La Gitana is one of the most iconic brands of Manzanilla and the flagship wine of Bodegas Hidalgo in Sanlúcar de Barrameda, and today, fresh off the plane from South Africa, I hooked up with Luis Hidalgo to taste through not only his beautiful Manzanillas but also an exciting new still wine venture using Palomino.
Besides their classic La Gitana, the same bodega has an older, single vineyard Manzanilla Pastrana, and since 2011, there has also been a highly limited Manzanilla La Gitana En Rama, a less filtered and more intense Manzanilla expression that is bottled twice a year.
The new Las 30 del Cuadrado still white wine is a homage to a unique 30 acre plot of old vine Palomino that are found inside the sought after district of Balbaina Alta. Using Palomino for still, non-sherry style wines is growing day by day, perhaps spurred on my the massive success of the Listan Blanco (aka Palomino) whites of Tenerife. This is an all together more exotic, fleshy, opulent style than the volcanic wines of Tenerife, but its definitely worth tracking down.
Rich straw yellow colour, this is no run of the mill white wine from Jerez. Made from grapes from average 70 year old non-trellised Palomino vines, the juice was fermented in old Manzanilla Pastrana Single Vineyard casks using indigenous yeast with battonage daily. 10 Bote were made and this bottling was from Bote No.3, which yielded 523 bottles (total production around 5,300) at 13.8 Abv. The nose is opulent and dense, layered with smoky, waxy yellow peach stone fruit, bruised apricots, dusty limestone, and hints of sea breeze and oyster shells. Wonderful, nutty, smoky, buttery nuances. The palate is rich and fleshy, round and full bodied, but also shows super saline, briney freshness, a sake rice wine umami note and spicy, burnt citrus, blossom and almond skin spice. There is lovely focus to the wine, fantastic fruit concentration and a long, salty, peachy, musky finish. An unusual wine, but oh so delicious.
(Wine Safari Score: 93+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)