A blog and review on all things Sherry. It is about tasting, enjoyment and learning more about the World’s Finest Wine. "Sherry is a thoroughbred" as Javier Hidalgo rightly puts it. Included are the amazing local Brandies and the remarkably good table wines also produced in the province of Cádiz.
There is probably no other grape which is so neutral
and yet which is capable of producing such a majestic wine as Sherry. Perhaps
it is precisely that neutrality which provides the blank canvas on which the brushstrokes
of soil, climate, yeast and oxidation can complete the masterpiece.
Palomino is by far the most important Sherry
grape, accounting for over 95% of vine plantings in the Marco de Jerez. As a
plant it offers moderate vigour, good yields with large bunches of thin-skinned
spherical grapes and moderate drought resistance, but is sensitive to termites
and berry moth as well as cryptogamic attacks such as mildew. It is also well adapted to
chalky soils and has good disease resistance. It is suitable for both the
traditional vara y pulgar and the more modern Guyot training on wires, ideal for mechanical harvesting. As a wine it is
light and pale with low acidity, moderate alcohol, usually around 12 degrees,
and is slightly fruity with gentle herbaceous aromas.
Bunches of Palomino ready for harvest
There are two principal clones: Palomino de Jerez
and Palomino Fino which originated in Sanlucar. The latter is preferred for its lower acidity, better
flowering, yield and reliability, and has thus almost completely replaced the former.
Palomino itself has all but completely replaced the many other varieties which
once grew here. It has a marvellous capacity to convey terroir notes such as
saltiness or minerality to the wine, and its low acidity is compensated for by
bitter notes from flor or volatile acidity in older wines. In order to resist Phylloxera, all the vines are grafted, and the preferred American rootstocks are crossings of V. Riparia and V. Berlandieri which can tolerate soils high in calcium such as Richter 161-49.
Palomino in its spiritual home: albariza
The name Palomino originated with Fernán Yáñez
Palomino, one of the knights who helped Alfonso X defeat the Moors in the XIII
century, and who stayed on in the area growing vines to which he gave his name.
Centuries later his descendants founded the famous bodega Palomino & Vergara.
According to an old saying a beloved child has many names, and Palomino is
evidently much loved as the following are only some: Listán, Orgazuela
(sometimes Horgazuela), Albán, Palomino de Chipiona, Temprana and Palomino del
Pinchito – and these only in the Marco de Jerez. The grape also grows in the
Canary Islands and Castilla y León, but 95% of it is to be found in Jerez.
Palomino ready for the press
So here’s to Palomino, without which we would
be in the unthinkable position of having no Finos, Manzanillas, Amontillados,
Palos Cortados or Olorosos, not to mention some of the outstanding table wines
now produced in the area.