Lustau Solera Reserva Jarana Fino

Lustau Jarana FinoI still have a fridge full of Sherry, it has been very civilised to come home from work to a glass or two.

What makes Jerez and surrounds such a good place to make sherry?  As always, there are a couple of things that make this area unique. Firstly the climate, but also the soil.  They call it albariza, and its a fine, chalky soil.  Its a start contrast to the other soil types in the area and is perfect for growing palomino in the hot dry conditions.

Lustau have been around for quite some time and produce a huge range of sherries.  This one comes from their middle tier range.

Fine and light on the nose, almonds and apple with a hint of salt and flor.  Its a fruit plate in the mouth, crisp apple and nuts with an orange like tang on the finish.  Fresh, light and zingy is a good way to sum it up.  So well balanced, its far too easy to drink. This would be a good introduction to dry sherry, as well as making the old hands very happy.  90 Pts.

Source: Rathdowne Cellars Price: $15 (375ml) Closure: Cork Stopper

Web: www.emilio-lustau.com

Telmo Rodriguez Gago 2004

Telmo Rodriguez Gago 2004

I have a bit of a soft spot for this wine, it was one of the wines that turned me into a Spainophile.  It seems that the hot dry, climate with a bit of help from the tinto de toro clone of Tempranillo is perfect to produce some very full on wines with regionally and great character.

This is just a pup and needs a good decant.  Even after 2 hours it was constantly evolving.

Deep garnet red.  A very powerful nose of earth, undergrowth and blackberry to start with, time added some dark cherry, spice and coffee.  Full bodied, but well balanced with chunky, chewy tannins and a good hit of acid.  Dark and mysterious in the mouth, real depth of flavour with blackberry that moves on to dark cherry as time goes on, but the real interest is with with sarsaparilla, chocolate, white pepper and medicinal herbs that really get your senses going.  Drying tannins and minerals on the finish.  An intriguing wine, it won't be every one's cup of tea, but you like something a little off centre, this is right up your alley.  But bang it away in the cellar for at least 2 years first.  92 Pts.

Source: Rathdowne Cellars Price: $43 Closure: Conventional Cork

La Guitana Manzanilla

La Guitana ManzanillaThe gypsy girl, possibly the best known manzanilla, you could say she is the face of Manzanilla.  The picture on the label was painted byJoaquín Turina.  Again this is a very popular manzanilla, its the drink of choice in the bars of Seville, which must be the sherry drinking capital of the world.

This bottle is getting towards the end of its drinking life having been bottled in January this year, but it is still showing very well looks fresh. A fresher bottle (less than 6 months in bottle) may go up a point.

Very pale with aromas of sea spray and almonds with a great yeasty, flor character oozing the essence of good manzanilla.  Dry, refreshing and balanced in the mouth, more lightly salted nuts, bitter herbs and a touch of apple. 88 Pts.

Source: Rathdowne Cellars Price: Around $16.50 (500ml) Closure: Cork Stopper

Web:  www.vinicola-hidalgo.es

Laurona Montsant 2002

Laurona 2002Here is a handy wine from Montsant, the area sournding Priorat.  This estate is a joint venture between Christopher Cannan of Europvin and  René Barbier of Clos Mogador.  Like many wines in the region, it is made from a host of different grapes, but mostly gararcha: 30% Garnarcha, 30% Carinena, 15% Syrah, 15% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon.  Ageing is done is 500 Litre French oak barrells for 12 months.

A bit shy on the nose, some crushed raspberries and blackberry with a mix of herbs, spices and wild flowers.  Smooth and fresh thanks to a burst of acid.  There are some fleshy tannins that give the wine a subtle texture.  On the palate its raspberry all the way, with some pepper and spice that adds complexity.  This would go very well with a good feed of lamb chops.  89 Pts.

Source: Importer Sample Price: Around $35 Closure: Conventional Cork

Web: www.europvin.com 

Importer: Negociants Australia

Torres Viña Sol 2005

Torres Viña Sol 2005Parellada.  No its not a type of pasta, its a grape variety native to north eastern Spain that is used for both still and sparkling wines.  You may have heard of it if you drink a bit of Cava.  Torres Viña Sol is made from 100% Parellada, fermented in stainless steal to produce a fresh, lightly fruity wine that is easy to drink and enjoy.  I've heard some good things about the next wine up in the range, the Gran Vina Sol, which adds 15% Chardonnay and oak treatment, I will have to track some down.

A light nose of white, orchard fruits, apple and pear, with a note of spice.  Its fresh and fruity in the mouth, refreshing and easy to drink.  More apple with some pineapple and a touch of fennel seeds and minerals in the mouth. Very well balanced for a wine of this price, the acid it just right, you could drink buckets of this on a hot day.  Match it up with some fish on the BBQ, find somewhere nice to sit outside on a hot day and you'd be very happy.  85 Pts.

Source: Importer Sample Price: $15-$17 Closure: Screwcap

Web: www.torres.es

Importer: Negociants Australia

Valdespino Inocente Fino

Valdespino Inocente FinoBack to sherry, and a very good one at that. Valdespino Inocente Fino is renowned as a great fino, all the big names have given it the nod.  Valdespino claims to be the oldest bodega in Jerez, they have been making the stuff for 700 years so they could well be.  However, the current business has been going since 1875

Very pale, almost neutral in colour, with a slight yellow/green tint.  A beautiful sherry fino nose, green apple, almonds and a slight note of iodine.  Its dry and bursting with freshness in the mouth, jam packed full of classic flavours: a light bitter herb and a yeasty, woody character mixed in with some salty nuts.  Complex and refreshing. Nicely balanced, it has a prick of acid and a nice smooth finish.  A classic.  How can wine this good be so cheap?   92 Pts.

Source: Importer Sample Price: Around $17 (375ml) Closure: Cork Stopper

Importer: Negociants Australia

Bodegas Roda Roda I 2002

Bodegas Roda Roda I 2002After looking through the cellar yesterday and finding nothing to drink (why does this always happen? Plenty of wine, but nothing to drink), I decided I needed to duck out and pick up an 02 Roda I.  As usual with Roda I, it is 100% Tempranillo and is made in a style the looks for dark fruit flavours, designed as a stand alone wine not really for drinking with a meal.

Roda I is built for ageing, so give it a good decant, at least a couple of hours.

Deep, dark red, almost black in the glass.  Straight after pouring into the decanter its a wild beast of swirling aromas, espresso with a shot of chocolate, toasty oak and dark berry flavours.  After a couple of hours, things settle down somewhat and blackberry, mulberry and dark current show through, there is some black pepper and spice, while the oak retreats to a background note.  As always with Roda the tannins are fantastic, smooth and creamy, a nice spike of acid here as well.  Concentrated dark current and mulberry in the mouth, with some pepper and intense Cinnamon.  The first glass was full bodied, the intensity and body lightened as the wine opened up.  Rounded off by a very long, spicy finish.  Needs a couple of years in the cave I think, then drink over 8 years.  93 Pts.

Source: Boccaccio Cellars RRP: $89 Closure: Conventional Cork

Web: www.roda.es

Lagar de Cervera Albariño 2005

Lagar de Cervera Albariño 2005It has finally happened, a screwcapped albariño has landed on my desk.  And its not your ordinary stelvin, its one of those funky embossed stelvin+ jobs.  But that isn't the only reason to like this wine, its bloody good.

The old Rioja stalwarts, La Rioja Alta, bought this bodega in 1988 and have been putting out consistently good wines ever since.  The vineyards and bodega are located in the O-Rosal sub region of Rias Baixas.

Light gold in colour, the nose has fresh pear and apple fruit with a bit of herb and mineral that adds complexity.  In the mouth its pointed and tight, fresh and a touch oily.  Flavours of apple, pear and a touch of apricot, but its the flinty mineral notes that shine here.  Excelent balance and a very persistent finish.  If you are into albariño, get some of this, you'll love it.  If your new to albariño, it will certinly show you what all the fuss is about.  91 Pts.

Source: Importer Sample Price: Around $35 Closure: Screwcap

Web: www.riojalta.com/lagar.htm

Importer: Negociants Australia

Torres Sangre de Toro 2004

Torres Sangre de Toro 2004The newly released Sangre de Toro found its way to my desk the other day and I though 'I'll save this for a nice cool night'.  Well the next day it was snowing on the Dandenongs (for those in the northern hemisphere, it is apparently two weeks to summer here in Melbourne), time to crack this open then.

As always, Sangre de Toro is made from mostly Garnarcha, with some Cariñena and is a soft, textural wine with plenty of fruit flavours.  The 2004 is really well balanced and has some great fruit, I am really liking the 04s I have tried so far.

The nose opens up right away, fresh raspberry and spice to start with, a slight herb note shows it self with more air.  The first thing that hits you when you take a sip is the lovely texture, very smooth and moreish.  Really well balanced for drinking now, the fruit shows its stuff with with blueberry and blackberry, more spice and roast meat notes.   Very good for drinking over the next couple of years if you can hang on it, I'd go for a good tomato based pasta dish.  A slight step up on the 03.  87 Pts.

Source: Importer Sample Price: $15-$17 Closure: Screwcap

Web: www.torres.es

Importer: Negociants Australia

Bodegas Angel Rodriguez Martinsancho 2004

Bodegas Angel Rodriguez Martinsancho 2004Angel Rodriguez and his wines (yes Angel is a bloke) are credited with preserving and reviving Rueda's indigenous Verdejo grape.  The story goes that Angel  had a plot of 200 year old verdejo vines.  The plot, or majuelo, is called Martinsancho, hence the name of the wine.  In the mid 70s Angel decided to grab some cuttings and plant 25 acres of the stuff.  This is the wine made from those 25 acres.  Most of the other verdejo vineyards in Rueda have also grown from these "mother vines". Verdejo has to be one of Spains best performing white wines.  Angel was even honoured by King Juan Carlos for his efforts.

Great story, now let me tell you about cork.  I've only had a couple of corked wines so far, perhaps I've had a good run.  This one wasn't so lucky, and it was the worst kind.  Scalped.  It was very subtle, where the wine should have been fresh and fragrant the wine had a very slight nose, still quite viscus, but an overwhelming sense of blandness.  Buggar.  I'll take this back for anther bottle.  NR

Source: Retail Cost: $30 Closure: Conventional Cork