Toro Albala Gran Reserva Don PX (375ML half-bottle) 1988
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
Fortunately, a few enlightened estates in Montilla-Moriles have played to these strengths, and are concentrating on producing exciting, unfortified wines of great richness and complexity, usually from the hedonistic Pedro Ximinez grape, confident that fine wine connoisseurs will discover them sooner or later. One of the most remarkable of these is Bodegas Toro Albala.
The estate had a rather sedate beginning, back in 1844, on the slopes of Aguilar Castle. But in 1992 José Maria Toro Albala arrived, and the fun began. One of the wine world's less conventional characters, he immediately made his mark by moving the whole bodega into a disused electrical plant. Other developments include wooden labels and his own patented invention "Trapped Air" - a novel approach to the problem of conserving wine in perfect condition.
Above all, Senor Toro Albala is a fanatic about wine in general, and top-quality sweet wine in particular. He says "Wine is as old as the bible, and is best savoured knowing it's culture", and visitors have a chance to tour his museum of vineyard tools, machinery, reference material and objects from history. Some of his wines merit a place in the museum, including the Gran Reserva which has aged 25 years in barrel, and the occassional release of outstanding pre-war vintages.
Despite all this history, the bodega has invested considerably in all the latest technology equipment, thus ensuring maximum control at every stage of the winemaking and ageing process. Here is a unique combination of excellent raw materials, modern technology, and respect for the traditional Montilla methods and styles, and above all a serious commitment to making the best dessert wine possible.
Known for bold reds, crisp whites and distinctive sparkling and fortified wines, Spain has embraced international varieties and wine styles while continuing to place primary emphasis on its own native grapes. Though the country’s climate is diverse, it is generally hot and dry. In the center of the country lies a vast, arid plateau known as the Meseta Central, characterized by extremely hot summers and frequent drought.
Ribera del Duero is gaining ground with its single varietal Tempranillo wines, recognized for their concentration of fruit and opulence. Priorat, a sub-region of Catalonia, specializes in bold, full-bodied red blends of Garnacha (Grenache), Cariñena (Carignan), and often Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. Catalonia is also home to Cava, a sparkling wine made in the traditional method but from indigenous varieties. In the cool, damp northwest region of Galicia, refreshing white Albariño and Verdejo dominate.
Most sherries are dry and meant to pair alongside food but the British and American markets have traditionally focused on the sweet ones. Sherry comes from only one place in the entire world, Andalucía, where the soil and unique seasonal changes give a particular and unsurpassable character to its wines. The many styles change with the process of production, not really the grape, though certain styles are reserved for different grapes. Sherry's main grapes include Palomino, Pedro Ximénez and Muscat of Alexandria.
Pedro Ximénez and Muscat, representing a tiny proportion of production can make some amazing single varietal sweet sherries but the vast number of styles are primarily based on the Palomino grape.
Fino, from Jerez, and the similar style called Manzanilla, from the humid and cool coastal town of Sanlúcar de Barrameda, are the lightest styles and are meant for early consumption. Their creation is dependent on the action of flor, which are benevolent film-forming yeasts that make a floating veil on the surface of the wine, which aid in protecting it from oxidation.
Amontillado happens when a Fino’s layer of flor fades and the wine starts to oxidize. Quite simply it is an aged Fino that has a darker color and richer palate.
When flor yeast dies unexpectedly, the result is Palo Cortado. Palo Cortado sherries can behave like Amontillado on the palate but often show a greater balance of richness and delicacy.
Oloroso never develops flor but is oxidized for anywhere from five to twenty five years, becoming aromatic and strong like a fine bourbon. A sweetened Oloroso is a Cream sherry; a Pale Cream is one that has had the color removed.