Tag Archives: Spain

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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Man of La Mancha… couldn’t resist (Valdepenas, Spain)

Madrid is everything that a capital city should be; it’s big, busy, historic, cultural, classy and teaming with life. In late June it is also scorchingly hot. It would have been at least 38 degrees in the shade, almost 10 degrees higher than only two hours north. On the Friday night of the weekend I was invited to have dinner with Didier Belondrade, his partner and a friend, where I enjoyed one of the finest meals of my trip and made me miss Melbourne a lot. Madrid is certainly a party town, and I didn’t get much sleep so on the Sunday evening when I got to Valdepenas I flicked on the Italy England Euro 2012 match and fell asleep after only ten minutes. Valdepenas is town that the DO takes its name from, and is the part of the La Mancha DO, the largest producing wine region in the world. Many in the Spanish wine industry look down on La Mancha as a low-quality commercial area, blaming it for the ills of the wine glut. There is however much quality to be found here providing that the price is right, and it is thanks to this region that so many consumers are drinking Spanish wine around the world. Valdapenas is the premium area of the region, and I wanted to find out what the best this wide, dry and healthy part of Spain had to offer.
Traditional fermentation vats in Valdepenas

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Bodegas Hidalgo – 2/07/2012

Amontillado solera (120 years old, 43 year old wine)
Nice toasty caramel smoky toasty notes. Fresh but salty, you taste the difference in the wine here, fresh but quite complex and very rancio oxidative, good structure through the middle of the palate, nice clean finish with complex texture of nuts and lees notes.

Oloroso solera (roughly the same as above)
Slightly more tar and molasses, slightly more vanilla. Much deeper toastier texture and slightly more noticeable alcohol. Depth and concentration, full flavour, nice focus and drive.

Palo Cortado (40-60 years old)
Showing some floral elements somehow, strong vanilla essence character. Amazingly fresh but expressive oxidative rancio notes, warming balanced and rich, smoky toasty intensity. Very mature.

Pastrajanna Manzanilla solera 12 years old
Green parsley basil notes, maybe some garlic in there, with that classic salty element. Tastes like prosciutto, amazing.

La Gitana herself

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Sanchez Romate – 2/07/2012

Fino solera
Wonderfully fresh, clean nose with solid rancio character. Tight clean and balanced. Well protected but nice oxidative complexity. Second solera rounder richer and more oxidative. Smoother somehow.

Amontillado solera
Wonderfully creamy burnt caramel, complex rancio oxidative notes, some nutty characters, vanilla beans. Toasty creamy texture but very fresh and dry, wonderfully complex characters.

Oloroso Sacristia solera
More oxidative wood notes, very dark caramel and chocolate notes. Deeper denser, very late nutty oxidative complexity, very long finish, creamy texture. Opulent rich and slightly sweet.

Pedro Ximenez solera
Extremely raisiny, so dense and viscous, quite warm, toasty and rich, very chocolatey. Somewhat subdued aromatically, slightly closed. Thick and gloopy. So heavy and full, more solid than liquid. Christmas in a glass.

Oloroso Viejismo (VORS, very old and rare sherry, minimum 30 years)
Wonderfully rich and deep aromas, extremely complex, integrated oak and toast aromas. Intense flavours, wonderfully bright, crunchy complex, less creamy characters, powerful expression, amazing companion to food, so fresh yet so complex.

Romate Very Old Oloroso

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Toro Albala – 29/06/2012

Fino Electrico solera
Heady fresh aromas, crisp and vibrant, quite creamy, some green and yellow fruits. Vibrant creamy fruits, broad generous acids, very intense flavours. Quite bold and mature for fino, so young in fruit character, but very intense on the palate with good warmth from the alcohol. Simply stunning.

Amontillado Soledad solera
Amazingly creamy rich caramel nose, buttery, toasty, almonds, nutmeg, vanilla, caramelised bananas. Consistent with the nose but very intense and dry. Warm bold, toasty nutty texture. Very bright sweet profile without sweetness. Incredibly complex and long, lingers for at least five minutes.

Amontillado 100+ years old
Much more subtle and closed, less of the creamy sweet notes on the nose. More subtle on the palate as well, contained and still amazingly fresh. Used to blend in with the vintage PX wine. Somehow more intense and focused, knocked out all of the loose ends and is just concentrated and focused.

1897 PX Viejisimo
Extremely intense closed nose, no vibrancy at all. Almost literally treacle, insanely concentrated and complex, but still retaining acids. Not hot at all, incredibly dark and thick, reducing for 100+ years, wonderfully balanced raisin chocolate elements, some very dark caramel and molasses elements. Very heady stuff…

Toro Albala Fino from the solera

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La Purisima – 28/06/2012

Estio Rosado 2011 (monastrell, syrah, merlot, cabernet sauvignon)
Classic fruit driven rose nose, ripe cherries and strawberries, slightly creamy and yet fresh. Full generous soft, good level of fruit sweetness, very approachable and friendly. Good consistency and balance. Drop an ice cube in, why not?

Valcorso Barrica Monastrell 2010 (four months in barrel)
Nice deep soft ruby purple colour. Dark floral notes with oodles of cassis, plum, blackberry and some very subtle sweet spices as well. Quite intense very young and exuberant, fresh and pure, well integrated oak, nice clean finish. A little tightness and intensity.

Trapio Monastrell 2008 (14 months in barrel)
Denser earthier forest characters, very rich fertile dark soils, undergrowth, dark berries. Slightly closed and tight, very focused, intense tannins, deep ripe but not sweet fruit, very mature sensibilities and a little sharp at the moment. Needs a little more time in bottle, tough vintage.

Esencia Monastrell Dulce 2011
Mmmmmmmmmmmmm. So nice. I need to confirm if I’ve had this before. It has a very floral nose, more than the dry wine, but the fruit profile is virtually the same. On the palate it is full yet soft and the sweetness carreses every part of the mouth. It is far from cloying however, and could go with dark meats with a sweet sauce. Or as part of the sauce…

La Purisima tasting

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Primitivo Quiles – 28/06/2012

Blanco “Cana” (white cask) 2011 (100% airen)
Quite traditional slightly yeasty aldehidic nose, very oxidative and yet still fresh. Very dry, fresh pure, very little fruit character. A really good light aperetivo wine to get the appetite going, easy to drink, perfect in the hot summer. Very reflective of the culture and the place.

Rosado Virgen 2011 (100% monastrell)
Again, very oxidative notes, interesting fruit aromas, showing some flor characters somehow. Very different flavour profile, not at all modern. I certainly hope the wines are supposed to taste like this because ordinarily I would suggest they were oxidised.

Tinto Cono 4 (100% monastrell, blend of the previous two vintages, more of the previous than the current)
Fascinating aromas, very wild and old, earthy, olives. Much more fruit in the flavour profile, but not bold and sweet fruit, assured and wild fruit. Soft but very expressive. I’ve never seen wines like this before, very traditional old-world style. There should be more like them.

Roble Monastrell Merlot 2010
Very noticeable difference with the oak, particularly as it is mostly American. That slightly chocolatey sweet overripe banana skin, with dark ripe black fruits. Slightly more modern international style, oak and merlot probably the biggest influence in this, but still retaining that interesting freshness and acidity I can’t really describe.

Crianza Monastrell 2007 (one year in new oak, 80% American, 20% French)
Insane nose, like nothing I’ve ever experienced, not even sure how to describe it. Blows off slightly, but somehow meaty, cheesy, yeasty. Quite well structured and unique on the palate, very drinkable. I think most people may be put off by the aromas.

Raspay Tinto “Brut” 2005
Maderised oxidative, dry sherry style wine. More and more traditional, fascinating. I need to understand how they make the wines and get this character. Maderised, oxidative, flor influence, but fresh and drinkable. Very interesting with food.

Fondillon 1948 solera
Very complex subtle rancio toasty caramel notes, actually very fresh and vibrant, but different fruit profile. Has the impression of sweetness at first, but then the really complex characters start to show through, tea. Need to have much more experience to pick the notes of this type of wine. So unique and so interesting.
Post-tasting at Primitivo Quiles

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Enrique Mendoza – 27/06/2012

Merseguera 2010
Fruit-driven, fresh and bold. Reminiscent of riesling, good citrus lime and minerality. Good acids, interesting texture and structure.

La Tremenda Monastrell 2009
Dark forest fruits and wooded groves, open and wild yet bright and fresh. Soft but full-flavoured, quite dese and expressive, on the warm side with some clear ripe red fruit characters, good purity and drive with some nice lingering fresh fruits and bright tannins.

Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz Reserva 2008
Dark purple fruit nose, slightly smoky tar and aniseed. Balanced fresh intense fruit, nic structure and floral elements. Unique yes, but unique to Alicante? I don’t know the region well enough to say.

Moscatel 2010 Pasa
Lovely spicy pot-pourri nose, honey, molasses. Wonderfully rich and sweet, very viscous and creamy, warming and caressing, nostalgic. Complex and yet vibrant and fresh. Traditional style that is totally out of fashion but wonderfully delicious.

Enrique Mendoza box

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