That Rarest and Most Wonderful of Wines - Hidalgo La Panesa Fino

Posted by Joe Salamone

A Superb Ambassador for Sherry
Emilio Hidalgo La Panesa Especial Fino
Saline Snap of Fino, Complexity and Depth of Old Age

"It may gradually grow stronger in flavor but retain its fino character, becoming that rarest and most wonderful of wines, an old fino." - Julian Jeffs, Sherry

Today we present an aged fino, an incredible wine that comes to market with an average age of 15 years: Hidalgo's La Panesa Especial Fino.

To stress how singular this is, keep in mind that most finos have between three and five years of aging; here we are talking about an aging process up to five times the average.

But what does this really mean?

It means the wine combines what seem to be contradictory flavors into one seamless, integrated palate. On the one hand, the freshness, brightness and saline-mineral snap of a fino. On the other hand, the calm, dark savory flavors, the nutty, caramelized notes that occur as a fino moves toward oxidative aging and becoming an Amontillado.

There is really nothing else like it - see Julian Jeff's quote again: "that rarest and most wonderful of wines."

If I had to draw a comparison, I'd maybe liken it to Equipo Navazos' La Bota Finos, which also boast old age and darker, richer, more complex flavors of oxidative aging - but Hidalgo's La Panesa has at least five years on the oldest fino release from La Bota.

We have had a tremendous response to our recent sherry offers. It's fantastic to witness the reawakening interest in this region and its wines. One can pretty easily identify two key reasons for the renaissance: quality and value.

Bodegas Emilio Hidalgo

This is one of the most celebrated, most unique sherries Emilio produces. Even the greatest haunts of quality and value (the Loire, Jura, Germany, etc) are going to be more and more challenged by this special place and its wines. Wait and see.

From the outset, La Panesa was intended to be a special wine. It was founded in 1961 to celebrate the birth of Alfonso Rodriguez, the Hidalgo brothers' first nephew. La Panesa represents a selection from the best barrels in Hidalgo's basic fino solera, which are then fed into the seven special criaderas for Panesa.

This is only the start, though. What makes a fino a fino is that it is protected by a veil of flor yeasts. These yeasts have definite requirements in terms of temperature and humidity. They also require constant attention and need to be fed with nutrients by being refreshed with new wines or they die, at which point the wine begins aging oxidatively. Even with the most lavish attention, the flor typically starts dying off at eight to ten years at most.

Hidalgo manages to keep La Panesa's flor going for 15 years - an almost miraculous feat. It requires storing the barrels in the most humid section of Hidalgo's bodega and, more importantly, very careful refreshing of the soleras with just enough nutrients to keep the flor going, slow and steady.

This is a beautiful testament to the artisanship, to the care and dedication required to make great Sherry.

As a final note, Hidalgo's La Panesa Especial Fino really shines after being open for a few hours or even days, gaining both depth and weight along with precision. So don't be afraid to open it on Monday and finish it off on Wednesday or Thursday -- if you're a patient, studious type!

La Panesa also excels at the table, and it's particularly friendly with seafood stews, richer fish dishes or just a good plate of jamón. Need some more suggestions? Give us a ring.

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

Joe Salamone
Wine Buyers
Crush Wine & Spirits

Emilio Hidalgo La Panesa Especial Fino