La Goya XL, Saca IV

This past Monday was the presentation and tasting in Sevilla of the latest bottling of Delgado Zuleta’s Goya XL, an exquisite “en rama manzanilla pasada” that has aged and rested for more than ten years, and was selected from just six casks from the Solera Reservada de La Goya by winemaster José Antonio Sánchez Pazo. There are only 3000 bottles of this very special limited selection wine. The presentation was held in the elegant central courtyard of the Taberna del Alabardero, which proved to be the perfect setting.

There have only been four sacas (bottlings) of this wine in the history of the bodega, beginning in 2012, and they have been roughly two years apart, whenever the winemaker feels it is the right moment. Each bottling has had its own personality, and on this occasion the microclimate over the past few months in Sanlúcar de Barrameda, with a mild summer and autumn, led to a robust growth of yeast (creating the all-important velo de flor) and other exceptional characteristics that tell the winemaker that it is time for the next Goya XL saca.

According to Sánchez Pazo, this Goya XL is more alive than the previous ones, pale gold in colour with iodized reflections, and nicely unctuous, leaving light tears after swirling. It has a balanced nose in which the saline and dry tones stand out, with some hints of a slight oxidation but with great finesse. Full in the mouth, with a persistent and elegant finish and that rounds out the previous perceived sensations.

Sánchez Pazo, recently incorporated into the winery, has more than 30 years experience in sherry bodegas. It is clear that he sees his new position not only as a great responsibility, but also as a privilege. This was his first time choosing the casks that would be used for Goya XL and his passion while speaking about this wine was obvious, and infectious.

Goya XL goes through many years of intense aging that are balanced with others that are more of a “time-out”, a difficult balance to maintain that will allow the wine to continue aging throughout the years without losing the yeast. It requires very light “topping up” from the criaderas to provide nutrients for the yeast while maintaining its manzanilla pasada status.

Delgado Zuleta was founded in 1744, which makes it one of the oldest wineries in the Marco de Jerez. In 1918 it took the artistic name of a famous flamenco dancer, La Goya, for its main manzanilla, and in 1987 it merged with the Rodríguez La-Cave winery. If you are ever in Sanlúcar de Barrameda you must visit the bodega.

Premier Sherry Cocktail Bar

A new and welcome addition to the world of sherry in Sevilla, the Premier Sherry & Cocktail Bar had its official opening on October 19th, with a special master class tasting to showcase some of its brands. The sherry cocktail bar is the sixth establishment in the Premium chain, which was founded in 2010 by brothers Martín and Enrique Maíllo, and has until now specialised in spirits – rum, gin, whisky and vodka, together with a range of tonic waters. The sherry bar is therefore something of a new departure, but aims to maintain the high standards of the group in events, service and quality of product.

In most respects the ambiance is what you might expect of a cocktail bar, with concealed blue light at the junction of walls and ceiling shining through the glassware and serried ranks of interestingly coloured bottles lining the shelves. It’s relatively small size and hints of exposed brickwork give it a subtle sense of intimacy that is quite appropriate to the nature of sherry. The unique element of the decoration, though, are the diagrams along the side wall, designed by José Peñascal, detailing the various grape and sherry production processes, and how they result in the different styles of sherry.

Aside from offering great wines and cocktails, the Premier Sherry Cocktail Bar also gives private tastings, in both Spanish and English, by appointment only. The space can also be booked for private events.

The opening day tasting was interesting and lots of fun, with as good an attendance as the venue really allowed, and was headed by sherry ambassador Pepe Ferrer. An excellent range of sherries from the Consejo Regulador was accompanied by delicious snack pairings.

Many thanks to Cristina Botija and Desirée Ramos of Premium for organising the event, which I hope will be the first of many.

sherry ambassador Pepe Ferrer

pouring palo cortado

the sherry production wall

Pepe Ferrer, Enrique Maillo, Martín Maillo, José Peñascal

Premier Sherry Cocktail Bar
Jaen 1
Tel +34 955 133 032
3.00 pm – 2.00 am (4 am weekends)

Pando Cheese Tasting

Pando Restaurant @PandoSevilla in San Eloy Street has been running a series of excellent “Gastronomic Schools” – educational tastings – of which the latest was this week’s cheese tasting, hosted by Diego Ruiz de Terry of Pando (Grupo San Eloy) and presented by Antonio Rodriguez Vacas of cheese distributors TGT group.

We tasted three very different cheeses, one goats’ cheese, one sheeps’ cheese, and one dairy cheese, accompanied by different wines.

Queso Ibores is a surprisingly mild and creamy goats cheese from the Extramadura region, with none of the harsher overtones of some goat cheeses. We had the natural version, but it also comes flavoured with pimentón, which gives the cheese a deeper yellow-orange colour. Delicious served with a light white wine.

Queso Roncal is a typical strong mature (minimum of 4 months ageing) sheeps cheese from the Navarra region of northeast Spain that has been produced in the traditional way for hundreds of years, and was the first cheese to have a Denomination of Origin (1981). Serve with quince jam and grapes and an earthy red wine to bring out the full flavour.

Queso Mahón is a dairy cheese (a relative rarity in Spain) from the island of Menorca, named after the port which was its point of export. The version we had was an aged variety (it also comes fresh or semi-cured), hard and flaky in texture, with a yellow-orange colour and a strong, rather salty, flavour. Excellent with a nice red wine.

Thanks to Pando and TGT group for putting on an enjoyable event.

Riding the C5 in Sevilla

For years I’ve seen this cute microbus all around town – and I mean ALL around – but not in a way that made any sense. I’d wonder how the C5 bus stop could be in so many seemingly random spots and where it could possibly be going. Then one day my friends Julie & Steve informed me that “riding the C5” was one of their favourite pastimes when they visited Sevilla, so I put it on my To Do list, and today I decided to take the plunge.

There are three of these Mercedes Sprinter diesel microbuses used on the route, measuring 7.7 metres long and 1.9 metres wide, with a capacity of 27 passengers (13 seated, 14 standing), and equipped with an electric ramp for people with limited mobility.

[click on image to enlarge]

Calling the C5 a circular route is a serious simplification. We started at the “start/finish” stop just behind the Alfonso XIII Hotel and from there it was like being on a Magical Mystery tour. We had no idea where the bus was going to go next as it trundled down one narrow street to another. Just when I thought I knew where we were headed it would abruptly turn, even occasionally backtracking down a parallel street to end up almost where it had just been. Whoever designed the route must have been either mad or a genius. Or drunk. We noticed that sometimes even locals getting on the bus had no idea where it was going, and would get right off again after checking with the driver. But it clearly serves a purpose, as long as you’re not in a hurry, connecting parts of the “casco antiguo” (old centre) that larger buses can’t access.

AND…it was fun. Plus it could also serve as a totally wonky “off the beaten path” tourist ride for visitors, though it’s a bit of a bumpy ride at times, and the driver doesn’t stop anywhere for long, so taking photos is tricky (as you can see above). But I’ll certainly be doing it again. 🙂


Repost from Casa Azahar

Viña Galvana by Delgado Zuleta


This week I was invited to a cata for this year’s edition of Bodegas Delgado Zuleta’s D.O Cádiz white wine Viña Galvana. Delgado Zuleta is of course best known for its sherries (it’s said to be the oldest bodega in the marco de Jerez), especially Manzanilla La Goya, but also produces local white wines.

The 2017 Viña Galvana (85% Palomino Fino and 15% Moscatel) is a fresh, light wine with a bright pale gold colour and a touch of fruitiness, and pairs well with fish and seafood. Really a perfect summer wine. The label pays tribute to one of Sanlucar’s most popular events, the annual horse races on the beach which take place every August. The cata was presented by Jorge Pascual, the Director-General of Delgado Zuleta and enologist José Antonio Sánchez Pazo, with promotion by @ProbandoGastro.

The event was hosted by Cinta Romero and her team at La Cochera del Abuelo, who also provided a light post-cata lunch. Thanks to everyone who helped organise this very pleasant event.

Palacio de las Dueñas

The Palacio de Las Dueñas is the Seville home of the Dukes of Alba, and until her recent death, of Cayetana, the 18th Duchess of Alba. Last year the house was opened to the public, and recenly I took a rather delayed opportunity to see it for myself.

The palace was originally built in the 15th century by the Pineda family, one of the original aristocratic houses of Seville, and was named for the adjacent Monastery of Las Dueñas (finally demolished in 1868). In 1496 the house was sold to Doña Catalina de Ribera, widow of Governor Don Pedro Enriquez, according to legend in order to pay for the ransom of Don Juan de Pineda, taken prisoner by the Moors during the wars against Granada. In 1612 it passed by marriage to the family of the Dukes of Alba, where it has remained ever since. In the 19th century parts of the palace were converted for a time into a boarding house, and Antonio Machado, probably Seville’s most famous poet, was born here in 1875.

From the outside, despite a substantial entry gate with a glimpse of garden beyond, it’s only moderately impressive, and it’s full extent really only becomes apparent once you pass inside. The main palace is essentially Renaissance, and built around three sides of the central courtyard (the fourth side giving onto the gardens), with additional wings and courtyards, and surrounded by gardens and outbuildings. Despite being near the city centre it’s an oasis of peace, calm and greenery, and it’s easy to appreciate why the family loved the place so much.

The tour begins in the front garden courtyard, where our handy audio guide explains some of the history of the Palace. Ahead of us is the apeadero, a typical feature of all grand houses, where visitors would have alighted from their carriages, but our route takes us off to the right to the stables, and through to the famous garden of the lemon trees immortalised by Machado. From there we come to the central courtyard, the heart of the old palace. This is built on two floors in the Gothic-Mudejar style with the typical columns, arches and decorative plasterwork of the period. In one corner the principle staircase, adorned with tapestries and with an outstanding ornate coffered wood ceiling, leads up to the private residence of the Dukes of Alba (not open to the public).

Arranged around the courtyard on the ground floor are a number of rooms that traditionally formed the public part of a late mediaeval palace. These include the chapel and is antechamber, where the extended family and their friends would gather for religious occasions, the Flamenco room, complete with a tablao for dancing, and of course, a library. All these rooms also serve to house an important collection of art and furniture collected over the centuries.

Tucked away beyond these are the Olive Oil Patio (so named because it was once used for storing olive oil), and the quiet space of the Santa Justa garden, which has a picturesque creeper clad balcony overlooking one corner, one of my favourite places in the palace.

The Palacio de las Dueñas is almost like a bridge between times present, and times past (at least if you were wealthy), and offers one of those rare glimpses into another style of life. It’s well worth a visit.

Calle Dueñas 5
Sevilla
Tel: +34 954 214 828
Palacio de las Dueñas Website

III Feria del Pan, Aceite & la Aceituna

This weekend you can pop over to the lovely Patio de la Diputación in Sevilla to sample the best of olive oils, olives and bread and learn about their production at the III Feria del Pan, Aceite y La Aceituna.

Patio de la Diputación
Menéndez Pelayo 32
May 19th – 21st
Friday 15.00 – 20.00
Saturday 11.00 – 14.30 / 16.00 – 20.00
Sunday 11.00 – 18.00

Bodegas Lustau | Vermouth with a View

After a period of decline, vermouth (a fortified aromatic wine) has been enjoying something of a comeback recently, with a number of producers entering the market with a variety of “craft” vermouths. One of these, the respected sherry-house Lustau, brought out its first red vermouth at the end of 2015, and has followed it up with a white vermouth, launched in Sevilla at a special event on May 10th.

I was fortunate enough to receive an invitation, which also resulted in another first, as the presentation was being held in the new Sevilla Tower across the river next to the old expo site. Personally I think the building is an eyesore on the Sevilla skyline, but I have to admit the view from the 21st floor (halfway up) was pretty spectacular, and as usual at these events I met up with some old friends and made some new ones.

Lustau white vermouth: fino & moscatel

Stars of the show were, of course, the two Lustau vermouths. The new white vermouth is blended from fino and muscatel sherries, and is slightly less sweet than the existing red, which is blended from amontillado and PX sherries. Both are flavoured with a variety of aromatic botanicals and spices. I think the red is still my favourite (although a close decision), but if you haven’t caught the vermouth bug yet try one of these in your local bar. You might well become a convert.

Lustau red vermouth: amontillado & pedro ximénez

Lustau reps Estanis Bobadilla & Juan Mateos Arizón

vermouth cocktail recipes

Bodegas Lustau

Hospital de los Venerables – Velázquez & Murillo

This year is the 400th anniversary of the birth of Bartolome Murillo, probably Sevilla’s most famous painter, and has been officially declared the Year of Murillo. As part of the commemorations the Fundación Focus-Abengoa, in collaboration with the Prado Museum, London’s National Gallery, and others, has organised a very special exhibition comparing the work of Murillo and Sevilla’s other most famous painter, Diego Velázquez.

velazquez murilloThe two painters, born in Seville a generation apart (Velazquez in 1599 and Murillo in 1617), and having their formative influences there, nevertheless had quite different career trajectories, Velazquez leaving Seville to work at the Spanish court in Madrid in 1623, while Murillo spent his entire working life in Seville. It’s not known whether the two ever actually met in person (though they must have been aware of each others’ work), but while there is no record of a meeting, it’s not impossible as Murillo visited Madrid on several occasions, although art experts think that there was only limited reciprocal influence.

santa rufinaSanta Rufina by Murillo (left) and Velázquez (right)

However, it’s clear from the 19 paintings in the exhibition, 10 by Murillo and 9 by Velázquez, that there were common influences in the cultural world of Sevilla in the 17th century. This shows itself in both the choice (or commissioning) of subjects, especially in religious subjects pertaining to Sevilla such as the Saints Justa and Rufina and the Immaculate Conception, as well as of Saint Peter and the Adoration of the Magi, and the highly naturalistic style of the scenes of everyday life.

day to day lifeEveryday scenes by Velázquez (left) and Murillo (right)

It’s also appropriate that the exhibition is being hosted in the Venerables Hospital, a building that is of the early 17th century, and which has both a historical and current associations with the two painters. Around mid-January the exhibition, which continues until February 28th, surpassed the 50,000 visitor mark.

Velásquez | Murillo | Sevilla
Hospital de los Vernerables
Plaza de los Venerables 8
Open 10.00 – 18.00 (last entrance at 17.30)
General Admission: 8 euros
Free Admission Tuesday 14.00 – 18.00

Pando Jamón Cutting Masterclass

masterclass-cortador-de-jamon

Who could resist an invitation to attend a jamón cutting masterclass? Not me, that’s for sure. This was the first of many proposed events by Pando Restaurants & Catering for their #GastroEscueloPando initiative, and what a great way to start. Also, just in time for Christmas, when many families purchase a jamón to see them through the holiday season. Though as we all know, proper jamón cutting is an art form, requiring knowledge, skill and – just as important – practice, practice, practice. And while none of us walked away from the event with finely honed cutting skills, we did take away a lot of new information that will be very helpful for those planning to buy a Christmas jamón.

jamon-masterclass-2

The masterclass was led by professional cortador Victor Fernández. It was a very relaxed and casual setting and everyone felt comfortable asking questions while watching Victor in action. We learned about the different types of Ibérico ham, the different cuts, the different flavours, as we enjoyed plates of jamón being passed around the room, along with glasses of Glorioso rioja. Some brave souls even got up to try their hand at cutting under Victor’s watchful eye.

jamon-masterclass-1

Pando has recently renovated its calle San Eloy 47 location, and has also updated its menu. Worth checking out.