Palo Cortado is Palo Cortado is...
Valdespino Palo Cortado Calle Ponce
"Palo Cortado" is, as a category of Sherry, all but indefinable.
In essence, if the bodegas says a Sherry is a Palo Cortado, then it's a Palo Cortado. Sherry aficionados tend to talk about Palo Cortados as possessing the steeliness and elegance of a Fino or Amontillado, combined with the richness in depth of Oloroso.
However you define it, however you want to think about it, most Sherry geeks will also say one final thing about the category: It doesn't get any more profound.
Today we have a small parcel of Valdespino's glorious single-vineyard Palo Cortado, the "Calle Ponce" (CP for short). To the best of my knowledge, this is the first time the wine has ever been in the U.S.
|The Macharnudo Alto is one of Jerez's greatest sites|
Like Fino Inocente and Amontillado Tio Diego, Palo Cortado CP comes from the Macharnudo Alto vineyard. Macharnudo Alto is easily one of Jerez's most famous and best sites. This is the highest altitude vineyard in Sherry country at 140 meters above sea level. The renown of the vineyard has to do not only with the altitude, but also with the purity and balance of its chalk soils.
Wines that don't seem to fit the typical profile for Inocente or Tio Diego go into the solera for Palo Cortado CP. The bodegas doesn't always bottle CP, but when they do the average age of the wine is twenty-five years. And quantities are always very limited. The CP solera is used to feed the Cardenal Solera, which is one of the most concentrated and painfully intense Sherries around.
Fans of Equipo Navazos La Bota series may have had experience with the solera - the very impressive Palo Cortado #21 was sourced from the CP solera.
Valdespino's CP brings everything to the table that one would want from a Palo Cortado: bonkers complexity, a rapier-like cut. It announces itself with nuts and caramel that are backed by glowing orange notes and spice.
Thinking of Sherry as something sipped with tea and crumpets? Think again: A nice piece of steak may be the ideal way to introduce yourself to Valdespino's Palo Cortado CP. That said, certainly the bottle has the presence to hold its own without anything on the table. A bottle for meditation?
The fame of Valdespino is well-deserved - this is one of the greatest bodegas in Sherry. As but one example, Valdespino is the last bodega that still ferments in oak barrels. Nearly everyone else in the region ferments in large quantities in more economical steel tanks.
The attention to detail matters; you can taste it.
Sherry is the final frontier - one of the greatest and most misunderstood wine regions on earth. This is one of those bottles that will bring this region back into the fold... it's just a matter of time.
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