Another tale of two sacas 

Having opened one of my slowly dwindling stash of La Bota 34 it suddenly occurred to me that I had an opportunity to try two like minded wines together – the Bota de Palo Cortado Nº34 and the Bota de Palo Cortado Nº72, both of which were drawn from the six botas selected from the Oloroso Pata de Gallina Juan Garcia Jarana but some five years apart. (I like to think it is the sort of altruistic self sacrifice for which posterity will remember me: bravely and without heed for the consequences drinking two top class sherries at a time.)

The first difference is obvious even to the relatively untrained eye: the bottle of the 72 seems to have shrunk in the wash. (To be fair, though, it is just as well since the price increase more than compensates.) The newer label is also a bit more punchy – very smart.

Both wines are really terrific. Of course they had a very similar profile, aromas and flavours, and both are a testament to superb wine making, as elegant as they are sensational, but here what really interested me were the slight differences between them. As you can see above, there was really no difference in colour (ok the photo isn’t great in that regard) and despite sniffing until my eyes crossed I don’t think I could tell them apart on the nose. On the palate, however, there is a tangible additional potency to the new release – a bit more zest and intensity, a bit more solid. (It does cross my mind that the packaging – smaller bottle, solid color label – almost prepares you for more concentration, but even so I am convinced it is there.)

Really interesting to see what five years in the cask can do to a wine – and to get a feel for the effect of that additional concentration. In this case I reckon I just about prefer the Number 34 – maybe it is sentimental on my part, but it just seems to have an elegance to it that its younger, slightly brasher sibling doesn’t.



La Bota de Palo Cortado 34 

One of my very favourite wines. In part for sentimental reasons – I can still remember the day I came across it for the first time and had my eyes opened for me. But also because objectively it is right up there in terms of sensations but still balanced, silky fine and elegant. 

Whatever the rights or wrongs of the way the term palo cortado is used these days, this for me will always be the definitive modern version. A superb wine. 

Oloroso Barajuela 2013

Bottles of this are about as easy to get hold of as unicorns with wings so the fact that you can try a glass of this at Territorio Era (but hurry, this was his last bottle) is remarkable even by their standards.

I am unable to write objectively about this wine (or a few others on this blog if I am honest). First, there is a special pleasure in drinking a wine that is extremely scarce, a frisson proportional to the envy you know will be provoked by your post. Second, it is a great pleasure to taste wines that accord so exactly with your own views on vintage, terroir and wine making. (Third, the fact that it is made by such a good bloke is very hard to ignore, even if he is taller than is strictly polite.) 

On the other hand, the expectation and hype that has been generated – most recently a 19/20 from elmundovino – would be almost impossible for any wine to live with. Not to mention the buildup – despite the occasional sighting in the last 18 months its official release has been delayed and delayed due to wrangling about whether it can be called an oloroso. 

And in defense of the DO you can see why – the oxidation, the barrel and the concentration haven’t taken over here as they have in the olorosos you may be accustomed to. Rather, the dominant characteristic of the wine is still its fruit, with a nice depth of minerals and a richness from those four years of oxidation.

The result is by far the finest white wine I have had from Jerez. It lacks the sizzling profile of its younger brother, the fino, and struck me as less potent than I remembered – slightly closed on the nose and not as much power in the middle – but what it might have lacked in power it made up in character and elegance. Given time, both the nose and the palate had a delicious richness of nuts and dried fruits, almond tarts and the like, all in a nice profile with a very long middle and finish. 

A really outstanding wine. I would drink gallons if there were any available! 

Fino en rama Camborio

Circumstances, never to be trusted at the best of times, have been conspiring against the author somewhat this week and it was with a black mood and dark thoughts that I dragged my feet down to Territorio Era today. 

In keeping with the mindset this is one of your more serious finos – a magnificent old wine – and this new release en rama and in magnum is absolutely magnificent. 

The colour is a rich dark straw – definitely a half shade darker than the classic Camborio. On nose it has a first flush of yeasty sea air but underneath a big dose of over roasted almond. Then on the palate it is searingly zingy – a really sensational salinity – followed by that intense but subtle savoury almond flavour, tailing off to a long, hot, salt and pepper finish. 

Absolutley magnificent – I am really struggling to stay in a bad mood. 

Don PX Convento Selección 1946

This was one of three absolute showstopper wines that I had at the end of an epic evening at Corral de la Moreria recently – and while I am lucky enough to have had the Privilegio and the Toneles before, this was my first crack at this so I took special notice.

Pure pedro ximenez harvested in 1946 and in bota until it was bottled in 2011, this wine gained great fame when it was granted 100 points a couple of years ago, so when I saw the date on the bottle my curiosity was piqued to say the least.

I wasn’t in a position to examine the colour very closely – in the dark of the theatre it looked pretty black and dirtied up the sides of the glass but couldn’t tell you much more. It didn’t seem sweet or rich in nose or on the palate. In fact on the palate there was raisin sweetness but also everything from pencil lead to tangy citrus, plenty of liquorice bitterness and even peppery herbs, and the overall effect was quite a rollercoaster.

A serious, complex old wine. Amazing stuff.

Oloroso el Cerro 

This is one of the top wines around. It’s mere appearance can’t begin to tell the story. A wine with a big structure that is still rapier fine and beautifully balanced. A rare oloroso from Sanlúcar – from the guys at Callejuela, one of the new power houses.

A dark brown in colour as you can see. The aromas are all burned sweetness, fruits and nuts singed to an inch of their life. Then on the palate it has that sharpness of acidity and then a big density of flavour, again half burned sugary raisins and walnuts, with a turn to the bitter but not too much. Real solidity to the middle part of the palate and then a remarkably clean finish. No astringency, just a long fade away.

Beautiful. A must try. (And if you don’t believe me, this was one of the wines of the year according to elmundovino in 2015.)

La Bota de Fino 68 – Macharnudo Alto 

When I first had this six months ago I was really impressed and when offered another glass today I jumped on it. It didn’t let me down. Not quite as flashy – I remembered an absolutely stinging salinity – but sharp enough, and full of the spicey cider, toasted almond, savoury nutty bread flavours I remembered. The minerals are still there too – makes your mouth water almost like a manzanilla, giving it a super fresh finish.

A really top class wine – a little cut above its cousin, the classic Inocente fino from Valdespino.