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
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.
Pedro 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.
- 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.
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.
foto de familia
Last night (July 6th) I had the good fortune and privilege to be invited to the first of a new season of music & wine events in Sevilla with the title Sherry on Top. Organised by the Consejo Regulador de los Vinos de Jerez, in conjunction with the Asociación de Hoteles de Sevilla y Provincia‘s #summerHOTELtime initiative, it aims to attract people to some of Sevilla’s best hotel rooftop terraces with a programme of live music, sherry tastings, and exclusive sherry cocktails designed by the hotels’ bartenders.
Last night’s event was held at the Hotel Inglaterra in Plaza Nueva, one of Seville’s most popular rooftops. Comfortable and elegant, with fabulous views of the Town Hall, El Salvador Church and the Cathedral, it was a pleasant place to spend a balmy evening out of doors, and many of the great and good from the worlds of sherry and hospitality were there, including the newly re-elected head of the Consejo Regulador, Don Beltrán Domecq. As always at such events it was also a good opportunity to renew acquaintance with old friends and make a few new ones.
The tasting was hosted by Carmen Aumesquet and Pepe Ferrer, and featured a Fino, an Oloroso and a sherry Cream cocktail. Live music was provided by Los Quiero, who turned out to be rather good, playing music from the 50s-60s-70s, including some forgotten favourites.
Altogether a very nice evening, and I hope to attend a few more of these events over the summer, on from now until the end of September. Check the links below for the upcoming venues and performers and be sure to reserve your spot as space is limited. Salud!
After having to miss this year’s presentation of Tío Pepe en Rama 2016 (because of this!) I found myself having a post-shopping pre-dinner glass of wine up at Gourmet Experience and my pal Silvia stopped by. Silvia not only runs the place at GE but her father Antonio Flores (AKA the winemaker poet) is the master wine blender at Gonzalez Byass and is also the guy responsible for Tío Pepe en Rama. Turns out Silvia missed the presentation too (she was only able to stop by for a quick hello before it all got going) and she insisted I try a glass. And well, it was damn fine. Thank you Silvia!
Tío Pepe en Rama 2016 was first selected in October from 100 of the best casks from two of the oldest Tío Pepe soleras, Rebollo and Constancia, and finally bottled (16,000 in total) in April from the top 60 out of those initial 100 casks.
A wild unfiltered wine, with all its yeast and organic contribution. Yellow, pale, golden tones, cloudy (yeast in suspension). The nose is pure albariza, salinity, nuts, bakery aromas. Tasty, intense, long, salty and slightly bitter finish. Or as Antonio would say… el sol de Andalucía embotellado (bottled Andalusian sunshine).
You can order Tío Pepe en Rama 2016 from the Gonzalez Byass online store or (in Sevilla) buy it at El Corte Inglés Gourmet Experience Duque.
Some scenes from the Feria de Abril in Sevilla. The portada this year was a “Homage to Dance” and the winning design, by Eduardo Morón Espinosa, was inspired by the Argentinian Pavilion for the 1929 Spanish American Exhibition, now the Antonio Ruiz Soler Conservatory of Professional Dance.
I was invited to have lunch one afternoon at the private (and massive) City Hall caseta, so I went along with my friend and colleague Aldara Arias de Saavedra from We Love Tapas and we were shown a fabulous time by Diego Torres, editor of Sevilla Selecta magazine, who was in charge of coordinating all the food for the event. Afterwards we took a stroll around the grounds. It was a lovely sunny afternoon but heavy rains earlier in the week had taken its toll and the thousands of colourful paper lanterns that typically cover the lights had literally been washed away. There are rumours that next year the feria may start on Saturday (instead of the traditional Monday at midnight opening) and last for ten days. We shall see…
arriving at the feria
flamenco in the Ayuntamiento caseta
cold manzanilla served in a chilled metal teapot
this year’s spring fiestas poster
Inés Rosales for dessert
Diego and Aldara
lovely head scarf on this lovely amazona
chatting each other up
We Love Tapas chicas Ania and Aldara
washed away paper lanterns
kids playing outside a caseta
two young girls singing sevillanas
taking a break
big and little
inside a public caseta
late afternoon shadows
the wheel – would’ve gone up but it was way too speedy
Feria de Abril Sevilla
[click on image to enlarge]
Three blog posts in a row about sherry! After starting last week with the Manzanilla 50 Years celebration at Hotel Alfonso XIII and then the Feria de Vinos Generosos at Voraz, this week it was the presentation of the 6th release of Tío Pepe en Rama (Bodegas Gonzáles Byass), held at the gorgeous Casa Guardiola.
Tío Pepe en Rama is a limited edition unfiltered/unstabalised fino chosen each year by master wineblender Antonio Flores @Hacedordevinos (AKA the winemaker poet) from two of the oldest Tío Pepe soleras, Rebollo and Constancia. Sixty casks made the final selection (from the 600 initially chosen by Flores last October) and were bottled on April 13th. This is the fourth time Sevilla has had the honour of being selected as the site for the first presentation of this unique wine, fittingly each time on the Monday of the April Feria.
We were treated to a special tasting by Antonio Flores in which three sherries were paired with flamenco: Tío Pepe en Rama with Bulerías de Jerez, AB Amontillado with Alegría de Cádiz, and Del Duque 30 year old VORS amontillado fino (“Tío Pepe grown up”) with Sevillanos [short Instagram video here]. It was a delight to be taken through the different ages of Tío Pepe (amontillados begin life as fino or manzanilla), though of course the star of the show was the youngest member of the family. Flores calls Tío Pepe “bottled Andalusian sunshine” and the en ramas allow people to enjoy a “straight out of the cask” sherry experience. This year’s edition has more nutty and yeasty aromas than the usual Tío Pepe. Fresh, citrusy and saline, it’s excellent with salty foods like almonds, olives, oily and smoked fish. Oh, and Bulerías.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Nuria (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.
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.
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.
Our hosts: Silvia Flores (Gourmet Experience sommelier), Anabel Leirman (Neuhaus), Antonio Flores (González Byass master wine blender), Juanma Terceño (González Byass sommelier).
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.
First 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.