Flo(we)r Power

Today, my first post under an exciting new name for the blog, amflorisms. If you’re wondering what the qvevri is the meaning of amflorisms, you can find out on the about page.

Our focus here will be on three very distinctive wines all made in an oxdative style, aged under flor.

Equipo Navazos Florpower

The first two wines are from Equipo Navazos, the group of sherry aficionados founded by Law Professor and Sherry expert Jesús Barquín and technical director of Grupo Estévez, Eduardo Ojeda in 2005. Using their combined expertise and intimate knowledge of cellars of Jerez, Sanlúcar and El Puerto, and from all around Montilla, they have sourced countless brilliant sherry butts with volumes too low for commercial bottling, and have firmly established a reputation for exceptional and distinctive fortified wines.

Back in the 18th or 19th centuries, wines from the region were mostly not fortified or exported, traditionally called ‘natural sherries’ in order to differentiate them from their fortified cousins, and often originating from single vineyards. Following in this tradition, Equipo Navazos have collaborated in producing a number of unfortified white wines aged under flor. The first of these was the Navazos-Niepoort bottling produced in collaboration with Dirk Niepoort, sourced from Jerez’s ‘grand cru’ Macharnudo, and now released over multiple vintages.

LaBotaFlorpower44La Bota de Vino Blanco No. 44 MMX “Florpower” is Equipo Navazos’s second single vineyard unfortified wine, made from Palomino Fino grapes sourced mainly from Sanlúcar’s Pago Miraflores. The roman numerals MMX stand for 2010, the wine’s vintage, which the mysteries of red tape prevent being stated on the label. Think of this as an unfortified, single vintage and vineyard Manzanilla, that has not undergone solera ageing. The Miraflores vineyard has been renowned over the centuries for the delicacy and finesse of the wines it produces.

After fermentation in stainless steel tanks, the wine was moved into 15 old sherry butts to age under flor for 8 months, whereupon it was transferred to a single stainless steel tank for a further 24 months. There it remained under the now reduced effects of flor until bottling without filtration, at only 11.5% having lost over 1% under flor.

LaBotaFlorpower53At the same time as No. 44 was bottled, 3000 litres were saved and transferred into 15 barriques that previously contained Manzanilla and then Palo Cortado, mostly full, but some of which developed some flor preventing excessive oxidisation and giving some additional character to the wine. After 10 months the wine was bottled as La Bota de Florpower No. 53 MMX “Más allá”, “Más allá” translating as ‘Beyond’, as in beyond the original Florpower, the idea being to show further evolution of exactly the same base wine.

So without further ado, onto the wines…

La Bota de Vino Blanco No. 44 MMX “Florpower”

Medium coppery amber in colour, with a reddish/orange hue.

Pronounced nose, much richer than expected. Sour, slightly rotten apple on the nose, with a a yeasty, malted barley, brewery smell. Nutty almond, marzipan, even almond pasty character. Rich and glossy, with some orange zest and honey infused marmalade. Developing.

Dry, medium plus acidity, full body, medium alcohol, pronounced intensity. Delicate orange zesty citrus again, with more red apple and red berry fruit character. Hints of malty yeast extract, not quite bovril, think brewery. Nutty, honeyed, almost waxy mouthfeel, still very fresh despite the restrained acidity.

Superb. Very skin contact ‘orange’ wine like.

Equipo Navazos Florpower
Equipo Navazos Florpower

La Bota de Florpower No. 53 MMX “Más allá”

Medium amber coppery colour, quite cider like in appearance.

Pronounced and complex nose. Quite a musty, dull, mushroomy character, avocado like, along with rotting wood and leaf matter. There’s fermenting bread dough starter, with slightly vinegary, dry cider hints. Some waxy, tanned leather and french furniture polish, even volatile nail polish hints, and orange citrus as well. Developing.

Dry, medium plus acidity, full body, medium alcohol, pronounced intensity. Red apple and hedgerow fruits, quite a sour cider apple character, reminiscent of a Lambic Kriek beer. Rich, round mouthfeel, but with distinct minerality and chalky influence. A volatile tingling sensation again on the palate, with saline, sea salt notes on the finish.

Outstanding, possibly lost some some of the youthful appeal of No. 44, but what it’s lost in freshness, it’s gained in complexity. Again very skin contact, ‘orange’ wine like, crossed with an oxidative Jura Savagnin wine, and a Manzanilla sherry.

What next?

There’s new vintage of Florpower now available, La Bota de Florpower No. 57 being a 2012 base wine that roughly follows on from No. 44 in its vinification practices, and a further release that will be hitting UK shores soon. I’ll report back once I’ve got my hands on these.

It’s worth noting that in the past many wines which developed a layer of flor were regarded as faulty, until people discovered how good they were. These are very unusual and distinctive wines that should be approached with an open mind and forewarning of what they are intended to be. Even then they’re unlikely to appeal to everyone, which prompts no complaint from me, these are best kept a secret amongst us by whom they’ll be properly appreciated.

Domaine Jean-Luc Mouillard

Next we have a traditional Jura wine made with 60% Savagnin and 40% Chardonnay, both vinified sous voile, under a veil of yeast that forms on top of the wine in a barrel that has intentionally not been completely filled, similar to the flor that forms on sherry. The wine is blended and bottled after two years in barrels.

Domaine Jean-Luc Mouillard was founded in 1991, starting from a few vineyard parcels on the side of the family dairy farm, from which the harvest had been sold to the local coop. After enology school, Jean-Luc established the domaine, renting and planting several additional parcels, which he’s now expanded to 20 hectares spread throughout the Côtes du Jura. L’Etoile, and Château-Chalon appelations. Jean-Luc moved north from Nevy-sur-Seille to the village of Mantry in 1997, having bought a 16th century house that had originally served as a stagecoach stop, along with its beautiful stone cellar in which he now ages his wines. Subsequently he’s expanded into new buildings housing his fermentations and bottling line, and to store bottled wine. Jean-Luc is helped by his wife Annie and son Mathieu, who now works full time alongside his father, having completed his enology studies.

Domaine de Mouillard 'L'Etoile' Sélection
Domaine de Mouillard ‘L’Etoile’ Sélection

Domaine de Mouillard ‘L’Etoile’ Sélection 2011

Pale to medium lemon colour, not particularly rich in appearance.

Immediately quite distinctive and pronounced on the nose. Initially when cold there’s just a hint of cut raw swede, root vegetable. As it starts to warm up there’s lots of lemon curd, creamy meringue and icing sugar, biscuitty pastry, lemon peel and lees character, reminiscent of lemon meringue pie. There’s nutty almonds and pistachios, as well as nougat and turkish delight. Developing.

Dry and textural on the palate, with delicate chalky minerality, but a slight off dry sensation, probably due to the flavour characteristics. High acidity, medium plus body, medium alcohol. Green apple fruit and citrus lemon juice, more prominent than on the nose. Nuttiness again on the palate, slightly green underripe almond, along with some fresh herbal parsley hints.

Excellent. Elegant and refined, distinctive. Probably a more restrained style of wine than the former two from Equipo Navazos that for many people will be easier to approach.

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