Saturday, December 31, 2011

Two very special sherries from Gonzalez Byass

I was delighted to be given these two sherries as a Christmas present from my father - thanks Dad! They are very rare special edition wines from Gonzalez Byass, and came from the Wine Society. The WS have now sold out but I see that some other wine merchants, such as Berry Bros, are selling them too.

Apparently the palma is a chalk mark added to each sherry cask. The more strokes, the older and more mature the sherry. I had the Dos Palmas and the Cuatro Palmas - the number of strokes is shown on the round label on the bottles. The bottles are 50cl and the clear glass works really well, showing off the beautiful colours of the sherry inside. The label has the bottling date printed on it and they are supposed to be drunk within 6 months of bottling, not that that was ever likely to be a problem round these parts.

The Dos Palmas is around 8 years old. According to the Gonazalez Byass website, it's made from casks that still contain a film of flor. I had some at home with my parents, and some with G. It's definitely the best fino I've had. It was a lovely golden colour and tasted very sharp, fresh, pungent and bracing, like a walk by the sea on a cold day. A brilliant aperitif which went extremely well with a dish of olives. "Genuinely excellent" said G.

It was fascinating to try the Cuatro Palmas, which comes from just 6 casks and is around 45 years old. Apparently technically it's an amontillado rather than a fino, as the flor has started to die off. This was a beautiful amber colour and reminded me of a Sercial Madeira. Again, it was bone dry, but much more nutty and richer on the palate, with a lingering finish.

We had some on Thursday just after the Dos Palmas, and finished it off yesterday when we thought it showed better. Was this a) because it improved overnight, b) because it suffered from being tasted after the Dos Palmas or c) because we had it with some mixed nuts, which complemented it perfectly? We'll probably never know, as I'm unlikely to drink it again. It was wonderful, but the Dos Palmas definitely had the edge in terms of value for money, being about 1/3 of the price. These were both really interesting wines and now I'll have to consider whether to attempt to get hold of Una and Tres Palmas in due course, to collect the set!

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