Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Brandy Cardenal Mendoza Solera Gran Reserva 40%, Sánchez Romate

Deep walnut brown fading to amber with bright copper highlights, slow legs.
Powerful and intense with distinct notes of wood, Oloroso and Pedro Ximénez, but a subtle and complex combination of them which could only come from age. There is an attractive nuttiness and very slight traces of cinnamon, clove and orange balanced by a hint of caramel sweetness. This is a serious brandy.
Generous and nicely balanced between tanginess and sweetness. There are some toasted notes like flan (créme caramel) and even a trace of coffee along with the more phenolic wood and spice notes which give depth, structure and focus, and which balance out that hint of sweetness providing length.
In 1887 the Sánchez Romate family began producing brandy for personal use, but as word got out about its quality they decided to put it on the market. This naturally required dramatically increasing the size of the solera. The brandy is produced from Airén grapes and is blended from 100% holandas, spirits distilled in alquitaras, or pot stills. Like all the best ones, it is aged using the "mixto" system, whereby the young spirit is aged statically in 250 litre barrels for three years to lose some of its strength and to age it more quickly before it enters the solera, which has eight criaderas. In all there are over 3,500 butts in the solera system.The butts themselves have been seasoned with PX and Oloroso, and the final product has an average age of 15 years. This solera also feeds the Carta Real solera and it in turn feeds the Non Plus Ultra solera. The brandy is named after Pedro Mendoza, a XV century Cardinal who was a bit of a character, and  among other things was a great promoter of Columbus' voyage to the Americas.
21 euros, widely available in good shops

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