It must seem as if I am obsessed with these wines – it has got to the point where my blogging colleagues gently pull my leg about it on social media. Of course there is an element of truth in that, but in my defense I am also in a virtuous loop in which the places I go to tend to stock them, the sommeliers I know are aware of my interest and it is so hard to say no when they are offered.
In fact at one point I did start saying no, on the basis that if I drank all the wine on offer it would defeat the object of writing about them (one establishment told me they had been sent two bottles of one vintage, of which I had accounted for 75%) since noone else would be able to drink them anyway.
And to be honest I am a little mystified as to why more people have not done so. As I have mentioned before on here I find these wines fantastic: top notes, bottom notes, body, concentration, shape, salinity, the full package. Neither do I believe I am alone in this: every time I have shared a bottle with friends from outside my bubble they have loved it (even Mrs Undertheflor enjoys a glass or two) and better judges than I seem to share my enthusiasm.
Anyway, I reckon I have allowed you all a fair crack so be warned: my admirable self restraint, and with it your chance to enjoy these wines, is coming to an end.
Madre mia. Good grief. I love these wines. Pure noughtiness. What a cracking juice this is …
A worthy successor to the illustrious 20 and other noughties that followed it, this is potent but vertical and elegant. Not as broad in the beam or packed with flavour as some manzanillas pasadas, but sharp, long, and a beautiful profile.
Also a really interesting contrast to the Bota 59 and the Bota 60 that I have had recently. Where those were gentle and mellow this has a zip and sharpness to it.
And finally a word for the bar of Angelita – stuff like this and Fino La Barajuela 2014 by the half glass, among many others. Absolutely cracking.
Barajuela alert and this is just such an awesome wine. White fruit at the top salt at the bottom and really astonishingly muscular at the waterline. The perfect white wine for the lunch table – and when the table is Lakasa you need something of this quality. An absolutely outstanding lunch once again.
The boys down in Jerez tease me for the amount of these Barajuela wines I am able to find but to be honest most of the time they seem to find me. I am honestly trying to hold back, and now only order it if I can share it with at least one newcomer to the breed. This was one of those occasions – a lunch at Bache with an old colleague-, and yet again I can confirm that the people love it.
What I love about these wines is how much fruit is there, how the fruit seems to reach down the savoury registers into salinity making a massive iceberg of a wine: as much or more below the surface as above it. On that score, the 2014 Fino has the same white blossom and white fruit nose and top end of the palate as the 2013 Fino (saca of February 2017), but more of the savoury, sapid mountain. It also has less time under flor – isn’t quite as sharp or mineral – but has an even bigger, fuller frame. On the other had, while it is not strongly biological on the nose the 2013 – particularly this second saca – has, if not quite haybales, then at least a little bit more dry herb in the nose and again that sharper profile.
More importantly, both are brilliant white wines for sherry lovers, sherries for wine lovers, just brilliant wines.
This was a present as part of one of the nicest gestures I can remember – a guy staked his wine against contributions to a cat rescue operation, and far too generously at that. Needless to say the cats will be looked after, and I will be toasting their health and his with every sip of this too!
It is also an absolutely lush wine. It has a beautiful colour, a wonderful nose and a lovely precise, elegant and compact profile. The colour is old gold with just the slightest touch of green. The nose is almost perfect, you would say: a combination of hints of yeast and haybales with a rich buttery caramel. Then on the palate after a cool zingy start there is a smooth full mouthful or a rich salty caramel, saltiness coming through in the fresh finish.
Really excellent. The only problem with it is that you take a sip and immediately start worrying about how small the bottle is.
The genial Blanco brothers from Callejuela were in Madrid for a few days just when I was away in the countryside, but despite missing each other in the capital they were kind enough to leave me a little present at my preferred fuelling post of the time Territorio Era.
You may have read about the vineyard specific wines that these guys first released. Those were the 2015 and were terrific enough, but these little fellas are the 2014s and have even more personality. Once again, there are three wines from three vineyards/pagos (two of which you can locate on this cracking gigapan posted by Paco Zuleta):
- Hacienda de Doña Francisca, a vineyard at an altitude of 62m on pago Callejuela (Sanlucar) (which must be one of the higher altitude Sanlucar vineyards);
- Las Mercedes, a vineyard at 83m on Pago Añina (Jerez), one of the more Atlantic-influenced Jerez pagos; and
- La Choza, a vineyard at 74m on the famous inland pago Macharnudo (Jerez).
One of the noticeable things about the 2015 wines was their exuberance – tasting the macharnudo wine against other unfortified wines from the same pago recently it was noticeable how much power the La Choza had – and these wines, having been longer in the bota, seemed to have even more punch.
As a rule I would usually taste them in that same order – from sea to inland, low to high altitude, but in this 2014 edition the Añina is visibly more evolved so instead I go Callejuela, Macharnudo and then Añina, and it is quite a trip. The Callejuela has a nose that is all stables, mulchy, musty hay, a dark color and then is really potent, intense and buzzy. The Macharnudo – probably just about my favourite of the 2015s – is absolute class, with a typically aromatic nose with suggestions of sweetness and juice and then an elegant, compact solidity on the palate. Then the Añina does indeed have a more evolved, oxidated nose and colour. On the palate it is maybe just a notch less punchy than the two others, is smoother, softer (I actually have the word “fluffy” written in my notebook) and very likeable indeed.
These will be released soon and they will be worth not just seeking out but fighting over if necessary. Top bombing fellas and thanks for leaving them for me to try!
Now this is one of those old sherries that have acquired a kind of legendary status (the Spanish prefer the term “mythical” but I can assure you it is real). Agustin Blázquez was one of the many bodegas acquired in the second half of the 20th Century by Domecq and I believe the brand disappeared in the 1990s (when the winemaker in charge was Jose Maria Quiros, now of Tradición). This bottle is from that late era so is around 20ish years old or maybe a bit more, and it was very generously brought along to lunch at Territorio Era by Juancho Asenjo.
And the wine deserves to be legendary: it was absolutely fantastic. Beautifully clear and only a half shade darker than your standard fino, it had maintained its clarity in aromatics and flavours too. Unlike a lot of examples of bottle aged sherries I have come across this seemed to have maintained its shape and balance: compact and with solidity of flavour, and still with a full range from white fruit on the nose and at the start of the palate through those burnt almonds down to salty zing. It may have had more zip and power when it was younger – we all did – but there was certainly plenty left, and I didn’t notice any of the turn to bitterness that I sometimes associate with the older biological wines.
Absolutely top class. Nothing wrong with these golden oldies if you get the right ones!