Maruja manzanilla pasada (at the bar of Media Ración)

This is a wine that I just like more and more. As a style manzanilla pasada ticks a lot of boxes – that combination of biological sharpness, rich, buttery body and rounded, roast-pepper savoury-sweet flavours. But this is a particularly fine example, with a sizzling sharpness, spicey finish and broad palette beautiful stewey rich flavours – everything from the sweet carrot to the potent bitterness of the bay leaf.

It would be the perfect wine for many dishes, but with the superb bacalao ajoarriero at Media Ración – probably the perfect combination of green and red peppers, tomato, onion and garlic – it is an absolute dream. Superb stuff.

 

Fino Caberrubia

Any of my regular 20 or so readers will know that I am quite partial to a drop of La Barajuela Fino, so it shouldn’t be a great surprise to hear that the little that I have of this is not going to last long.

Many of the things that make the Barajuela Fino one of the great wines of the world are here: the terroir and old vines (el corregidor, in Carrascal de Jerez), the winemaker (Willy Perez) and the very philosophy of making wine.

The difference are those two letters: NV. Non vintage. And I love it. There is no more eloquent, elegant way of making your argument in favour of vintages than this. The only question is: why aren’t the 99,9% of bottles coming out of Jerez that aren’t vintage properly labelled?

This wine is from the last couple of harvests – the 2015 fino that never appeared and the 2016 – and is so close to the Barajuela Fino itself that it is a joy to sup on. That combination of blossom, white fruit and savoury, that wine-like elegance.

The NV of the world indeed. Absolutely cracking.

Encrucijado 2015

This is fantastic. A year in the bottle has really brought it on – cleaner lines and a sharper profile.

A rich buttery gold in colour on the nose you have dried apricots and just a hint of almonds, then on the palate it has a sharp, acidic start, and buzzy acidity all the way through, with a lovely middle palate of almonds and apricots and a fresh, mouth watering finish.

Lovely stuff and a little bit different than your standard palomino fino. Which is as it should be – this is perruno, uva rey and just a small dollop of palomino – a blend of varieties from the days of yore that make this the only true palo cortado.

You often hear that a wine from Jerez is “history in a bottle” but it generally only means it has been in the bottle – or the barrel – a long time. This really is history.

Fino la Barajuela 2016 in Taberna Palo Cortado

A more detail oriented, aesthetically attuned blogger would probably have sought out a more appetising backdrop for the photo above but I am short on time and gas lately and the issue only occurred to me when I went to Instagram it shortly afterwards.

In any event, this wine don’t need no stinking backdrop. It is the finest Fino, the future of Jerez that is deeply rooted in its past, and a beautiful wine in anyone’s language.

Sharp in the entry and fresh in the finish, but full of juicy, high register white fruit and just enough of a mineral seam to it. Maybe not as big in the beam and the back of the throat as the 2014 and maybe not quite as deep, saline and complex as the 2013, it shares with both the top end of honeyed white fruit and with its finer, sharper profile comes across as almost ethereal.

A lovely palomino white wine, finer and with a bit of extra dash: not too bad at all and enough to bring the most miserly hermit out of his blogging doldrums.

Macharnudo Blanco 2016, M Ant de la Riva

This wine was brought to dinner last night by a true gent and new friend and what a treat to have another crack at this, maybe the classiest of all unfortified palominos.

It is class in every respect. From an old, famous name, the bottle and label are an elegant, respectful homage to that tradition and are frankly pretty damn smart looking. The other name on the bottle also has some lineage as the most famous of all the pagos: macharnudo.

More importantly the wine just oozes class. It is a beautiful rich gold in colour – it just looks delicious, so inviting. Then you have gorgeous nose that seems like a blend of honey suckle and apple blossom and wild herbs on a mountainside, and the palate is maybe the classiest of all: a floral, white fruit start with just a hint of mineral bite to it, that grows with sweet, savoury, aromatic herbs in the middle and shapes away to floral fresh sweetness at the end.

Really superb stuff – an iron fist in the silkiest of velvet gloves.

Fino de la Riva Balbaina Alta

Just look at the quality of that photo. The shadow of the phone at the bottom left is unfortunate, but on the whole the composition is pretty top class. The content, though, is even better.

Because this is a class fino. Lovely old gold colour, haystacks, nuts and sea air on the nose, buttery mouthfeel and then an elegant palate that starts with fresh, zingy salinity, has roasted almonds, nutty bread. A fine profile that tapers away quickly to a consistent, slightly bitter but fresh finish.

It is one of the wines released by the reborn De la Riva marque, which was registered by Ramiro Ibañez and Willy Perez after years of disuse, and this specific wine is from a solera acquired by them and refreshed with wines from Balbaina Alta.

Fantastic photo, even better wine.

Oloroso la Barajuela 2013

I was at dinner with some friends who allowed me to choose the wine and inevitably ended up trying Fino la Barajuela. They liked it very much – so much in fact that I promised them I would open a bottle of oloroso with them. But don’t worry, I can find more friends.

This wine is not everyone’s cup of tea: controversial, mould breaking, maverick even, and one of the poster wines for the “new Jerez”. It needed at least two tries for it to be accepted as an oloroso for the tasters of the Consejo Regulador and when you drink it you can see why: it is quite unlike your standard oloroso.

First, there is no fortification here: just the pure natural power of a low-yielding vine in a unique vineyard, harvested late and maybe given a bit of sun. The resulting wine is a natural 17 degrees and climbs higher than that in bota (but not solera – this is the wine of a single vintage).

Second, it has less time in the bota than even the younger olorosos you will have tried. I lose track a bit but I think this had four and a half years on release.

And the unique origin and winemaking adds up to a wine that is equally special. On the slightly spirity nose and the palate this wine has no dusty old barrel, rusty nail or church furniture: it is all delicious richness, an elegant combination of fruit, nuts and salty caramel, with a nice acidity on top and fine mineral salinity on the bottom. An incredibly big, opulent white wine with a sensational range of flavours and a mouthwatering freshness and balance.

There is no doubt that this wine is a wine that deserves to be shared, which is why I have chosen to share it with me, myself and I. Cheers!

Manzanilla de Añada 2012 – 4/11

It is amazing to think how the world has changed in only a few years. In 2012 when the Blanco brothers and Ramiro Ibañez decided to put aside 11 botas of palomino after a bumper harvest at Callejuela there were very few “añada” wines knocking around – at least of this kind – and very few vineyard specific wines too. In fact I can still remember the excitement of waiting for that first bota to be bottled.

Nowadays there are a few more añada wines, and little by little you see more mentions of vineyards on labels, to the point where this little series has to share the limelight.

But the beauty of these wines is that they are not just from a specific vintage and place: they are eleven botas from a vintage and place that emerge year by year and show perfectly what that time in the bota can do.

This, the 4th bota to be bottled, has had nearly six years of static ageing and is an absolute beauty of a manzanilla. A rich nose of haybales and a hint of old apples, a sharp saline start, raw almonds with a suggestion of fruity oxidation on the palate and then that fresh, mouth-watering finish.

An absolute gem and I wish I had more of it. Roll on number 5!

La Bota 34 de Palo Cortado – “Pata de Gallina”

A touch of controversy these days if you dare to accuse anyone of “bota hunting” but if wines like this are the result you won’t find me questioning the process. In fact this wine is a great example of how the “bota hunters” do more than repackage the wine of others.

This is from the same solera that produces Lustau’s marvellous Pata de Gallina oloroso by almacenista Juan Garcia Jarana but while that wine is rich and juicy, fat on the palate (and one of the best value wines around) this has that potent flavour in a much finer, more elegant profile.

In fact it is an extraordinary wine. It was the wine that really made me sit up and take notice of the wines of Jerez back in the day and although it has changed over time (it was bottled back in February 2012) it is still quite superb.

While it used to be a vibrant red it is increasingly fading to amber brown. The nose is still a touch sweet with orange and ginger, but I feel has a little bit more bitter wood than I remember. On the palate it starts sharp and zingy, then aromatic and rich in flavour – again whereas I remember caramel this has a touch of bitter mahogany, black chocolate, and tobacco. And it lasts forever – lovely finish.

Beautiful wine. Congratulations to all concerned!

La Panesa

A lot of stuff on this blog hasn’t aged well – when I started writing it only just over three years ago I was a little bit of a wide eyed novice. Everything was awesome, it was fun to be part of the team and I may not always have been the most discerning.

But there are a few things that have stood the test of time. A thousand or so posts later I can confirm I was dead right about La Panesa. It is pure class and absolutely superb. Savoury and toasty nose, sharply defined and elegant in profile, full in body and rich in flavours, from butter, nuts, curry and spices, with a mouthwatering finish.

A beautiful wine. Fashions come and go, class is permanent.