What exactly would you expect from a near 70-year-old sherry? Bodegas Toro Albala, Don PX Seleccion, 17%, 1946 was bottled in September 2011. So that is 65 years in a cask! It would be interesting to work out how much has been lost to the angels over its long life in oak.As we are accustomed to pouring our PX over vanilla ice cream, you might think that this wine would have become a thick, viscous liquid with a great hit of sugar. And that it would be almost immobile in the glass and impossibly treacly. But nothing could be further from the truth. The first thing to say is that it was remarkably lithe and … well, drinkable! A great wine must not just be a profound tasting experience if you sip it. However concentrated it is, you must actually want to go on and drink it, in moderation of course. I am happy to report here that I consumed not just my tasting portion but Janet’s too – she doesn’t have a sweet tooth.
As you can see from the pictures the sherry had an impenetrable, near black, hew with a narrow olive rim. The nose was a complex mix of conserved black fruit and dried figs, coffee, roasted nuts and more. Robert Parker wrote a whole paragraph of descriptors in the course of giving this wine quite a lot of points. (His descriptions of wine are always far more interesting than the points awarded, if in the Dickensian school of length.) But what was really amazing on the palate was the sheer youthful freshness of this great septuagenarian. It is genuinely a wine, not a monument, with a balance of flavour intensity, sweetness and acidity balance. Yes, it is genuinely sweet but not at all cloying, rich but with a refreshing finish. It is a model of lively longevity for all of us who are beginning to realise that being 70 is not an unimaginably distant goal.
Purchase details: £225 a bottle, from a small consignment imported directly from the estate last year by Bordeaux Index.