Having opened one of my slowly dwindling stash of La Bota 34 it suddenly occurred to me that I had an opportunity to try two like minded wines together – the Bota de Palo Cortado Nº34 and the Bota de Palo Cortado Nº72, both of which were drawn from the six botas selected from the Oloroso Pata de Gallina Juan Garcia Jarana but some five years apart. (I like to think it is the sort of altruistic self sacrifice for which posterity will remember me: bravely and without heed for the consequences drinking two top class sherries at a time.)
The first difference is obvious even to the relatively untrained eye: the bottle of the 72 seems to have shrunk in the wash. (To be fair, though, it is just as well since the price increase more than compensates.) The newer label is also a bit more punchy – very smart.
Both wines are really terrific. Of course they had a very similar profile, aromas and flavours, and both are a testament to superb wine making, as elegant as they are sensational, but here what really interested me were the slight differences between them. As you can see above, there was really no difference in colour (ok the photo isn’t great in that regard) and despite sniffing until my eyes crossed I don’t think I could tell them apart on the nose. On the palate, however, there is a tangible additional potency to the new release – a bit more zest and intensity, a bit more solid. (It does cross my mind that the packaging – smaller bottle, solid color label – almost prepares you for more concentration, but even so I am convinced it is there.)
Really interesting to see what five years in the cask can do to a wine – and to get a feel for the effect of that additional concentration. In this case I reckon I just about prefer the Number 34 – maybe it is sentimental on my part, but it just seems to have an elegance to it that its younger, slightly brasher sibling doesn’t.