Grapevine Archive for Fino
We have bottled exclusively for Wine Society members this golden coloured, mature Jerez fino, almost a fino-amontillado. We estimate it is about 8 years old. The minimum legal age for Sherry is 3 years and most finos are 4–5 years of age. This style is less seen today, and the Consejo does not allow the name Fino-Amontillado, the equivalent of a Manzanilla Pasada, any more. Hence, we named it Fino Perdido or “Lost Fino”.
Analysis found that the wine contained no proteins so it hasn’t been fined, which can remove a lot of body and flavour. It was filtered to remove yeast but was neither cold treated, which prevents precipitation of naturally occuring tartaric acid crystals but can remove flavour, nor was it charcoal filtered, which removes the colour but also some flavour. I tasted a sample of the wine before and after filtering and the filtration had no negative effect on the flavour, and may even have cleaned up the nose a little. Like all finos its flor character will dissipate over time in bottle. It should be good for five months but is better now. At just £7.95 per bottle it’s an absolute steal. Carpe diem!
There is a chance that this may form a harmless haze and precipitate naturally occuring tartaric acid crystals.
I have tasted a bottle and have hugely enjoyed its golden colour, attractive bready flor, and its broad, full, slightly nutty, rich yet dry flavour. It is a strong flavoured Sherry ideal with richly flavoured seafood like crab or with tuna stewed with onions. It will also partner strong hard cheese like Cheddar or Parmesan better than most red wines. It is probably closest in style to the Pastrana Manzanilla Pasada, though they are both true to their origins. The Fino Perdido (from bodegas in the warmer, inland Jerez) being richer and broader on the palate while the Pastrana (matured in cooler bodegas in coastal Sanlúcar) is fresher and less rich. Fino Perdido is a bargain at this price.
We were inspired to bottle this after the success of the Tio Pepe en Rama offered earlier in the year. The inspiration was to treat less so more flavour gets into the bottle, not to copy the style. The wines are quite different in character, though equally delicious. Tio Pepe en Rama, which some of you tried, is a much younger wine, about 4–5 years old (half the age of Fino Perdido), which was deliberately bottled with a lot of flor yeast in suspension to maximise the pure taste of flor. Both we think are excellent examples of their type. Fino Perdido is richer, rounder and nuttier with nice bready flor character; Tio Pepe en Rama, younger, fresher and dominated by a delicious and overwhelming taste of flor. Experience showed that the flor increasingly was attracted to the sides of the bottle of the Tio Pepe en Rama and that to get the full flor hit it was best to shake the bottle before drinking to send the yeast into suspension!
As ever I would be really interested to hear your views on this wine.
We are delighted to be making an e-mail offer in early June of this special bottling of just 175 dozen, of which we are very pleased to have secured 100 dozen, of Tio Pepe en Rama to celebrate the 175th anniversary of Gonzalez Byass.
Fino sherry is at its best drawn straight from the cask. “En Rama”, bottling with minimal treatment, is the next best thing. The nearest meaning is perhaps ” draught”. It was racked from cask to tank, allowed to clarify naturally for 7-10 days and then bottled last week without fining and just a light filtration to capture as much of the flavour as possible in the bottle. This removes the yeast but the wine remains slightly cloudy. The original label graces the bottle. It is now in transit.
We tasted a sample yesterday and report it is delicious. It is slightly cloudy, as planned. Drawn in the spring when flor yeast is at its thickest this has a very intense appley flor yeast character, a lovely rounded palate, a fresh finish and just so much more flavour than the normal bottling. It is something we think all sherry lovers would enjoy trying. We advise consuming within three months. It will be launched in June and we anticipate the price to be £11.95 per bottle.
I was in Jerez in May and comparing Finos directly from the butt and the same wine in bottle and was surprised by the difference. First of all the colour in the bottle was water white and that of a five-year-old Fino in the butt was a light gold, as one would expect of a wine of such age. On the palate the barrel sample had much more weight and roundness. In Spain a light-gold colour is seen as unattractive and so many wines are “planchada” ie have had their individuality ironed out and colour removed by filtering with carbon.
It seems crazy to keep a wine five years and then remove so much of its flavour that it reverts back to a three year old!
I have been thinking about how to treat Finos a little less so more flavour is retained in the bottle. One must filter to remove the yeast and obviously there is lots floating on even old Finos. But fining, which can remove a lot of flavour, could be reduced. The downside is that the wine is more likely to be slightly turbid, and form a slight haze.
I would be very interested to know whether members would accept such a wine. It is perhaps no different from some draught beers and ciders, and some bottle-conditioned ales where a harmless sediment or haze is often present without being detrimental to the flavour.
We are so concerned about customers sending wines back we have perhaps gone too far in stabilizing wines, trading off loss of flavour for absolute stability, even sterility. My feeling is that if the process is explained, and members are forewarned before they buy a wine, that this more natural product would be preferred.
I welcome your feedback.