On the Trail

Tasting in Jerez

Joe Manekin

Wine trade missions tend to take the form of speed dating. There are beaucoup buyers, so many suppliers, and the two are paired together for 20-30 minute meetings to try to find a match. The focus of this particular tasting I attended was not only on the fortified wines of Jerez and Montilla Moriles (which in style and spirit, if not exactly in elaboration, is Cordoba's version of Sherry) but also on Sherry style wines from other provinces like Sevilla and Huelva, dry table wines as well as sweet and even aromatized wines (such as vermouth and vinos de naranja). There was a huge variety of things to taste, many interesting people to meet, and a handful of familiar faces which will likely return to our shelves in due time.

One such familiar face would be that of Perez Barquero, a leading producer of Montilla Moriles. Their production stretches from dry, savory finos, to nutty, saline Amontillados, and also includes Olorosos, Palo Cortados, as well as some of the most treasured older soleras around. Even a 100 pointer in their 1905 Solera Fundacional Amontillado. It won't come cheap at around $350 retail, nor should it though for it's age (nearly 80 years average), its scarcity and its complex aromas and flavors. It's one of the world's great wines, certainly my favorite of the year thus far (let the record state that we tasted 2005 Cheval Blanc and 2011 Yquem recently, both incredible but I'll take the Amontillado over both—with all due respect to Msr. Pierre Lurton). I also had the opportunity to taste through some new releases with Elena Viguera of Colonias de Galeon. If the name rings a bell, it is because these certified organic wines (made in the province where my Spanish immersion began for me- Sevilla!) produced from vines grown in a protected park, were wines we have carried. The Petit Ocnos Chardonnay, Petit Ocnos Red and Ocnos Roble were all wines we sold this year. Tasing the new releases, I am excited to see the continuing improvements, particularly in the oak aged reds and whites. They are even working on a methode ancestrale sparkler: Pet Nat Sevillana! These direct imports will definitely make their way back into our stock, so expect much more on Colonias de Galeon in a future post.

Rounding things out there were a few wines made from a base of Oloroso, with some PX for added sweetness, and then macerated with the dried skins of local bitter oranges—these are the oranges you see growing on trees in cities like Sevilla and many others in Andalucia, not the cultivated groves you see from the regional highways. One of these wines was rather cloying while the other was surprisingly light on its feet and delicious. My colleagues like to joke that I'm the orange wine guy, the one who seems to be the most enthused with white wines which receive an extended skin maceration to become orange-ish in color, and often pungent and rather unusual in flavor. Now I suppose I'm extending my "orange wine" cred to include the sweet orange wines, or vinos de naranja, of Andalucia!

-Joe Manekin