The Tasting Panel magazine

September 2010

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Page 20 of 112

STEVEN SPURRIER’S LETTER FROM LONDON Very Old Sherries E veryone knows that sherry is the most under- consumed wine in the world—except in Spain, of course—and that the bodegas have huge stocks, with soleras that continue over many generations. Although there have always been small quantities of sherries of great age, they have been little known and even less sold, as the label did not necessarily indicate their age. This has now been changed by the introduction of age dating on the labels, backed by a rigorous control exercised by the Consejo Regulador to guarantee for the consumer that the sherries are of the age stated. The age categories are now classified as: 15 Year Old 20 Year Old VOS, Vinum Optimum Signatum or Very Old Sherry 30 Year Old VORS, Vinum Optimum Rarum Signatum or Very Old Rare Sherry Anada, sherry from a single vintage Reliquia or Relic, sherry of unknown but extreme age The Sherry Institute of Spain put on a tasting of 33 wines across the different styles, and below, from an overall superb selection, are my top wines. PHOTO: DECANTER Amontillado Bodegas Hidalgo Napoleon VORS ($84) Bright amber; lifted, even floral, nutty, slightly salty nose; finesse and depth, complex and satisfying. 18/20 CLASSICAL WINES OF SPAIN Lustau Amontillado VORS (N/A) Full amber with orange glints; candied orange peel nose; a very strong wine and a little green on the finish but impressive. 18/20 EUROPVIN Domecq 51-1a VORS Orange amber; fine floral orange-peel nose; good rich flavours, with a slight touch of rancio; from a very well-preserved solera. 18/20 NOT CURRENTLY IMPORTED Barbadillo Amontillado Reliquia ($249) Nut-brown amber; nutty, brilliant fruit full of purity and energy; excellent. Pricy, but presented in a decanter. 18/20 NEW AGE IMPORTS LLC Palo Cortado Bodegas Hidalgo Wellington VORS ($84) Amber with a touch of green on the rim; floral autumnal fruit on the nose, more “flowing” than the Napoleon Amontillado, a superbly aged, classic wine. 18.5/20 CLASSICAL WINES OF SPAIN 20 / the tasting panel / september 2010 Lustau Palo Cortado VORS (N/A) Pale amber; very clear orange-peel and nutty nose; lots of depth and grip; very dry finish; older than 30 years. 18/20 EUROPVIN Domecq Capuchino VORS Rich orangey amber; quite exotic yet pure autumnal fruits; superb length and expression: warm, rich and nutty, yet bone dry. 18.5/20 NOT CURRENTLY IMPORTED Barbadillo Palo Cortado Reliquia ($249) Orangey- amber; superb length and bone dry finish; a truly grand wine of great age, exceptional vigour still. In decanter. 19/20 NEW AGE IMPORTS LLC Oloroso Bodegas Valdivia Sacromonte Oloroso Secco 15 Year Old ($35) Pale amber; lifted orange-peel nose; rich yet dry, beautifully made and very pure. 18/20 C&P WINES González Byass Matusalem Dulce Viejo VORS ($49/375 ml.) Dark amber with green rim; very rich, nutty, caramelly; age has dried out the richness a little, but a totally satisfying wine. 18/20 SAN FRANCISCO WINE EXCHANGE Harveys Rich Old Oloroso VORS Fine mahogany amber; lively nose with richness and purity; vibrant and complex; very good wine. 18/20 BEAM GLOBAL Lustau Oloroso VORS ($180) Orangey amber with orange-peel nose; very good example of aged sherry consuming its richness; lovely old bodega style. 18.5/20 EUROPVIN Domecq Sibarita VORS Fine orangey amber; can- died fruit on the nose; nutty and dry; great complexity and length; a wine of great presence. 18.5/20 NOT CURRENTLY IMPORTED Pedro Ximenez González Byass Noe VORS ($49/375 ml.) Black amber with green edge; good spice and lift, and this balances the huge sweetness. 17.5/20 SAN FRANCISCO WINE EXCHANGE Lustau Pedro Ximenez VORS (N/A) Black-brown with green edge; vibrant nose and still a hint of orange peel above the sweet molasses flavour. 18/20 EUROPVIN Domecq Venerable VORS Black-brown; totally thick on the glass, yet acidity is there to balance the massive richness of PX; a really classy solera and one could go for a second (small) glass. 18.5/20 NOT CURRENTLY IMPORTED

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