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.

2018 Bodega Badiola Las Parcelas Rioja Viura

There’s been some good things in the glass for the past weeks and I’ve been far too lazy to post anything apart from the odd added comment to bottles worth another look. Mainly thanks to Dan Murphy’s quitting loads of Spanish Grenache as a two for one members’ special. Yes, Navarra Garnacha for $6.50 a bottle, just wonderful for the budget. This, however, is so incredibly good it would be silly not to share with those daft enough to read this. Initially tense with flowers, sort of chamomile, a Spanish thing perhaps, yellow stone fruit and a serious depth of stone and perfect acidity; the second day it took off on a wave of controlled power. It’s odd but there was something in the energy and mineral power that bought to mind fruit from limestone or chalk, faint memories of white Burgundy or proper Sancerre? Looking up the maker’s web pages and it is indeed from grapes grown on such rocks. I know science suggests grapes tasting of the earth whence they come is nonsense at best, but… Whatever or wherever, this is still the most exciting white I’ve been lucky enough to drink for some time. A couple for the cellar. Alas, it seems I’m not alone as there wasn’t any left on the shelves when I last checked. Blown away by Viura, who would think it? One day, a Lopez de Heredia blanco perhaps?

13% alcohol. Diam. $37.00

96 points.

2019 KÁRMÁN Rioja

A few weeks without a post. Laziness most likely but the release from pandemic lockdown was a curtain lifted on a forgotten world of friends across the table, modest travel and a bit of discombobulation with the whole thing. There was also an accumulation of bottles that were good enough the first time round to warrant a repeat, often just as good as the first review suggested. Maybe the best measure of how good something tastes is best calibrated by how keenly another bottle is sought. This one almost gets there. Well, it is mostly Grenache grown in Rioja of which there should be more. A bit of Tempranillo too. It’s fresh, bright and clean. Pot pourri, red fruits and peanuts. Rich but only medium bodied with whole berry brewing lift. Warming pepper, cut with a touch of meat and smoke reduction all nicely bound together with juicy acidity and fine grape skin texture. The Kármán line is the theoretical boundary between the earth’s atmosphere and space, funny what you learn on back labels these days. The front label cheerfully reminds me of the spaced out adventures available in Spain these days.

14.5% alcohol. Diam. Probably not stratospherically priced.

90 points but joyful.

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 Adega Alma das Donas Roberto Flammini Viticultor Almanova Ribeira Sacra DO Mencia

The label’s right about the “Viticultura Heróica”, I get vertigo just looking at google images of those incredible Ribeira Sacra vineyards. Looks like Dan Murphy’s have been busy sourcing some better Spanish bottles. This one is a great example of just how fine Mencia grown on those near vertical vineyards can be. Takes a while to open up in the glass but when it does it just gets better over two or so days. So clean and pure, there’s that perfume that takes me to the Nothern Rhône rather than Galicia. Violets and other florals, smoke and very ripe raspberries. Beguiling sweet minerals. Freshness and succulent balance in shape. Long pure flavours of red fruit, purple flowers and sweetest herbs bathed in a mountain stream. Great focus and evenness of ripeness carried on perfect acidity and tannin like wiping your finger across a wet slate. A weight of peerless fruit on a cloud. As a direct import it represents great value, especially compared how much a modern N Rhône would cost. Think I’ll have to go back for more, that’s two Murphy imports in a week of quality at good prices. Goodness, what’s next?

13% alcohol. Cork, alas. $27.

94 points.

2019 Aurkitu Garnacha Viñas Viejas Baja Montana Navarra DO

Just when I think I’ve exhausted the Spanish Grenache options on the shelves of Dan Murphy’s another one appears. This one’s a softly spoken but confident. Restrained aromas of clean fruit, kirsch, peanuts, roses, lipstick kiss, very ripe strawberries, carried by just so acidity and a lick of ripe tannin. Improved over a day or two, the rose perfume became a heady faded velvet red flower, the peanuts more of a wide umami, the red fruits richer but still composed. All sitting on a bed of wet slate, er…mineral, that word again. From a warmer part of Navarra it seems and not surprisingly sits comfortably between the grunt of Borja and the airiness of Gredos. These Garnachas must be selling well as Dan’s have quite a few; this better than most, albeit $10 more. Still great value. Viva Garnacha.

13.5% Diam. $26.99, $10 to $15 cheaper than an equivalent CdR Villages.

93 quite self possessed points.

2019 Emilio Moro Finca Resalo Ribera del Duero

Tempranillo can be just the thing when you crave a decent mouthful of uncomplicated red fruit and a satisfying cut of fresh acidity and tannin grunt, particularly in the joven bottlings like this. This has that lovely dual nature of spice, cola and a good chunk of straightforward red fruit cut by tea bag tannin and firm just there ripe acidity. A little detail of strawberry and toffee prevent it being too monolithic. Curiously reminds me of Sicily’s Nero d’Avola in it’s no nonsense full red fruit. Really the sort of good value red you want when the company, food and convivial chat are more important than the drink. It happens apparently.

14% alcohol. Screw cap. $20.

91 no quibbling honest points.

Well, as it’s a recent vintage, I’d assumed it was a new treat. Apparently not as I reviewed it a few months ago. Unusually consistent notes which is sort of reassuring for a dodgy old palate.

2017 Celler Piñol Raig de Raïm Garnatxa Cariñena Terra Alta DO

Yet another one of those Catalan Grenaches with some Carignan from a DO close to the wonderful Priorat for a lot less. This was a staff pick at a good local wine shop I keep forgetting about. McCoppins on the traffic sewer that’s Johnston Street in old Fitzroy for those familiar with Melbourne. Extremely familiar for the moment due to lockdown walks with lots fewer motors clogging the asphalt. Breathe more easily. Developing smells of old leather furniture, dark cherries with a balsamic tang, roasting pan juices and, yes, the sooty old fireplace detail of that beautiful, rugged landscape. One day I’ll get there. There’s ripe plums and peanuts from Grenache to freshen a mouthful with well mingled very ripe tannin and just enough acidity. Probably as good as it will get with a little bottle age. Heartwarming wine for quiet times as we wait for better news. Went back for another masked browse and all gone. Time passes, shelves empty and fill with something new to enjoy.

14% alcohol. Cork. $20.

91 points, baby Priorat.

2017 Navaherreros Garnacha de Bernabeleva San Martín de Valdeiglesias Vinos de Madrid DO

Well, that’s what’s on the label. My attempt at understanding is it’s Grenache made by the Bodegas Bernabeleva winery in the village of San Martín of the churches from vines along the Navaherreros road or something like that. Definitely old vines in the Madrid mountains rescued from decrepitude in the mid two thousands and yes, yet another Spanish Garnacha. And, yes, another from the mountains. A wild but pretty perfume of musky red fruits, some very low volume feral notes and some spicy stem lift. Sitting high in the palate, fragrant full flavours of more musk, roses, raspberries and general red fruitiness. Fine drying tannins of bloody stones and filigreed ripe acidity. A final goodbye of a texture that makes me think of pencil shaving grey graphite. Lots of red perfumed fruit and lots of mouth coating fine dusty but sweet astringency. Without the benefit of the label, I may have guessed somewhere between Volnay and Corton, perfume and stoney grip, or maybe Etna, or just wild mountainous Garnacha? Teetering on the precipice but hanging on by sheer fruit quality.

14% alcohol. Cork. $41.

93 points but some technocrats may baulk.

2018 Península Vinicultores Cebreros DOP Sierra de Gredos Garnacha

Seems Cebreros has only been a DOP for a few years such is the very recent appreciation of some old vineyards with altitude. I must admit to a fascination with these almost Pinot Noir like versions of good old reliable Grenache. This one is an absolute winner if you’re finding the Côte d’Or or even Mount Etna are beyond a quotidian pleasure. Light weight in appearance and oddly green, almost Sauv Blanc smelling on opening. Happily the green turns into the fragrant pine needle and menthol fresh air of those Gredos mountains. It really takes two days for the truth to emerge. The stemmy framework persists but a depth of just so ripe fruit floats like a sweet melody. There’s just picked cherries, strawberries and brown spices served as a picnic in a fresh pine forest. A good glug of blood orange juice flavour and acidity to freshen, gripped tight in granite stem tannin. Great wine, beautiful grapes squashed into a Norsca advert in the best possible way. Pure, delicious and so well made it avoids some of the more feral elements of the Gredos natural wine movement. Probably my favourite version so far and one of the best priced. Enjoy the bargain now. Didn’t take long for Etna to find its place on the wine fashion catwalk. Wine so particular to place this good are rare. There again I really like proper Lambrusco, what do I know?

14.5% alcohol and no hint of warmth. Diam, bravo. $32.

94 points.