Can any wine compare with the intensity and sheer excitement of great Sherry? Now there’s a question which we could spend a lot of time debating … but frankly on Christmas Eve we are not going to! This is just a brilliant drink. The pleasure begins the moment you pour a small amount into a glass with that crystal clear, light amber colour and the immediate, powerful aroma of yeast, figs and walnuts. However, the nose is as nothing compared to the layers of sensation in the mouth: intensely sharp refreshing attack, tiers of dried fruit and nuts again, the driest finish but now overlaid with old fruit and orange rind, something herbal. Your mouth is clean as a whistle but longing for another sip.
Take a bow Williams & Humbert, 20 Year Old Rare Old Dry Palo Cortado, 19.5%. Palo Cortado – for us wine geeks – is an intermediate style of sherry. It started life as a high quality Fino but then mysteriously failed to develop a layer of Flor yeast. As a result it began to interact with oxygen and in this case has been in a barrel for a very long time, most of its twenty years. That accounts for its amazing concentration but, and here is the key, it retains the finesse and delicacy of the best Fino.
And how much does this little twenty year old gem cost? 15.99 from the Oxford Wine Company and elsewhere… Yes, less than sixteen pounds for one of the world’s great wines. Christmas really does begin here. I can still taste it distinctly and I have refrained from taking another sip for a good 10 minutes ….
Truly amazing. Happy Christmas!