Cata de Toro Albala in Taberna Palo Cortado

It has been quite a week and tonight was special – a chance to try some really great wines from Toro Albala, side by side, in really knowledgeable company and in sherry headquarters here in Madrid. Frankly amazing wines – 1951 Marques de Poley Amontillado, 1965 Don PX Selección, and the Don PX Convento from 1955, 1931 and 1929.

It was an awesome group of wines and the variation was really intriguing. Probably the two most memorable aspects were the minerals and zing of the 1965 – real salt and pepper – and the big contrast with the 1955 that followed it – nose like a jammy Chateauneuf du Pape and a lighter, citrus and sweetness palate.

And I mentioned knowledgeable company – none other than Antonio Barbadillo of Sacristia AB, amongst others. Made for a very entertaining and educational evening – some of the things we discussed are stilling buzzing around in the noggin and may one day appear as blog posts.

There were, however, two jarring notes. First, the central role played by “Parker Points” in much of the commentary. This is a bodega that prints the points on the label, of course, but even so it was very odd to focus on the numerical values so often and to such an extent. Second, there was a bit too much blarney for my tastes: too much of the old “I wear this one as aftershave” and general references to tears and sighs and the like. It is a shame because the technical skill and biological wonder behind wines that have aged between 51 and 87 years got left out somewhat. (Don’t get me wrong, it was very entertaining.)

Once we finished these really big beasts we tucked into some fantastic pintxos, cheese plates, pates and the like – top drawer – accompanied by the Dos Claveles, an unfortified pedro ximenez white wine from Toro Albala, and the Fino Electrico (named afer the electricity substation net to the bodega, by all accounts). Again very nice stuff – but it was a difficult transition after the wines that had gone before, to say the least (although if we had stayed on the other wines I might have ended up staying all night).

A wonderful night that was over all too quickly.

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