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FINO One of Spain’s best white Wines?

(author Peter Sisseck)

In 2017 a dream came through. I was able to buy a Bodega in Jerez. It had been a dream since 1993 when I first visited Jerez in the south of Spain.

One of the things that hit me during the first visit some 20 years ago was that nobody made vineyard designated Finos.
For most of the wine-world origin is very important. Not so in Jerez, volume was and is clearly prioritized. The reason given was that the process (aging under Flor) erases any sign of origin. For me that didn’t sound right more as a cheap excuse for producing large quantities of nondescript wine.

As my life continued as a winemaker in Ribera de Duero and later in Bordeaux the Sherry dream still lingered .
Many people had asked me to produce a white brother/ sister to Pingus. Tasting all over Spain I never really fellin love with any of the white wine areas until one day
it dawned on me that the Fino is probably the single greatest white wine of Spain. The problem being that people never thought about Fino as a white wine in its
own right. Pre “Selosse” something similar happened in Champagne. We now all know that the greatest Champagnes are just as much a wine of origin as any other
great wine in the world.

The Vineyards

In Jerez the vineyards are organized within “Pagos”. Pagos are large vineyard areas. Marchanudo, Carrascal, Balbainas, Añina and Los Tercios being some of the better known. Diego Paraday Barreto, writing in 1868 listed 134 Pagos in all, each of which are carefully classified.

In some cases, wines have used the Pago on the label, Fino Inocente from Marchanudo being a good example.
But no-one used the single vineyards within the Pagos .

My idea is to produce Fino from single vineyards as you would in the greatest vineyards of the world.

We have bought 10 Ha in all. 8 Ha in Pago Balbaina, historically famous for producing outstanding wine for Finos. The vineyard is historically called “Viña Corrales”.

We also bought 2 Ha in Pago Marchanudo. “Viña La Cruz”. Marchanudo the famous Pago of the Domecq family and famous for producing Amontillados (Amontillados is the result of “over aging” the Fino.) This Pago is more inland than Balbainas (that overlook the sea) so the grapes tend to ripen more, producing wines of more extract and body.

The Winery

In an ideal world to produce 100 % vineyard designated wines you should lay down your own Solera. It would then take you 10-15 years to produce your first wines.
Let’s just say that I did not have time or money to do that. The second-best thing is to buy an old existing Solera and start topping it up with your own young wine.
This is what we started doing in the autumn of 2017 after our first harvest.
The cellar is an old Almacenista (wholesalers) Cellar founded by Don Angle Zamorano in the 60’s. Funny enough using young wine from Pago Balbaina. In the old
days when the big Sherry companies were shippers more than producers, the Almancenistas were the stock carriers that sold wine to the Shippers for their blends.

The cellar has 438 botas (Jerez barrels of 600 liters) the cellar is organized in “Solera” where we each yeardraw of the wine and then 5 more layers (Criaderas)

that lodges the younger wines. 1st Criadera to 5th, older to young. 5th and 4th holds the young wine or “sobretablas” 3rd starts the blending process. The “Solera”
is topped up with wine form the 1st Criadera.

For the Viña Corrales we have 74 botas in the “Solera” and 244 Botas in the Criaderas. The yearly production will be around 8000 bottles drawn from the “Solera” in
Spring when the Flor (yeast) is most active. We draw around 80 liters from each barrel (around 14 %).

The Vina La Cruz will come from a second Solera system with 21 botas in the solera and 99 botas in the Criaderas. This system holds only wine from Pago Marchanudo (we sold all the old wine and bought new wine from Pago Marchanudo) on top of the old valuable lees (cabezuelas) . I still do not have a firm idea when we will startto produce from this “Solera”, but it could be 2022 or 2023. Mean while we top up with wine from Viña La Cruz.

There will only be one “saca” or drawing from the barrels a year. The “Vina Corrales” will be a Spring bottling and the Viña La Cruz could be an autumn one being more in line with Pago Marchanudo that is a more “Fino-Amontillado” type Pago (an old style that is no longer in use).

The wine

Following the idea that these wines are to be understood more as a white wine, the wines are bottle in a Burgundy bottle under a Diam cork. The label is simpleto, only stating the type (Fino) the area (Jerez del Frontera) the Vineyard (Viña Corrales or Viña La Cruz ) and the Pago (Balbainas or Marchanudo). The year of the bottling is also stated on the label but also on the Cork. The great thing about this new style Fino is that they can age, not that they need to but like the best Champagnes
do tend to get better with time. This is of outmost importance as one of the problems with most Finos today is the fact that they lose their freshness very fast and
restaurants therefore are afraid of buying them.

Review form Wine Advocate by Luis Guiterrez:


Reviewed by
Luis Gutiérrez

Release Price

Issue Date
17th Sep 2020

Drink Date
2020 - 2028

September 2020 Week 3, The Wine Advocate

From: Spain , Andalucía , Jerez Color: White

Type: Fortified

Sweetness: Dry

Type: Fortified

Variety: Palomino

The NV Fino Viña Corrales Pago Balbaína (bottled in 2020, which is also shown on the cork) comes
from the old solera of Camborio, and the bottled wine is eight to nine years old on average. This is a
single-vineyard Fino from a plot in Balbaína with “tosca de barajuela” albariza soils, a kind of laminated
limestone that is highly sought after. The vineyard is currently in the process to become certified organic.
They selected the wine in spring, when the “or is working at full capacity and after the “beticus”
yeasts (which gives complexity a little à la Meursault) have calmed down a little. That yeast represents
some 25% of the solera and the rest is “moltuliensis,” a yeast that produces more acetaldehyde. It’s a
bright golden color, and the nose is textbook old Fino (what in the past could be called Fino Amontillado,
a mention that isn’t allowed anymore) with notes of dried herbs, wet chalk and some iodine with
a twist of volatility. They want a vinous wine, and it’s incredibly textured, powerful but with great freshness
and very tasty “avors and even some notes of celery on the finish. This is a powerful and fresh Fino,
pungent and persistent, long, amazingly elegant, vibrant and alive. I was “floored by the complexity and
elegance of this wine. It feels light without actually being light, with the finenesse of Balbaína starting to
show through in the blend. The incredible lightness of Fino! This firrst saca consisted of 1,200 Burgundy
bottles that were filled unfiltered (en rama) in April 2020. Future sacas should be around 8,000 bottles,
but this first one is going to be quite scarce.

Lisez l'expérience de Rémy en Gutiérrez Colosia


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