Palo Cortado – Cayetano del Pino y Cia
At the Great Sherry Tasting in 2013, the production of palo cortado was a point of some discussion at a seminar hosted by Beltrán Domecq, President of the Consejo Regulador. Beltrán made a distinction that modern palo cortados do not age under flor in the solera system. This was an interesting point, and led me to think of modern palo cortado production as the product of two distinct systems.
I joked at the time that palo cortado was a wine which is identified as a having a combination of body, delicacy and finesse and has been maintained under some element of flor for a period of time (months or years), perhaps as a sobretabla or vintage, but then for some reason (spontaneous, intentional, intervention of Gandalf or another wizard etc.) loses its flor. The wine is then re-fortified to above 17-18% (ish) and ages oxidatively once it enters the solera system.
It’s an interesting point of discussion, but one which keeps throwing up a lot of exceptions and the key here probably lies in the term “modern palo cortado”.
We’ve already seen earlier this week that Valdespino’s Palo Cortado Viejo C.P. is an example of a palo cortado where some butts are selected from early stages of the Inocente and Tio Diego solera systems before entering a dedicated palo cortado solera, and Ruben Luyten has recently written on his blog about the variety of other ways in which palo cortado can be fashioned.
I’m going to also suggest that there aren’t many Gandalfs around – or if there are Peter Jackson mustn’t know about them – I’m sure he would’ve tried to eeek out a few more hours of tedious ‘hobbit cinema’ if he did. Thankfully, Peter Jackson has yet not been unleashed upon the unsuspecting world of sherry, but that doesn’t mean palo cortado hasn’t been afforded its few minutes of fame on the big screen, and, indeed this year’s Berlinale film festival saw the premiere of “Sherry & The Mystery of Palo Cortado”, a film seeking to shed some more light on the revival of sherry and the production of this style in particular.
I must confess that palo cortado has never really done it for me in the way that fine amontillado can. I’ve often wondered whether its popularity was more a result of the hype that surrounds it rather than a true reflection of quality. Still, there are many great examples that do thrill me – particular favourites include offerings from Valdespino, Tradición, Fernando de Castilla, Equipo Navazos and now….Cayetano del Pino y Cia.
Bodegas Cayetano del Pino y Cia dates back to the 1880s and was established by Don Cayetano del Pino Vázquez. Although originally, and for many years, Cayetano del Pino bottled its own sherries, it has since evolved into an almacenista with a range of sherries bottled by Sanchez Romate. Three palo cortados of varying average age are released.
Cayetano del Pino y Cia Palo Cortado Solera 1/15 Butts. Average age of about 15 years. There’s a delicate floral character on the nose. Lively, fresh and long. Great balance and, more importantly, great value at £15.95 a bottle.
Cayetano del Pino y Cia Palo Cortado Solera 1/10 Butts. Average age of approximately 20 years. A surprisingly pronounced saline nose and quite unusual fruity palate. Probably doesn’t ‘do it’ for me in the way the other two Cayetano del Pino y Cia offerings do but still very good.
Cayetano del Pino y Cia Palo Cortado Viejisimo 1/5 Butts – Average age of 35-40 years. Lots of resin and nail polish on the nose. Rounded, concentrated and complete. Stunning.
The UK importer for these sherries is Ehrmanns / Viniberia. Other stockists include The Wine Society, Fortnum & Mason, Capote Y Toros, Cambio de Tercio and Tendido Cero. Also by the glass in The Remedy.
These sherries were tasted at The Great Sherry Tasting 2014 with the picture above taken at the 2013 event.