30 Second Wine Advisor: PX on IC

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PX on IC

Pedro Ximenez on ice cream

First, as Christmas draws near, highlighting the winter holidays that bring joy to people of many Earthly heritages, allow me to wish Wine Advisor readers a holiday season of happiness, peace and joy, a blessing that transcends creed and heritage to incorporate us all.

Now, turning back to wine, let's focus today on a thick, "sticky" dessert wine from Spain that's well suited to warm a winter's night.

Pedro Ximenez, an old-line white grape, is widely grown around Spain, almost always as a source for sweet wines. It makes the sweetest and stickiest of Sherries, although in modern times it's largely been supplanted in Jerez (Sherry) by the sturdier, less disease-prone Palomino.

But it's still available, and when you're looking for a dessert wine that's sweet as sweet can be, it's a good choice.

Some consider it a particularly appropriate wine for Christmas, too, observing that the common abbreviation, "PX," resembles the Greek letters Chi (which looks like an "X" but is sounded as "CH") and Rho (which looks like a "P" but stands for "R") ... in other words, the Chi-Ro of ancient Christianity, "CHR," an abbreviation and symbol of Christ.

There's no evidence that Pedro Ximenez was named with this in mind, and there's not likely much truth in the old story that the grape was brought to Spain from the Rhine, of all places, by a traveler named Peter Siemens, whose name the Spaniards rendered as, well, Pedro Ximenez. I'd place its etymology in category "unknown," and welcome information from anyone who has a better, verifiable story. Catch me by Email at wine@wineloverspage.com.

As for the wine, the Pedro Ximenez featured below, which comes from the old-line Sherry producer Osborne, is a dessert-wine bargain at $15 to $20, and bears a strong flavor resemblance to sweet black raisins. It's fine for sipping after dinner in small tastes, but a little experimenting has revealed an unexpected truth: Pour a healthy drop atop a scoop of fine quality vanilla ice cream, and dig into the best grown-up sundae you could imagine. I wouldn't mess it up with whipped cream or a cherry on top, but I won't blame you if you decide to try that.

Today's Sponsor

Introducing Le Cellier Modular Wine Rack: 20% off with coupon code WLP20

Le CellierIntroducing Le Cellier Modular Wine Rack: Regularly $24.95 - just $19.95 - 20% off with coupon code WLP20 - same day shipping

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Today's Tasting Report

Osborne Premium Sherry Pedro Ximenez "1827" ($22.99)Osborne
This clear burnt-umber color wine offers a scent remarkably reminiscent of juicy black raisins on the nose and palate. It seems all raisins and sweetness on the first sip, but a tart, lemon-squirt of acidity quickly appears to balance the intense sweetness and keep the wine from cloying. Raisins and acidity and a hint of dark caramel linger in a very long finish. Fruit and sugar tend to mask its strength, so be aware that there's a hefty 17% alcohol in this fortified wine. (The "1827" on the label is not a vintage date, by the way. It could be the date of origin of the "solera" or ongoing blend of vintages used to make the non-vintage wine, but I can't confirm that from the limited information on the winery Website.) U.S. importer: Underdog Wine Merchants Inc., Livermore, Calif. (Dec. 22, 2009)

FOOD MATCH: Fine sipping after dinner, and it makes a remarkable flavor pairing when you pour a little over a bowl of vanilla ice cream. We are not kidding about this. Judiciously used, it also makes an intriguing condiment. A shot of it in homemade cream of roasted pumpkin soup popped the dish into a third dimension.

VALUE: The $20ish price is fair, and a bottle, dispensed in short tastes, will last a long time. Shop around, though, especially if your state has joined the 21st century in terms of shipping wine to individuals, as some vendors list it as low as $15 or so.

WEB LINK: The winery Website appears to be in Spanish only, and at this season it begins with a longish Flash Christmas movie with music. It's nice to watch. Once.

Locate vendors and compare prices for Osborne Pedro Ximenez wines on Wine-Searcher.com.

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California Wine Club

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A gift of award-winning wine is always appreciated. For last-minute holiday gifts, call The California Wine Club at 1-800-777-4443 or visit www.cawineclub.com to download a beautiful Gift Card or send a fun E-Postcard.

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