Sherry Elite, the U.S. Return : Fernando de Castilla Palo Cortado Antique

Posted by Joe Salamone

One of Jerez's Finest Returns to the U.S.
Fernando de Castilla Palo Cortado Antique
"Each of the wines in the Antique range is a masterpiece in its own way." -Peter Liem

Finally, it seems that people in the U.S. are rediscovering one of the world's truly great wines: Sherry. What soon becomes painfully clear, however, is that many of the region's true gems are simply not available here.

It can be downright heartbreaking.

The greatest wines of this historic region deserve a presence in this country. This is a story that needs to be told; these are wines that you need to experience.

It's in this context that we reintroduce, with considerable pride, one of the most important producers in Jerez to the U.S. market: Fernando de Castilla. Aside from a few spare bottles still kicking around the market from years ago, you'll only find these sherries at Crush.

Although the history of Fernando de Castilla goes back a century or more, a decisive moment for this estate occurred in 2000 when the Sherry-obsessed Norwegian Jan Pettersen acquired it. (Click here for the full story.)

In the following decade the reputation of the estate, the quality of the releases, has simply skyrocketed. Sherry-geeks should take note that Fernando de Castilla has become a very important source for the prestigious Equipos Navazos La Bota Sherries.

For everyone else, for those of us who just care deeply about the great beauty, the great diversity of the world of wine, perhaps Peter Liem's words will provide the appropriate context for consideration:

"Under Jan Pettersen's direction, Fernando de Castilla has become one of the sherry region's elite producers. Each of the wines in the Antique range is a masterpiece in its own way, combining richness, elegance and complexity. These are wines of singular and intense personality, and their purity of expression is kept intact thanks to Pettersen's insistence on a minimum of filtration and clarification."

I visited Fernando de Castilla on my first day in Jerez and the wines just never left me. They are that good. The more I tasted, the more the quality at this bodega was confirmed.

Today, we focus on what may be my favorite wine in their impressive lineup, the Palo Cortado Antique.

This Sherry is a revelation; a riveting dry wine that boasts an intensity that in no way comes at the cost of the wine's obvious finesse and breeding. On the attack, there's a richness layered with nuts, orange peel and caramel. A raciness animates the finish and lends a buoyant, light-on-its feet poise.

Palo Cortado is a category of sherry that defies neat categorization, and almost any simple description here seems a vulgar reduction. Still, noting that Palo Cortado maintains Amontillado's steeliness and verve but shows off Oloroso's weight and richness at least gives you a sense of what to expect.

Fernando de Castilla's Palo Cortado Antique is impressive not only for its complexity and elegance but also for its food friendliness. Pair this with a wintry game dish or a steak, and you'll catch a glimpse of how well sherry works with food spanning from simple to refined.

Throughout my travels in Jerez, Fernando de Castilla and its head, Jan Pettersen, kept coming up. Most often, the words were: "He's a real lover of wine." The tiny gem that is Fernando de Castilla is in contrast to Pettersen's last gig, which was at the large sherry house Osborne. While there, sherry sales began to plummet, and the company started to focus on other ventures (among them, launching Red Bull in the Spanish market).

In Pettersen's own words, "I was a little frustrated about this strategy, since I believed, then as now, that Sherry has a uniqueness and tradition that is more than well-worth fighting for." This is essentially what he's doing at Fernando de Castilla - and not only with passion but with a striking business acumen. (Click here for more.)

I strongly agree with Pettersen's sentiments above, and I hope this offer serves as my part of the fight to preserve sherry and to bring it a new recognition and appreciation in the U.S. market. I strongly encourage everyone to try at least a bottle - the three-packs are especially sharply priced today for the steadily growing group of sherry lovers.

To order, please click below, email us at or call the store at (212) 980-9463.

Joe Salamone
Wine Buyer
Crush Wine & Spirits

Fernando de Castilla
Palo Cortado Antique (500ml)