Have been offline for a couple of weeks, but been working on some tricky material, so humble apologies.
Meantime, I am currently in the South of Spain and just enjoyed two cracking wines that I must share with you. After a succession of disappointing Ruedas, a couple of solid, but not mind blowing Cavas, this is the good stuff, finally. Have been in Spain almost a week and taken that long to hit the jackpot.
One a Montilla, the other a classic Sherry, Manzanilla from one of the best of the big houses.
Both of these wines are under screwcap and, given the beautiful day we have just had, deserve to be served well chilled.
Manzanilla Solear Barbadillo (Non Vintage) 15%
Pale gold, yeasty, salty nose, a punchy, lemony fruit tone. In the mouth, savoury, briny, earthy characters, but all balanced by firm acidity and that generous alcohol finish. Classic Manzanilla, under screwcap this sings, punchy, but crisp and fine. Benchmark Manzanilla in fabulous condition.
Toro Albala Rama Sin Filtrar Montilla (Non Vintage) 15%
Very pale, light coloured with ever so slight green tinge, the nose here is very expressive, new season’s green apples, citrus blossom, fruity, yet fresh. Light and crisp to taste, gently breads, but also delicate and fine, with classic Fino “bite” on the finish. I was surprised to learn – after having enjoyed two copitas of the stuff – that this is 100% Pedro Ximenez, but then I guess Palomino has never been widely planted in Montilla and I do not know what the other varieties are like there as far as making these styles.
At dinner I enjoyed a Verdejo from Montilla, better than any Rueda I have had thus far on the trip, exactly what the variety should express, creamy mid palate, yet crunchy acidity, perfect food wine.
That’s what I love about wine – always learning new stuff.
POSTSCRIPT – have just been for a walk around Cordoba (which is where we are right now.) Found a wine shop selling the Toro Albala En Rama wine – for 8,90 Euros. Amazing value. And yet, I purchased a bottle of Fino Los Naranjos from Bodegas El Monte for 9,00 Euros. The wine shop owner was really keen for me to buy this – and then wrapped it up for shipping (I told him that I wanted to drink it…) I do not like it as much, more smoky and savoury, perhaps showing a lot more yeast character and thus more true to type? Perhaps I just need to chill it down more? The other talking point is that when I laid this bottle down at dinner in a restaurant the stopper began leaking, now my hands all smell of Fino (another great reason for screwcaps.) En Rama Sherry (and En Rama Montilla and/or Moriles as well it seems) has become all the rage around the world, and yet it is nigh impossible to buy in NZ, because the importers will not risk it. This is crazy. With all the manic attention on natural wines, on specialist or nice styles of wine, it seems ludicrous that you cannot buy these products retail in our country. We can buy Toro Albala Montilla in Aotearoa, we can get Alvear Montilla as well, but we cannot buy En Rama style Fino???
Vino Los Naranjos Vino en Rama San Filtrar Autentico Moriles Alto (Non Vintage) 15%
Much more colour than the Toro Albala and more aromatic breadth as well, savoury, smoky, almost oily in character, much more developed yeast autolysis, starting to get into the nutty area, green walnut, marizpan. And yet, this is full flavoured, funky wine with great acidity, really dry finish. Lovely, but pretty full on.