Not my first glass of this or even my second but the first one I have had time to savour and write about. An old school, older fino from Balbaina Alta with a bit south of 10 years under the flor.
I first tried it back in February at the Cuatrogatos Wine Fest where it was a touch overshadowed by its magnificent big brothers the Oloroso and Moscatel but this is a class wine in its own right.
The colour is a beautiful, appetising rich old gold that puts you in mind of oxidation. The nose is also cracking: haystacks and rich roasted almonds, a really savoury nose. Then on the palate you get that classic combination of zingy salinity and roasted to bitter almond – a deep savoury flavour turning bitter at the end before a sizzling saline finish.
Really tasty, classy fino (and you can try it yourself at the bar of Angelita).
After three years in the bottle this little beauty is like a day old child – nothing wrong with this at all.
It was one of several really top wines that the marvellous David Ayuso opened for us at the lunchtime party to celebrate Juan Manuel del Rey’s big prize: Premio Nacional de la Gastronomia for best service (sala). It couldn’t have been more deserved – this is without fail one of the happiest of happy places – and it was a fantastic occasion, with Juan Manuel calling the whole team up on stage to a ringing ovation, superb finger food by the star chef David Garcia, “mucho arte” from Perrete, Bocadillo and the boys and girls, a bravura performance by Juan Andres Maya and a really joyful finale with Blanca del Rey herself. A chance to celebrate wine, food, music and dancing, and all before
Maybe it was the happy occasion, the music or the three earlier glasses but for whatever reason this struck me as as good a manzanilla as I have had in a long time. As aromatic, zingy and juicy as any that I can remember, and very expressive of those salty, peppery bitter salad flavours.
Absolutely top stuff. Congratulations once again to the crew at Corral de la Moreria … and the crew at Barbadillo!
One of the most hotly anticipated white wines in ages, this is a white wine from palomino fino grown in Macharnudo and sold under the reborn label of Antonio de la Riva, acquired by Domecq back in the 1970s but now in the hands of none other than Ramiro Ibañez and Willy Perez. I took it to a really fun blind tasting a couple of weeks ago.
At first it came across as a delicate flower. A really inviting sweet, apple blossom nose and a nice mouthful of fresh white fruit on the palate, with some salinity at the end. Fresh and vital but elegant and refined rather than big and bold. Lovely stuff, no doubt about it, but as I happened to remark at the time, it surprised me at how delicate and floral it was, missing the intensity and concentration that the Barajuela wines have us accustomed to.
And that just shows why you shouldn’t take top class palomino white wines to a blind tasting, and why indeed you should keep your lip buttoned if you do. Because like all these palomino white wines even after just a little while open this seemed to grow in intensity and presence, and suddenly I was regretting my decision to share my bottle with seven other winelovers, however likeable.
And in fact I managed to nurse a glass long enough for the gods of blind tasting to punish me for my second error. Hearing my earlier comments, the aforementioned deities chose to serve me a wine I know pretty well – the Barajuela Fino 2013 (Saca de 2017) – two wines later such that I had both in the glass at the same time. And that intensity and presence? By now the De la Riva was singing at the top of its lungs whereas the Barajuela was fresh open, and maybe if not twins as such, the resemblance was uncanny.
I have heard this called the best of the blancos de albariza and I would not dispute that at all, it is a really top class white wine. I just wish I had kept the bottle to myself.
Had lunch at Surtopia yesterday. It was fantastic as always, a superb carpaccio de tarantelo in particular. But the wines I had just blew me away, starting with this absolutely superb manzanilla pasada.
No apple or chamomile here, pure savoury power from start to finish. Beautiful colour – they are quite right to sell this in a clear glass bottle – an intense, dark gold. Then it has a nose of salty spices and vegetables that every time I put nose to glass reminds me of a Bombay Aloo. But the sensations really start when you straighten the elbow: a really intense palate with a zingy start, intense spice, a kind of stewed richness, clove like and bitterness and really intense zing, heat on the tongue at the finish.
If you are looking for something fruity look elsewhere, but this is a pure thoroughbred manzanilla pasada and a glorious wine on any measure.
Long overdue write up of a fantastic wine I had a good while ago in Taberna Palo Cortado – the Oloroso de Añada 1975 from Bodegas Tradición.
Bodegas Tradición are rightly famous for their VORS solera wines and I will always remember the tasting – also in Palo Cortado – when their enologist, Jose Maria Quiros, explaining how their biggest challenge was to keep the old wines tasting balanced and youthful. On that day this wine was one of the stars, and tasting it again nearly a year later it is still an exceptional wine.
The nose is very fine and brandy like, sweetness and spices in there with the furniture polish, and on the palate it is beautifully clean. I must admit that whenever I taste one of these vintage olorosos I am expecting so much acidity and concentration that they often come across as fresh and balanced but this really was. Again a nice acidity on the attack and then rich, gingery, spicey caramel flavours that grow in volume before fading away elegantly, and for a long time.
Really top class, and if you hurry they may still have some (they did last week).
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.