From a Bodega that is at the forefront of the new wave movement out of Jerez, we give you Callejuela, a joint project run by brothers Paco and Pepe.
Making a range of wines from their 28 hectares in San Luca de Barrameda in the Marco de Jerez region. This region is in the process of somewhat of a renaissance and these two are leading the charge. Most people with a grandmother would be able to tell you of the poor reputation that sherry has garnered over the past few decades, which is entirely unjustified as the region is capable of producing some excellent wines in both in fortified sherry style and as dry, unfortified whites.
Pepe and Paco make the whole range, from traditional Fino style and Manzanilla sherries, to unfortified wines under flor (the yeast that gives Fino sherry its distinctive nutty aromas), to dry white wines without flor. These wines are just now starting to garner some attention in the region and for good reason, they are crisp, dry and mineral driven and are giving the region the boost in reputation that it deserves. The ‘Blanco de Hornillas’ is one of these styles, made from Palomino grapes grown in the subregion of Hornillas (as the name would suggest) and it is an absolutely cracking wine.
It has a chalky minerality, slightly smoky and herbal with lots of floral and a touch of grassiness. These guys are really reinvigorating their whole region and making exceptional wines across all styles, but these dry unfortified wines may be the way of the future for the region. If you love a dry, crisp white then this is definitely a great one and well worth a try.
This Palomino aged without flor is named for Pago de Hornillo, where the Callejuela bodega stands, just away from the Atlantic, on the estuary side of Sanlúcar de Barrameda. It is made of fruit from Hornillo itself, and Pagos Callejuela, Añina, and Macharnudo. Fermented and aged in stainless, 12.5% abv.
Grassy, with a typical false sweetness from the chalk, and a lovely bitter point to finish. Golden and floral with a hit of heavy metal mineral, some waxy herbal extract bitterness and a touch of smoke rising, like very delicate lapsang souchang. The soft fruit feels are nicely rounded atop a layer of thick steel minerality. The palate is floral-flavour equivalent of marmalade, without any viscous sweetness, finishing lean and dry. Soft, gentle, mineral, and...clean as a fossil.
From the moment you observe the Blanco brothers in their natural habitat, roaming the chalky backroad vineyards of Sanlúcar de Barrameda, you realize that you’ve just entered into a humble and deep rooted rincóncillo of the Marco de Jerez. And as the dusty albariza swirls in the summer heat of the Levante, the term “Salt of the Earth” quickly permeates the mind.
José “Pepe” Blanco and his brother Francisco “Paco” Blanco started the Callejuela winery with their father and “dos botas viejas” in 1980 within the family home where their offices still remain. They were OG Almacenistas making base wine from their own Palomino vineyards that they sold to the local bodegas of Sanlúcar. Throughout the decades, their father Francisco Blanco became a prominent local viticulturist who increased his hectares by slowly buying small parcels throughout the Marco de Jerez, all within three very important pagos: Añina, Marcharnudo and Callejuela.
The Blanco family philosophy has always been to carefully orchestrate a later harvest, beginning around the 2nd of September, while many of their neighbors start around the 14th or 15th of August. This enables them to pick grapes with higher brix, needing a lower degree of alcohol when fortifying with the grape spirts used to make Manzanillas and Sherries. Also, and maybe most importantly, they strive to maintain the purest Palomino grape expression as possible, and the longer the hang time on vine, the more influence of the albariza soil is transmitted. Here, their thirsty roots can often stretch down approximately 6-7 meters in search of the retained moistures captured below the dry, hot albariza crusted land.
Early on, the Blancos began to barter a portion of their coveted mosto each harvest in exchange for used botas from their winery clients, rather than be compensated in their normal peseta per kilo rate. Like this, bota por bota, they slowly built the family’s various soleras –reaching nearly 750 botas in use today. In 1998 they created the brand Viña Callejuela, and in 2015 they expanded the brand by releasing their Blanquito Manzanilla Pasada, La Casilla Amontillado y El Cerro Oloroso, their extensively aged generoso wines, as well as single vineyard, single vintage, “vinos estáticos” Manzanillas. Today they hold a class of their own as a 100% estate bottled, grower Sherry. They also make single vineyard, single vintage, non-fortified Palomino wines that naturally form clouds of flor at 12%-13.5%, that they refer to as, “vinos tranquilos.”