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- Wednesday, 09 October 2013 06:48 | Written by Valeska Idarraga
100 youthful years
Years do not pass by in vain, who dares to deny it. Only here, at sherry country, destiny has been generous and with every passing year twelve months of temper, singularity and graceful finesse come on board. At Urium 100 years are nothing at all. When Alonso Ruiz purchased the forgotten bodega from almecenista Josefa Pérez Rosado six years ago, he knew he was buying the most precious treasure: time.
Although it might be one of the newest bodegas established in Jerez de la Frontera, some of the oldest wines from Marco de Jerez are harboured inside its original 500 casks. Alonso and her daughter Rocío Ruiz, enologist and responsible of the winery technical management, care for this immortal fluids touched by the magic of the flor.
And 100 is the minimum age granted by carbon-14 dating test to Gran Señor de Urium, a unique palo cortado coming from a single barrel the scarcity of which limits the production to only 15 bottles per year.
VORS: sherry gems
Urium was put on the market for the first time in 2009 with four V.O.R.S. (Very Old Rare Sherry), una old manzanilla and one old fino. A categorical commitment to quality. Alonso welcomes us with a glass of manzanilla en rama around seven years old, purchased from an almacenista (what an almacenista is?) in Sanlúcar de Barrameda (the only town entitled to produce manzanilla by the Regulatory Council Jerez-Xérès-Sherry). It is already known that is impossible to define precisely sherry wines age but we can evidence this manzanilla is really, really old, testing it minerality and salinity expcted are mixed in deep delicacy, sublime. And it color, rich yellow, proves time in Jerez is gold.
The fino en rama, even older, around eight year very well taken, as awaited, sharp, rough and saline, a white wine with a distinct character, different from all other finos we had previously tried, and showed once again its remarkable affinity with Iberian ham, both expressing umami taste. Urium philosophy is to show appreciation for its wines and respect for the identity of each single solera letting them reveal unique and singular wines.
Within V.O.R.S. range, four gems. Mons Urium Amontillado V.O.R.S. So delicate and gentle, he is estimated to be half-centenary, the oxidized alcohol is noticeable but absolutely integrated, we can smell hazelnut, vanilla, wood and incense, it even evokes citric aromas. Fruit of chance, Mons Urium Palo Cortado V.O.R.S., one of the rare palo cortados that we can find nowadays. Complex and well-rounded, we prefer to drink it chilled and poured in a red wine glass, Burgundy or Bordeaux style, no obsessions. We had the privilege to taste Mons Urium Oloroso V.O.R.S. directly from the barrel because this 50 years old invaluable friend is not being bottled this year. Finally, special mention should be made of Mons Urium Pedro Ximénez V.O.R.S., so sweet, the sweetest but exceptionally fully-flavoured with scents of toffee and chocolate combined with a slight bitterness and acidity capable of moving away any oversweet aftertaste. Without any intended display of arrogance Alonso tells us this px was served at the end of the dinner of the 3rd Climate Change and Wine Congress hold in Marbella in 2011 and chaired by Kofi Annan.
Innate passion for Sherry wines
Kind and passionate, Alonso Ruiz is not from Jerez de la Frontera, and he is not even from Cádiz, it matters little. Sherry is fruit of historical trading flows between countries and in the bodegas French, Dutsch and British blood course through their veins: multiculturality is welcome. “I was born in a cask”, he smiles, and he explains to us his grand-father bought a 600 liters cask and a tavern to his father, when he came back maimed from war. And there was he born, at the foot of a barrel, and his nose was forever impregnated with the aroma of fermented grape-juice.
His connection with sherry is a long love story come true. From Moguer (in Huelva province) he came to Jerez in search of time. He gave to the wine cellar the name of Mons Urium which means golden hill and it is the name given in Roman times to his native town. Furthermore, Mons Urium is the title of the 123 chapter of Platero and I, novel from the Noble Prize award winner Juan Ramón Jiménez.
From literature and humanities to reality. The decline in sherry wines consumption does not make things easy. In 2011, facing a continuing fall in prices, at Urium they decided to develop a new range of younger wines capable of attracting the attention of a larger audience. Thus was born Urium Clásicos, considerable wines of importance in average 15 years, able to meet any gastronomic or social requirement. The pale cream, a slightly sweetened fino by addition of some must, offers a perfect balance when paired with foie intensifying its flavor, has the ideal strength to hang out with a blue cheese and its salinity goes hand in hand with n white fish.
Sherry, doubtless, the most versatile wine.
Let’s keep playing, because cream, an oloroso with approximately 20% of pedro ximénez, shows a seductive site, as well as combining perfectly with foie and cheeses, casts an eye over fruits, not oversweetened desserts and ice-creams. The oloroso, much drier, is a perfect partner to to rich stowes, cured cheeses and whatever your imagination can bring out. The amontillado, remarkable with artichokes, asparagus or any funghi porcini risotto.
Ultimately, these are wines to play and enjoy, wines without limits. It is time for sherry to free its own hand and overcome prejudices. It’s also time to acknowledge the efforts made by these time sentinels, archaeologists in search of past live footprints. Are you lost in such a labyrinth of strange names? Keep calm, we will soon define one by one all the wines, it’s not that difficult. Have you tried our burger & oloroso? Sherry is cool!
Urium: Calle Muro, 28 - 11404 Jerez de la Frontera Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Tel. (+34) 956 33 55 97 www.urium.es