Monday, 20 November 2017

Manzanilla la Guita en rama Autumn 2015 15%, La Guita (Retaste)

Appearance
Old gold, fairly deep pasada colour with brassy highlights.
Nose
Showing some bottle age now with slight oxidation-like aromas and butter yet it is surprisingly attractive with some faint nutty Amontillado and dry scrub characteristics, even a faint trace of cheese. It still retains its mineral maritime verve however, and is simply more concentrated than before - and it is certainly more interesting.
Palate
Full, tangy and zippy with all the bottle age characteristics mentioned above which give it extra layers of flavour. It resembles a young Amontillado in some ways but hasn't lost its wild Manzanilla character. It has a long clean tasty finish. This stuff is amazing.
Comments
This was the first - and indeed only - saca of La Guita en rama, and it was a real character. I gather there will be another saca shortly which will be very welcome, so it seemed opportune to take a look at the original again after two years in (half) bottle. Wine matures a little more quickly in this format. Two years in bottle has evolved the wine a good deal and it is not for the faint hearted, but as with all things Sherry, it needs understanding, and the only way to get that is to taste as much as possible. It was very lucky that my local cash and carry was selling off the wine at such a good price. I'd love to know why. Either they think it is over the hill - which it most certainly isn't - or they are making room for the next saca. 
Price
6.50 euros, Roali Cash & Carry


Sunday, 19 November 2017

Brandy Capa Negra Solera Reserva 36%, Sandeman

Appearance
Mahogany tinged amber with bright coppery golden highlights.
Nose
Brown sugar and plenty of vanilla from the American oak with hints of caramel, chestnut and Oloroso combine in a lightish fairly crisp style with a hint of spirit. 
Palate
Smooth, fresh and fairly light, very much like the nose with a fairly crisp clean caramelly vanilla flavour. Very easy drinking and perhaps just slightly simple, but certainly very pleasant.
Comments
Capa Negra translates as the black cape, the famous Sandeman logo, better known as "the Don". The brandy was a later addition the the Sandeman range as they only began selling Sherry in Spain in 1958, and their  distributor suggested they also sell brandy. A major solera was duly established in 1964. The Capa Negra Solera Reserva is a blend of aguardientes aged for one year and the older holandas which is solera aged till it reaches an average age of three years. Like many Jerez brandies it has a trace of sweetening, in this case <8g/l.
Price
14.30 euros, Licores Corredera


Saturday, 18 November 2017

18.11.17 Fantastic Sherry Week Results

In only its 4th year, International Sherry Week has grown from some 200 worldwide events to over 2,500 in over 30 countries in 5 continents. Furthermore it received over 50 million hits on the social networks, especially on Twitter – where it became the trending topic for an hour - Facebook and Instagram. As Consejo Regulador director César Saldaña put it, “it is about sharing a passion”, and the social media are perfectly suited to this, especially among the younger generation, the very people Sherry would like to attract. The wine’s sheer versatility with food helped as well, with many of the events focusing on matching.


Sherry Week has the added attraction of almost running itself, needing only a degree of central coordination, and this level of promotion would cost a fortune through normal channels. Events fell into three main types; those centred on gastronomy (65%), tastings and promotions in shops (23%) and cocktail events – an ever growing category – (17%). Of the 30 participating countries Spain, now Sherry’s largest market, held the most events, numbering about 1,000, a 15% increase on last year. So has Sherry Week increased sales? It is too early to say, but it is certainly laying the foundations for steady growth by increasing awareness and enjoyment amongst the target audience. Roll on next year!


Friday, 17 November 2017

Raya La Barajuela 2015 15%, Bodegas Luis Pérez

Appearance
Bright mid amber with golden highlights.
Nose
There is sweetness and richness here as one would expect from a late harvested wine, with traces of mature Auslese and cider as well, yet there is also a hint of crispness. Distinct notes of well-ripened apple, citrus and dried apricot blend with the familiar but light oxidative notes of Jerez. You can even detect the texture of the grape pulp.
Palate
Fairly sweet on entry and lightly textured but then there is a distinct tartaric acidity, much more than one would expect in a late harvest wine. There are overripe, very slightly rancio, not yet pasa flavours and those appley ones of oxidation too yet the classic Oloroso nuttiness is not quite there yet. The finish is very long and clean, and virtually dry.
Comments
This is an interesting and rather unusual wine, and the only one of its type on the market as the term Raya had disappeared. Willy Pérez is a great experimenter and wants to recreate the Sherry of the past with as much vineyard character as possible. Raya used to be a slightly inferior style of Oloroso often fairly sweet through late picking and used for blending, but this is something else. It is a vintage "Sherry" made the old fashioned way, reaching 15% without fortification, from late picked Palomino grapes in a particular 40 year old parcel of the El Corregidor vineyard in the pago Carrascal, where the soil is the barajuela type of albariza. Harvesters picked the ripest grapes on five occasions over two months, from the start of August to the end of September, providing grapes for various different wines, and the last grapes went into this wine, so they were super ripe. This, along with a short (36 hour) period of sunning the grapes, brought the sugar/potential alcohol readings to a point where 15% could be achieved. After pressing, the juice fermented in butts at ambient temperature and the wine was allowed to age oxidatively. Of the 10 butts produced only one had this particular style, so there were only 550 bottles available, all filled en rama.
Price
40 euros, Licores Corredera



Thursday, 16 November 2017

16.11.17 González Byass Releases Ancient Moscatel

Thought to have been made in the 1850s or 1860s this ancient Moscatel was made before Phylloxera ravaged Jerez in the 1890s. It comes from a single butt laid down in honour of the appointment of Pope Pius X in 1903, and who went on to be canonised in 1954. The wine is made from the Moscatel Menudo grape which was one of 40 permitted in those pre Denominacion de Origen days, but has long been superseded by the Moscatel de Alejandría, and has an alcoholic strength of only 9°. After well over a century of ageing there only remained some 90 litres of wine in the butt which was enough for 120 bottles. Of these, 100 will be sold at £1,000 each, while the rest will be kept at the bodega. Naturally the wine is amazingly intense, but apparently has a remarkable freshness nonetheless.


Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Manzanilla Predilecta 15%, Bodegas Carbajo Ruiz

Appearance
Bright pale lemony gold with golden highlights.
Nose
Quite floral with notes of meadow flowers and camomile along with saline marine notes and  nicely balanced flor. There are slight fruit notes as well with hints of apple and apricot. It is all nicely balanced, fresh and open.
Palate
A yeasty flor start opens out allowing the fruity floral character to come out but the flor is there throughout. It is very dry and light with average acidity and an attractive minerality and really quite complex for its age and has very good length with a lovely bitter flor twist at the end.
Comments
This attractive Manzanilla is made from grapes grown in the firm's own vineyards, all on Jerez Superior albarizas, while the bodega is located in the Barrio Alto of Sanlúcar. Despite being in business since the dawn of the XX century, the firm is not particularly well known outside Sanlúcar and its wines are not seen around very often. That in no way implies that their quality is inferior however. This Manzanilla is aged for an average of three years and is at that attractive stage where there are still traces of fruit to balance the flor.
Price
6.50 euros, De Albariza

 

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Beta Sur NV 12.5%, Bodegas Barbadillo

Appearance
Bright pale gold with golden glints and a persistent bead of very fine bubbles.
Nose
Clean and super fresh with apples, apple tart, yeasty bakery aromas with a mineral edge and traces of crystallised fruit and flowers. The Palomino gives it the apple and the Chardonnay gives it a bit more breadth and seriousness and a buttery hint, but there is still a trace of wonderful Sanlúcar wildness.
Palate
It starts out fresh and crisp with a faintly saline mineral note and plenty of apple, then the Chardonnay comes through with more weight and with an almost toast and butter flavour. Acidity is perfect giving it an attractive tang, and the lack of any dosage means the wine is very dry and elegant without sugar obscuring the flavour. It is beautifully balanced (or poised, even) and much more complex than Beta Brut and more intense with a long super clean finish.   
Comments
This is a new version of the well-established and successful Beta Brut which was the first traditional method sparkling wine produced in Cádiz. Beta Sur is made from the same Palomino and Chardonnay grapes hand-harvested from the firm's own albariza vineyards, and is fermented in stainless steel tanks at low temperature for 2 weeks before bottling for the second fermentation. It is then allowed to age on its lees in bottle for 20 months rather than 9. This allows the wine to absorb more flavour from the lees and develop an even finer mousse. After ageing, the lees are disgorged and the level in the bottle is topped up with the same wine rather than a mix of wine and sugar (dosage) allowing it to be categorised as brut nature as it contains under 2 g/l sugars. While the label does not declare a vintage it is almost certainly 100% 2015. The blend works really well, and the wine is delicious.
Price
8 euros ex bodega