“He who never made a mistake, never made a discovery”… . Samuel Smiles

So many sherries, so little time, it’s important that I get to one of my favorite styles: Palo Cortado. I was never a fan of White Zin, but there’s no denying it was hugely popular and still has fans.  Did you know that it was an accidental discovery”?  Same with Molten Lava Chocolate Cake.  Same with Palo Cortado Sherry!

Palo Cortado begins as a Fino but during the aging process, the flor doesn’t develop as expected so the wine (after biological aging) continues to age oxidatively. Today, circumstances providing for this can be encouraged, but the result will be the same: a sherry that is somewhat lighter in color than Oloroso, but much darker than a Fino, yet with the full body of an Oloroso and bone dry.

Expect notes of burnt/bitter orange and dried fruits (apricots), caramel and almonds/walnuts. Most recently, I enjoyed this Bodegas Valdespino Palo Cortado Viejo C.P. and found it gave me all that and more with smoky notes of vanilla extract, baked apple and brandied raisins. There’s a hint of caramalized banana as in “Bananas Foster” but emphasizing the bubbling mixture of butter, rum and dark brown sugar minus the sweetness.  “Viejo” (meaning old) is fitting giving that the Palomino vines used by Valdespino are 25 years plus in age and the average age of the wine in bottle is 25 years also. The vineyard (Macharnudo Alto) is a single vineyard at high elevation and on prized soil (albariza) that is light and high in chalk content lending intense minerality and is the best for growing Palomino grapes. During aging, the wine is refreshed with Fino “Inocente” and Amontillado “Tio Diego” (flagship wines of the estate).

You’ll find Valdespino Palo Cortado an excellent pairing with Jamon Iberico, aged Manchego cheese, almonds and hazelnuts (put these together for a charcuterie board). Consider also aged Comte and Cheddar. Good too with roasted chestnuts, pates and smoked meats and some roasted root vegetables. Also good against Jerusalem artichokes with dip (though I’m not a fan of that veggie) and (God forgive me) “Bridge Mix” chocolate candy).  Most Somms may disagree, but I find it wonderful with grilled shrimp spiced and prepared with diced sweet onion and fresh garlic. (Each time I served this wine with grilled, spiced shrimp, everyone loved it). Serve the wine just slightly chilled. 93 points Robert Parker Wine Advocate,  96 from Wine & Spirits Magazine. ALC: 20%.  My bottle imported by Cream Wine Company. (Chicago, IL). For more information on this and other sherry styles, see:

…………….. Jim

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