Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Esencia de la Campiña Ice Wine 2003, 16.5%, Viticultores de Jerez

Deep bright blacky browny mahogany fading to amber at the rim, pronounced legs.
Not particularly intense and perhaps slightly one-dimensional but plenty of Moscatel pasa with slight notes of toast and very rich with a hint of toffee.
Sweet but not unctuous, there is a gentle acidity which gives it a fresh tang and carries it through and amplifies the flavour of the dried Moscatel grapes, hints of date, but overall tangy Moscatel if not over intense, reasonable length though.
This interesting wine is no longer produced, however it was made by Viticultores de Jerez, a group of growers who tried to come up with something different using grapes which were excess to requirements.  It is made 100% from super ripe Moscatel grapes which are pressed while frozen. Being Spain's first Ice Wine it caused a bit of a sensation when they first showed it at Vinoble in 2004. I first tasted it in 2006 and it was more interesting than amazing, but a very decent wine nonetheless.

Then, in Sanlúcar recently, Manuel Fernández who runs the excellent Hostal Alcoba, very kindly gave me a bottle which he had found in his storeroom. From the lot number it looks to be from 2003, so I was interested to see how it had developed in bottle. And it certainly has. The colour has changed from amber to a much deeper blacky mahogany and the inside of the bottle is lined with sediment yet the wine pours clear. It has also developed some interesting toasty notes and a little more concentration. It is in very good condition. For more details see the post called "Ice Wine - From Jerez?!"
About 10-15 euros per 50cl bottle if memory serves correctly.

Monday, 5 December 2016

5.12.16 Renaissance of Sherry Has Not Reached Vineyards

Many independent vine growers are making losses on their grape production and may be forced to switch to other crops. This is mainly down to the low price the grapes fetch. The best price fetched for this last harvest was 59 pesetas/kilo (they still talk in pesetas here) which is equivalent to 0.35 euros. In Champagne grapes cost over 5 euros/kilo. Such low prices are unsustainable, and this harvest saw no increase despite being very small. What is more, the growers have to pay a levy of 0.05 euros/kilo to support the Consejo Regulador. As Sherry moves into a mode of smaller quantities and higher value, the bodegas are making more profits from fewer grapes.

The leader of the growers’ union Asevi-Asaja, Francisco Guerrero, says that many are looking at growing wheat or beetroot instead as they are more profitable. EU funds to the tune of 4.2 million euros through the ITI scheme to promote wine tourism will pass the independent growers by as they have no funds to invest in related projects. They have neither the funds nor the will even to invest in the vineyards to modernise machinery and cultivation methods. Together they account for 27% of the vineyard, the cooperatives 49% and the bodegas 24%.

Sunday, 4 December 2016

4.12.16 Results of the III Concurso de Mostos

Every year the wine producers of the Marco de Jerez enter their newly made wine into a blind tasting competition judged by the tasting panel of the Consejo Regulador. As the local saying goes: “Por San Andrés el mosto vino es” or by Saint Andrew’s day the must becomes wine. These are unfortified table wines, 100% Palomino. There are two categories: the bigger producers and the artisan producers, and three prizes are awarded to each. The names of non-winners are not announced. This year’s results were:

In the category of bigger producers:
First: González Byass (Jerez)
Second: Cooperativa Católica Agrícola (Chipiona)
Third: Covisan (Sanlúcar)

In the category of artisan producers:
First: Viñas “El Vínculo” – Ángel Gonzalo
Second: Viñas “Zorreños” – Rafael Rodríguez
Third: La Fama – Francisco Barba Lagomazzimi

A public tasting was held yesterday at the Atalaya accompanied by zambombas, and people could vote for their favourite and enter a draw for a copy of the Gran Libro de los Vinos de Jerez. The red flag will now be flying at the doors of many a bar where mosto is available. It is delicious!

The Consejo tasting room with mostos ready for examination

Saturday, 3 December 2016

3.12.16 Domecq Brand Purchase Welcomed; Winners of I Premios Solera

Yesterday’s news that Emperador and González Byass had bought the Domecq brand names has been welcomed in Jerez. Both the Consejo Regulador and Fedejerez have expressed their delight that these iconic brand names will return to Jerez from the hands of a French multinational which under-valued them. This patrimony will once more form an active part of the Sherry business. It remains to be seen what will happen, however, as so many Domecq brands were sold off.

La Ina among others is now Lustau

The Consejo’s bodega San Ginés was the scene for the I Premios Solera awards ceremony. Awards are given to those in the province who have demonstrated outstanding promotion, knowledge and good work with the wines of the province over the past year. The competition was the brainchild of Pepe Monforte of the gourmet website Cosas de Comé with collaboration from publishers Grupo Joly, the Consejo Regulador and the tourism department of the Junta. There was a judging panel of 55 experts.

A toast for the winners of the I Premios Solera (foto:diariojerez)

The four winners were Fernando Córdoba of the restaurant El Faro de el Puerto in El Puerto de Santa María for his outstanding wine list; the restaurant Aponiente again in El Puerto, for the cooking skills of its proprietor Ángel León and passion for wine of sommelier Juan Ruiz Henestrosa; Armando Guerra for the best taberna, Er Guerrita in Sanlúcar, with its wine shop and tasting room, and finally Magerit in Cádiz for best wine shop and wine classes. 

3.12.16 Madrid Raises Tax on Sherry and Brandy

The worst fears of the trade were confirmed yesterday as the government increased taxation on both Sherry and Brandy by 5%. Despite a previous increase four years ago which had the effect of slowing sales and thus reducing its income from this tax, the government has gone ahead anyway. This increase will need to be passed on to consumers, making all products more expensive.

Evaristo Babé, president of Fedejerez, expressed his disappointment saying that Sherry earns little for the exchequer yet it is the only wine on which tax has been increased. He said that while spirits represent 25% of the alcohol consumed in Spain, they represent 75% of alcohol tax income. Beer, which accounts for 50% of consumption and table wine with 25% remain untouched.

Cristobal Montoro, Finance Minister (foto:elconfidencial)

For his part, César Saldaña, director of the Consejo Regulador for Sherry, said that this was yet another obstacle for Sherry which, after a huge amount of work, was beginning to recover. The secretary general of the Federación Española de Vino (FEV), Pau Roca, said the government move would cause more harm to producers of emblematic products than good to attempts to redress the nation’s budget deficit. Tax increases will be imposed from today. Meanwhile it seems that the government is wasting vast sums paying out the pensions of 29,321 people who are dead, due to inefficient cross-checking of data.

Friday, 2 December 2016

2.12.16 Manzanilla Raises Funds for Mentally Handicapped; Festive Sherry

José and Francisco Blanco of Viña Callejuela have bottled a specially labelled Manzanilla en rama to help raise funds for Afanas, a local non-profit organisation dedicated to helping the mentally handicapped. Afanas has day centres which take some of the strain off families, but this worthy cause is always in need of financial support. The Manzanilla is available now in Sanlúcar.

Callejuela/Afanas bottles (foto:andaluciainformacion)

Naturally you will be looking for exquisite Sherry from small artisan bodegas for Christmas, so if you’re in the UK you are in luck! Check out http://sherryboutique.com/. Based near Edinburgh, Helen and Stuart have superb wines from Bodegas Urium, Faustino González and the rare Palo Cortado from Arfe. Not only that, but they are offering gourmet goodies with any purchase including recipes for dishes to match each wine. Hurry!

2.12.16 Pedro Domecq Brand to Reappear

In a joint operation with González Byass, Bodegas Fundador has bought back from Pernod Ricard the rights to the names Domecq and Pedro Domecq. The price paid was not revealed. The Emperador Group, based in the Philippines and the largest brandy company in the world, known in Jerez as Bodegas Fundador, already owns the old Domecq bodega complex and it is wonderful that the brand name and bodegas will be reunited. The new deal consists of a 50/50 joint venture called Bodegas Las Copas to purchase all the intellectual property rights to the name Domecq and Domecq Mexico, which produces table wines in Baja California and various brandies. Emperador and González Byass have long worked together.

Andrew Tan and Mauricio Gonzalez present the deal (foto:andaluciainformacion)

The end of the once mighty Pedro Domecq began with a takeover in 1994 by the multinational Allied Lyons, owners of Harveys and Terry, forming Allied Domecq. The group, which included included Beefeater gin and Ballantines and DYC whiskies as well as a huge wine and spirits division in Mexico, was bought jointly by Pernod Ricard and Beam Global in 2005. PR kept the Domecq brand name and the division in Mexico as well as Ballantines and Beefeater, while Beam Global kept Harveys, Terry, Fundador and DYC as well as the Jerez bodegas and vineyards, the Palacio Domecq and the Gallo Azul. They sold off property and various Domecq Sherry brands to Caballero (Lustau) and Sherry and brandy brands to Osborne.  Beam then merged with Suntory, becoming Beam Suntory, who then sold the assets in Jerez to Emperador, who have certainly not stood still, having recently also bought Garvey.