Gonzalez Byass Palmas: Life After Tio Pepe

Posted by Joe Salamone

Life After Tio Pepe:
An Epic Journey
González-Byass Palmas
Fino Una Palma (500ml)
Fino Dos Palmas (500ml)
Fino Tres Palms (500ml)
Amontillado Cuatro Palmas (500ml)

González-Byass' Palmas are some of my favorite wines in all of sherry.

Ever since I tasted them a couple years ago, I've been trying to gather enough wine for an offer. Until today, it's been impossible. (Last year, I found myself quietly doling out bottles.)

The Palmas are produced in miniscule quantities. I should warn you from the start that quantities here are modest.

González-Byass' Tio Pepe is a very common, best-selling sherry. Talk to sherry experts and all of them marvel at Tio Pepe for the amount of quality that it delivers for the price and scale of production.

With all that said, the Palmas represent something very different: they're uber-limited, painfully selected and an exercise in sherry geekiness.

The idea is to track "life after Tio Pepe" meaning fino as it ages. The Palmas range from 6-45 years of average age.

Each of the Palmas represents some of the absolute best we've tasted from sherry country. They deliver a combination of polished finesse and depth of complexity that may very well be without peer. The Palmas are González-Byass' incredibly sincere project to track Fino's life span with a superlative and rigorous selection of their best and most representative barrels.

González-Byass is a huge operation and for making sherry, there are some serious advantages to this. Their large stocks allow a huge range to choose from and when you start focusing in on the best and most unique barrels, there are some really amazing things.

The tasting and the whittling down is intense. In a great piece on the wines, Peter Liem breaks down the selection for Una Palma: "Flores and his team began with 150 barrels that showed the character that they were looking for; from these, they narrowed the selection to 20, then to ten, finally ending up with just five of the finest barrels"

From there, Una Palma (like all of the Palmas) is bottled En Rama, with minimal filtration, to try to capture as much of the texture and complexity as it shows straight from the cask. Una Palma clocks in at six years of average age and still very much displays the saline mineral cut of a Fino.

Dos Palmas introduces the nutty, savory notes that happen as the flor starts dying off and amontillado character begins to leave an imprint on the wine. At eight years of average age, Dos Palmas also shows some of the concentration that appears as the wines age.

The Fino-Amontillado category offers some of the greatest sherry experiences. They can be absolutely heartbreaking wines. The Tres Palmas stands firmly within this liminal zone and along with things like La Bota's Pasadas, it's one of my favorites of this great category. Here a meaty savoriness and depth of complexity of old fino is introduced. A length and even more regal elegance than the other Palmas comes to the fore. This is the wine of all the Palmas that I always buy extra bottles of. It might be unfair to say it's my favorite, but it's the one that I'm most intrigued by and find myself wanting to drink another bottle of the most.

Finally, we jump from Tres Palmas at ten years of average age to Cuatro Palmas at forty-five years. Cuatro Palmas delivers the crushing length and complexity that Amontillado acheives at old age. There's a majestic breeding to it. They selected a single barrel that showed its racy Fino origins the best and there's kinetic energy to the wine that's thrilling.

I should bring this long email to a close. I should just say that if you're a sherry lover, these are a don't miss. The range shows sherry at its most refined and fascinating.

To order, reply to offers@crushwineco.com or call the store at (212) 980-9463.

Joe Salamone
Wine Buyer
Crush Wine & Spirits