After getting some information for a sherry tasting I hosted around the same time he was kind enough to show me a bit more of the breadth of Sherry. I was out of office for a couple of days, and with no one to bother me and nothing to do, I decided a night on my own was a very good moment to sit down and try some unfamiliar drinks, with unfamiliar flavors.
I have no idea why it took me so long to write this post about those sherries, so sorry Ruben, but here it goes anyway!
Almacenista Palo Cortado ‘Vides’ (Lustau)
The nose of this almost 20 year old Sherry starts off the night with a funky note. Hints of chocolate and something woody. It’s quite rich, with virtually no sweetness and quite some cask, and a hint of mint. The palate is much more light, and goes more in a slightly vinegary direction. Still, quite some wood driven notes, with walnuts, cola and rancio. The finish gives me more fruit, and adds complexity with some spicy notes. Walnuts again.
In case you might misinterpret me, these notes of vinegar are absolutely not a bad thing. It’s just a more acidic undertone that is not uncommon in sherry, unless you’re talking about Pedro Ximenez and Moscatel.
I really enjoyed this one!
Marqués de Poley Amontillado Selección 1951 (Toro Albalá)
The notes of vinegar are held back, so it’s less acidic and a bit more wood focused. Not surprising with a wine that spend many decades in a cask. Pickled fruit and nuts, yeasty and moldy. A continuation after the Palo Cortado, but with a redirection towards oak. Still bone dry with spices and a hint of chocolate. The palate is rather gentle, dry and ‘old’, with notes of pickled walnuts, lots of wood spices and a touch of acidity.
The age of this stuff is incredible, and noticeable on both the nose and the palate. I love dry drinks at the best of times and this one seems like a culmination of that. But, apart from the dryness there are layers of flavors to peel back. Indredible!
As far as my internet-search-skills go, Ruben hasn’t reviewed this one yet, so no link there.
Cream VOS (Bodegas Tradición)
Another rather old sherry, at approximately 20 years. I don’t think I’ve had a cream sherry before and as far as I know it’s a mix of dry and sweet sherries. In this case, based on Ruben’s review, it’s around 70% 35 year old Oloroso, and the rest is made up of a five year old Pedro Ximenez. The math of sherry astounds me…
There’s dried fruits with raisins and plums, and dark toast on the nose. After a while there’s oranges, Cap Corse and myrtle. The palate is a combination of mostly sweet, fruity sherry like PX, but there’s a hint of dryness too. Raisins and oranges, and a touch of pithy bitterness.
Interesting, even though I don’t understand the age statement on stuff like this. It’s mostly very sweet, and it seems that 30% of PX easily trumps the 70% of Oloroso. Not my favorite of the bunch, but dangerously drinkable.
La Bota de Oloroso 63 (Equipo Navazos)
The estimated age of this one around 80 to 100 years old. Something about a Solera system not being refreshed for a long time, but let’s not go into detail. Let’s just let that 80 to 100 years sink in for a second.
It starts gorgeously with ‘age’. There is no mistaking that this wine is ridiculously old. In terms of aromas I get cherries and nuts, caramel brownie and cocoa powder. Flour, wood spices, and wood mulch. The palate is rather heavy and dry, richness in a different way that whisky can be rich. I guess it’s more intensity than actual richness. Nuts, aged balsamic vinegar, cherry stones and cherries. The finish turns a little bit leathery.
This is an incredible wine. There is so much happening, which isn’t too surprising if you let something oxidize since the second world war. Stunning stuff!
La Bota de Pedro Ximénez 56 (Equipo Navazos)
Once more, according to Ruben’s research (I’m leeching of his work, I know) this Pedro Ximénez is well over 40 years old by conservate estimates. I wonder how something with the sweetness of PX ages, when it’s given this much time, especially since PX generally (to my layman’s knowledge) is drank quite young, comparatively.
The typical syrupy sweetness is present, but somehow it feels a little bit lighter. Whether or not that is because of the aging, or because of how this particular bodega makes their wine compared to what I know, I will probably never find out. There are raisins, oranges and chocolate. Cap Corse again, so myrtle too. Herbs and wood spices. The palate brings more raisins and oak, with orange syrup, chocolate. There are lots of little hints and nuances, more so than with younger PX, but it’s still very much PX.
When comparing ridiculously old Oloroso to what I know of the style, and ridiculously old Pedro Ximénez to what I am familiar with, I am much more impressed with the dry Oloroso. This comes as no surprise, since that happens to be a favored category anyway.
Of course, when trying these sherries I had quite recently hosted a sherry tasting and read some stuff about the wines, their origins and production methods. The wines I got in this ‘care package’ trumped all of the ones I had in the tasting. There’s a lot to be said for spending a bit more money to get higher quality wines, and I already went quite a ways beyond supermarket stuff.
What I’m trying to say is that sherry is a very interesting drink with huge variation in flavors, styles and quality. Especially the older ones show immense depth and lots of layers of flavors to be peeled back.
Thanks once more to Ruben for this bit of education!
Images used with permission 😉