Visiting El Maestro Sierra

A story of triumph against archaic expectations of class and gender, beginning early in the 19th century with working class master cooper José Antonio Sierra – ‘El Maestro’ Sierra are all about their very old wines, preserving some of the oldest soleras and wines in the Jerez region. Led by a succession of formidable women, their traditionally made ancient sherries are a real treasure, of astonishing quality and complexity.

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Visiting Fernando de Castilla

Bodegas Rey Fernando de Castilla produces exceptional sherries thanks to the passionate work of Norwegian born, long term Andalusian resident and true gentleman, Jan Petterson. With care taken from vineyard to bottle, these sherries and brandies are of serious quality, but the bodega remains a relatively small, artisan producer.

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Tasting Cruz Vieja Sherries at Bodegas Faustino Gonzalez

Former Almacenista turned boutique Bodega, Faustino Gonzalez have been a family operation since being established in 1971. Their traditional methods, including barrel fermented base wines made with grapes from their own superb albariza vineyards, and exceptionally old soleras dating from 1758, produce exquisite sherries. A tiny bodega, passionately making fabulous sherry the way it should be.

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Skinny Dipping – Alfredo Maestro Tejero ‘Lovamor’ Albillo 2016

Sensible haircut and conservative demeanour, Alfredo appears the antithesis of a maverick winemaker, but this self taught winemaker’s ‘natural’ wines tell a different tale. While most Ribera del Duero winemakers are preoccupied with making robust reds from Tinto Fino, he’s sought out neglected parcels of rare old vine varieties, including his ‘Lovamor’ Albillo, a funky and textural, yet refined expression of terroir and winemaker.

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Skinny Dipping – Maria & Sepp Muster Erde & Gräfin 2013

In the vertiginous landscape of Südsteiermark, near Austria’s Slovenian border, Maria & Sepp Muster have led the revolution for biodynamic farming, minimal intervention and notably for long skin maceration ‘orange’ wines. The delicate Countess, ‘Gräfin’, and concentrated and earthy ‘Erde’, offer kaleidoscopic expressions of environment and terroir; vibrant and unique.

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Ximénez Spínola Exceptional Harvest & Fermentation Lenta 2015

Bodegas Ximénez Spínola are something of an idiosyncrasy in Jerez, notable for making all their wines from Pedro Ximénez, in a region where Palomino is the predominate grape variety, with an unusual range of wines to match. A firm believer in Pedro Ximénez’s reputed Riesling ancestry, José Antonio has been inspired to make with it two unfortified dry vintage white wines, adapting the winemaking methods of the German Rhein to his native Jerez.

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Sugrue Pierre ‘The Trouble With Dreams’ 2013

Long the young pretender, English Sparkling Wine has battled through the turbulent years of adolescence and is now beginning its journey into adulthood, now slowly garnering some tentative respect amongst the establishment of Champagne. For Dermot Sugrue, a key protagonist in this movement, childhood dreams have been realised, now the winemaker at Wiston Estate, his wines are critically acclaimed, including his own project ‘The Trouble With Dreams’.

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Equipo Navazos La Bota de Manzanilla No. 55 & Callejuela Manzanilla Pasada ‘Blanquito’

Manzanilla, bone dry and saline, with intensity and finesse from ageing under flor in the bodegas of Sanlúcar de Barrameda. Today’s post looks at two more obscure examples, each very distinctive and with it’s own particular characteristics, and both with an intriguing story behind the wine enjoyed today. From sherry aficionados Equipo Navazos, the seventh in their classic line of La Bota de Manzanilla series, No. 55, and the Manzanilla Pasada ‘Blanquito’ from former Almacenista turned boutique bodega Callejuela.

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Thousand Candles 2012

Named after the musings of a nineteenth century European settler on observing an aboriginal ceremony, made by a renowned Aussie winemaker who has been inspired by Pinot Noir’s Burgundian heartland from an idiosyncratic blend of grapes, and grown on vineyards owned by a nameless mega wealthy Singaporean businessman who’s never visited, Thousand Candles has an intriguing backstory.

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