Back in September 2016, Erik had the opportunity to attend a Equipo Navazos wine dinner in Edinburgh at Timberyard restaurant with Jesús Barquín.
Jesús is a professor of criminal law and director of the Institute of Criminology at the University of Granada. Along with Peter Liem, he is also co-author of the book Sherry, Manzanilla & Montilla – The Traditional Wines of Andalucia and a co-founder of Equipo Navazos.
This is one of the few English language books that can be used as an accurate reference to the region and wines of Montilla-Moriles.
Equipo Navazos, since 2005, have bottled a special range of wines from Andalucia and beyond including 7 different vintages of the PX Casa del Inca, a Pedro Ximénez wine from Perez Barquero S.A.
This is a tinaja wine at 15% that has seen no interaction with wood and is made from the must of grapes that have been through the asoleado process on a pasera. The latest 2013 vintage formed part of the 10 wines at the dinner. Jesús and Erik connected at the dinner, exchanged email addresses and a few weeks later he had kindly arranged for us to have a special visit in March this year. Unfortunately, he was unable to join us as he had hoped.
When we arrived at the bodega we were greeted by Teresa, our host during our first visit with Alberto in September 2014. We were then introduced to Adela, the Marketing Director, who would act as our host.
This bodega was established in 1905 and is one of four in the Perez Barquero Group including Gracia Hnos. S.A., Cía. Vinícola del Sur S.A. and Tomás García. As well as Montilla-Moriles wines, the group also produce brandy, red wines, vermouth, aperitifs, spirits & vinegars.
Our visit started in the building which contains 350 tinajas, each with a capacity of 6000 litres. It was one that really captivated us during our first Montilla-Moriles bodega visit and it did again.
The Vino Joven or young wines are fermented in stainless steel while the wines such as the PX Casa del Inca in the tinajas. These young PX wines from the tinajas are very fruity leaving you wanting more.
These tinaja wines are also used to refresh the various soleras around the bodega.
Interestingly the tinajas are not emptied. There is a different quality at the bottom and only by gravity do the lees fall down. The chalk markings on each tinaja ensure traceability.
The casks in some of the soleras actually date back to 1895. We believe we saw 1 of these casks during our first visit as part of the solera for the Brigadier brandy.
The Oloroso casks stored undercover with lots of ventilation in the roof. They thrive on the temperature change from day to night as it helps with the oxidization of the wine.
Moving on we visited the bodega building housing the Los Amigos solera and inludes part of the Gran Barquera Fino solera where we joined by Juan Márquez who is the cellar master of Perez Barquero.
He explained that they separate the must by colour and quality depending on whether it will be used for making Fino and Amontillado or Oloroso.
All grapes come from the company’s vineyards in Sierra de Montilla and Moriles Alto, the 2 best viticultural areas in Montilla-Moriles.
Juan knows how they will develop and explained it is vital that soleras are refreshed with good quality young wine. It was very interesting to hear how much work is involved in refreshing the criaderas and soleras for the Gran Barquero Fino as they are housed across 2 different bodegas buildings.
It was also fascinating to learn that the Gran Barquero Amontillado no longer requires any addition of alcohol to kill the flor or yeast as it is naturally at 16.5% ABV. As the soleras are so old, they mature naturally for over 25 years. It is a natural progression of the fino.
Our first tasting, of what would be many special wines during our visit, was the Gran Barquero Fino. This was straight from the cask.
This Gran Barquero Fino straight from the cask had a nose full of yeast and uncooked bread. March truly is a great time for the flor in Montilla. When we reviewed the Gran Barquero Fino en Rama from Autumn 2016 here it was an indication of what this year’s Spring saca in April would bring.
Next up was some of the oldest Fino at 12% ABV from one of the five casks reserved just for the family and friends which is not sold commercially. These casks are over 50 years old, come from the 2nd generation of the bodega and are known as the 5 sisters.
What a huge honour and privilege to be able to try this wine. The nose was full of citrus especially lemon with a palate of melon and spices with no wood evident at all. The yeast is darker as it consumes the sugar as you can see from the colour in the photo above.
If the visit could not get any better we got to try four wines from the 1955 Solera range which consisted of the Amontillado at 21.5% ABV , Palo Cortado 22.0%, Oloroso 21.5% and Pedro Ximenez 15.0%.
An absolutely fantastic end to our visit.
We have mentioned previously that Perez Barquero will always hold a special place in our hearts as it is where our Montilla-Moriles journey started 3 years ago.
We can’t thank Adela and Juan enough for their time and fantastic hospitality and look forward to our next visit in September 2017.