Sunday, 8 April 2018

8.4.18 Historic Tasting in Sanlúcar

On Friday night Antonio Peña who runs the great wine shop De Albariza put on a really interesting tasting. It consisted of comparing some classic Sherries, bottled 40 years ago or more, with the same wines bottled recently. Antonio Barbadillo (Sacristía AB) gave a fascinating talk and brought two Manzanillas of his own. It was a wonderful tasting, and here is a list of the wines along with brief comments:

Manzanilla Sacristía AB Primera saca 2011 (@ 7 years in bottle)
Quite deep in colour, slight hint of Amontillado, traces of biscuit, caramel, complex, lovely.
Manzanilla Sacristía AB Primera saca 2017 (@ 1 year in bottle)
Fresh, complex, full, saline and rounded, classic.

Palo Cortado Wellington, Hidalgo La Gitana (@ 40 years in bottle)
Early hints of diesel, cardboard, slightly drier but opened out beautifully, delicious
Palo Cortado Wellington VORS, Hidalgo La Gitana (@ 1 year in bottle)
Very slightly darker, sweeter, hints orange, cinnamon, saline, charming

Amontillado del Duque, González Byass (@ 40 years in bottle)
A bit leaner and cardboardy at first but opened out beautifully,
Amontillado del Duque VORS, González Byass (@ 1 year in bottle)
A shade sweeter, hint of tobacco, delightful. These two were remarkably similar.

Amontillado Quo Vadis, Delgado Zuleta (@ 40 years in bottle)
Tight at first but remarkable complexity as it opened out, crisp saline, elegant, long
Amontillado Quo Vadis VORS, Delgado Zuleta (@ 1 year in bottle)
A shade sweeter, even a faint fruit note but still saline, crisp and long

Sherry Crema, González Byass (almost certainly well over 50 years in bottle)
This was without doubt the oldest wine but it is sadly no longer available so we couldn’t obtain a newer version. It was fruity, balanced, not over sweet and quite delicious, made with a little Moscatel as well, as was the style in the past, and it was aged as a blend. It had the most sediment, so it had certainly lost both colour and sweetness - but certainly none of its appeal.

It was fascinating to see how well the old wines had developed in bottle and how things have changed. Firstly it was hard to date the old bottlings precisely as they had no lot numbers on the label, and no back label, so we had to make educated guesses. The recently bottled Palos Cortados and Amontillados were all VORS, but as the system was only introduced in the year 2,000, that qualification was not available to the old wines though they have the same solera age, being effectively the same wines, just with more bottle age. The old corks showed their age more than the wine. They were all of the T type which is not terribly suitable for laying-down and so have a tendency to dry out, and with one exception they all broke. Not unexpectedly, the old wines were a little closed and showed a hint of reduction, requiring persuasion to open them out, and naturally they were very slightly paler and drier. Once they had opened out they were reassuringly similar to the new wines which all had a little more up front charm, at least at first. Times have moved on, labels have changed, but Sherry is as good as ever.

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