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Our favourite releases tasted at Innoble Wine Fest (and II) The high temperatures of the summer are more bearable thanks to this cool fan we bought at Innoble. Photo: A.C.

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Our favourite releases tasted at Innoble Wine Fest (and II)

Amaya Cervera and Yolanda Ortiz de Arri | July 28th, 2021

This is our second article featuring new releases tasted at Innoble, the very entertaining wine fest held in Sanlúcar de Barrameda late in June. In this case the focus is on white and fortified wines from Andalucía and reds from all over Spain. 

Tres Miradas Cerro Macho Fermentado en Bota 2019, Alvear (Montilla-Moriles) 

Following the work done by the producers behind Envínate, Alvear has hired a new advisor for the Tres Miradas range of wines. The aim remains the same, though. They want to bring to light the best terroirs from Sierra de Montilla, one of the two high-quality areas established by this appellation in the Córdoba province, in northern Andalucía. Their new travel companion is no other than Ramiro Ibáñez, the terroir-driven producer who, together with Willy Pérez, has shaken the Sherry Triangle in recent times -everyone is looking forward to their coming book on the region. In Montilla, Ramírez wants to take the project a step further from the wines fermented and aged under flor in concrete tinajas by Envínate to fermentation and ageing in butts. September will see the release of three single-vineyard wines along these lines: Viña de Antoñín, Cerro Franco and Cerro Macho.

Our favourite was the latter, which showed gorgeous character. Grapes are sourced from one of the highest, more isolated sites in Sierra de Montilla at 650 metres above sea level. Its 12% abv. are the result of achieving optimal ripeness in a fresh area with a still white wine rather than a fino; however, its verticality and acidity are unusual at this latitude. Harvest dates are strongly influenced by the dominant style of the wines: either oxidative or aged under flor. The mineral, chalky soils are also very apparent. It’s somewhat curious that whereas Macharnudo in Jerez tends to shine consistently because of the site’s concentration and power, the opposite style is what stood out for us in Montilla. 
On this first vintage, 1,200 bottles were produced of each wine with retail prices expected to fetch €25. 


Ojo y Coíllo 2020, Miguel Castro Maíllo, Sierra de Montilla (no DO)

A descendant of a saga of wine producers in Montilla-Moriles, Miguel Castro Maíllo wanted to return to the essence of the soil and the vineyard by growing some of his grandfather's rows of oldest vines in Riofrío Alto, an area at 550 elevation in the Sierra de Montilla.

There, on the albariza soils, Miguel takes care himself all the farming tasks, including pruning the Pedro Ximénez vines, aged between 50 and 60 years old, to pruning with traditional techniques such as ojo y coíllo, which are the two buds that form the spur: the ojo is the productive bud and the coíllo will be next year's spur.

Perhaps because of his fondness for the wines of Cádiz, where he studied winemaking, Castro Maíllo decided to make a white wine from Montilla that glances at Jerez, as it is fermented and aged with a veil of flor in old fino casks for ten months. It has volume, concentration and 14.5% alcohol but it feels fluid and saline on the palate; the yeasty flor flavours are present but not overpowering. Its delicious citrus finish beckons you to drink it and to think that Miguel Castro Maíllo, a curious guy eager to learn, is undoubtedly one of the new rising stars of Montilla-Moriles

The 2020 vintage will be released soon but you can still get some of the 800 bottles of the 2019 vintage. Club Contubernio at Taberna Der Guerrita sells them for €16.


La Choza de Callejuela 2020, Viña Callejuela (no DO)

This wine is not a novelty, but we have included it in this list because year after year it proves to be one of the most consistent and balanced of all the albariza whites currently being made in the Jerez region. We've also included it because the Blanco brothers, Paco and Pepe, who were at Innoble sharing out wine, honesty and good vibes, are mayetos who are faithful to their heritage but have managed to adapt to the 21st century, recovering traditions and opening up to new styles.

La Choza is part of a series of three whites from three different pagos or sites (Callejuela, Añina and Macharnudo). The three are vinified in the same way and aged for nine months in barrels with a veil of flor, but their origin marks the style of the wine. La Choza comes from the plot of the same name in Macharnudo at 74 metres elevation and tends to have more alcohol than the other two wines, sourced from sites closer to the coast. It is a dark golden Palomino, with weight and structure on the palate but also gentle and smooth thanks to a hint of sweetness due to its ripeness. Fresh, savoury, elegant and perfect to enjoy and drink often during the summer because it is also reasonably priced (€13.95 at Decántalo).

Sobajanera is its older brother. It comes from the same plot in Macharnudo Bajo but it is aged for 24 months under flor in a single cask so availability is scarce. Luckily, a few bottles are still available for €20.50 at Montenegro


Finolis Vino en Rama 2016, Williams & Humbert, Jerez (no DO)

Slowly but surely, the most renowned bodegas in the Sherry Triangle are adding to their ranges the unfortified wines that smaller producers, with Equipo Navazos at the forefront, recovered a little over a decade ago. This is the case of Williams & Humbert, probably the house that has placed most emphasis on vintage finos. At Innoble we tasted Finolis, their latest release, which is not a fino but a still white wine. It reaches 14.6% alcohol naturally as a result of over-ripening and drying the Palomino grapes on the Andalusian sun. Bunches are selected from the vineyards that the bodega owns in Carrascal, the furthest inland of all the vineyards in Jerez. It is fermented and aged statically, without soleras or criaderas.

Since this is a category outside the DO, each producer imposes its own style and, unlike other non-fortified albariza whites, which are released with only a brief ageing time, Finolis remains in sherry butts for four years. This extra contact with the flor is evident but not overpowering, resulting in a rounded savoury wine, with structure but refined on the palate. Finolis is sold in 50 cl bottles in the winery’s online store for por €19.


Fino de Añada 2016 Pago de Carrascal, González Byass (Jerez) 

González Byass range of “vinos finitos” (finite wines) combines bottlings of forgotten, really unique casks with limited releases of very specific wines. Not very long ago, the Jerez-based producer launched two vintage Finos aged for seven and eight years respectively that blended grapes sourced from the pagos of Carrascal and Macharnudo and allowed to compare two different vintages: 2010 and 2011. It seems that vintage finos are an appealing line of work for the technical team headed by Antonio Flores, given the samples poured at Innoble. On this occasion they presented two finos from the same vintage, 2016, but sourced from the two vineyards: Carrascal and Macharnudo.

Made in very limited quantities, the wines are due to be released in 2022. Prices are yet unknown, but they are likely to be more expensive than previous vintage finos. Our favourite was Carrascal as it showed the terroir beautifully combining freshness and creaminess; it didn't feel sharp and had a grainy texture that added character. The palate was excellent. We were told that soils at Carrascal are very aerated and its grapes have traditionally been destined to oxidative ageing. At González Byass they are very confident about its potential for biological ageing. Macharnudo was more powerful and opulent, with more alcohol and a little less finesse, but as befits its reputation, we are sure that the waiting will be worth it.


Amontillado Nefertiti, The Wine Bang, (Montilla-Moriles)

The first time we heard about The Wine Bang was during the lockdown, when we were sent a bottle of their amontillado Arribota through Club Contubernio. It was a hand-picked butt from the Cordoban winery Herederos de Torres Burgos and we were thrilled and smitten in equal parts. To our great disappointment, the name did not refer to the surname of one of the authors of this list but to the elevation at which the butt was located in the bodega that had aged this noble old wine.

At Innoble, The Wine Bang trio, formed by brothers Pedro and Juan Morales (Bodegas Lunares, Ronda) and Víctor Soltero, presented several unique, very old and limited wines, including various sweet PX, a palo cortado, a couple of amontillados with the name and power of a pharaoh (Tutankamon, Akenaton) and this Nefertiti, which captivated us with its finesse and elegance on the nose, its almost stinging concentration on the palate (22% alcohol and a total acidity of 10.28 g/l) and its persistent finish.

This Nefertiti, which is sourced, like a few other wines selected by TWB, from Bodegas Delgado in Puente Genil, belongs to a saca of 200 small bottles of 37,5cl, which are sold at 180 € each. If you want to purchase these relics from Montilla, just send an email to thewinebang@gmail.com.


Raúl Pérez Pan y Carne 2019, Bodegas y Viñedos Raúl Pérez (no DO)

Served at the informal dinner held on the eve of the wine fest, this wine was one of the stars at Innoble. Pan y Carne is one of the two red grape varieties that have been recently approved by Bierzo’s Regulatory Board – the other one is Merenzao (Trousseau), yet the wine we tried didn’t bear the seal of the appellation. The official name for Pan y Carne is Estaladiña.

Confusingly enough, it seems that Merenzao is also known as Pan y Carne in Bierzo. In fact, Raúl Pérez says that this is the case with his wine. Regardless of the frequent mix-ups in vineyards (a member of Itacyl, Castilla y Léon’s vine research centre, points out that the leaves of both grapes are very similar), what we tasted was delicious. A juicy, balanced and perfectly drinkable red with good fruit and dried herbs. A wine worth looking out for, although we have not been able to collect any information on release dates, price or availability. Whenever they develop into expressive, high-quality wines, recovered grape varieties are really fascinating.


Tartalo 2019 Tinto, Oxer Bastegieta (Rioja)

The latest single-vineyard red by Oxer Bastegieta, a Basque wine producer based in Rioja Alavesa, was released a few months ago with the sort of label he has gotten us used to -this one in particular is intriguing as it is disturbing. 
In Basque mythology, Tartalo is a giant, terrifying cyclops who feeds on animals and children. Legend says that he drowned when he jumped into a well while chasing a prey. Bastegieta argues that he does not really want to shock but rather to personalise his wines and bring them to life. Inspired by comic books, he wanted to portray the cyclops emerging defiantly from the lake "like Excalibur [the sword in the Arthurian legends]" as he looks out of the corner of his eye at the sheep grazing nearby. The back label carries a quote from Edvard Munch written in Basque: 'From my rotting body, flowers shall grow and I am in them and that is eternity'.

Grapes are sourced from a plot with distinctive shallow, limestone soils in Elvillar (Rioja Alavesa). It is planted to Tempranillo with some Viura and Graciano. All of these varieties are fermented together with a small amount of stems (5% to 10%) and aged in foudre. 1,300 bottles were produced. At €120, it is Bastegieta’s most expensive wines, well above Kalamity (€105 in Spain), its other Rioja single-vineyard. Tartalo is expressive and subtle with floral (violets) and Mediterranean herbs aromas. It feels riper on the palate but without losing the vibrancy provided by limestone. Oxer likes to say that he has managed to bring the landscape into the bottle.


Magaña Los Cascajos Garnacha 2018 Tinto, Bodegas Magaña (Navarra)

We finally managed to taste Magaña’s first single-varietal Garnacha. The wine is part of the project “Vidaos de Navarra” that focuses on the recovery of indigenous grapes in the province. Diego Magaña, who beyond the family business produces his own, highly interesting wines in Bierzo and Rioja, champions Garnacha planted in areas at medium elevations such as Barillas, the village where the family winery is located.

Grapes are sourced from a vineyard at 360 metres elevation. The wine was partially fermented with stems and indigenous yeasts, and was aged for 12 months in a 3,200-litre oak vat and several 225-litre barrels. 4,000 bottles were produced. This is an intoxicating, expressive Garnacha with lots of flowers (violets), blueberries and the variety’s characteristic wild herbs. Filled with fruit, the palate has more weight than the light Garnachas that have become fashionable in Spain in recent years. Isn’t it great to see the expanding interest for this grape variety in Spain? Find this wine for €16.95 at Bodeboca


Cénit Tradición La Espartera 2020 Tinto, Viñas del Cénit (Tierra del Vino de Zamora)

This wine represents a totally unexpected style in Tierra del Vino de Zamora, an area seen by many as a natural extension of Toro, with its old, often ungrafted Tempranillo vines and the odd pre-phylloxera plants here and there. However, José Manuel Beneitez, who joined Cénit as technical director in 2018 and completed his first harvest in 2019, points out that the higher elevation favours a slower ripening of the grapes and adds that there is a specific Tempranillo clone in the vineyards around Villanueva de Campeán where the winery stands. 
Beneitez’s roots are in Arribes, a region stretching between Zamora and Salamanca on the Portuguese border with distinctive multi-varietal vineyards where he makes his own wines. This may be the reason why he has dared to make a field blend using an old Tempranillo plot with 25% to 30% white varieties mixed in.

Whole bunches of Dona Blanca, Palomino, Godello and Verdejo were treaded and co-fermented with Tempranillo using natural yeasts before devatting four to five months later. The style, which resembles the wines made by the region's growers in the past, stands in contrast with the powerful, full-bodied wines that the region has been known for in recent years. One would expect to find this style in Bierzo, Gredos or Galicia, but certainly not here.

The resulting red is light in colour, almost like a clarete; it is fresh, fragrant, with sweet fruit and firm tannins. Part of the grapes were fermented in stainless steel tanks; the rest in seasoned barrels. Subsequently, the wine was moved to barrels. The most challenging thing about this wine, particularly when you are familiar with the region and the range of wines produced by Cénit, is probably the need to change one’s preconceptions. 2,045 bottles were produced. Retail price will be around €25.


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Our favourite releases tasted at Innoble Wine Fest (I)
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