El Marco de Jerez, vinos de pueblo de Jerez

Bodegas Luis Pérez is run today by ‘Willy’ (Guillermo) Pérez, son of this family business’s founder, Luis Pérez. In 2002, Luis set up a bodega based on the singular premise that “Jerez must go back to the vineyard.” Luis’s first premise was to revisit historical Jerezano Pagos, such as Balbaina Alta, Añina, Macharnudo and Carrascal Jerezano, and reassert their particular, historical wine styles, delving deep to unpick generic overlays which had become habitual since the crash of Sherry. They also have the Corchuelo estate (where there main bodega is) which they planted from scratch, and in such a place have felt free to play with exogenous varieties and non-traditional methods.

Luis has been professor of oenology at University of Cadiz, and was formerly a chief winemaker at Domecq. At first (and which at the time was utterly revolutionary), the wines of Bodegas Luis Pérez were entirely about table wines, with a very unusual focus on Tintos, working hard to recover the local Tintilla de Rota, but also working where appropriate with French varieties, Merlot, Syrah, Petit Verdot. In 2011, they released the region’s first varietal bottling of Tintilla de Rota in living memory. Good Tintilla makes for a flavoursome, fresh and balanced wine of some delicacy.

After this achievement, Luis relented to Willy’s desire that they also start to work with “Sherry”, albeit in the same historicising mode of rediscovering lost identity connections between particular lands and particular practises, resulting in specific historical styles not seen in years. Always, their aim is to explore the influence of Albariza in preference to biological and/or oxidative ageing techniques. They also resile from fortification, so theirs are rare examples of natural alcohol Finos, with no exogenous material wines (if you are unfortunate enough to care about sulphur, there’s none of that added either).

BLP work a transect of pagos, which sum the range of possibility in the Jerez zone. From near-coastal poniente freshness and elegance (Balbaina Alta), through mid-zone ease and perfect balance (Añina), culminating in levante-influenced inland power (Macharnudo, Carrascal). In our summary of their pagos, we move from west-to-east, from the Atlantic inland, from freshness to power. All wines are guided by Luis and Willy’s desire to show the pago, and to honour history, rather than a winemaker’s rule book.

First, we’ll quickly visit the main pagos in which Willy and Luis work.

Then, we’ll study their wines by style, in several groupings:

      • Dry white wines in the Palominos→Finos continuum
      • Oxidative dry whites
      • Reds from Tintilla de Rota
      • Sweet PX wines


Here is the view of Jerez from BLP’s HQ, Pago Corchuelo, which sits between Carrascal (left, to the east of picture) and Macharnudo. Corchuelo houses their main bodega (some vinification does take place in the old cortijo atop Carrascal). Corchuelo is mainly planted to exotic varieties and thus does not figure in TSAs imports.

WINES OF PAGO BALBAINA ALTA – freshness and elegance

Bodegas Luis Pérez are the front line of the Tintilla de Rota¹ story. Their efforts with the local red variety are focused in Bailbaina Alta, with its near-Atlantic poniente freshness, which gives them the chance to make reds of finesse and delicacy. Having led the way towards recovering Tintilla under Luis, they have a majority share of the mere 50 hectares planted globally to this cultivar. In Balbaina Alta they have a 100% Tintilla vineyard from which they make two reds of different elaboration styles and a bit of dry pink. ‘Calderin del Obispo’ is an almost mythic historical vineyard within Balbaina Alta, on a mix of Barajuelas, Tosca Cerrada and Albariza Barrosa (containing some clay).


WINES FROM PAGO AÑINA – perfect balance

Pago Añina is east of Pago Balbaina, inland towards Macharnudo, and ultimately Carrascal. These are beautiful rolling hillslopes with classical white stone farmhouses atop each Pago (in times past, the young mostos were fermented right in the vineyard). Añina is 13km in from the Atlantic, and its viticultural history goes back to the Romans. Historically, it was home to wonderful Finos, featuring the freshness of Pagos near the coast, such as Balbaina, but also starting to exhibit the firmness of structure and sense of layering in the mouth, more common inland in Macharnudo and Carrascal. BLP’s holdings are an estate called ‘el Caribe[1], a parcel within a sub-Pago of Añina, called ‘Orbaneja’. The palominos of ‘el Caribe’ are grown on Tosca Cerrada, facing south on 8 degree slopes.


WINES OF PAGO MACHARNUDO – legendary minerality

In Macharnudo, 17km in from the Atlantic, between Añina and the eastern Carrascal, we come across some of el Marco’s finest addresses. Perhaps the greatest of all are the parcels of el Majuelo, high up and facing north: Willy himself is today’s custodian of this jewel, which he crafts into the majestic white wine, M Antonio de la Riva, a side project he shares with Ramiro Ibañez. Other famous parcelas of Macharnudo (no longer expressed as terroir wines, sadly) include Blazquez, Botaina, Viña AB and Valdespino.

Macharnudo’s name is of Arabic origin (machar-nudo is nude hill). Here the pure chalk soils restrict herb and grass growth. It’s 17km inland from the coast, and its wines have historically been famed for their longevity. Macharundo, like most pagos graduates from clay and sand lower down to a long slope of barajuelas rising to el Marco’s highest point. Macharnudo’s wines are rich yet subtle with a typical acetic prickle edging them.

WINES OF PAGO CARRASCAL – savoury muscle

In the Jerez zone’s eastern jewel, Pago Carrascal (‘The Oaky Place’, 20km inland), Luis and Willy have purchased the parcela which crowns the pago. ‘El Corregidor’ (the magistrate) was once the showpiece vineyard of Sandeman Corp, and the cortijo[2] at the peak has been lovingly restored. El Corregidor is a special parcel, with panoptic views from the old bodega atop the rise, looking down on 60 hectares of Albariza. In Carrascal, the chalk is barajuelas – hard, laminated (like playing cards) and iron-rich. Wines from Carrascal are deep, full, powerful and savoury (the Spanish like to use the ultra-vague term ‘sapidity’ here … ).

Half the fruit of Carrascal is outstanding quality 45 year-old Palomino de Jerez, rather than the high yield UC Davis clone ‘California’ which, sadly, dominates contemporary production in el Marco. The rest is mainly Tintilla de Rota, with some Pedro Ximenez. Some nearly extinct varieties are currently being re-propagated [3].

The Palomino of ‘el Corregidor’ is taken in many passes (2018 had 18 different harvest selections). Firstly, a green harvest of Palomino becomes young mosto – a white wine vinified with low alcohol and high acidity - extremely useful acidifying material. Another quality control pass yields material which is distilled: one day, this will become the first genuine contemporary Brandy de Jerez, a vintage, single-vineyard Brandy with no exogenous material. The first batch is ageing as holandas – young, but complete Brandy awaiting the character development which only time can yield.

Finally, a small amount of very carefully selected, super high quality fruit is harvested (at a very low three tonnes/hectare) and is designated as palmas – wines with the potential to make great Finos, and deeply expressive of the Albariza barajuelas of this pago. Because of the power of Carrascal, it’s easy to make Finos with natural alcohol – sometimes, there’s even no need for soleo!



BLP ‘el Muelle de Olaso’ Palomino Vino de Pasto

El Muelle is named for a pier which used to serve fishing boats in Sanlúcar de Barrameda. It’s ‘nominally’ a Vino de Pasto, a wine with some bodega ageing development, but short of the requirements for Fino. In the case of ‘el Muelle’, it’s a Vino de Pasto very lightly touched by ageing.

El Muelle is not a recipe wine.
Usually, it’s about 80% straight up Joven (unaged, stainless steel), with a portion that has a short period of sun-drying, then ageing in old Fino casks, maybe 2-3 months with a touch of Velo de Flor. Most years, it’s taken from the single vineyard ‘el Corregidor’ in Pago Carrascal (Jerez), but in 2022 for example, a portion came from across the road in the single vineyard Parcela San Cayetano in Pago Macharnudo. Usually, it’s a varietal Palomino, but in certain years, 2019 for example, it’s bottled as a Vidueño – the local term for a holistic expression of an estate, blending its various cultivars, much like the gentil wines of Alsace. Vidueños are common in Montilla, but 2019 el Muelle was the first Jerezano wine released with this title in many years. The blend that year 70% Palomino and 25% PX, with a little each of two nearly extinct local varieties, Mantuo de Pilas and Vijiriega.

El Muelle is a structured, detailed rich and savoury wine, part of which is given a brief soleo. It’s fermented and aged in a mix of stainless steel (80-90%) and bota. Only a small portion develops flor. Both portions spend 6 months in tank to unify. The wine is naturally acidified with addition of a light ‘green wine’ fermented from the green harvest in July.

Smelling of green wheat, orange blossom and cereal liquor, it gets polished rice and barley broth from the Palomino and a green polleny haze from the PX. Cereal and floral elements balance beautifully in a savoury wine with umami buttered popcorn marked by the feel of chalk. It has good richness and great flow to a fresh ending, with minerals in the acidity.

BLP ‘La Escribana’ Palomino de Pasto

La Escribana is a Vino de Pasto from the laminated Albarizas barajuelas of Pago Macharnudo. In fact, when first released in September 2019 it was the wine to put this historical term back on the map, albeit without approval or support from the DO. 

It’s a parcela wine, coming from four hectares within the San Cayetano sub-pago of Macharnudo Bajo, just 200 metres down the southern ridge from the crest of Macharnudo Alto (where we find ‘el Majuelo’, possibly the finest vineyard in el Marco). At 100 metres altitude, it’s one of the highest in the region. La Escribana is named for an abandoned cortijo mid-slope, and faces south-west towards el Puerto de Santa Maria, and the Atlantic. The name means ‘the writer’, perhaps a chalk board medium for the illiterate, a translator, documentor, faithful witness.

This wine is a new stop along the Palominos→Finos continuum.
It’s aged in 80 year-old bota, with 12 months under velo de Flor, and has 13.5% natural abv, without soleo. There’s a green harvest, for all the normal reasons, but which is fermented to give a reserve ‘green wine’ which Willy uses as a natural dilutant, to correct acidity naturally, and add finesse.

As we often find with things Spanish, there’s a Japanese connection: it’s a wine of green bamboo washed by billy tea, of pistachio skin sake. It’s Japanesque like barley beer with a rice lining.

BODEGAS LUIS PÉREZ ‘La Escribana’ Palomino de Pasto

Gold and green to look and smell. It has a semi-fermented barley-sake-ricey-acetic tang and gourd skin, paddy-melon-in-the-cool-of-night edginess. There’s a titch of steel and the ripe, slightly dried grass smells of reeds and rush matting, stripped bamboo, lemongrass outers and pistachio skin. It’s a wine of lovely depth with some richness, cut by stoniness and edged sweet-sour with the acetic ID of Macharnudo, and spicy-vegetal at the end.


BLP Seleccion de Añadas Fino en rama ‘Caberrubia NV’ (Carrascal)

Caberrubia is BLP’s answer to NV Grand Cru Champagne!

Caberrubia  is a Seleccion de Añadas, a rare old form of pure Fino dating back to the 19th century.

A statically-aged blend of Vintage Natural Alcohol Finos. No solera, no fortification.

Caberrubia blends several vintages of Carrascal Fino … selection material which does not make it into La Barajuela. It marks the return to Jerez of the historical practise of making Finos without adding alcohol distilled from other grapes in another region (Airen from La Mancha). Natural alcohol Finos were common throughout el Marco until 1969 when the Consejo Regulador mandated the use of fortification[4]. 50 years later, history returns in the form of Caberrubia.

Caberrubia is based on 50 year old bush vines, yielding just 3 tonnes/ha, from hard, laminated barajuelas in Pago Carrascal. The highly selected fruit is picked in early September and has about 6 hours of soleo. Only 35% of the free run juice is taken. Without racking, it’s set to age in bota, undergoing natural fermentation well into December. In February, the young wine is pressed off lees and classified. The palmas are placed in almost topped bota, thus limiting the growth of flor and emphasising Corregidor’s soil aromas. Each cask is monitored and drained-or-filled to precisely regulate the desired influence of yeast in the wine style. ‘Caberrubia’ is the name of a local bird (also known as the ‘Alzacola’) which has returned to these vineyards since they reverted to organics.

It’s saline, iodine, balsamic, deeply chalky, deeply savoury, rich with balancing bitterness.

Drinking it is like skiing down an intermediate slope, deep and winding but not too rushed, there’s heaps of time to explore the chalk and every delicate switch and fold of texture and flavour. 

Here’s its flavour grid:

  • Orange beeswax → orange zested seaspray → tangerine essential oil → black basil and steel scorch
  • dry honey and hay liquor → oat anzac biscuits → wet wheat and dry straw
  • Deep, round → brisk rim → acid+bitters wrangling chalk → super-complex secondary acidity.

BODEGAS LUIS PÉREZ ‘Caberrubia’ Seleccion de Añadas Fino en rama Saca 5 (Winter 2021)

Caberrubia Saca 5 is somewhat of a return to the very first iteration of this statically-aged blend.

It’s a small and simple blend, 2 botas each of 2017 and 2018 – a very high quality warmer vintage followed by a fresh, easy one. 2017 fills the centre of the mouth. 2018 adds finesse and verticality. It’s meant to show off the land, not the vintages: warm, round, voluminous and most of all balanced, thanks to the Barajuelas it’s grown in. 8.09 g/l tartaric, 37 mg/l SO2, low sugar and acetic content.

BODEGAS LUIS PÉREZ ‘Caberrubia’ Seleccion de Añadas Fino en rama Saca 4 (April 2021)

Caberrubia Saca 4 is a natural update on Saca 3. Built on a base of the warm vintages, 1 bota of 2015 and 2 botas (surely close to the last?!) of 2017, and freshened with 2 botas of 2018, the freshest vintage in recent history. There’s a Little more obvious impact of biological ageing here, a hint of overt flor, but really only a hint. Casks were chosen to match the sapidity and power of the 2015 and harness and balance its extroversion with freshness and a good presence of aldehyde.

BODEGAS LUIS PÉREZ ‘Caberrubia’ Seleccion de Añadas Fino en rama Saca 3 (Oct 2020)

Saca tres is a tribute to warmer vintages, blending 50 year old vines from Pago Carrascal’s finest parcela, ‘el Corregidor’, cropped at just 3 tonnes/hectare. About 6 hours of soleo resulted in a base wine with the potential for 15 degrees of natural alcohol. As well as qualifying the wine as a Fino, this also increases the terroir tell of land in wine and enhances natural acidity. Win, win, win again!

While Sacas 1 & 2 featured cooler years of ‘la Barajuela’ (the ‘grand cru’ statically-aged vintage Fino from which ‘Caberrubia’ is compiled), Saca 3 is much more classically typical of la calidez in Jerez, blending three botas from 2017 and one from 2015. The representative barrels from these potent years were carefully chosen to have plenty of acetaldehyde to balance and edge the wine.

15.3% abv, 5.61 g/l TA, 0.62 g/l VA, 41 mg total sulphur, none free. 

Dry, savoury, apricot rich earth, golden rye, dried oats, corn liquor. Peachy and orange bitter, deeply earthy, ripe golden apple skin, gorgeous fat-bitter interplay, savoury, hint of nut, but lots of appleskin, celery seeds (gone to seed on the plant), plantain fronds.

BODEGAS LUIS PÉREZ ‘Caberrubia’ Seleccion de Añadas Fino en rama Saca 2 (Oct 2019)

Saca Dos is fresher, more vertical and brisk than Saca Uno, without the 2016 material. It’s 2013, 1 cask, 2014 1.25 casks, 2015 1 cask, 2017, 3 casks. Lots of vinous fruit profile from the ’17 and a whack of acetaldehyde from the older gear giving drying finesse. Average age just below 4 years.

Orange sponge small tea cake, lots of blue steel scorch, lightly toasted green pistachio skin and a wash of agave mash. It’s very maritime with a big ozone zoom and something like branch water off a chestnut honey moonshine still. It’s less deeply chalk-clay rich than Saca 1, more brisk and vertical. It has incredible spice and a great secondary acid line. Lays out on chalk biscuit base like a cactus+lemon curd tart.

BODEGAS LUIS PÉREZ Fino en rama ‘Caberrubia NV’ Saca 1 (January 2019)

The first release of Caberrubia is the saca de enero 2019, blending 4 vintages of wines selected from the masterpiece, ‘La Barajuela’:

  • 1 butt of 2013, a cold vintage whose 5 years of biological ageing contributes concentrated umami/soy, creamy yeastiness and deep iodine
  • 2 butts of 2014 with great volume of citrus-inflected fruit depth, balanced and saline
  • 1 butt of 2015 bringing full body, creaminess and dried fruit character
  • and 2 butts of fresh material from 2016 giving freshness and a lick of finesse.

Preserved citrus rind, some meal, floral with golden apple skin, marzipan facepack mud, aldehyde in the form of elderflower gin, and with time becomes really peachy. It’s brightly earthy, deep and soft to smell, and gloriously, endlessly effortless. Spiced with a touch of billy tea smoked steel, neither rounded nor vertical, it works down into the soil at a 45 degree angle. You taste the chalk in the same way you feel the snow working your way down a ski slope: a complex, slow, textural unfolding.

BLP ‘la Barajuela’ 2016 (Carrascal)

45yo low-yielding Palomino grown on Barajuelas: layered, structured, iron-proud. Like soil, like wine. 15.5% natural abv. Hand-picked grapes are collected over a two month stretch, then given 6 or 7 hours of soleo. Only 35% of the must is taken from basket press and this ferments spontaneously in bota until December. The fruit is then classified as Fino or Oloroso. The Fino (classified as Una Palma) selection is then put to biological ageing for two years, but with little ullage. This is to attenuate the development of the flor, and allow soil-related aromas to continue to dominate the wine, which is given a relatively short time under flor. 3 botas of 400 litres each result in this un-fortified Fino of freshness, finesse, and immense chalky structural depth.

A collision of biological ageing with fruit and terroir. It’s a Fino with fresh citrus depth, layered with iodine, ocean balm, soy, fresh ripe walnuts, pomelo and some glycerol. It’s round and full, neatened by fresh dancing spiciness and rimmed with chalk. Deep and savoury with a nip of bitter to finish, reflecting the soil. It has a salty-caramel tannin flow and a long splashing salt after-affect.

BLP La Barajuela Dos Palmas 2014 (tasted 2019 from a Barajuela bota 5 years on flor)

Beautiful soft golden fruit, a hint of flor in the golden apple, wheat, steel threads on nose and woven brass threads in the palate. Spiced, delicate tannin, fine nutty touch of flor, buttery camomile, yet the wine is not creamy as such, and a titch of aldeyhde in the acid/steel/flor line.

BLP ‘la Barajuela’ Fino 2014

The same wine as the barrel above, but bottled in 2016, now with 3 years reductive ageing in bottle.

A little more caramel butter fullness on the nose compared to the leanness of the wine longer under flor. Smells beautifully of baked, spiced apple, with perfume of corrupting ripe skins but no toffee, and autumn leaves. The palate is wonderful with a vinegar-jam interplay to finish. Apple jam, with acetic freshness. Round and full, with nice tannin fill in mid-palate before the spice. Excellent build to round at mid, then a long hold and perfect release to resolution.

LUIS PÉREZ ‘la Barajuela’ Fino dos Palmas 2013 (375ml, Carrascal)

Here we get a full five years of biological ageing. The resultant wine is a deep, developed Fino, classified as dos Palmas – significantly augmented character from ageing, but still entirely consistent with its original designation.

Increased volume, more salt, more acid: ripe fruit, dried straw, chalk drying on boots, ground nut meal, the smell of toast, the ocean and flor. Really classical Fino with fine, spritely secondary acidity, and a really complex volatile spectrum.



OK, it’s time to get some arcane linguistic guff out of the way.

We’re pretty comfortable talking about the progression of Fino (inc Manzanilla) through Fino-Amontillado (not currently legal, although their Sanlú equivalent, Manzanilla Pasada is) and on to Amontillado as an ageing continuum. Outside of this progression sits Palos Cortado, perhaps most easily understood as Finos which didn’t stay true to style and take on elements of Oloroso-rich fragrance. And then Olorosos, classified apart from the beginning. The classification of fruit for Oloroso can come about in a couple of ways. Maybe it’s pressings wine, too heavy for Fino; maybe it comes from arenas and barrios, sand and clay soils not ‘fine’ enough to make interesting Fino; maybe the base wine just doesn’t seem ‘Fino’.

Anyways, we are used to these terms to define the resultant wines that are bottled. Historically, however, while potential wines were WIPs, other terms were used to gauge and express each bota’s potential as wine.
Palmas were potential Finos. With extended barrel-ageing, such might be classified as Dos Palmas, Tres Palmas, etcetera, effectively old and really old Finos.

Material not seeming ‘Fino’ was classified as a Palma Cortado, and if it developed nicely in bota might be released as a Palo Cortado.
Heavier material, definitely not Fino was classed as Cortado in bota, any maybe ended up as a lovely Oloroso.
Over-ripe, perhaps faulty material was classed as Raya.
Then, we just wait and see what happens in barrel … … no wines have been released under these handles for many, many years in el Marco.

LUIS PÉREZ ‘la Barajuela’ Palma Cortada 2017

From the warm 2017 harvest, this is a natural Cortado, a Palma wine (‘green’ and of alcoholic degree suited to raising under flor). ‘17’s fruit was extremely concentrated with a very high level of sapidity. The yeasts which survived to grow on this wine were strong and created an intensely flavoured, fragrant Velo de Flor, but even so one only capable of ageing a couple of years due to the inherent warmth, eventually acquiring an oxidative hue. Willy says: “the particularity of this wine is that the yeasts eventually gave way to the extreme concentration of the vintage and took on a characteristic oxidative aspect that we wanted to respect”.

This natural Palo Cortado is an essay in structural complexity and finesse. Tasting it for the 1st time, I reckon I wrote two words about flavour, somewhere along the line I noted a nut perfume and some green spice, but I was entranced by all the secondary, structural dazzle of the thing: it has a certain soft, slinkiness, edged by an acetic rice wine vinegar prickle. The acetic tang is nuanced by sapid minerality, lingering in a palate of extreme length and great subtle complexity. At the end, nutty perfume lifts out of the tanginess and they start to dance: mingling, spiralling, rotating dominance, spice-salt-acid-sapid mineral entertainment unfolds seemingly for hours. 

LUIS PÉREZ ‘la Barajuela’ Cortado 2017

Also in 2017, Willy set out to replicate a genuine Cortado … late harvested fruit, fully ripe, had 2 days of soleo, was taken off lees after fermentation in december and aged in a filled cask regime for  three years before being bottled as a Cortado in September 2020.

Instant Oloroso nose. And then some …. Classical polished macadamia wood gains jar-pickled walnuts, ripely fruited, earthen, acetic. In the mouth, the moderated richness of pickled walnuts repeats, gaining the sweetness of the barajuelas chalk, and then there’s this finish where all the elements of a sweetly spiced wine with a savoury, earthen heart, both pickled and nutty run out to an amazing sapid-saline end.

LUIS PÉREZ ‘la Barajuela’ Raya 2016

The Raya is the last step, the stage before the raisin,  at which we can select a moment in which the mosto will have some expression and balance pleasing to us, and at the same time, a particular representation of its terroir. Historically, Rayas were sweet whites somewhat like todays ‘Creams’. Rayas did not ferment out to dry, having a small degree of residual sugar and thus a natural volatile component, giving great aromatic volume and “unrepeatable savoury power”. In attempting to replicate this historical style (free of cooked Oloroso character and unassisted by easy blending of other sweet elements), Willy picked very late in September. 2016 was a great Palmas vintage until mid-September, but in the last two weeks came the levante winds and the cool vintage signature of Palma wines with both body and great acidity was over-written by dehydration and concentration. After picking, Willy gave the grapes more than two days of soleo and then left the fermentation to take its chance. Would the yeasts finish the sugars perfectly and yield ‘merely’ an incredibly ripe, fragrant Oloroso, or would they ‘fail’ wonderfully, leaving a little sugar and a tip of volatility and chisel out the style of a Raya? [First the poetry, then the numbers, sadly: the post-fermentation young wine went into barrel with 5 g/l of residual which was consumed by yeast and bacteria during 3 years of bota-ageing, so it’s both marked by this small degree of sweetness, yet dry at the same time; and edged by 2.22 g/l of volatile acidity.) 

Nothing’s ever one thing, seemingly. This is sourly sweet and highly salted, reminding me a lot of great Madeira. Popping corn, fermented grasses, rain water, corn husk, little pickled apples, dry treacle, sour and volatile old honey, wild bramble marmalade. It’s juicy and chalky and you can feel Pago Carrascal.



LUIS PÉREZ ‘Añina el Caribe’ 2016

Oxidatively handled Palomino from a special Finca atop Pago Añina, growing in a mix of Tosca Cerrada and Barajuela. Willy bought the fruit for this one-off interpretation, which is a homage to his grandfather, who used to run the vineyard. This is one of many wines Willy has and will make (under BLP and MADLR labels) which are just for show, as he wants to express various places in various historical styles so the current generations can experience layers of lost history, but he’s not intent on keeping them all in the air as ongoing commercialised ‘portfolio lines’.

Fermented in 2 botas with just 15cm air ullage. Willy was looking to make Fino but a week of levante (strong hot winds and daytime temperatures over 45 celsius) pushed abv over 15% and the flor didn’t take. Bottled at 16% abv after 24 months (including fermentation), it’s utterly un-classifiable! - somewhere between an oxidative white and an Oloroso.

Straw and dried fruit, mandarin zest, a whack of complex volatile acidity, the smoke of a billy tea can, a whiff of orange and some caramel sweetness, salt-rimed, a neroli margarita. The palate of old grass, acacia honey, honeycomb casings and dried flowers has great brambly spice, delicate chalk and a whiff of camomile. 

BLP ‘la Barajuela’ Una Raya 2015 (cask tasting)

Tasted from cask after 4 years of oxidative ageing, this bota was an un-bottled remnant of the 2015 la Barajuela. It was late-harvested and classified as raya, over-ripened on vine. Such wines used to be base for Vinos de Cabaceo, sweetened as creams and mediums.

Dry treacle, sour and volatile old honey, little pickled yellow apples and cherries, juicy and chalky and you can feel Carrascal. Wild bramble marmalade, dry, austere all around the rim of a low hill of fruit concentration.




BLP ‘el Triangulo’ Tintilla de Rota (Balbaina Alta)

After 9 years, BLP released their first varietal Tintilla in 2011 (just 600 bottles).

The entry wine is aged 5 months in 5yo French oak, before 15 months maturation in concrete and steel vats. The fruit is picked at night to enhance freshness, selected carefully, fermented in a mix of stainless steel and open wooden cask, and has limited pump overs to keep elegance and softness.

A velvety mix of herb and earth in softly tart red fruit just below mid-weight. Peppery and gently vegetal, forest fruit-floral. Gentle and fresh reflecting the cool, humid Atlantic breezes, and also the thoughtful winemaking. It’s soft with an open weave and lovely flow. There’s moderated acidity, spice and fine skinsy tannin in a light, chalky palate with a delicate line.




BLP Tintilla Pago Balbaina 2018

Spicy plum, pink peppercorn, old roses and red apple florals over briary herbs, nice and dark but light. Palate is fresh, like crunching into a red apple, and there’s fruit, juicy with pips and acid, a herbal wire thread, red spice. Simple and round, nice life, bright and dancey. Not quite mid-weight.

BLP Tintilla Pago Corchuelo 2018

Bloody-floral, betel nut and baking spice. It's perfume driven, rather than hefty, harmonious with great balance.

BLP Tintilla Pago Carrascal 2018

Drier old floral and spices, lots of sage, trending leather and charcuterie. There’s a relaxed savoury red-wood floral (rosewood and magnolia) in the mouth. A bit of gunpowder green tea expresses the chalk and there’s an earthen side with the sage returning in the tannin to end. As you expect, the extra tannin flourishes a low and linear mouthfeel, compared to Balbaina’s Atlantic roundness. More savoury, and drier than Balbiana, it’s long, balanced, and just mid-weight.



LUIS PÉREZ PX 2014 (Carrascal)

La Panesa is a parcela the north of Pago Carrascal, ‘la Panesa’, which the Pérez family re-planted in the late 1990’s to grow beautiful PX. After picking, the fruit is given 12 days soleo, with the clusters turned regularly. Basket press crushing sees only 25% of the must taken to ferment 3 months in cask. It’s then re-fermented the following spring, followed by four years’ maturation in four topped up botas (two of which went to vinegar). It’s 108 grams of residual sugar and 14.5% natural abv.

Fragrant rice grass, soy, citrus, saffron tea. Incredibly delicate and lovely, haunting, pure PX. Sweetness balanced with chocolate bitterness, honey at end, and the soil evident throughout. Wonderful citrus rind winds through the mouth, dotted with nut, toffee and potted plums. EXCELLENT acidity and all threaded together.





[1] Tintilla de Rota is native to el Marco de Jerez. Rota, the eponymous town, is along the coastal strip south from Sanlúcar towards Cadiz. Largely abandoned as a cultivar in the second half of the 20th century, Tintilla is increasingly being grown throughout the region to make Tintos and Rosados. It’s low yielding, low in tannin and high in acidity, with very dark skin, and is capable of yielding fresh wines in warm harvests.  The ‘Wine Grapes’ book of Jancis Robinson et al simply dismisses Tintilla de Rota s a synonym of Graciano, to which it is genetically akin. Tintilla has been planted in Jerez for over 500 years; much longer than the records of Graciano in Rioja. There are significant character differences in the fruit and resultant wines. Tintilla’s little dark, round berries make softer, mellower wine than Graciano. Tintilla berries contain far fewer seeds than those of Graciano (1 seed per berry, compared to 5 or 6), and Tintilla has smaller leaves and smaller berries.

[2]One of the loveliest features in el Marco are the cortijos – white stone farm houses, often atop the pago, proudly outlined against the fabulous Andalucian blue sky. These are often arranged into cortijadas – groups of buildings combining function as bodegas, warehouses, granaries and residences. Back in the day, the best wines were made and aged into sobretablas in the cortijos, making the transition from grapes to wine without moving more than a few metres from vine to bota.

[3]Mantúo de Pilas: elsewhere called Chelva and possibly having originated in Extramadura, it’s a variety with big bunches of big grapes, often grown for eating.

Vijiriega: also called Vijariego on Islas Canarias, it was described early 1800s as widespread in Andalucia. Productive, disease-resistant, late ripening.

[4]This ‘law’ was capitalistic corruption in its purest, most obvious form. By 1969, ‘The Bigs’ were deeply into their so-called ‘Brandy de Jerez’ (in itself a corrupt joke: holandas – ready made young brandy – from another region sleeps for a few months in old Sherry casks and is somehow deemed ‘of Jerez’). In 1969, they strong-armed the DO into legislating that all Finos must be fortified. Every bottle of terroirist Fino now paid a tithe to ‘The Bigs’, and in the process terroir Finos were dragged a little closer to the shitty, lazy Tio Pepes and co trotted out by Big Sherry. This vile law was finally reversed in 2019, and Caberrubia became the 1st natural alcohol Fino seen in the market in 50 years.