The young flor and the old bota 

Interesting contrast here between two wines that are both 100% palomino fino and have both spent time in bota but with and without flor, respectively. (They are also from opposite ends of the Marco de Jerez.) What I find interesting is the fact that what I recognize as the wood influence of the barrel is much more marked in the Socaire – which has spent two years in an old fino bota – than in the Manzanilla de Añada – which has spent nearly four.

I am no expert here but I am guessing that this lack of wood effect may be a function of the flor at work, or that the barrel influence is balanced by the lack of glycerine and sugar in the wine. Or it maybe that what I am attributing to the wood is really the effect of the wine impregnated into the barrels. On a completely different level, it reminded me of one of the more extraordinary wines that we tasted by Alba a while back: Alba Pago Carrascal Las Alegrías 2014. That wine was un unfortified palomino fino from Pago Carrascal (de Sanlucar) that aged for 18 months in a 650 litre chestnut bocoy that had held oloroso for over 80 years – and as a result had gained a fascinating, fine character and profile. It also brought to mind Mirando al Sur, a fascinating 100% viura from Rioja by Oliviere Riviere that had spent 18 months in a sherry bota.  (Indeed although I am even less of an expert this kind of thing has been de rigueur in the whisky business for donkeys years.)

It is something that has intrigued me ever since I started thinking about these wines: trying to get a handle on the importance of the barrels used. One of the first things a winemaker will tell you about their wines is how much oak it has had, where the oak was from and whether it was old or new. This conversation just never happens in relation to sherry. Maybe because of the historic nature of many soleras and the very limited number of vintage wines: even the new soleras that appear tendo to inherit barrels from old ones, while the vintage wines I know of, from memory, appear to be aged in old botas.

It would be fascinating to try something made in a new barrel, or maybe to make some wine in new american and french oak and give them a run against the oldies. Who knows maybe there is a stack of literature out there that I am not aware of – if so give me a shout.





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