Considering the finished wine is ten years old, it is bursting with freshness and flavour. The Fino Inocente, made from grapes grown in Valdespino’s own vineyard, Marcharnudo Alto has complex aromas of sea salt and toasty yeast with a lifted, citrus finish.
Valdespino is among few family-owned bodegas in Jerez, and with a history of sherry production going back six centuries, it is also one of the oldest. Alfonso Valdespino was one of 24 knights who fought for the city of Jerez with King Alfonso X, against the Arabs in 1264. As a reward for his efforts he was given land in the Jerez region. Today Valdespino belongs to the Estevez family, and they own 750 hectares of their own vineyards in Jerez, rare in this region, which allows them close control over grape quality. Their Pago Macharnudo vineyard provides the grapes for their single vineyard wines, which include the Fino ‘Inocente’, the Amontillado ‘Tio Diego’ and the Palo Cortado ‘Viejo CP’. They are one of the only bodegas currently producing single vineyard sherries. Valdespino is also renowned for their VOS (Very Old Sherries) with over 20 years of ageing and VORS (Very Old Rare Sherries), with over 30 years of ageing.
The Palomino grapes for the Fino ‘Inocente’ are grown in the Pago Macharnudo – one of the top single-vineyard sites on the Jerez DO. At 135 metres above sea level, it is one of the highest altitude sites in the region and has a south-east aspect with a 10% gradient – perfect exposure for the Palomino to reach optimum levels of ripeness. Soils are white ‘albariza’ – rich in calcium carbonate, silica and clay. Albariza has excellent water retention properties and acts like a sponge, but it also forms a hard surface layer when it dries out, preventing evaporation. After the harvest, channels are dug between the vines to exploit these properties and trap the winter rains, creating a water reserve to sustain the vines through the heat of the Jerezano summers, during which temperatures can exceed 38°C.
Upon arrival at the winery, the Palomino grapes are very gently pressed and the must is settled. Unusually for modern-day Jerez, fermentation is traditional and takes place in 600-litre American oak barrels. After the Palomino is fermented to dryness, it is fortified to 15% and the barrels are only partially filled. This allows a thick veil of ‘flor’ (yeast) to develop on the wine’s surface, protecting it from oxygen. The young wine, known as the ‘sobretabla’, is then fed into the ‘Inocente’ solera system where it ages biologically under the ‘flor’ and is fractionally blended through the ten different criadera levels. The finished Fino ‘Inocente’ has an average age of 10 years, making it considerably older and more complex than your average Fino.
Straw yellow in colour. Savoury aromas bread dough, almonds, olives and dried apples dominate on the nose. Bone dry and bracingly refreshing on the palate, with a saline minerality and a long and complex finish.