This delicious Amontillado from Valdespino spends up to 16 years ageing both reductively and then oxidatively before bottling. It boasts rich, intense and well-defined flavours of yeast, brioche, dried fruits, caramel and a touch of leather.
Valdespino is one of the oldest bodegas in Jerez, with a history of Sherry production going back six centuries. Back in 1264, Alfonso Valdespino was one of 24 knights who fought against the invaders for the city of Jerez with King Alfonso X. As a reward for his efforts, he was given the land that formed the basis of the bodega. Today Valdespino belongs to the Estévez family, who purchased the bodega in 1999. They own 750 hectares of vineyards in Jerez, including the renowned ‘Macharnudo’ Pago. This vineyard ownership allows Valdespino very close control over grape quality. They are one of the few bodegas to make single-vineyard Sherries and are also renowned for their VOS (Very Old Sherry) with over 20 years of ageing and VORS (Very Old Rare Sherry) with over 30 years of ageing.
Valdespino’s single vineyard (Pago) Macharnudo Alto is located five kilometres to the north-west of Jerez, in the privileged area of High Jerez. It is at 135 metres above sea level, with a south-east aspect and a 10 % gradient. The white ‘albariza’ soil is typical of Jerez DO, and comes from a layer of earth rich in marine fossils. Thanks to the high content of calcium carbonate, its clayey texture does not split; it is soft when wet and absorbs rain like a sponge, and when it dries out it forms a layer that holds in the water, preventing evaporation. This reserve of moisture encourages the vine roots to develop, some reaching to more than four metres depth, allowing them to use this water reserve when needed.
Fermentation takes place in 600 litre American oak barrels. The fermentation temperature is controlled by not filling the barrels completely, then adding cooled grape must when necessary, to moderate the temperature. Once fermentation is finished, when 13% alcohol is reached, the wine is fortified to 15% and the veil of ‘flor’ (yeast) appears on the wine’s surface, protecting it from oxygen and transforming its components. The new wine ‘Sobretabla’ spends one year in barrel before being transferred to the ‘Solera of Tio Diego’ for fractional blending. It spends eight to ten years ageing biologically, during which time around 50% of the ‘flor’ dies. The wine evolves naturally into oxidative ageing as the Flor dies off (there is no extra fortification to 18%). It achieves a higher strength by concentration and evaporation up to 18%. The average age of the final Sherry is over 20 years at the time of bottling.
An intense amber colour. The nose shows notes of both the biological and oxidative ageing, yeast, bread, but also dried fruits and a hint of toffee, caramel and leather. Very dry, very complex, with a generous body and well balanced acidity.