Tag Archives: Spain

Eidosela – 19/07/2012

Arbastrum Condado de Tea 2011
Grassy green fresh citrus melon citrus apricot. Clean fresh precise, nice ripeness and richness of fruit, some subtle floral elements, kiwi and guava, good texture and depth but over-delivering on the freshness, acids and personality.

Eidosela Albarino 2011
A little brighter and fresher, more floral and fruit sweet, apricots and citrus. Full textured and rich but very light and fresh, textured and very slightly green in a nice way, a bit of bite and zing. Focus and drive on the palate, with a juxtaposition of sweet and green fruit.

Eidosela Albarino Espumante 2010
Nice fine bead, bright yellow green colours. Closed on the nose, but showing potential. Classic albarino fruit character, no yeast autolysis influence, good acids and freshness, really no more than a sparkling albarino. Just with a fine bead.

Seleccion Albarino 2009
Very quiet fruit. Ripe rich and more volume and texture, showing a little sweeter and a little more viscous. Bold yet restrained, not seeing as much fruit on the palate, some very late caramel nut characters.

Eidosela Albarino 2011

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Valminor – 19/07/2012

Valminor Albarino 2011
Lovely grassy citrus notes, slightly floral and perfumed, some depth but just good solid fruit on the nose. Fresh fruits and acidity, vibrant texture and intensity. Great structure and flavours across the palate, fresh and vibrant but not one-dimensional. Body and expression.

Darila Blanco 2011 (albarino, loureiro, treixadura)
Slightly more brooding and intense, interesting character coming from the blend and/or the lees contact, deeper more honeyed notes, less citrus and floral. Finer broader and less fruit-driven, more lean through the palate, less expressive, more minerality and more sea influence.

Villa L100 2010 (loureiro)
Riper and more intense, more grassy and herbal, showing some toasty honey spice notes, along with some very delicate floral aromas. Riper and yet more subtle and soft, more textural but quite light, ripe yet fresh, citrus tropical notes and some very delicate honey sweetness.

Villa M100 2009 (albarino, louriero, caino blanco)
Denser and crunchier, quite noticeable influence from oak. More texture and body, slightly more warmth and crunch, nice partnership with the fruit, not overly expressive, more about the mouth-feel. A tad aggressive for now, perhaps due to vintage and youth.

Villa M100 2007
More golden oily colour. Honeyed maturity, more oily and rich on the nose, ageing a little quickly. Deeper darker notes, but still fresh and very delicate. Oak has softened out and gained some complexity. Very fine and rich wine, but not flabby at all.

Albarino leaf

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The Sherry Revolution (Jerez, Spain – Day Two)

As I talked about in my previous post, most people think sweet when they think sherry, but there is far more to it. Different styles were developed over time, but essentially the principle of the fortification process was to allow the wines to age in an oxidative process whereby barrels were not completely filled and in the case of the dry styles a thin layer of yeast was allowed to form on the surface of the wine known as flor. With the sweeter and higher alcohol wines this flor does not exist and are thus more oxidative in nature, and often age for longer both in solera and bottle. After all, if the wine is already oxidised in the barrel it hardly matters if you drink it several months after opening the bottle. With the sherry rainbow of styles on offer, it actually means that sherry is a versatile and unique companion to food. Possibly one of the most famous food matches with manzanilla for example, is freshly grilled sardines which are very salty and pair perfectly with the fresh acids of the sherry. There is currently a sherry revolution as new generations are discovering this ancient wine style, most notably in London and New York. Several wine experts still maintain that sherry is woefully undervalued and I couldn’t agree more. It just takes a little while to understand the wine, and shake the image of it being for old fuddy-duddies.
Can you tell I’m missing home?

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Hitting the flor (Jerez, Spain – Day One)

What comes to mind when you hear the word sherry? Depending on where you are from, the most likely response is little old ladies of British descent sipping on sweet wine out of small glasses. Considering the history of this particular wine this image is makes a lot of sense, but certainly isn’t 100% accurate. There is a certain irony in the fact that many of the sweet wines in the world were actually heavily targeted towards the British markets of the past, possibly none more so than sherry. They even designed specialty wines for them, most notably cream sherry which is still today the most familiar style to consumers in many parts of the world. Sherry wine as it is today is one of the oldest wine styles in the world, dating back to the Moors who introduced distillation and fortification over a thousand years ago. The British fell in love with the wine after Francis Drake sacked Cadiz and took several thousand casks back to England, and since then the UK has been their biggest market. To maintain consistency a system was devised to always have a constant supply, and this was the solera system. A minimum of four rows of barrels were stacked, and a minimum of three times a year the barrels are filled one-third from the top down. In the past this was done by hand using jugs, but today the wine is transferred to tanks and blended before being passed down. Therefore you can bottle sherry three times a year, which is important for the drier styles which are much better when they are fresh. With the higher alcohol fortification the wine can live longer in the bottle even after opening, which is why it is so common to find really old bottles in your grandparents bars. But the dry styles really need to be drunk within six months of bottling, as they tend to become a bit tired. Not easy for us down in Australia, hence my desire to taste from the solera when I visited. The two producers I visited are some of the oldest and most important in the region.

The first of many attempts to remove some sherry from the solera

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Sea change (Malaga, Spain)

What motivates people to step away from their comfort zones and start a new adventure in an unfamiliar place? This is a question that I ask myself quite regularly as I make my journey around the world, and encounter people who somehow have ended up somewhere far from their roots, much like myself. In my travels I have encountered viticulturalists and winemakers who are working in a region or country not their own, mostly for the love and challenge of great wine. Everything from Kiwis in the United States, South Africans in Canada, to Swiss in Germany and Spain, and Germans in Italy. And without question there are French everywhere, which is probably to do with the fact that outside of France there are more opportunities to create a reputation for themselves and build something from the ground up. This has particularly been the case in Spain, with at least six wineries I have visited being either founded by a French winemaker or at least employing one.

A cortijo where moscatel grapes are left to dry in the sun

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Vote for pedro (Montilla-Moriles, Spain)

Quite often on my trip I show my ignorance and/or naivety when it comes to wine. This isn’t hard to believe considering how big the wine world is, how many wineries and how many regions there are. It was one of the first things that excited me about working with wine, is that it is essentially impossible to know everything about wine, but I liked the challenge regardless. Sometimes these instances are a little more embarrassing, such as not knowing what the whole left bank-right bank thing referred to. My former employer King & Godfree prides itself on the range of fortified wines it stocks, particularly their sherries, so I was familiar with the different styles and many of the better known houses. So when I got in contact with one of my favourite producers noting my dates in Jerez, I was very embarrassed to discover that they aren’t even in the same province. The surprises didn’t stop there, as I had one of my most enlightening visits in Spain.
Dreams can come true

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The heat is on (Yecla, Spain)

I’d just like to point out a few things about myself and where I come from. It is true that I come from Australia, which is very hot and dry and is famous for the outback and the beaches, the latter I am familiar with but not the former. I’ve spent 29 summers in Australia, and I know how hot it can get. The part of Australia I am from is far from the hottest in the country, and is actually more famous for the rain. Particularly in winter it can get pretty chilly (rarely below zero), and doesn’t fit the image of Australia that most people may have. Thus I was somewhat unprepared for example, for the desert like conditions of Mendoza in Argentina, where the sun beats mercilessly down for 16 hours a day with very little respite or anywhere to hide. Nor was I prepared for southern Spain, particularly in the centre of the country, where you can easy go through six t-shirts in a day through sweat alone. Priorat and Montsant were pretty hot, but this was worse because it seems much drier. In a way it did remind me of some very well-known regions in Australia, and I wasn’t surprised that famed Barossa winemaker Chris Ringland is actually making wine in this part of Spain. What did surprise me is that there hasn’t been more investment in the Yecla region, as the potential to make the kind of wines the markets are crying out for is outrageous. With very little time to spend I was able to visit the cooperative winery, which is doing an outstanding job bringing Yecla to Spain and the world.
Sadly it is empty

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Resurrection (Alicante, Spain)

Alicante just ain’t what it used to be. At one point it boasted one of the most important wines of Europe, found in cellars of royal families, even referenced in books by Alexandre Dumas. Back in these day most wine was being sold in bulk to other parts of Europe to be bottled or blended with other wines, but this changed at the end of the 19th Century. The first enemy was the phylloxera epidemic, and the second was changes in markets and politics domestically and overseas. There are two main areas for viticulture in Alicante, and they each have a major indigenous variety. Closer to the coast where it is lower in altitude and a bit warmer and more humid grows moscatel, used to make sweet wines. Further away from the coast is where you find a bigger range of varieties, most importantly monastrell. I visited two estates in Alicante that represent a resurgence in interest in the region, but one is in a modern and the other a traditional model.
Fireworks over the beach in Alicante

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Gonzalez Byass – 03/07/2012

Tio Pepe
Fresh apples, toasty brioche quite doughey, bright pale nose. Very fresh and intense fruit forward, bright acids, very little rancio influence, nice texture, and good clean finish. Very nicely balanced and approachable.

Del Duque Amontillado Viejo (30 years)
Creamy toffee burnt caramelised butter, caramel fudge. Creamy smooth sweet texture but dry flavours. Very complex, evolves across the palate, fairly intense, quite hot but relatively well integrated, showing some toasty barrel characters.

Apostoles Palo Cortado Viejo
Deeper darker caramel and toffee notes, slightly smoky toasty roasted nut aromas. Sweet viscous texture, very warm and rich on the palate, toasty almond biscuit caramel, hazelnuts walnuts, caramel brittle.

Matusalem Oloroso Dulce Viejo
A suprising amount of freshness, very late toasty smoky (almost whiskey cask). Very raisined, very rummy, very spirity in general.

Noe Pedro Ximenez Viejo
Interesting balsamic notes, very mature complex characters, looking a lot less sweet than younger ones, a lot less raisin notes, toasty deep dark chocolate characters, complex slightly savoury raisin characters.

That’s a big bottle of Tio Pepe

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Lustau – 3/07/2012

Manzanilla Papirusa
Very pale straw colour, purest palomino. Quite a light and fresh nose, very delicate salty characters, some fresh green fruit notes. Slightly viscous but very light and fresh, some good intensity. A little complexity and salty ham character.

Puerto Fino
More smoky toasty rancio elements, slightly gamey. Toastier more intense texture, but with some savoury creaminess. Still very fresh but a more masculine style of dry sherry.

La Ina Fino
Very intense aromatics, very flor oxidative, mineralic earthiness. Bolder and fuller on the palate, retaining freshness but much more heavy and complex in structure and flavours.

Almacenista Manuel Cuevas Jurado Manzanilla Amontillada
Very cheesy notes, different leesy elements above the salt characters. Very soft and subtle, creamy texture and viscosity, roasted vegetables, savoury baked cream, quite long and complex.

Los Arcos Dry Amontillado
Lovely toasted caramel toffee aromas, glazed cheeses. Creamy palate, lightly smoked wood, soft creamy texture, quite light and fresh, not a lot of character. Builds a little on the back of the palate.

Amontillado VORS (30 years)
Gorgeous colour, like rich toffee. Astonishingly aromatic but also quite subtle and complex, toffee and coconut, almost like a Bounty bar. Very fresh tight and focused on the palate, elevated on the palate, Commands your attention, very fresh and slightly salty savoury.

Almacenista “Vides” Palo Cortado de Jerez
Amazingly complex aromas, floral, maraschino cherries, almonds, hazelnut liqueur. Very soft smooth and complex on the palate, wonderful savoury nut characters, still some freshness making it good with food, but something subtle and savoury to pair with.

Emparatriz Eugenia Very Rare Oloroso
Quite delicate on the nose, almost too subtle. Pure freshness, very long, some fermentation characters. Very nice drinking, just a little empty and without character or definition.

Anada 1997 Vintage Sherry Rich Oloroso Abocado
Showing a little of the alcohol on the nose, very delicate small raisin aromas. Slightly rum sweet, very fresh raisiny characters, nice full flavour and character, good balance, hitting a nice spot between sweet and savoury. Wonderful character and unique style.

East India Solera
Smoky toasty molasses, a hint of raisin, but quite dark and savoury in character. Bold rolling flavours, constantly changing, very complex and long, some nut and umami characters. Some interesting fungal shitake truffle character.

Moscatel Emilin
Bright intense fruit sweet nose, quite raisiny. Deep soft and full, but wonderfully fresh and balanced, a great companion to dessert. Wonderful characters of dried moscatels and some delicate spice.

Pedro Ximinez San Emilio
Very grapey and thick on the nose, a very classic style of PX, very thick heavy, some nice chocolate character.

Pedro Ximenez VORS (30 years)
Smoky toasty woody ash aromas, very very toasty burnt coconut husk. Insanely reduced and thick, barely even liquid anymore. Insanely complex, tastes exactly like treacle, very smoky intense coconut, like a really rich dark dessert.

Javier Lustau Solera Gran Riserva Brandy
Quite a subtle nose, very complex and delicate, agree that it has more an Armagnac character. Very balanced and subtle, quite smooth and yet fresh. Well contained alcohol.

Graduation of aged pedro ximinez

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