Tasted With Liberty Wines – Valdespino Fino Inocente
There is little doubt that with sherries produced by Hijos de Rainera Pérez Marín and Valdespino to name but two houses, and even ignoring group director Eduardo Ojeda’s involvement in Equipo Navazos, the Grupo Estévez portfolio rivals the very best in Andalusia.
This is usually the bit where I moan that it’s impossible to get your hands on these sherries in Ireland, but thanks to the recent addition of Valdespino to the Liberty Wines portfolio, these sherries are now far easier to find, and indeed the recent change in importer has yielded immediate dividends for me as my local deli-cum-supermarket now stocks the Valdespino range in handy 375ml bottles.
Although the jewels in the Valdespino crown are probably some of their VOR and VORS sherries, their standard fino, Fino Inocente, is renowned for its quality. Indeed if the twitterati are to be believed, this may be the finest non limited edition, non en rama sherry on the market today.
As I’ve often found in my exploration of sherry, the most beloved sherries are generally those that sit on the extremes of the sherry taste profile or have a certain individuality to them that other offerings cannot match. Fino Inocente is no different as it is a single vineyard bottling from the Macharnudo Alto vineyard just north of Jerez that is fermented in 600 litre American oak barrels. This is relatively unusual in two respects. Firstly, single vineyard sherry is not very common, presumably because people frequently, and perhaps naively, don’t place as much importance on terroir for sherry as for non-fortified wines.
Secondly, although it was traditional to ferment sherry in oak, the technique is no longer widely practised in Jerez as many bodegas have transitioned to stainless steel fermentation. Fino Inocente’s solera system comprises of 10 criaderas, each criadera containing 70 butts and yielding a final sherry with an average age of 10 years.
Very pale straw yellow in colour, the nose was precise and yeasty with very good intensity. There was also a whiff of vanilla woodiness that took a bit of getting used to. I’ve found this aroma previously in some sherries that were not fermented in oak so maybe this isn’t solely attributable to the traditional fermentation methods. Fino has many fantastic qualities, but what sets some apart from the crowd for me is complexity and drinkability. This had both in spades – it was beautifully layered and minerally but also had a velvety structure on the palate that kept me coming back for more; full-on, powerful but balanced and absolutely delicious.
I expect that Fino Inocente will start to appear in more wineshops in Ireland over the coming months. A half bottle will set you back €11.99.
Two other notable entry level sherries in the Valdespino range are Amontillado Tio Diego and Manzanilla Deliciosa. Keep an eye out for a Manzanilla Deliciosa En Rama over the coming months – hopefully it’ll make it to these shores.