Tasting Some Of The Oldest Wines Ever: Jerez
Once again this year I was lucky enough to seize a great learning opportunity – a wine tasting seminar at PJ Wine store in New York. This time the subject of the seminar was Jerez, also known as Sherry (or Xerez). Jerez is one of the most interesting wines in the world, as its production methods (aging, in particular) are very different from most of the other wines for two reasons:
1. It is left to purposefully oxidize for many years during aging process (something winemakers are desperately trying to prevent while making and then storing regular wines).
2.It is constantly blended with the older wines through the method called Solera, sometimes going back for a few hundreds years (you can find some additional information about Jerez in this post at The Art of Life Magazine).
During the seminar we tried 8 different wines from Sanlucar – the area which is located close to Jerez, but has more marine influence as it is located on the coast of Atlantic Ocean and next to the Guadalquivir River on the right. This location creates unique conditions for Flor – an algae-like film which grows on top of Jerez in the barrel and protects it from oxidation – where Flor can grow all year around (this is the not the case in Jerez, where Flor doesn’t lasts a full year). Another important factor is Albariza soil, which is a chalk-based, similar to the soil in Champagne, which adds an additional acidity to the wines.
Here are the tasting notes for the wines as we tasted them.
1. Vinicola Hidalgo “La Gitana” Jerez-Xeres-Sherry Manzanilla NV:
Completely unoxidized. Nose of flor, but very clean, nice, beautiful acidity, hint of white fruit, very dry. Goes well with bocorones, white vinegar cured mackerel.
2. Bodegas Hidalgo Pastrana Manzanilla Pasada – 92 pts (Wine and Spirits): greater intensity on the nose, touch more fruit intensity. Touch of oxidation, aged for about a year. Great with green olives.
3. Vinicola Hidalgo “Napoleon” Jeres-Xers-Sherry Amontillado NV– 90 pts (WA)
same as the first wine, but with oxidation. Very nice, a lot more complexity,
4. Bodegas Hidalgo Jerez Cortado Wellington, VOS +20 years – 91 pts (Wine and Spirits)
Wow – soft, beautiful, but pales out next to number 5
5. Bodegas Hidalgo Wellington Palo Cortado, VORS +30 years
Palo Cortado is finest example of oxidized sherry. Phenomenal wine, solera started in 1750, soft, smooth, tremdous flavours, nuts, hint of saltiness, roasted figs – outstanding…
6. Bodegas Hidalgo Faraon Olorosso – 91 pts (WA)
Very nice, soft, smooth,
7. Bodegas Hidalgo Alameda Cream Sherry NV – 91 pts (WA)
Very nice, round, soft, sweet, but balanced enough. some baked apples.
8. Bodegas Hidalgo Pedro Ximenez Viejo Triana:
Wow! Figs, plums, jam, phenomenal concentration on the nose, same on the palate. This is liquid fig jam, balanced, good acidity – outstanding! This is the blend of 100 vintages, through the Solera method. My personal favorite from the tasting.
On the next picture, you can compare the intensity of color between Pedro Ximenez (much darker) and Cream Sherry wines:
And here are the correspondent wines:
All the wines were very good, however I would say that first Manzanilla, then number 5 Palo Cortado and last Pedro Ximenez where my favorites, with Pedro Ximenez being simply unforgettable. Most of these wines are available from the PJ Wine and they are all very affordable.
This was definitely a great experience, and I will be glad to repeat it again (and again). Until the next time – cheers!
P.S. PJ Wine Grand Tasting Event will take place Friday, November 18th, at Metropolitan Pavilion in New York City. If you want to experience 2006 Cheval Blanc, 2000 d’Yquem, 1990 Mouton-Rothschild, 1985 Haut-Brion, 1952 CVNE Vina Real Gran Reserva, Krug, Cristal, Dom Perignon and hundreds of other wines – all in one night at one place (!!), don’t miss this event!