2019 Callejuela Las Mercedes de Callejuela

An extraordinary bottle I forgot to post. Reading the Australian importer’s passionate notes about the Callejuela brothers’ and Jamie Goode’s enthusiasm for the nothing short of a revolution in Sherry world makes me think a quick copy and paste will say it all. But no. The flavours and texture here just make me want to blether on too. Sophisticated tang of slight oxidation adds richness to chamomile, almost straw and muesli and yellow peach on a grand scale. The flavours would almost be overwhelming on the slippery viscosity were it not for the flow of pure mouthwatering acidity and a pleasing bitterness from what may be flor, just make you go back and see if the flavours were as dense and interesting as they seemed. Yes. Challenging and rewarding. All at 12 percent alcohol. What was nearly lost in the bulk industrial fortifications of mass Sherry seems to be clawing its way back into the world of good wine. It would be great to go back to the margins of land and ocean influence, feel the contrast of east and west winds and stand in the bright reflection of light from the chalk, sand and clay. And drink these single pagos without need of added alcohol.

12% alcohol. Cork. $66 RRP but savagely discounted last year as the pandemic hit hard. Wouldn’t have strayed here otherwise. So, thanks TSA.

95 points, mundane as they are.

Barbadillo Solear Manzanilla Sanlucar de Barremeda DO lot L20 – 329

Annoyingly the just right half bottles disappeared from Dan Murphy’s shelves for a while, thereafter on return they seemed to have grown up into full bottles. The number suggests this lot was bottled last year, so still reasonably fresh under its screwcap? Indeed, enormous wafts of flor, chamomile, yellow fruits, peach perhaps, roast nuts and sea spray stuff. Huge flavours of the same, savoury and dry but held and lifted by staunch acidity. Probably the cleanest example of Manzanillo or Fino I’ve seen for a while. No bitter sulphide to spoil and a transparent example of how flor yeast works it’s magic. On the great blog, undertheflor, written by an Englishman living in Madrid, he suggests flor acts something like a chisel, exposing the chalky bones and true flavours of the Palomino fruit and the albariza limestone soil, cuddling them in its acetaldehyde derived savoury nuttiness. If that means delicious, sophisticated and brilliant with olives, nuts and salty snacks, then I’m convinced. It’s also an incredible bargain considering the time and care in the making. Quarter of the price of anything Champagne can manage for a first drink of the day. Saludos indeed.

15% alcohol, love to taste one without the added spirit. Screw cap, suits it so well. $20 for the full 750mls, bargain.

92 points and take me to Andalusia.

2019 Bodegas Louis Pérez El Muelle Palomino Blanco de Jerez

Please indulge a travel fantasy. Along the esplanade in Sanlúcar de Barrameda there are restaurants serving seafood including the sort of chargrilled octopus with smoky pimenton potatoes as good as only Spain can. A glass of this unfortified old clone Palomino would do, particularly as it’s named after an old Sanlúcar pier. It would be a bit of a challenge to pronounce Muelle properly, Moo..eh..ee..eh, perhaps? Matured under Sherry flor yeast, this has all the flavours of Jerez I love without the dank oak and fire breath of fortifying. Single vineyard as is the wine world’s fashion from the Pago Carrascal, it really tastes of dirt, in the best way. Ripe yellow fruits, broad, creamy textured, citrus blossom, chamomile, finally a touch of green olive and warm sea spray. All wrapped up in mouthwatering, fine polished acidity and a proud grown up dryness. Such a special place that bit of Andalusia that sticks out into Atlantic breezes.

14% alcohol. Cork. $40 RRP.

94 points.

2017 Viña Callejuela Blanco de Hornillos

If this was poured without knowing what it was, would we accept the nutty oxidation? Drinking what is basically Sherry without the flor yeast slumber and the fortification is a grand adventure in flavour and how we approach different styles of wine with the prior knowledge of how they’re produced. I must admit to being reasonably tolerant of the touch of dank old oak and sour nutty oxidation in a good Manzanilla or Fino. There’s often a depth of fruit and salty richness to compensate. It seems this is Palomino from the Pago, read vineyard I think, of Hornillos, blended with grapes from three other Callejuela owned pagos. Gently nutty, amazingly complex and pleasing flavours of that chamomile, chestnut honey, yellow fruits and a bite of chalk. The mouth filling richness cut by firm acidity and some pithy texture. It all seems to hang together and beckons another sip. Another one of those Mediterranean places that owns its special grape and distinct style. Makes you miss travel with a sweet ache.

12.5% alcohol but a lot of ripeness and flavour. Cork, oh well, screw cap would suit perfectly. Another lockdown bargain from TSA.

92 points for pleasure not technical things.

NV Bodegas Hildalgo La Gitana Manzanilla

Floundering around the flavour memory bank trying to recognise the complex flavours here, nuts, lemon rind, seaside iodine came to mind and then, chamomile tea, of course. Next day in the local Spanish supermercado on a search for mint tea, the boxes of chamomile tea nearby were labelled..er..Manazanilla, well who would have thought! Language inadequacy can be fun. This bottle was also tingly fresh and spotlessly clean with none of the sulphide bitterness that sherry shows on occasion. The code on the back label included a 19, thus bottled this year perhaps? Oily green olives a must.

15% alcohol. Diam. Charity status at 6.20 euros for a full bottle of considerable care and work.

92 points, who can argue with the label?

Barbadillo Solear Manzanilla – lot bottled in 2017

When you consider just how much skill and time it takes to produce a bottle of savoury, yeasty flor influenced sherry, then a half bottle for $10 is ludicrously under priced. As unique to the sun blasted dazzle of Andalusia as those from Champagne would claim for their chalky soils but a fraction of the price. The secondary and costly use of yeast to add dimension is a worthy comparison perhaps? Fair to say Barbadillo are one of the largest and most forward thinking of Sanlucar producers and this basic Manzanilla has a fresh purity that shows their seriousness. Nutty, yeasty, olive oil and seaside smells, thence a savoury mouthful of citrus soaked almonds and a touch of sulphide bitterness. Fashion has little to do with a good drink. Must hunt down a 2018 bottling.

15% alcohol, small glass of course. Screwcap, yes. $10, charity.

92 points.