Palo Cortado PAP (1911)
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 Palo Cortado, sherry’s most beautiful accident, is a wine that began its life intended to be a Fino. Somewhere along the line, without explanation, the flor died, leaving it to age oxidatively much like an amontillado – but having aged much longer under flor than the typical amontillado would have. This particular solera was from 6 forgotten sherry butts destined for England which never made the trip. The “PΔP” designates “Palo Cortado,” delta for the Sherry Triangle, and the winery’s location in Puerto Santa Maria.
WHAT MAKES THIS WINE UNIQUE? This Palo Cortado is part of the personal stores of the Osborne family, until very recently not made commercially available. At least 30 years average age at bottling from 3 criaderas set in 1911 and forgotten at the winery for decades. Only 50 botas remain in these criaderas. Miniscule amounts are bottled, and fewer every year because of the shrinking solera that feeds it. From the addition of PX, this also has a hint of sweetness which is very rare in a Palo Cortado.
RATING HISTORY: 96 WA
GRAPE: 92% Palomino, 8% Pedro Ximenez. Vines tended in albariza soil at 70 m (230 ft) elevation from the Balbaína pago.
PAIRING SUGGESTIONS: The elegance and brightness of this Palo Cortado, combined with its length and complexity, make it a beautiful pair for dry-aged beef. Cured meats and aged cheeses are also excellent pairs.
VINIFICATION AND AGEING: This wine comes from 3 criaderas, and fewer than 300 bottles are filled each year. The solera was begun in 1911. Like all Palo Cortado, this began its life as a Fino, aging biologically, and was reclassified as Palo Cortado when the flor died to age oxidatively. This has the rare addition of PX to round out its astringency.
PRODUCTION: 223 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: Deep mahogany with green highlights. Savory and spicy on the nose, with aromas of marcona almonds, dried peach, cigar tobacco, orange oil, marmalade and incense. Starts dry and savory on the palate, with terrific concentration to the dried fruit and salty nut flavors, and moves through to a medium sweet, almost whiskey-like finish.
All photos: Friederike Paetzold