Jerez returns to the top of Guía Peñín; the superstars of El Marco

(Read The 'quejío' of the wines from El Marco)

The whistle blows to start a new edition of Guía Peñín, which brings us to number 31st in our history. From today you can start browsing online the first ratings of the 2021 Guide, for new tastings will be added as we visit the different production areas in Spain. In this occasion, we start the year with the tasting of more than 270 wines, mainly from the D.O. Jerez and the D.O. Manzanilla de Sanlúcar, as well as some other wines that have recently passed through our tasting table.

Although we have only recently published Guía Peñín 2020, which is currently available in all bookstores, we cannot afford to stop and are already working on the next one. As Freddie Mercury said, "the show must go on".

The Peñín Guide's tasting season starts every January for the Manzanilla de Sanlúcar de Barrameda and Jerez Designations of Origin, as they are less exposed to the production of young wines from the latest harvest, now 2019.

Beyond the overall impressions of the wines, which we have already published after the tasting, we would like to highlight in this post the excellent representation of the historic wines of the Marco, with no less than 60 wines on the podium (95 points onwards), and a wine with the highest score in the Guía Peñín to date, 99 points.

Conde de Aldama "Bota No" Amontillado – 99 points

Fortified white

Bodegas Yuste

D.O. Jerez

It is a very old amontillado, of great forcefulness and sapidity. A wine that puts consumer to the test, showing him all the strength of a very old amontillado. Conde de Aldama Amontillado "Bota No" is the most aged wine that Bodegas Yuste keeps, coming from the soleras of Conde De Aldama, started with the purchase of Aguilar y Cia. in 1740. It is a single boot, of which a maximum of 20 bottles per year are bottled and always to order, at a price as affordable as 1,200 euros.

Amontillado Tradición VORS – 98 points

Fortified white

Bodegas Tradición

D.O. Jerez

Bodegas Tradición is a small sherry house specialized in wines with old age. This house does not sell any wine less than 20 years of aging, and always with the V.O.S or V.O.R.S. seal, which certifies it. The truth is that its wines are characterized by showing the passage of time with control and finesse. We have been able to verify this in the Amontillado VORS, which captures with great precision the personality of an old amontillado, but taming all its nerve, until achieving a wine that contains subtlety and elegance. Even if it is strong, it is not a runaway horse, and that is why its consumption is extremely pleasant.

Oloroso Tradición VORS – 98 points

Fortified white

Bodegas Tradición

D.O. Jerez

If we dive for the category of Oloroso wines and their oxidative aging, we have to stop for a second in two wines that have generated a deep impact. The first jewel is the Oloroso VORS from Bodegas Tradición (98 points). This oloroso is the expression of elegance and time, being perhaps one of the least old among the best rated, but sublime in terms of balance and subtlety, always bearing in mind that we are talking about oxidative wines with very marked characters, of course.  

La Bota 94 de Oloroso «Más allá del NO» - 98 points

Fortified white

Equipo Navazos

D.O. Jerez

Jesús Barquín and Eduardo Ojeda, have left us mute again, this time with La Bota 94 de Oloroso "Más allá del NO" (98 points), a wine that comes from a single butt of very old oloroso, marked in chalk with a "NO" for its particular quality, keeping them away from the periodic sacas and sprinkles, that characterize the system of soleras and criaderas. It is a wine as they say "limit", of extreme concentration, beyond the NO, but also of extreme complexity. It takes a long time to assimilate the transcendence of these wines at a first impact, but as we reflect on their content, aroma and taste, we realize everything that lies within them.

Manuel Aragón Oloroso Seco - 98 points

Fortified white

Bodega Manuel Aragón

D.O. Jerez

Manuel Aragón winery, a living example of the absurdity of the tradition of maintaining the differentiation between the production area and the ageing area, has left us another super wine: Manuel Aragón Oloroso Seco (98 points). This winery in Chiclana has to make do with special labelling, which does not include the D.O. Jerez seal, as it does not age its wines within the ageing area, which is reserved exclusively for the municipalities of Jerez, El Puerto de Santa María or Sanlúcar de Barrameda. There is one exception: Chiclana can, like Chipiona, produce wines, but only if they are made from Muscat, in which case they are blessed with the D.O.'s seal of approval. However, its Manuel Aragón Oloroso is a portent of old age and intensity, another great example of the effect of the passage of time in a large wineskin, which is notable for its vitality and expression.

Tío Pepe Cuatro Palmas Amontillado – 97 points

Fortified white

González Byass

D.O. Jerez

We must admit to González Byass that the launch of this line of "palmas", Primera Palma, Segunda, Tercera y Cuarta, was a great success, as it perfectly shows the vital race of a fino towards its state of amontillado. This Cuatro Palmas, the end of the race, is a full amontillado, very aromatic, with nerve and tension, of which you are not indifferent. It has it all, it is sharp, slightly saline, and rich in nuts, varnishes and with a breeding ground that makes it delicious. In the mouth, it is unruly; its freshness of yesteryear can be appreciated, which is finely interwoven with the characteristic bitterness of this type of wine. It has the concept of time locked in both its aroma and its taste and does not overwhelm the consumer with its power.        

Osborne Pedro Ximénez Rare Sherry – 97 points

Fortified white

Osborne

D.O. Jerez

Old age in the Pedro Ximénez seems not to make a dent in their qualities, at least in the servants with care and attention, and this is one of the best examples we have found this year. Osborne has brought us a Rare Sherry that far exceeds the 30-year requirement to bear the VORS label. Perhaps they did not want to include it because it does not detract from the rest of the wine's average aging period. Whatever it is, the wine is superior, very elegant and deep, with a marked accent of fruit to liquor and logically its background of raisined fruit. In it, the consumer will find notes of incense and old age, which could remind him of the aroma of an old church. The mouth is accompanied by a rich acidity, essential to enjoy in conditions of a sweet without dying in the attempt. It is a work of art, to be taken very seriously, and to meditate on its consumption.

Pedro Ximénez Tradición VOS – 97 points

Fortified white

Bodegas Tradición

D.O. Jerez

Tradition has done it again, and has also given us a sensory setback with its Pedro Ximénez VOS fino, with all the creaminess of the pedro ximénez, with a concentrated aroma of raisins, liquorice, mountain herbs and nuts. The mouth is sweet, but balanced by a good acidity that supports all the caramel inside.

Saca Única 1 Palo Cortado – 97 points

Fortified white

Vinos de Sacristía AB

D.O. Jerez

The wine searcher Antonio Barbadillo has brought us this Saca Única 1, a clean palo cortado, faithful to what is understood by this typology, amontillada nose and mouth of oloroso. It is a very complex wine, with rich nuances of acetaldehyde, nuts and a mouth where the nuances of solera are very evident. It is long, spicy, round and with a slightly saline finish.

Within the Finos and Manzanillas de Sanlúcar (50 references), both dry and biologically aged, the tasting team has highlighted three different styles, determined by a lower or higher incidence of aging: Wines with a younger and fruity character, with a subtle presence of biological ageing; more classic wines, where the flor has a greater prominence, marked by the sharp aromas of veil of flor yeast, with notes of yeast, green apple and spices; and, finally, wines whose age has attenuated the intensity of the veil, with toasted and dried fruit notes that extend its complexity, in its oxidative path towards amontillado. These last two styles brought the highest scores of their typologies.

The podium of the finos wines from Jerez

In Jerez, the best valued Finos, deepen their roots in this concept of oxidative fine, and in many instances unfiltered, with the idea of bottling the wine inside the barrels as faithfully as possible.

Tío Pepe Tres Palmas  - 96 points

Fortified white

González Byass

D.O. Jerez

An old fino, in its excellent transition to amontillado, complex and representative. It is a wine with a tasty mouth, the antithesis of the traditional fino, with the decadence of the flor yeast well present, showing arrogantly all its uniqueness and style.

Fino Granero en Rama - 95 points

Fortified white

Manuel Aragón

D.O Jerez

A fine wine is punished by not carrying the stamp of the D.O. because it is not produced in the area where it is aged. However, it is a great representative of the biological wines, complex, and sharp, very saline and with finesse. Its mouth is very long and faithfully represents the maritime atmosphere of Chiclana where it comes from.

Fino Tradición -  95 points

Fortified white

Bodegas Tradición

D.O. Jerez               

Excellent fino of long aging, under veil of flor yeast. Its nose has a wide variety of nuances, with hints of dry flowers such as chamomile and frankly reflects the albariño character of the soils from which its palomino grapes come. It is a saline and very chalky wine, with chalk memories. The mouth is very sapid and long.

Tío Pepe Dos Palmas - 95 points

González Byass

D.O. Jerez

The second of the four wines that represent the ages of the Tio Pepe fino, a genius of its master winemaker Antonio Flores, who brings us a long aging fino, with a wonderful flavour and balance. A fino that takes us to the line of the most serious finos from el Marco.

Quo Vadis? Amontillado VORS - 95 points

Bodega Delgado Zuleta 

D.O. Jerez

 

Excellent amontillado of very marked saline profile. A wine that comes from the soleras of the house of Rodriguez La-Cave. In spite of its old age, it represents the concept of elegant old amontillado, with its own unique style, where saline and iodine touches stand out.              

The podium of the manzanillas from Sanlúcar de Barrameda

We have talked a lot about Jerez and very little about Manzanilla, which is responsible for the highest consumption of biologically-aged wines in Spain. Manzanilla is to Spanish market, what fino for foreign markets; the former stays mostly between our borders and the latter goes beyond them. The maritime atmosphere of Sanlúcar de Barrameda gives the wine a more saline and pungent character than that of its neighbouring Jerez, even though they are barely 20 kilometres apart. In this new and last tasting session with the wines of this small denomination of origin we were able to delight ourselves with great wines, among which we highlight the following:

Solear en Rama Saca de invierno 2019 - 96 points

Bodegas Barbadillo

Manzanilla de Sanlúcar de Barrameda

With this brand, the winery offers us the opportunity to enjoy the wine according to its saca (moment in which it has been bottled). This is how we can find this manzanilla in their spring, summer, autumn and winter sacas, each with its own organoleptic peculiarities.

Nave Trinidad Manzanilla - 95 points

Bodegas Barbadillo

D.O. Manzanilla de Sanlúcar de Barrameda

We find a medium-aged manzanilla, very enjoyable and easily assimilated by organic wines’ lovers from the south. The veil of yeast, here, is not the most important thing, it provides just enough to let the wine show much more. Don't let the concept of average ageing fool you, this is an excellent wine with great complexity, but instead of introspection, you share it and discuss it with others. The price seems derisory to us (6 euros) as regards to the product.

Arboledilla Levante Manzanilla - 95 points

Bodegas Barbadillo

D.O. Manzanilla de Sanlúcar de Barrameda

A manzanilla created for informational purposes. A production of two manzanillas, one called Arboledilla Poniente and the other Arboledilla Levante. A fun organoleptic game in which we apprecaite the influence of the flor yeast, depending on the disposition of the boot in the ageing warehouse. Although the same wine is bottled in the Levante and Poniente regions, its ageing process produces wines with marked differences. Personally, we liked Manzanilla best after Levante, where it has greater volume and strength. Even though it is the same wine, we found two points of difference between this manzanilla Levante and its sister manzanilla Poniente.

La Gitana en Rama Aniversario Manzanilla - 95 points

Bodegas Hidalgo-La Gitana

D.O. Manzanilla Sanlúcar de Barrameda   

          

Yuste Manzanilla Pasada en Rama Soleras Olvidadas - 95 points

Bodegas Yuste                 

D.O. Manzanilla Sanlúcar de Barrameda

 

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