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Toro Albala Gran Reserva Don PX (375ML half-bottle) 1979

Sherry from Spain
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      Winemaker Notes

      Select lots of Pedro Ximénez are destined for oak barrels, sealed and left for decades in single-vintage state. After a minimum of 25 years, vintages are selected for release only when they have attained classic character. Opaque, black mahogany color with a caramel-like bite.

      "Aromas of fresh fig and roses pick up treacle and smoke notes in this distinctive fortified wine. It's mellow, and it remains persistent through the long finish. Drink now." 90 points
      Wine Spectator
      January 1, 2008

      Critical Acclaim

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      WS 90
      Wine Spectator

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      Toro Albala

      Toro Albala

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      Toro Albala, , Spain
      Toro Albala
      When Sherry began to suffer an image problem, Montilla-Moriles was doubly hit: if sherry was the tipple of vicars and maiden aunts only, then Montilla was the tipple of vicars and maiden aunts on an economy drive. This was because Montilla had come to be regarded merely as a cheap alternative to its more famous neighbour. It is certainly true that a lot of Montilla grapes used to bulk up sherry blends, and that after this practice was stopped, many Montillas bearing similar labels to Sherrys (Fino, Amontillado etc) were sold cheap in export markets. But this obscured fundamental differences between the two regions, and very valid reasons to take Montilla seriously as a source of potentially high quality, original and unique wines. First difference is the climate, which is distinctly warmer in Montilla than down on the coast (it is in fact the hottest region in all Spain). This explains why the producers of Montilla could produce the superripe grapes the Sherry houses wanted, at such competitive prices. The second difference follows from this: with such high sugar levels, there is no need to fortify the wines at all - they naturally attain alcohol levels of over 15%.

      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.

      Piedmont

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      A prestigious and distinctive region for red wines in northwestern Italy, Piedmont is responsible for some of the country’s longest-lived, most sought-after wines. Set in the foothills of the Alps, the terrain consists of visually stunning rolling hills. The most prized vines are planted at higher altitudes on the warmer, south-facing slopes where sunlight exposure is maximized. The climate is continental, with cold winters and hot, muggy summers. Despite the rain shadow effect of the Alps, precipitation takes place year-round, and a cooling fog provides moisture that aids in the ripening of grapes.

      Easy-going Barbera is the most planted grape in Piedmont, beloved for its trademark high acidity, low tannin, and juicy red fruit. However, the most prized variety is Nebbiolo, named for the region’s omnipresent fog (“nebbia” in Italian). This grape is responsible for the exalted wines of Barbaresco and Barolo, known for their ageability, firm tannins, and hallmark aromas of tar and roses. Nebbiolo wines, despite their pale hue, pack a pleasing punch of flavor and structure, and the best examples, when made in a traditional style, require about a decade’s wait before they become approachable. Barbaresco tends to be more elegant in style while Barolo is more powerful. More affordable and imminently drinkable Nebbiolo can be found in the larger Langhe area as well as Gattinara, Ghemme, and other less-prominent appellations. Dolcetto is Piedmont’s other important red grape, ready to drink as quickly as Barbera but with lower acidity and higher tannin. White wines are less important here but can be high in quality, and include Arneis, Gavi, and sweet, fizzy wines made from Muscat.

      Singularly aromatic, often sweet, and always enjoyable, Muscat never takes itself too seriously. Muscat is actually an umbrella name for a diverse set of grapes, some of which are genetically related while others are not. The two most important versions are Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains and Muscat of Alexandria, the former being of considerably higher quality. Both are grown throughout the world and can be made in a wide range of styles, from dry and aromatic wines to sweet and richly perfumed dessert wines. It is well known in Italy's Piedmont region for Moscato d’Asti, a slightly sparkling semi-sweet wine that is refreshing and low in alcohol.

      In the Glass

      Muscat wines possess intense aromatics of peaches, rose petals, geranium, orange blossom, and lychee, often with a hint of sweet spice, and always with a uniquely grapey character that is uncommon in other wines.

      Perfect Pairings

      Thanks to its naturally low alcohol levels, Muscat is a perfect match for spicy Asian cuisine, especially when the wine has a little bit of residual sugar. Off-dry Muscat can work well with lighter desserts like key lime pie and lemon meringue, while fully sweet Muscat-based dessert wines are enjoyable after dinner with an assortment of cheeses.

      Sommelier Secret

      Muscat is one of the oldest known grape varieties, dating as far back as the days of the ancient Greeks and Romans. Pliny the Elder wrote in the 13th century of a sweet, perfumed grape variety so attractive to bees that he referred to it as uva apiana, or “grape of the bees.” Most likely, he was describing one of the Muscat varieties.

      WWH103452_1979 Item# 97880

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