CORTA y RASPA is the brand name for the wines made by a collective of small grower-producers based in Sanlúcar de Barrameda, ‘los Mayetos’.
What is this?
A ‘Collab’ in device-world-speak?
Mayeto is a local term (in Sanlúcar, Rota, Trebujena and Chipiona) for a small-scale grower, whose fruit is typically sold to larger producers. Once there were more than 100 such, now there are less than 202. Given the low prices paid for fruit going to the region’s largely un-aspirational Finos (in 2019 the base rate was 36 euro cents/kilo), it’s a sub-marginal way of making a primary living.
Los Mayetos are a significant new voice among those re-telling the story of Marco de Jerez, aiming to recuperate the region’s history from recent generic, industrial, anonymous tendencies.
‘Corta y Raspa’ is the brand name under which the group release low yield, high quality Palomino whites seeking to preserve-promote the identity of their vineyards.
Contemporary Spanish wines are best understood against a history of abandonment, loss and eventual recovery – the usual backdrop being the disruptions of phylloxera, Civil War and post-war economic depression. In Rioja and Jerez, however, the equally devastating story of abandonment- and-loss is a much more recent stand-alone failure of capitalism. In the mid-1960s (while the rest of Spain lay in economic tatters), both regions’ blazered, entitled Captains ran seemingly thriving wine regions ... and which they have simply buggered since. By the 1980s, markers of regional quality and identity in Rioja had been sacrificed to the shallowest of big company market tropes. In Marco de Jerez, 50 years of epic capitalist failure begins in the 1960s: big companies over-planted with the high yield Davis clone – Palomino California, the DO discriminated in favour of fortification, and ‘Sherry wines’ became narrowly described by a fetish for bodega ageing. The wines of Marco de Jerez abdicated any aspiration to greatness. Vineyard identity and the meaning of the soil were obscured, and significant historical styles and practices were lost (or outlawed by the DO).
Los Mayetos’ have erected CORTA y RASPA as a collective brand, aimed at recuperating just one strand of the lost ID, detail and meaning within the fabric of el Marco.
Collectively, these are vinos de pueblo, painting a picture of Sanlúcar’s Atlantic Pagos.
Individually, they are the terroir story of several pagos and the families who work them.
Stylistically, they are Vinos de Pasto, low-cropped, high quality Palominos reflecting specific terroirs, and only lightly augmented by bodega ageing. By way of level playing field, each of the Corta y Raspa wines are aged about a year in old bota, fully topped, without flor.
We’ll elaborate this story twice: there’s a summary with descriptions of each wine over the next couple of pages. Then, we follow with deeper detail on the pagos and their albarizas.
In the picture, the boys are lined up left to right in order of their pagos, which we would typically arrange in tasting order from light, nervous, vertical Miraflores Baja, through Atalaya, Añina, [Cabezudo will go here] and then Maina, whose wines naturally tend towards Amontillado (in case you were wondering why the lone Jerez pago was not the biggest structured and therefore last wine in the lineup).
CORTA y RASPA is a mayetería of 5 Sanluqueñans and their Pagos Propios:
Daniel (Dani) Rodríguez Garcia works ‘Viña de Los Esbaratos’ in Pago Miraflores Baja. Nearing 40, he’s a 5th generation grower, with 65yo vines on lentejuelas and lustrillos. Here, the sharp, vertical coastal wines have a distinct hydrocarbon tang.
Manu (José Manuel) Harana Yuste has the ‘Viña La Atalaya’ parcela in the lentejuelas of Pago Atalaya. He’s a mid-30s, 5th generation mayeto. Atalaya is an Atlantic pago which starts to feel the warmth and power of inland levante winds, resulting in an intriguing freshness-structure balance.
Rafa (Rafael J) Rodríguez is in his early 30s, and works several parcelas of tosca cerrada in Pago Añina (Jerez). So far we have seen wines from ‘Viña de Morla’ y ‘Viña de Las 40’ (his others, Casabón y La Mediaranja have not yet been vinified within Corta y Raspa). Añina is administratively a part of the Jerez pueblo but historically very closely associated with Sanlúcar.
Antonio Bernal Ortega has parcela ‘Viña La Charanga’ in Pago Maína. In his 40s, he’s a 4th generation grower working 35yo vines in the barajuelas of Maína, yielding relatively potent Vino Sanlúqueño.
Javier Bianchi is family custodian of a tiny parcela within Pago Cabezudo, on the southern outskirts of Sanlúcar. Cabezudo is a pago of less typical Albariza pero negre, only 45% chalk with rich brown barros. The first Corta y Raspa release of wine from Javi’s gear will be from the 2019 harvest.
These young growers have worked together since 2016 (initially under the nurturing tutelage of Ramiro Ibañez - ‘the Ché of Sherry’, but now on their own recognisance). As with the other ‘renaissance’ producers in Marco de Jerez, ‘los Mayetos’ are recuperating the patrimony of the land (as the Spanish like to say): protecting and promoting, re-interpreting or rediscovering the old ways, vineyard lore, genetics and terroir specifics of Marco de Jerez, through the village lens of Sanlúcar de Barrameda. Low yields from their own small parcels, spontaneous fermentation, minimal treatments and a historical, artisanal approach is the approach. The wines are labelled (on the back) as Vino de pasto (they are fermented and aged in old neutral bota, without ullage or deliberate velo de flor). They’re released without DO as Vinos Blancos - product of Spain. They could not be more specific ...
They started as a group of 3, expanded to 4 in 2018 with Daniel’s inclusion, and from 2019 will be joined by Javier Bianchi and his parcela in Pago Cabezudo. We’ll include Javi in the group pic when he gives us a wine!
A note on yields
The Mayetos’ self-imposed yield limit is 7.5 tonnes/ha. This gives the benefit of more concentration (better fruit depth and tannin, spice, skin expression, with a deeper sense of the albariza) and also better acidity. The DO refuses to ratify these wines. To a man, every old man (albeit very well- dressed and with beautiful manners) making decisions on the board of the DO adheres to an entitlement mantra that goes like this: “The last Sherry bodega won’t [quite] have shut its doors before I die, so I’ll continue to crap on about ‘protecting Sherry’s historical legacy’.
Meanwhile, for fruit destined for ‘Sherry’ as ‘protected’ by the DO, yields are meant to be limited to 11.5 tonnes/hectare. Up to this limit, growers are paid 54c. However it is legal to exceed the limit and get to the real limit, 14.5. Up to 14.5 tonnes the price drops to 36c. However, even that is not the limit, for the laws only kick in once a property’s total yield exceeds 14.5 as an average, at which point the whole is theoretically disqualified. Nevertheless, everyone knows that much of the produce licensed by the DOs is cropped at as much as 30 tonnes/hectare. Spanish numbers.
The first release was in 2016, with a few bottles from both of Rafa’s parcels in Añina - ‘Viña de Morla’ y ‘Viña de Las 40’. In 2017, ‘40’ repeated, and was joined by Antonio’s ‘la Charanga’ parcel from Maina. In 2018, we get the addition of Manu’s ‘Viña La Atalaya’ from Pago Atalaya, and the aching delicacy of Dani’s Miraflores Baja parcela ‘Viña de Los Esbaratos’. All wines share the same ‘Corta y Raspa’ label, with producer, pago and parcela names secondary to the group’s brand name. They have two colour versions of the same label, white and red, which alternate annually, par y impar (white labels in even years, red in odd.)
CORTA y RASPA Palomino do Pasto de Parcela ‘Viña de Los Esbaratos’ 2019
By Dani. Made, as all Corta y Raspa wines are, in very old bota. Fermented, taken off lees in December and aged in filled bota for 12 months without velo de flor. This 65yo vineyard of lustrillos and lentejuelas is mainly planted to the old local cultivar Palomino de Jerez.
A wine of good volume with nice stretch, saline freshness and a sense of Miraflores’ open fluidity. Good skin concentration plays out as pickled cumquats, with old marigolds, a lick of chalk and smoky blue steel. In the run home, it turns deftly sour, running out on a lovely bitter herb tisane. The gentle release approximates a smile.
CORTA y RASPA Palomino do Pasto de Parcela ‘Viña La Atalaya’ 2019
By Manu. Atalaya abutts urban Sanlúcar inland towards Jerez. Soil is lentejuelas, 75% chalk, grey with pale clay. Sharp-lined wines; both more power and acidity than Miraflores.
Steely and wheaty (slightly green like the smell of the head of an almost ripe wheat flower just before harvest), a gentle wash of lemon, a touch of wirey herb. Chalky white tannin gives delicate structure, with pebble-in-riverbed flow, a touch of spice and a trickle release. The structure is great ... it’s just a line organising dancing, floating, rotating fruit which arabesques around it to the finish.
CORTA y RASPA Palomino do Pasto de Parcela ‘Viña de Las Cuarenta’ 2019
By Rafa, who has several parcels in Jerez’s most Sanlúqueño Pago. We are delighted to ship ‘Las Cuarenta’, or ‘Parcela 40’ (so-named because it measures 40 aranzadas), from the north of Añina at 70 metres. The tosca cerrada here is very chalky, 80% calcium, but low in diatoms.
Lovely, open and round, it’s a wine with a slow, deliberate reveal; savoury depth and spread easing out to an acid trickle finish. Textured with a patina of fine grains over a steely base, it’s sure, sleek, and deftly organised. There’s umami chalky richness, orange blossom and spice through typical Palomino cereal. A dry honey perfume of delicate white pollen lingers.
Low acid but very ‘sapid’, the freshness here results from Maina having the highest concentration of diatoms in any Pago. Lively-almost-crunchy thanks to the ‘limey’ chalk, it’s a wine of delicate power. Golden flowers, chalky funk, spice and brassy honey lift out of a wheat and white tannin base. Then an array of amargo touches: bitter herb, melon casing, pickled ginger, sliced lemon skin and a grapefruit stretch. It’s the most structured of the Mayetos wines: beautifully defined with an easy release into a fine pollen-floral memory and a signature touch of seville orange nougat.
Pago Miraflores Baja
Parcela ‘Viña de Los Esbarataos’, Daniel Rodríguez Garcia
Miraflores is one of Marco de Jerez’s key addresses, and the jewel of Sanlúcar.
Drive into Miraflores, and you feel like the lights just got turned up, such is the
chalky glare here. Miraflores is south of Sanlúcar on the way down the coast to
Puerto de Santa Maria, and is one of el Marco’s most coastal pagos, only 6 or
7km inland from Chipiona and the Atlantic. Marquee-shaped, running north to
south along the ridge line. The slightly higher central part is called M. Alta and the flanks either side are ascribed M. Baja. The soils of Miraflores are a mix lustrillos, lentejuelas and some tosca cerradas, with reasonable concentration of diatoms.
Dani’s tiny parcela of just 0.25 hectares mixes 70% 65yo Palomino de Jerez with some more recent Palomino 84, both on rootstock #61. The parcela yields just 300-600 bottles on a mix of lustrillos and lentejuelas. The iron-inflected grey lustrillos give the smoky carbon ‘petroleo atlantico’ typical in Miraflores, and a fruit profile of apio (celery). The lentejuelas (70+% chalk with white clay) give very aromatic wines. Both soils promote direct, sharply linear wines but with umami and relatively low acidity. The humidity from adjacency to the Atlantic reduces vine stress and the wines are low alcohol, less concentrated, but very fluid.
The parcela name, ‘el Esbarato’, means “the destroyed man”. It’s a reference to Daniel’s great grandfather, who was a bullfighting nut and vaulted the fence one day to spontaneously partake in the bull butchery. He was torn apart ... and ‘los Esberatos’ became somewhat a family name for a couple of generations.
Parcela ‘Viña La Atalaya’, José Manuel Harana Yuste
At around 65m altitude, Manu’s parcela ‘Atalaya’ is 8 hectares of 40yo vines facing west inside Pago Atalaya, which is on the south-eastern fringe of Sanlúcar. It’s the next pago south of Pago Callejuela in the series of Cerros (hills) running along the eastern side of the road out of town heading south to Jerez, Puerto and Cadiz. Atalaya is topped by a gorgeous old Cortijo, once the vineyard headquarter of Bodega Baron. Now abandoned and heading towards dereliction, it signals the plight of all the pagos. Economic inviability sees these vineyard lands under threat from urban real estate values. This gorgeous house-winery may someday soon be gobbled up by McHousing Estates.
Atalaya sits at the back corner of the Sanlúcar township, much like Pago Callejuela. It’s 11km inland in a direct line east from Chipiona, with Rio Gaudalquiver just 3km to the north past town. Its soils are lentejuelas, 75% chalk, but greyer than barajuelas and tosca cerrada. The vines grow lower than those of Maina immediately to the north, but are more vigorous. The wines are sharply linear, vertical.Manu selects a special portion, just 10 rows of his parcela as the Mayeto wine: 25% lower cropped, it gets significantly fewer treatments and more daily attention. For example, as well as the usual aserpiado to trap winter rains in the rows, a second allumbre is performed for each and every vine, creating a little open bowl at the foot of each, which will later be closed over to trap winter rain for the roots to use in summer. Manu calls the parcel a “puñetero” (picky, smartarse, tricky, stubborn)! That said, the wine he wrangles is remarkably balanced and well behaved ... despuñetado, perhaps?
Parcelas ‘Viña de Las 40’, ‘Viña de Morla’, Rafael J Rodríguez
Rafa has 3 parcels here, in Jerez’s most Sanlúqueño Pago. His most concentrated wines come from a parcel of 20 hectares, ‘Las Cuarenta’, or Parcela 40 (because it measures 40 aranzadas) in the north at 70 metres altitude. He also has 32.5 hectares in the west at 40 metres, called Casabón, while la Morla is a small parcel of just 0.45 hectares on very fresh soils in the east, with 37yo vines (la Morla is noteworthy for its tendency to throw Amontillado en directo). A small bodega is conserved in el 40. The soils are toscas cerradas, very chalky, 80% but low in diatoms.
Parcela ‘la Charanga’, Antonio Bernal Ortega
Maina at 60m is 3km inland from Sanlúcar and just south of the Guadalquivir and is more affected by the river than it is by the sea. It’s just inland from Pago Callejuela (itself significantly river-influenced). Maina was famous for its natural amontillados (such as that of Rafael Teran), because Callejuela (and Atalaya to its south) block some poniente and allow a little more levante than you would expect in such an otherwise fiercely Sanlúqueñan Pago.
Standing atop Maina by a beautifully maintained old Cortijo, Sanlúcar looms across a small valley to the west. In front to the north-west is the town’s hortaleza - swampy, marshy vegetable growing country along the eastern banks of the Gaudaliquivir. You really feel the river here.
Maina is one of the best vantages from which to really see the shape of Jerez’s landscape and the unfolding of the pagos. Sanlúqueño pagos are quite small, so the interplay between valley floor and hill top is close by, continuous, immediate. From the top of Maina looking towards Sanlúcar, there’s a longitudinal valley running north-south, out of which arises Pago Callejuela, and to the south of which rises Pago Atalaya. In front of Maina towards the river is the bald hill nodule, Cerro Cabeza Gorda (fat bald hill). Historical roads carve the delineation between pago and lowlands. As each Cerro rises, you see the land use change from vegetables at sea level, cereal crops on the lower slopes and then the vines. This all coincides with the transition from clay and sand into chalk. At a certain altitude, notionally 45 metres, the chalk emerges. All reveals itself and it’s easy to understand the relationship between land characteristics and the possibility of delicious wine, save for the final tell: is there a fresh, damp coastal poniente breeze in your face, or perhaps the dry bustle of a levante at your back?
Maina is a pago of barajuelas and has the most diatoms of all, so you can expect mineral freshness and plenty of blue seabed memory. The vines in Maina don’t grow heavy wood, nor do they carry much leaf, so the wines have a lot of power and concentration given their Sanlúcar address.
Antonio’s parcel in Maina is a 2 hectare quadrangle on the north-west flank facing towards the river, and relatively shaded from the levante. The vines are 38 year old plantings of Palomino California.
Parcela ‘el Cabezudo’, Javier Bianchi
On the southern outskirts of Sanlúcar, Cabezudo edges the sprawl of the town’s industrial zone, just on the coastal side of the road out of town south to Puerto and Cadiz. Across the road is Pago Atalaya and behind it a little to the south is Pago Miraflores (Alta and Baja).
Cabezudo is a pago of less typical Albariza ‘pero negre’. It’s about 45% calcium carbonate, and the rest is dark but not red barros. Scratch the typical chalky white surface and the depth of brown soil is immediately revealed. Cabezudo gives a full, dry Palomino marked with a touch of amargo and particularly good acidity.
Javier Bianchi is a local cop (in fact a detective for the Policia Nacional) with a long family history on both sides as viticultors. He nurtures a small family plot of 4 i (just 1.8 hectares). Javier’s land is a narrow rectangle, just 13 rows, running west-east along the line of the winds, and facing north-northwest. Planted in 1985, and not on a fashionable i, this is a special plot, a rare combination of hand-worked, hand-harvested, organic vines planted entirely to the historic Palomino de Jerez. From this small plot, Javi selects for los Mayetos just 1,000 vines from the highest part of the parcel, with the most chalk concentration.
Mayeteria Sanluqueña In the dialect of Sanlúcar, a group of Mayetos takes the feminine form of una Mayeteria Sanluqueña.
In many ways, Mayetos mirror Almacenistas but are concerned with growing, rather than transformative ageing in cellars. Like the Almacenistas, the Mayetos typically have other work, on side of which they handle their own small plots (a practise going all the way back to feudal times all around Europe in different places, times and manners). Of our guys, Antonio is the only full-time viticulturalist. Dani is an agricultural engineer and advisor to the Baio de Guia hortaleza co-op on the swampy lands on the east banks of Rio Guadalquiver. Manu works for Williams and Humbert, Javi is a detective in the Policia Nacional and Rafa is an architect.
Añina (and Balbaina Alta) are pagos of somewhat fraught appellation. Although legally Jerezano, the fruit from (at least the northern half of) these pagos historically went to Sanlú, with ownership, viticultural practise and the fate of the musts all for/from Sanlúcar. Until the DO pulls its finger out and gets remotely engaged with truth-to-origin, I’m very happy with the boys’ ‘imagined boundaries’ view of an Añina Sanlúqueño.
CORTA y RASPA, takes its name from the traditional Sanlúqueño pruning method, Vara y Pulgar (stick and thumb). To create the stick and thumb (one bearing arm for this year, one for next), you need to make a cut and then a slice: cortar, y despues raspar. The cut is simple, a horizontal cut across the stem, yielding a flat surface that will bud for a subsequent crop. Then, the slice takes about the outside 1/3 off the flat disc surface, creating a diagonal chamfer on the outside of the spur. This subtly changes the physiology of the plant: it effectively creates a green juicy channel on the inner side, which is shaded by the plant body and a dryer outer side: the green growth on this outer side is pre-selected for green harvesting.
An aranzada is an old Andalusian land measurement term, roughly .45 hectares. However, the amount of land it describes is differs between Sanlúcar/Jerez, Cordoba, Sevilla and Ciudad Real (another alternative term is Fanegas). Smart business is to measure and sell in Aranzadas Cordobeses but buy in Aranzadas Jerezanos?
Aserpiado is a Jerezano term, while Allumbre is Sanlúqueño for the ditches cut in between the rows annually, immediately after harvest, seeking to trap winter rains for the roots to access during the dry heat of summer.