Finos Palmas 2016

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The Cuatro Palmas (four palms) is an annual selection of a small number of the very best casks of Tio Pepe Fino sherries from Bodega González Byass in Jerez, which are publicly presented to the sherry and hospitality trades and selected press at an invitation only event in November.

palmas-2016-5Pedro Rebuelta, Cayetano Martínez de Irujo, Antonio Flores

I was fortunate enough to be invited to the presentation, which was held at the spectacular Palacio de las Dueñas, the seat of the Duke Of Alba, in Sevilla. Only opened to the public in May, this 15th century Gothic-Renaissance-Mudejar style palace, with is long halls and garden courtyards, was a perfect venue for the presentations and tastings.

This year’s selections were made in September by Antonio Flores, Gonzalez Byass’ master winemaker, and renowned sommelier Gérard Bassett, and bottled, as always, “en rama”, without filtration or clarification. Not an easy task, but eventually wines were selected for each of the four palmas.

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  • One Palm is a 6 year old Fino selected from three casks, out of a total of 142, that exemplifies the evolution of the style.
  • Two palms is an 8 year old Fino selected from just two casks out of 150, reflecting the elegance of a well aged wine.
  • Three Palms is a 10 year old Fino selected from a single cask at the limit of the biological ageing process.
  • Four palms is a Fino that has passed to being an amontillado, and was selected from one of just six casks that have been ageing in González Byass for 51 years. It reflects the ability of Tío Pepe to evolve over time.

las-palmas-2016

The presentation took the form of a palace tour, stopping at a different garden courtyard to sample each wine, while “winemaker poet” Antonio Flores not only regaled us with the unique characteristics of each Palma, but also (aptly) read from the works of Antonio Machado, born in the palace in 1897. This was followed by a sumptuous buffet lunch, with all the Palmas flowing freely. Not surprisingly all the 2016  Finos Palmas stock has been sold already, but you can still find it in select wine shops in Sevilla, such as the Corte Inglés Gourmet Experience.

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foto de familia

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Viña Sevilla – Fiesta del Vino

vina sevilla (1)The Third Fiesta del Vinos, organised by Viña Sevilla, is a great opportunity to discover and learn about the wonderful world of Spanish wines. This edition will be held in creative-space Rompemoldes and will be a bit like a big street party where you can sample a wide selection of wines from different areas of Spain and also meet the winemakers. There will be various wine tastings, interactive workshops, along with homemade tapas and plenty of good music. Entrance is free but if you’d like to sign up for any of the workshops get in touch with Viña Sevilla as space for these events is limited.
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Viña Sevilla – Fiesta del Vinos
Centro Rompemoldes
San Luís 70
Friday May 20th  7.00 pm – midnight
Saturday May 21st  12.00 pm – midnight

Feria de Vinos Generosos Andaluz

generosos andaluz

Another day, another sherry tasting, although in this case not a standard, formal kind of tasting. This was, in fact, the first edition of the Feria de Vinos Generosos Andaluz (Andalusian Fair of Fortified Wines), held at Voraz on the edge of Parque de los Principes in Los Remedios.

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It was a nice day for it too; one of those balmy spring days that’s perfect for an afternoon out of doors, meeting the great and the good of the world of sherry, old friends, and our hosts Juan and Jeanine of La Azotea, while sampling a good selection of top class wines represented by bodegas such as Lustau, Hidalgo, Barbadillo, Sacrista AB, Gongora, and others.

potaje

For a 10€ entry fee you could sample as many wines as you liked, and enjoy the snacks on offer. These included lots of tasty jamón, various cheeses, and a massive potaje of white beans and prawns that was prepared outdoors by the Voraz chefs – just the ticket after a few sherries. If you were still feeling peckish you could pop into Voraz and order a tapa or two.

ronquero

We also got to see a ronqueo – the precise and skillful cutting up of a tuna by Rafael from La Almadraba (you’ve seen Rafael here before). Performed by an expert, it took less than 30 minutes to turn a 180kg fish into its component parts, ready for the kitchen. Moments later it was also being served as complimentary snacks.

voraz atun I love these kind of events that let you speak directly to the producers/distributors and allow you to sample a variety of wines in a relaxed and casual ambiance (from “just a drop please” to “I’ll have more of that!”). Hope this becomes an annual event.

 

 

Manzanilla 50 Years

manzanilla monday

The Sherry Regulatory Council was established in 1935 and is the oldest Denominación de Origen in Spain, though of course the wines have been produced for hundreds of years. At first manzanilla, the unique sherry that is only produced in Sanlúcar de Barrameda, was included in this denominación, but in 1964 it received its own D.O., recognising the special characteristics that set it apart from other sherry wines. This past Monday I went to a fabulous event celebrating the 50th anniversary of Manzanilla, held at the Alfonso XIII hotel in Sevilla. The fourteen bodegas represented included all the main players and well-known names from Sanlúcar de Barrameda: Álvaro Domecq, Barbadillo, Barón, Covisan, Elías González Guzmán, Delgado Zuleta, Francisco Yuste, Herederos de Argüeso, Hidalgo – La Gitana, Juan Piñero, La Guita, Lustau, Miguel Sánchez Ayala, and Williams & Humbert.

manzanilla 50Nuria (Delgado Zuleta, Momoko (Bodegas Baron),
Antonio Barbadillo (Sacristia AB), Valeska & Fernando (Paladar y Tomar)

I missed the morning session, arriving after lunch, and immediately got into some serious sherry tasting. Visitors could wander around and meet the exhibitors, and the event included a formal tasting for invited guests. Along with the familiar hallmark brands we were able to sample a number of “en rama” and other special manzanillas “sacas”. It was great to see friends, and fellow sherry lovers, and chat again to some of the people I met when I visited a few bodegas last summer. Looking forward to another trip to Sanúcar soon.

A Maridaje Made in Heaven

chocolate sherry (1)

Well, it is getting towards Christmas, so what could be more natural than a pairing (maridaje) of those two Christmas essentials, chocolate and after dinner drinks? This was the inspiration for last week’s tasting event put on by sommelier Silvia Flores at Gourmet Experience Duque.

The chocolates were supplied by Belgian luxury chocolatiers Neuhaus, who have been making chocolate since 1857, when founder Jean Neuhaus arrived in Brussels from his native Switzerland and opened an apothecary’s shop in the Galeries Royales in Brussels. Initially the chocolate was used to mask the taste of the medicinal products, but gradually the confectionary business took over, and in 1912 grandson Jean II invented the Belgian praline (or praline bon-bon), a hard chocolate shell with a nut and cream filling.

chocolate sherry (3)Apostoles/Feuilletine, Matusalem/Sappho, Nomad/Divine, Lepanto/Gallerie, Noe PX/Jean

Drinks were supplied by renowned Jerez bodega González Byass. These included:  Aposteles, an aged Palo Cortado drawn from a solera created in 1862, two sweet sherries, Matusalem Cream and Noe PX, and two spirits. Lepanto is the company’s flagship brandy, made from Palomino grapes and matured for 15 years in Fino casks, while Nomad is a blended Scotch whisky that is finished in Jerez in PX casks.

These were paired with selected Neuhaus chocolates ranging from hazelnut and almond milk chocolate pralines (Feuilletine and Sappho) to caramel fillings in light and dark chocolate (Divine and Galerie) and finishing with an intense dark chocolate ganache (Jean – 64% Peruvian cocoa). The tasting was led by Neuhaus representative Anabel Leirman and Juanma Terceño from Gonzalez Byass, with poetic interludes provided by G-B’s master wineblender Antonio Flores. A sweet and sensual tasting experience.

chocolate sherry (2)Our hosts: Silvia Flores (Gourmet Experience sommelier), Anabel Leirman (Neuhaus), Antonio Flores (González Byass master wine blender), Juanma Terceño (González Byass sommelier).

Entrechuelos Wine Tasting at La Revuelta

entrechuelos cata (1)La Revuelta opened earlier this year as a kind of all purpose cultural drop-in centre with books, art and events, especially food and wine events, and that was why I was there recently – for one of their “off the beaten track” wine tastings, this one featuring a small winery, Entrechuelos, run by Miguel Domecq, a member of the renowned Pedro Domecq sherry family. Miguel presented each wine like a proud father and I always find this kind of personal connection helps people relate better to what they’re tasting.

The Entrechuelos winery opened in 2008 on the Cortijo de Torrecera (the central farm of a grape growing estate), an area long used for vineyards, named for an 11th century Moorish watchtower built on the top of a hill overlooking the surrounding land. Although the winery is not far from Jerez, the wines produced there are not sherries, but table wines of the Tierra de Cadiz.

entrechuelos cata (2)We sampled four of these, starting with a young Chardonnay, which proved light and refreshing, slightly sweet with a good, fruity taste. This was followed by two red wines blended from Syrah, Merlot, Tempranillo and Cabernet Sauvignon, the first called Roble 2012, aged for six months in French oak, the second a Tercer Año 2011, aged for a year. The contrast between the two was surprising. The first failed to impress, but the extra six months of ageing of the second produced a pleasantly full-bodied and quite complex wine with a deep colour that I thoroughly enjoyed. The fourth was the Alhocen Personal Selection 2010, a slightly different blend of the same four grapes, also aged for 12 months to make a nice fruity red wine.

Check the La Revuelta Website for information about upcoming events and activities.

La Revuelta
Siete Revueltas, 33
Tel 954 21 08 06
Open: 10.00 – 14.00 / 17.00 – 20.00
Closed Sunday

Gourmet Club Sherry & Food Pairing

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Another day, another sherry tasting. Which is not a bad thing, of course. This one was held last week at the Gourmet Experience Duque in El Corte Inglés, which has become an important venue for such events since opening in December 2013 . The featured bodega was family-run Emilio Hidalgo, with three of its special aged dry sherries, in pairings with Riofrio Caviar, mojama (cured tuna) and melva canutera (frigate tuna) from quality fish processors Herpac, and hand-made Zamorano cheese from Vicente Pastor.

hidalgo collageFirst up was La Panesa, a fino from a solera that is bottled sparingly, and has consequently aged longer than a standard fino, paired with two varieties of caviar. Both of these had a delicate, subtle buttery flavour that worked well, neither masking the other. Next was a pairing of much stronger tastes. El Tresillo 1874 is a well-aged amontillado, complex and full-bodied, with a particularly excellent “nose”, that added its richness to the strong flavours of the fish. The last pairing brought together an aged oloroso sherry, Villapanés, and an artisanal cured Zamorano sheep’s cheese. I think this was my favourite of the three pairings, with an exceptionally rounded, full flavoured sherry that was perfect for the quite chewy, salty cheese.

I have to say that I think this was one of the best tastings I’ve been to, very well organized by sommelier Silvia Flores, with the excellent sherries and exquisite food products introduced and explained by their respective owners. Many thanks for the invitation, Silvia, and I look forward to future Club del Gourmet experiences.

Wines & Liquors & Anis – Oh My!

vinos licores, etcSample the best of Sevilla’s towns and villages in the heart of the city.

Starting today the Diputación de Sevilla will be the site of the annual exhibition (this is the 5th edition) of wines, liquors and anis produced in the province. It’s a great way of getting to know new local products and enjoying old favourites.

November 7th – 9th
Diputación de Sevilla
Menéndez Pelayo, 32

Cata de la Vaca at Milongas

cata vaca milongas

Last week I was invited to a rather unusual tasting event at Milongas Restaurant in Calle Campo de los Martires. It’s been a while since I was last there, so I was happy to accept, and duly arrived around 9.30 pm.

Milongas is one of Seville’s best Argentinian restaurants, which basically means it specialises in beef, so no prizes for guessing that this was a Cata de la Vaca (literally a cow tasting), supplemented with a wine pairing/tasting organised by Fran León featuring wines from Bodegas Salado in Umbrete, a small town in the Aljarafe to the west of Seville. The invited guests were from the worlds of journalism and social media, and it was nice to spend an evening of wine and food with a few old friends (and put faces to a few names, too) in convivial surroundings.

cata vaca 2The tasting was of five different cuts of beef, ranging from the well-known to the obscure. These were paired with the local Salado wines. I was impressed by the Fina Paloma Blanca, a sherry style wine made from Pedro Ximenez grapes and aged under flor but my favourite of the night was an oak-aged white wine called Astarte.

cata vaca entraña, punta de picaña,
entrecôte, tenderloin, lomo alto

Many thanks to the organisers for a terrific evening. It was great fun and I learned a lot too.