So . . . to better understand and appreciate a style of wine that I've always found appealing, I've started a new routine in my week tagged #SundaySherrySunday. Just trying different sherries that are available to me and using them as vehicles to better understand these fascinating wines. A blog post
and a couple
by Eric Asimov of the New York Times provided a great primer and made me quite thirsty to understand more.
To start of the journey I headed over to The Spanish Table
in Berkeley and chatted with Gerhard who is an incredible wealth of information. The selection of sherries at The Spanish Table makes it clear just how much I have to learn and how much fun I will have doing so!
For my first bottle to inaugurate #SundaySherrySunday, went with a fino, specifically the Valdespino Inocente from the Macharnudo Vineyard
. As I'm unfamiliar with pretty much all of the sherryworld, I did some sleuthing around on the internet and it appears that Valdespino has a historic sherry bodega that supplied the Spanish royals and was acquired by José Estévez in 1999. Crush has a very interesting assessment
of the bodega since the Estévez acquisition that highlights that despite moving the sherry production to an updated facility, they are the only bodega that continues to ferment their sherry in American oak--the traditional method before stainless steel tanks became popular.
Now, due to my sherry ignorance, I must type that all of this was unknown to me, but what caught my eye and Gerhard highlighted for me was the fact that this is a single-vineyard sherry, something pretty much unheard of as I understand it (though I'm sure Victor de la Serna will correct me if I'm wrong!). Macharnudo is a higher altitude vineyard (something I always seem to love, no matter what style of wine). There's plenty of debate out there about terroir and sherry that requires more experienced palates than mine (like Peter Liem and BrooklynGuy) [I highly recommend the post
by BrooklynGuy with the great Peter Liem quotes for a mighty useful quick introduction.] According to said post, the Macharnudo Alto vineyard is a single plot within the Macharnudo pago of which Valdespino owns only a portion, but has been bottling single-vineyard sherries from there since the mid-nineteenth century.
In addition to the single-vineyard provenance, Gerhard at The Spanish Table mentioned that Valdespino leaves the wine to develop in the solera system much longer than is typical for the fino style . . . internet sources seem to indicate 10 years for Valdespino versus less than half that for a typical fino.
Suffice to say there's a quite a bit for me to digest on what makes the wine distinctive, even within the already distinctive world of sherry!
What did I think of it
? It appears a light clear gold with a beautiful blonde hue. The aromatics are absolutely crazy and made me think of sour beer, but in a wonderful parallel universe: crazy hay, glue, wafting and strong but utterly beautiful, and olives, lots of olives. The taste, especially the intro is sooooo much softer than the nose, gentle and guiding toward a very settled core. I was actually surprised by how rich it was in the midpalate which is something I am not used to with my limited fino experience and in particular with the contrast with both the intro and finish of this wine itself. The body to the wine is serious, but it enters silently and leaves without a trace. Utterly phenomenal. If this was the only sherry I drink for the rest of my days, I'd have to say I would not be an unhappy man. But it's only the last sherry until next #SundaySherrySunday !