get the chance to try them I would recommend you give them a proper go, with a nice dinner and good company. Bravo to Cuatro Ojos Wines and more, please!

Fino Tradicion 2/17 in la Tasquita de Enfrente

Lunch yesterday at the Tasquita de Enfrente today and no better way to start than a glass of the house fino, an absolute belter from Tradicion. From the second saca of 2017 this was absolutely glorious: citrus sweet farmyard nose, yeasty, roast apple on the palate, a shimmer of salinity on the front and back.

Really delicious, mouth watering stuff: an aperitivo with attitude.

Pandorga 2014

The first vintage of a mould breaking pedro ximenez: the 2014 Pandorga by Ramiro Ibañez’s Cota 45.

No raisin juice here – this is all fruit. Pedro ximenez from Carrascal de Jerez, harvested late, given a few days of sun, then fermented and given a year in bota. The result is a wine that is sweet but sharp and fresh.

It is a honey-like amber in colour – not unlike a ripe apricot – and syrupy clear. On the nose it is apricot jam with a hint of grapefruit, then on the palate sweet and sugary, with nice acidity and then that apricot jam and grapefruit again. The finish is sweet without being sticky, fine apricot and grapefruit flavours.

A modern classic and a wine that might change the way you think about pedro ximenez.