Monthly Archives: September 2018


Just enjoyed a week’s holiday in Sanlucar de Barrameda, home to manzanilla. I tried a few over the course of our stay, as follows:

After we arrived I went out to look for a supermarket and came across an Aldi. Totally different wine stock to the UK stores with just one manzanilla, made by Bodegas Baron. Most locals buy their manzanilla in bulk, from the local bodegas.

Very light and very cheap at around €2.49.

I read about a good wine shop in the town centre – Albariza –  and went there the following morning. Lots of interesting manzanilla with, as is customary, all varieties of sherry sold in bulk, from barrels:

This was their manzanilla, blended by the owner’s father and sold en rama (unfiltered). Rich, mouth filling and very long at a bargain €4.50 a litre. It was a very hot week (30C+ every day) so I kept the glasses in the freezer.

Next, from another new wine shop Mar 7, opposite the Argueso bodega, this very interesting drink:

Their own label with no information about the maker, this wine had a pronounced smell of almonds, something I’ve never encounter before. Quite light and a pleasure to drink. €10.

We tried two San Leon manzanillas. The one on the left is a special bottling and was very full with the characteristic woody finish, good value at €5.50 for 50cl. The other is their standard drink (37.5cl, around €3 from the bodega) and one of my favourites. Lots of character and obviously related to the white label bottle.

The en rama revolution has been evident in this country for a while and most of the big bodegas have followed the lead of Tio Pepe in offering a version. I’ve tried La Gitana before – Tanners in Shrewsbury sell it while the Gabriela, a new name for me, was probably the drink of the holiday (€11 for a bottle). Very balanced, complex and moreish. The bodega was only a few streets away and I’d have liked to have tried some of their other wines, but we ran out of time.

Finally two more old favourites (both 37.5cl and around €3) which I always like to retaste since they are not easily available, if at all, in the UK. Las Medallas is the premier wine of Argueso and is rich and complex. The Barbiana is much lighter and great with seafood – Sanlucar is renown for the quality of its prawns.

Finally, back home a manzanilla we haven’t blogged before – Equipo Navazos no. 59 – a pasada (aged) style, unlike any of those drunk in Sanlucar. Heavier, more aromatic and much more expensive. Very classy with great depth of flavour like all the wines from this producer.





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Tempranillo, twice

It struck me the other day that, for someone who usually picks (old school) Rioja as his favourite wine, I hadn’t drunk much of it recently, one blogged in February 2018 being the most recent.

But, this week I had a delivery of a case of La Rioja Alta 2013, ‘Seleccion 874’, ordered en primeur about 18 months ago. Opened on Thursday it had all the tastes and smells of a traditional Rioja (and Rioja Alta are very traditional) but in a slightly attenuated form. This was possibly because the blend was done for the WS and an old/new style balance was sought. Anyway, very drinkable, if fading a bit on day 2. Described as ‘mostly’ tempranillo, with some garnacha and mazuelo. A bargain at around £14.

In contrast the other (100%) tempranillo was definitely a day 2 wine and very different in style. This was a 2014 Torre Silo from Ribera del Duero. On first opening it was quite sharp/raw but eventually mellowed into a lightish drink with lots of sweet dark fruit, with integrated tannins and an attractive mineral back palate. Still going well on day 3. Rather more expensive and apparently made from some pre-Phylloxera vines. I think it came from MWW who now stock the 2015.

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Light and Heavy

No, not something you’d order in a Scottish pub, just two very contrasting wines.

The El Porvenir 2006 came via a Birmingham Wine School tasting of Argentinian wines, in, I think 2009. Around £16? The presenter was offering wines at reduced prices. Geoff may remember more. A rich, powerful (14.9%) wine saved by a refreshing acidity. A near Bordeaux blend (45% Malbec, 35% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Tannat and 8% Syrah) with the last two grapes adding some complexity. Nearly 2 years in new oak but the tannins were well integrated and it was a pleasure to drink – not in the least heavy – but the bottle was, weighing 1.2k. Since supermarket bottles are normally under half that one can deduce that the producers wanted to add some gravitas, not that it was needed.

The Dolcetto (2016) is a grape we’ve only blogged once before and not a grape I could identify blind. Light, indeed pale in colour (12.5%) with a rather muted cherry fruit taste which was spoilt by a persistent ‘woody’ note. A shame since Burlotto is a respected producer. WS £11.50, out of stock.

[Geoff: The Argentinian tasting was by Ruta 40, the name comes from the main road that travels through the wine regions. The grapes are grown at 1750 metres in Cafayete in Salta Province where the cooler air height helps the acidity that Richard remarked on. The wine is kept two years in oak and then another year minimum in bottle. This one has had ten years in bottle – and it’s still fresh with an attractive mic of richness and acidity. It now costs £35, so expensive but if you like that style – and have deep pockets – it’s a good wine.]

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Pombal do Vesuvio 2015 from Symington



Quinta do Vesuvio is a vineyard high in the Douro valley, a hot area well away from the wetter and colder Portugal’s Atlantic coast. Two of the three grapes in the blend Touriga Franca and Tinta Amarela are difficult to grow in cooler, wetter climates but, presumably, they thrive here. The third, Touriga Nacional, is considered to be Portugal’s finest grape, giving tannins, body and fruit flavours to the blend.

This wine of 13.5% ABV was certainly black at its core and stained the glass with its tears. It had lots of freshness from the acidity and the dominant notes were dark fruits though it was difficult to identify a particular one which does happen with blends. There was licquorice and vanilla on the palate along with a pleasing tartness, the finish being long and dry.

This was a well made full flavoured red wine, capable of ageing and certainly a good accompaniment to strong flavoured foods. I’m unsure of the price, so Richard can decide on its VFM

(btw a pombal is the local name for a stone dovecote.)

[Richard: very highly praised in a WS staff tasting, so I bought three (£18.50 each). I thought the first was ordinary but this was much better, being rich savoury and balanced. Slightly overpriced, I would say.]

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