Wednesday Wines – Episode 107 – Tio Pepe En Rama (2022) & 2021 Begude Chardonnay

Episode 107 –Tio Pepe En Rama (2022 bottling) & 2021 Begude Chardonnay

4th May 2022

Tio Pepe, Fino En Rama, Jerez, Spain (2022 bottling) £15.50, 75cl bottle & £8.75, 37.5cl bottle, www.thewinesociety.com; £16.50, reduced to £15.50 each by the case, 75cl bottle & £8.95, reduced to £7.95 each by the case, 37.5cl bottle, www.leaandsandeman.co.uk; £16.95, www.secretbottleshop.co.uk). 

Bottled on 23rd March this year, this epic En Rama won this year’s taste-off against La Gitana’s Manzanilla (approx £17.00, Tanners Wine Merchants, Clarion Wines, Master of Malt, Lay & Wheeler, Lea & Sandeman) version by the slimmest of margins. While La Gitana is typically lusty and involving, Tio Pepe’s Fino En Rama is slightly more lifted, a touch fresher and more cleansing on the finish.

This is the 13th edition of this unfiltered and unfined Tio Pepe En Rama in the UK, and it was selected from 96 barrels from the Tio Pepe solera. Antonio Flores, the master blender at González Byass, noted that this year’s saca, or selection for bottling, “was clearly influenced by the weather during the growing season. A very mild and extremely dry winter meant that the flor was very active during the colder months.” Flor is the covering of yeast that protects sherries from oxidation, giving them their unique yeasty, salty character. The annual spring selection occurs when the flor is at its thickest, giving the unfiltered and unfined wines their distinctive flavours.

My advice is to get in quick to secure your stock of this fantastic style of sherry. Always incredible value for money, I understand that magnums have been bottled, too, which would be epic for summer gatherings. I have yet to track these down on the internet, but they will be sure to pop up any minute. At the other end of the spectrum, I note that Lea & Sandeman and The Wine Society have already taken delivery of dinky half bottles for a mere £8.95 and £8.75, respectively – these must be the most seasonal and finest value wine purchases of the moment!  18/20 (Drink now – 2023)

2021 Domaine Begude, Terroir 11300 Chardonnay, Le Haut du Puits, Pays d’Oc, France (£69.00, for 6 bottles (£11.50 each), www.goedhuis.com).  

As sure as night follows day, the new vintage of Begude’s inexpensive Chardonnay arrives in the UK, I am fortunate to see a preview sample, and it is an inevitable beauty.  I have followed Begude since the very first moment that James and Catherine Kinglake bought the property, and they have never put a foot wrong.  2021 Le Haut du Puits shows uncommon sophistication with its aromatherapeutic nose, silky-smooth texture, relaxing aura and pin-sharp finish.  It is the vinous equivalent of a cleansing sauna followed by an indulgent massage and an electrifying leap into an ice-cold plunge pool.  You cannot fail to feel like you have given your palate a stunning sensory makeover after just one glass.  17.5/20 (Drink now – 2023)