Bodegas Luis Pérez

My wife and I found this gem of a Bodega in the heart of the Sherry area in Jerez de la Frontera but this time it wasn’t sherry we were tasting but some beautifully made wines including a white made from the plentiful Palomino grape and reds made from the local Tintilla de Rota grape (100%) their prestigious Petit Verdot (100%),  also some blends featuring Petit Verdot, Merlot, Tempranillo and Syrah and last but not least their rather nice Provence style Rosé.

The location was stunning with its rolling hills and white chalky limestone soil with 14 hectares of vineyard and a winery which mixes old and traditional with sleek and modern.

A short introduction taken from their website…..With the purpose if revitalizing the viniculture vocation of the Jerez wine-growing area, that has been producing high-quality wines of different varieties during more than three millenniums, Luis Pérez Rodríguez, professor in Food Technology by the University of Cádiz, awarded with The Gold Medal of Merit in the Oenological Investigation, started a family project in 2002, with the acquisition of a country estate named “Finca Vistahermosa” in the heart of the Jerez vineyards, over the high hill of the “Corchuelo” property. 
The vineyard covers an area of 14 hectares and it is located at the plot of land named “Pago del Corchuelo”, in the heart of the Sherry area, over the hill with the same name. Its altitude offers amazing views over the countryside of Jerez and some areas of the Coast, which allow the _ow of maritime winds, reaching in this way a specific microclimate.
The Grape Varieties (Syrah, Petit Verdot, Merlot, Tempranillo and Cabernet Sauvignon) and their patterns have been strategically chosen. The methods to drive the wine-growing are carried out under an integrated system, which tends to ecological preservation and control of the production, with the minimum but wise human intervention. All this effort is directed to produce high quality Signature Wines (Author Wines).

On a beautifully hot day we took the short taxi journey from our hotel to the winery where on entering the long road from the entrance the car threw up clouds of dust from the sun-baked soil as we wound our way through the rows of vines to the Bodega with excited anticipation.
On arrival we were warmly greeted by our host and guide Roberto and we were surprised to find that it was just the two of us on the tour. Roberto seemed genuinely pleased to see us and started telling us about the history of the vineyard while gently strolling around the gardens and vines for about an hour and a half. His passion was evident as he answered all our questions with enthusiasm and knowledge.

Grape Graveyard

Whilst walking around we came to an area where they discard the  unwanted  grapes etc during harvest and production, let me tell you the smell was intoxicating.

Next Roberto showed us around the actual winery itself, where state of the art equipment along with traditional are used in making their wines. After the tour the best part, tasting some of their wines.

 

 

We were shown to the tasting room where a selection of wines were prepared for us along with some tasty Tapas including a generous selection of local cheeses, Iberico ham and some delicious pork.

The first wine we tasted was El Muelle de Olaso made with 100% Palomino (the sherry grape) the was bright and very fresh, minerally and hardly any acid, flavours of lemon with hints of peach  and very drinkable with a long finish, paired very nicely with some local Goats cheese.

The next two were reds, the first Tintilla made with 100% Tintilla de Rota (also grape native to the sherry region) and virtually identical to Graciano. This was very aromatic full of dark red fruits, prunes and caramelised orange peel. touch of acidity and pronounced tannins, very unusual and very nice.

Now my favourite, the excellent Samaruco made with 40% Petit Verdot 30% Merlot and 30% Syrah. Deep inky black in colour with a nose of dark cherries, vanilla and dark chocolate. Taste wise, velvety smooth and powerful with noticeable tannins and very chocolatey. Flavour stayed in the mouth long after I swallowed it, this really was excellent, especially with the Iberico ham.

Strangely they served the Rosé last, the Marismilla Tintilla Rosado made with Graciano was a lovely end to the tasting, Aromas of strawberries and peach, tasting of strawberries and cream and very Provence in Style.

All the wines were reasonably priced but they did have a 100% Petit Verdot that we didn’t try, would have loved to but at around €40 a bottle, maybe not ! although we did bring buy a bottle of the El Muelle and the stunning Samaruco which survived the journey home in the suitcase.

This tour was probably the highlight of a fantastic holiday to the Jerez and the Sherry region of Spain, the guys at Luis Perez Bodega made us feel special and I would heartily recommend a visit if you’re in the area, for €15 each it’s money very well spent.

 

My Rating 8.5/10 Corks

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Great Sherry Tasting 2017

 

If you think sherry is a  sweet sticky drink kept in your sideboard year after year and only brought out at Christmas for your grandmother to enjoy, served in a thimble size glass, then think again !

Today, it seems everyone is talking about sherry, even attracting a younger consumer, suddenly sherry has become cool and trendy, so read on to find out more about this underrated wine.

A word of warning though sherry is not for everyone and is an acquired taste but it’s definitely worthwhile persevering with and you’ll also find it’s a match for most foods but do remember sherry is also a wine, so throw away the small old fashioned elongated glasses and drink out of a proper wine glass, this way you will fully enjoy the wonderful pungent aromas and fully appreciate the taste

Now to the event itself in which I was lucky enough to be invited courtesy of Brian Elliot’s Mid Week Wines. The venue was the OXO Tower, London by the banks of the Thames.

The moment I walked through the doors the aromas in the function room left you in no doubt you were at a sherry tasting, there was a doughy yeasty smell in the air along with a pungent nuttiness not to mention the strong waft of alcohol.

After checking in at reception I grabbed a clean glass and after checking the brochure trying to form a plan which turned out to be less of a plan than I thought I proceeded to taste my way around the drier styles first, these being the Fino’s, Manzanilla’s and Amontillado’s, leaving the thicker sweeter Palo Cortado’s,  Oloroso’s and Creams/PX (Pedro Ximénez) until later. Remember sherry is a fortified wine which means that additional alcohol or wine spirits have been added.

Below is a quick basic summary of the popular styles how I understand them…..

Flor (yeast) layer in Sherry Barrel by Deb Harkness

Fino – Clear, bone dry with aromas of bready dough and almonds, aged in barrels with a covering of yeast on the surface which is referred to as Flor to prevent oxidation, must be served chilled and is great with salty Tapas including olives, nuts and Jamon Serrano. Best drunk young. Typically around 15 -17% abv

Manzanilla – the driest sherry and clear, very similar to Fino (still with layer of Flor) with perhaps a sharper taste and slightly salty, again great with Tapas, nuts and salty dishes. Typically around 15 – 17% abv

Amontillado – Aged under Flor initially then fortified again with alcohol again this time at a higher level (16 -18% abv) which breaks up the Flor allowing for oxidation, creating a darker colour wine with a more pronounced nuttier caramel like flavour although still on the dry side.

Palo Cortado – One of the rarer sherries, starting out as a Fino under a layer of Flor, when the Flor dies off naturally it starts to resemble a Amontillado style then for some unknown reason begins to develop a richer more complex flavour like that of the next darker style, Oloroso. 16-18% abv

Oloroso – No Flor here, still quite dry, darker browny amber gold colour with more pronounced flavours, still nutty with prunes, raisins and butterscotch. 16-18% abv

Pedro Ximénez (PX) / Moscatel – Extremely sweet style,  made with PX grapes that have been dried out in the sun to increase sugar levels. Usually dark brown in colour thick and syrupy and very sweet with flavours of figs, raisins, toffee, chocolate and liquorice. Moscatel is similar, both styles labelled under their grape variety. Normally around 17-17.5% abv.

Sherry cocktail bar with some intriguing mixes

Above is a pretty basic summary of the major types of sherry but I hope it gives you some idea of the different styles. Now on to some of my favourites at the actual tasting, lots of well known producers (Tio Pepe and Harveys) and a some not so well known and looking for a foothold in the UK market.

Brilliant Range from Lustau

I tasted lots of brilliant sherries too many to mention here but a few highlights were the Emilio Lustau stand, for me the best on show, their Fino was, bright and fresh but with a very distinctive  pronounced burnt wood flavour, along with almonds, a saltiness and lemon fruit. Their Manzanilla was equally as good but with a touch of salinity and lovely kick of spice. The Amontillado was excellent with spice, nutmeg, caramel and toffee but still retaining a lovely freshness. The star was the stunning Oloroso with its toffee, butterscotch, caramel and cinnamon flavours.

30 year old Palo Cortado Apostles

 

 

 

Tio Pepe is perhaps one of the more recognisable brands by producer Gonzalez Byass and their Fino which is widely available and keenly priced is a very drinkable  introduction to the delights of dry sherry but undoubtedly the star of their show was the 30 year old Palo Cortado Apostoles and even at £20 for a half bottle in my opinion worth every penny with its buttery, dried peel, toffee flavoured, nutty delight, I even underlined it with the word stunning written underneath.

Another Producer which most people know about is Harveys and again their Palo Cortado was another excellent offering with its sweetish, nutmeg, caramel and coffee flavours for around £26 (50cl).

Nations favourite sherries Masteclass

Lots of others that I could mention and the overall standard of sherries on show were exceptional, to finish off with I signed up for a Masterclass of the nations favourite sherries hosted by Beltran Domecq (President – CRDO Jerez -Xeres – Sherry y Manzanilla Sancular de Barrameda) this included the two styles of sherry the bone dry Fino and Manzanillas and the sweeter styles of medium dry, medium sweet and cream, a very informative class and an enjoyable tasting to finish the day.

If you like very dry wines that pair beautifully with most foods and you are partial to the odd glass of sweeter wines then sherry may well be for you.

So the next time you are offered a glass of sherry try it, you’ll either love it or hate it my guess is that you will love it.

Great sherry tasting 2017

My Rating 8.5/10 Corks

 

 

 

Taste of Spain in London

On the 28th May I attended the ‘Feria de Londres’ in the wonderful setting of Potters Fields Park on the banks of the river Thames overlooked by Tower bridge.

Over the bank holiday weekend the park was transformed into a celebration of all things Spanish including music, flamenco and wonderful food,tapas and drink.

I arrived early, the stalls and stages were being set up and the atmosphere was building as was the smell of different kinds of Spanish foods drifting across the park. There was lots of pop up bars serving ‘Cruzcampo’ beer, white and red wine and the excellent ‘Tio Pepe’ Fino sherry.

From about 12.00pm the sun came out and the festivities got underway as the noise level got louder as more and more people arrived. Before it got too busy I booked myself onto a Iberico Ham and Sherry Materclass and received my complementary drink and food tokens as I was there on behalf of ‘Mid Week Wines’.

With class booked I set out to enjoy the afternoon, first stop was the bar where I got a pretty large glass of chilled Tio Pepe Palamino Fino sherry which was just what was needed as the temperature and humidity was steadily rising.

For those of you who haven’t tasted the delights of Fino and Manzanilla sherry they are a delight with salty almonds and olives and as I found out later a real winner when paired with Iberico ham. This particular bottle of Tio Pepe (which needs to be served very cold) was extremely dry, a little yeasty but with a saline edge which smelled of the sea. There was also some lemon peel in the background and the finish was fresh if a little bitter

Food was next on the agenda and I got myself a freshly made plate of Valencian Paella made up of chicken, broad beans and green beans.

Next up was the Iberico Ham Masterclass with Jose Sol (Spanish ham Master) Complete with more Tio Pepe sherry which complimented the ham beautifully.

Iberico ham is from free-range pigs that roam oak forests (called dehesas) along the border between Spain and Portugal, and eat only acorns during this last period. It is also known as jamón ibérico de Montanera. The exercise and diet have a significant impact on the flavor of the meat; the ham is cured for 36 months. Here Jose taught us about the different styles and quality of ham culminating in the excellent Pata Negra (best quality) ham from the black pig.

As well as the Toi Pepe Jose introduced us to a cold soup like substance called Salmorejo which he actually made that morning (basically soaked bread with tomatoes, garlic and lemon sprinkled with ham and sometimes sliced boiled egg), this again complemented the ham beautifully if a little garlicky. It was a very informative masterclass and big thanks to Jose for sharing his knowledge with us, I certainly learned a lot.

The afternoon and evening carried on with more drink (yes another glass of Sherry), food and Flamenco with  a performance by Tomasito (Flamenco dancer and singer) with lots of ladies and children dressed in traditional outfits.

The Feria de Londres was a free event and I for one will be back next year, Viva Espana

Spanish Sauvignon Blanc – anybody ?

jose-pariente-sb-2014In the Rueda region in the heart on the Iberian peninsula where Verdejo and Viura are kings, Sauvignon Blanc also plays a part even if it is overshadowed. The grapes for this wine come from the first Sauvignon Blanc vines planted in this area around 30 years ago and has resulted in this deliciously bright and fruity Jose Periente SB 2014.

This is more of a cross between French and New Zealand SB’s as it has elements of both, darkish straw like colour in the glass with bright fresh citrus fruits on the nose with some tropical passion fruit and a whiff of freshly cut grass.

Taste wise it is more subdued but still with a touch of bright acidic citrus fruits, again a little tropical sweetness and grassiness but finishing quite vegetal with green peppers, maybe even a little fresh pea pods and herbs.

I really enjoyed this and paired with steamed fresh Haddock it was even better. I bought this at Majestic for around £9.99 a little while ago but not sure if they still sell it but if you can find it give it a go you may well be surprised how good it is.

I tend to like Verdejo, Viura, Albarino, Godello to name a few but this is definitely up there with the best of Spanish white wines I’ve tasted recently.

8.5corks

My rating 8.5/10 Corks

Majestic ?    around £10

 

 

Two everyday Spanish reds

albaicampo-vTwo Spanish reds take to the stage this time, easily available from most supermarkets and for the quality, reasonably priced.

Both from the Rioja region of Northern Spain, one a 100% Tempranillo and one 100% Garnacha and made in a modern style, with the focus very much on the pure fruit.

Campo Viejo has been around for along time is very well known and features on the shelves of many supermarkets, the Albai you can find mainly in Tesco and Sainsburys.

As I mentioned earlier both these wines are made in a modern style and are very fruit forward, so lets start with the Albai. Firstly the bottle itself which is surprisingly heavy and chunky, when poured the wine has a fairly dense dark purple colour with prominent aromas of cherries and strawberries this follows through in the taste which gives an instant mouthful of juicy bright red fruits. Although slightly tart initially there is a hint of appealing sweetness which comes through on the finish. For an entry-level unoaked Rioja 13% ABV, this wine may well hit the spot for a lot of people but if you prefer a bit of oaked woodiness in your wine that’s still made in the modern style then perhaps for a few pounds more the Reserva is the one to go for, which is in my opinion, excellent.

Next, I think most people would have heard of Campo Viejo with its distinctive labels, most of you guys must have tried their Rioja Crianza, Reserva or Gran Reserva but how many of you have tried their Garnacha ? ( if you click on the link you will see my thoughts on this CV Garnacha, second review down, when I was a member of the Tesco Wine Forum under the name spikedc, although it was for the 2012 vintage). Unlike the Albai this CV wine has been aged for 4 months in American oak barrels and this comes through in the taste, so as well as the sweet red fruits (think of those cherry drop sweets) there is a soft vanilla creaminess about it. Be warned though this is 14% ABV and can creep up on you pretty quickly.

So overall, both pretty good everyday wines without being too complex, both appeal in their bright fruity flavours and both are very easy to drink.

7corks

Castillo de Albai Rioja 2015

My Rating 7/10 Cork

 

7corks

Campo Viejo Garnacha 2015

My Rating 7/10 Corks

The three wine review

tale-of-three-winesThis week I review three contrasting wines, a South African Chenin Blanc, a Chilean Chardonnay and a rather nice Spanish Monastrell.

Firstly the Chardonnay from a new range launched by Morrisons called the Head Honcho which also includes a Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon and a Merlot, these are all the sole property of Morrisons. Aimed primarily at the younger market with its bright eye-catching labels and its simplified consumer friendly wine description on the back, not to mention the price which is around £6.

The Head Honcho Chardonnay 2015 is an entry level wine so  I didn’t expect anything special, nothing to dislike but nothing to write home about either. Heady aromas of tropical fruits, pineapple, peach and mangoes, there was also a noticeable buttery nose.
Taste wise it had bright tropical fruits, touch on the sweet side which was almost slightly artificial. Did I enjoy it? well, it was OK but I do think a lot of people will like it.

Next, the  South African Zalze Bush Vine Chenin 2016 which was a wine selected by a member of our wine club ‘Cuvée Reserve’ for our monthly tasting in which we all take a turn at selecting a widely available bottle up to £10 to discuss and give our views.

Initially  I probably had this chilling for too long and the aromas were a little muted, but as the glass warmed up the nose became pretty full on with tropical fruits especially ripe pineapple, guava and peaches .
The tropical theme continued  in the tasting with the pineapple dominating but with some lemons and limes in the background giving it a fresh, crisp and bright hit in the mouth almost zingy.  Although fairly dry, there was a hint of sweetness as well which was appealing.

Overall thought this was pretty decent and probably worth the full price, I will say that it was even better 24hrs later as I had a little drop left, the flavours were more intense almost like a fresh fruit salad with a touch of cream. I also think that this would probably be even better aged for a little longer.

Lastly, the Mo Salinas Monastrell 2013 and definitely my favourite, from the Alicante region of south east Spain, which had a some what rustic charm about it. Made mostly with Monastrell (aka Mourvedre) with a splash of Garnacha and Cabernet.

Chilled this for about ten minutes as I often do with my reds. In the glass is was a deep purple with a nose of ripe bramble fruit, some smoke and a savoury, slightly earthy smell. On tasting this was medium bodied, with bright dark fruits, some spice, liquorice,  hint of oak. There was a hit of acidity giving it a fresh mouth-watering feel and it had moderate but noticeable tannins.

Nothing to complex but a very enjoyable bottle that I would certainly buy again and I have no hesitation in recommending if you want a fairly inexpensive midweek red.

6corks

Head Honcho Chardonnay 2015

My Rating 6/10 Corks

 

7.5corks

Zalze Bush Vine Chenin Blanc 2016

My Rating 7.5/10 Corks

 

8corks

Mo Salinas Monastrell 2013

My Rating 8/10 Corks

Rioja Recognises Awards 2016

rioja-logoOn Wednesday the 3rd November 2016, thanks to courtesy of Brian Elliot of ‘MidWeek Wines’  and of course the Consejo Regulador of Rioja DOCa , I was lucky enough to be invited to the ‘Rioja Recognises’ awards in the swanky  Hispania Spanish restaurant in the heart of London’s financial area overlooked by the Bank of England. This was specially exciting for me as I have a love and passion for anything Spanish, especially wine and food.

riojarecognises7
Sarah Jane Evans MW

The awards ceremony honoured four industry personalities for their contributions and significant impact they have had on Rioja in the UK. Hosted by Sarah Jane Evans MW (a previous winner in 2015)  esteemed guests including the Spanish Ambassador Mr Fredrico Trillo-Figueroa along with a host of retailers, buyers and celebrity wine experts.

riojarecognises2The evening featured top scoring Rioja wines from the recent 10×10 tasting in which a panel of judges selected and narrowed down ten of the best wines of  the region from a list of 100. To accompany these a fantastic selection of Tapas was served freshly prepared by the Hispania chefs including such delights as Iberico ham, chorizo (hot and cold), salami, croquettes, Spanish omelette and Paella rice.

Among the winners included Waitrose buyer Nick Room for his ‘Outstanding Contribution’, Cambridge Wine Merchant Hal Wilson for ‘Off-trade Personality of the year’, Ben Henshaw of Indigo wines for ‘Distributor of the year’ and last but not least celebrity broadcaster and writer Susy Atkins ‘ for Communicator of the year’.

riojarecognises10

 

Although a great evening of celebrating these awards the real stars of the show were the wines themselves, the ten selected (2 whites, 1 Rosado and 7 reds) were all stunning and well received by everyone.

rioja-recognises-wine-list
List of the final wines selected from the earlier 10×10 tasting

My favourites were both the Chairs’ choices ‘La Rioja Alta 904 Gran Reserva 2005‘ and the ‘Bodegas Olarra Summa Reserva 2011‘. The first ‘La Rioja Alta’ was a classic elegant Rioja with an intense aroma of bright cherry fruit, taste wise again cherries with fresh mouth-watering acidity, sweet vanilla, leather and ripe tannins. The Olarra was equally nice with a dusty aroma, along with a mouthful of cherries, strawberries, vanilla and spice.

Special mention for the ‘Atlanza Reserva Especial 2010‘ Bright and lively, good balance, touch of oak and ripe tannins.

Of the two whites the stand out for me was the ‘Bodegas Lecea Blanco Crianza 2012’, if you like your wines oaked this was full of wood, with some pear and a hint of banana, probably best drunk with food though.

All in all a great evening and a a wonderful celebration of what Rioja has to offer and congratulations to all the award winners.

Lastly on a personal note, I am hoping to do a road trip around Rioja for my 60th birthday in just over a years time, still in the planning stages and very much looking forward to it.

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