Oloroso 1986, Bodegas Hidalgo – La Gitana

Ana in the Chula de Chamberi very kindly saved the last glass of this for me and I am extremely grateful. It is a beautiful wine.

This is a single vineyard, vintage wine from the legendary Jerez pago “El Cuadrado” (see here for an idea of its location – at the West end of the Barbaina pago, the most sea-influenced of the Jerez pagos). It is by Hidalgo la Gitana and has been twenty years in botas in the San Francisco bodega in the centre of Sanlucar: according to the label 12 botas to start with, but a barely believable 3 by the end. If my maths serve me right it has since spent 10 years in its bottle.

The time has been well spent because it is epic.

First, it has a curious look to it – very black, smokey and murky. Not all that much sediment in the glass – could be a result of having been shaken up but just look at what it has done to the bottle (easiest to see looking at the neck). It really looks like it has been through some sort of trauma (but it still really excellent) – if anyone knows what might have caused this I would be most interested.

On the nose there are relatively muted aromas of old barrels and gingerish spices, black treacle, and Christmas cake. Really none of those polish or solvent, volatile type aromas and maybe that was why it seemed muted (it was also a little cold). Nonetheless a very appetising nose.

Then on the palate it is downright lovely – has the elegance of a Sanlucar wine but a beautifully rich, Christmas-cake body to it. Concentrated but class – a wine where you only need a merest sip and sip after tiny sip give you black treacle flavours fading to toffee, coffee/black chocolate like bitterness and then cloves and woody spices. It is savoury rather than saline – maybe a tingle on the tip and top of the tongue – not at all astringent and just that little bit of acidic bite. Really unbelievably rich, flavourful and smooth and the spices at the end are perfect.

Wonderful. More please!

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