Wine of the Year Follow-up
Valdespino Amontillado Tio Diego
Here is an Amontillado with chalk imbued fineness and cut. Tio Diego is fascinating in how it thrives on a knife-like incisiveness, finesse and subtlety.
These are the only bottles in the U.S. and serve as yet another reminder that there's much Sherry has to offer still unknown to us.
The easiest way to think of Tio Diego is as the older brother of my wine of the year, Valdespino's Fino Inocente. Think of Fino's raciness and saline minerality married to more depth of flavor, more of those complex nuances born out of age.
Trying to situate Sherry in the world of wine is always difficult, and Tio Diego condenses so many unique attributes that it's even harder in this particular case. Regardless, here goes: think of the caramel notes of Madeira, add the citrus and cut of Riesling Kabinett and some butteriness of Muscadet aged a long time on its lees.
Both Tio Diego and Fino Inocente originate from the Macharnudo Alto, a vineyard whose high altitude and the purity of its chalk soils has earned it effusive praise throughout the centuries.
Most importantly, like Fino Inocente, Amontillado Tio Diego spends a good amount of time under flor. The flor, we all remember from Sherry 101, is the film of yeast that develops on the surface of the Sherry; it protects it from the oxidative effects of the air. Sherry can get somewhat complicated and geeky, but we can keep things fairly simple here: Amontillado is an aged Fino.
In today's sherry, the flor from the Fino dies and the wine begins to age oxidatively. Then you have an Amontillado. When the flor dies or you kill it, determines a lot of characteristics of the wine. Simply put, the longer under flor an Amontillado is the racier and more Fino-like the wine is. The more time it ages oxidatively (without the flor) the deeper and richer and the more caramel notes it has.
Tio Diego is one of the most, and likely the most, dramatic example of long-flor aging.
It spends eight years under flor, which is getting close to the maximum amount of time that it can live, and then ages oxidatively for four years. The results are impressive: Tio Diego has a brightness and poise that makes it startlingly finessed and a discreet richness adds complexity and a haunting regalness. There's a fascinating juxtaposition between steeliness and cut and layered notes of toasted nuts and caramel spiked with a sunny, citrus quality.
While aging Amontillado longer under flor doesn't necessarily make for a better wine, it is the more labor intensive and costly method, and highlights a producer's focus on quality. Of course, this commitment should come as no surprise when it comes to Valdespino. For example, Valdespino is the last bodega that still ferments in oak barrels instead of the more economical steel tanks. You can find more on Valdespino, one of the finest bodegas in Jerez, here.
The aromatics, the knife-life incisiveness, and the high toned richness that builds with a bright focus to a long finish make this highly recommended, and highly singular. Feel free to watch this unfold over three days of being open. Also, don't worry about holding onto bottles for 3-5 years.
To order, email us at email@example.com or call the store at (212) 980-9463.
Crush Wine & Spirits