The Last of Its Kind: Fernando de Castilla Fino Antique

Posted by Joe Salamone

A Relic - The Last of its Kind
Fernando de Castilla Fino Antique
"Each of the wines in the Antique range is a masterpiece."
- Peter Liem

Fernando de Castilla's Fino Antique offers a look back to how Finos were made long ago. It's old school Sherry - a style that's all but extinct.

There's nothing else like it available today.

Fernando de Castilla's Fino Antique can be counted amongst wines like Gentaz Dervieux's Cote Roties and Bartolo Mascarello's Barolos.

Wines that are incredibly compelling, but also have an almost archaeological significance. Wines that speak of a different era of winemaking.

This is what Fernando de Castilla Fino Antique delivers. It's a Fino of intense power and palate presence that offers a layered complexity and a regal grandeur. Stylistically, it stands alone, a relic of years past; qualitatively, it rubs elbows with the region's best.

For those interested in exploring the full stylistic range of Sherry, embracing something completely different, or just interested in experiencing a vinous snapshot of another time, you're strongly encouraged to try a least a bottle.

This is the only Fino currently being made in this old-fashioned style. These are the only bottles in the U.S..

In the Sherry region this stubborn adherence to tradition is particularly welcomed. After years of slumping sales, the landscape of the region is being altered, maybe irreparably so. One of the best vineyards is now a golf course, in others vines compete with solar panels and wind turbines for space, and historic bodegas are being torn down for apartment buildings. A whole winemaking tradition is threatened.

The situation is heartbreaking - Sherry is one of the world's great wines with a rich history.

If a region was ever in need of a proud traditionalist (or many of them,) it's Sherry. It's definitely found one in Jan Pettersen and his team at Fernando de Castilla.

What's the difference between an old fashioned and modern Fino? It's complex, but succinctly it's an issue of filtration, the age of the wine and fortification (click here for a more in-depth explanation.)

In contrast to highly filtered, fairly young modern Finos that have been fortified only once; Fino Antique boasts a very formidable eight years of average age, minimal filtration and a second fortification.

This results in a broad shouldered palate-saturating wine. It delivers concentrated notes of mirabelle plum, lemon zest, salty minerality and a fascinating umami texture complete with nori-esque underpinnings.

It's a wine that's challenging in its magnitude, in its disregard for modern tastes. And, all the more fascinating for it.

Fernando de Castilla's Jan Pettersen is one of the region's great champions of Sherry. Pettersen started his career in the region at Osborne, a large Sherry house, just before sales started to decrease significantly. Osborne responded to the dip in sales by pursuing other ventures, which included launching Red Bull for the Spanish market, and paying less attention to Sherry.

Pettersen wasn't happy with this strategy. In his 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."

It's at Fernando de Castilla that Pettersen has waged this fight, and has done so with great skill and insight. Since purchasing the the bodega in 2000, Fernando de Castilla has quickly moved into the elite of Sherry producers. (Click here for the full story of Fernando de Castilla.)

Their Fino Antique is the frontline of the fight to maintain the region's traditions. I've said it before, but it merits repeating: this is an epic and fascinatingly singular bottle of wine.

The best introduction to the wine's unique style is pairing it with food. A simple plate of Jamon Iberico works. Pork seems to be an ideal partner. A couple months ago, it was wonderful with a roasted pork shoulder with clams and minestra verde at Prune. Last night, it excelled with pork scallopini with a lemon caper sauce and topped with some chopped arugula.

This marks our third Fernando de Castilla email. The two previous offers sold out quickly. It's likely that this one will follow a similar course. Please give us your ideal order and we'll try our best.

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

Joe Salamone
Wine Buyer
Crush Wine & Spirits