Oloroso Solera BC 200 (1864)
Bodegas Osborne’s Rare Collection is among the most sought-after botas in the entire Sherry Triangle. These wines were, for decades, only consumed by the Osborne family on the rarest of occasions – these are from their own soleras, dating back hundreds of years, and were never intended for commercial consumption. The soleras were topped up even more infrequently than the VORS soleras in the winery, and over the years, these have become some of the rarest finds in the Sherry Triangle. These Soleras have aged so well and are so remarkably complex and seductive due to the co-ageing of PX with Palomino (now disallowed by the Consortium) more than 100 years ago, which helps to balance out the astringency often found in aged dry sherries. Rather than analogizing these sherries to other VORS sherries, stylistically they are closer to a well-aged Boal Madeira. Through a long-standing relationship between Alberto Orte and the Osborne family, the Osbornes graciously agreed to share 25% of its annual saca with Ole. These wines represent the apotheosis of sherry production – literally history in a glass. To keep the average age for the Rare designation, fewer than 300 bottles of these singular wines are filled each year. The BC200 Oloroso originally came from 3 soleras labeled A, B and C – the solera labeled “A” was sold to Russia in the late 19th century, leaving the B and C soleras to make this wine. Like all the Rare soleras, this is stored at the tiny Bodega Honda, where the cellarmaster lists it as his favorite wine in the bodega.
WHAT MAKES THIS WINE UNIQUE? This Oloroso is part of the personal stores of the Osborne family, until very recently not made commercially available. At least 40 years average age at bottling from 5 criaderas set in 1864. A mere 7 botas remain in these criaderas. Miniscule amounts are bottled, and fewer every year because of the shrinking solera that feeds it. This Oloroso benefits from the co-aging with a small percentage of PX, which rounds the edges of a well-aged wine.
RATING HISTORY: 96 WA
GRAPE: 88% Palomino, 12% Pedro Ximenez. Vines tended in albariza soil at 70 m (230 ft) elevation from the Balbaina pago.
PAIRING SUGGESTIONS: The rich, dark profile of aged dry oloroso makes it a perfect match for roasted game, as well as aged cheeses and roasted nuts.
VINIFICATION AND AGEING: This wine comes from 2 criaderas, and only 3-500 bottles are filled each year. The solera was begun in 1922. RS = 50 g/L
PRODUCTION: 443 bottles
LOCATION, SOIL, CLIMATE: Vines tended in albariza soil at 70 m (230 ft) elevation. With averages highs of 22C (72F) and lows of 13C (56F), there are nearly an impressive 3,000 hours of sunshine per year and the summers are glorious. Most of the 584mm (23 in) of annual rainfall occurs from September through December. All the vines are within the Pago Macharnudo territory, located towards the interior of Jerez. This area produces riper palomino grapes making them more suitable for producing Amontillado and Oloroso style wines.
TASTING NOTES: Dark mahogany in color. On the nose, dried fig, soy, black pepper, dried apple and orange, bay leaf and star anise. On the palate, round and rich, with a scintillating blend of savory and sweet flavors. Wood spices, molasses, fig, maple and honey carry through to a rich, spicy finish laden with candied fruit.
All photos: Friederike Paetzold