One of the things that differentiate us from the majority of the wine sources out there is our breadth. A long time ago we realized that just selling ‘mainstream’ stuff wasn’t quite stimulating enough to do all the time, so we expanded our search, and our product line, to include dozens of different genres in the world of wine. Yeah we can sell Cabernet, Chardonnay, Bordeaux and Burgundy well enough, but feel remiss if we don’t try and introduce new options for consumers to consider.
We have long devoted space to more extensive selections in less ‘popular’ categories like Germans, Madeira, Austria, and Sherry. These categories have some spectacular examples to consider. But most of the public isn’t familiar or comfortable with some of these genres, in part because the typical wine merchant devotes zero time to educating buyers to categories that might fall ‘outside the lines’. We have never stopped trying to teach people about new wines and road-less-travelled categories, but are careful to pick our spots. This very special wine from Montilla definitely needs to be shown to people and it impressed us with its performance.
They make what people refer to as ‘Sherry’ in both the better known Jerez and the lesser known Montilla regions. Though Montilla isn’t as famous as Jerez, the area is definitely on par qualitatively with notables like Barquero and long time house favorite Alvear among the fold. Pedro Barquero, founded in 1905 and still possessing soleras dating back to that time, makes the traditional styles of wine, Fino, Amontillado, Oloroso, and Dulce PX, in the traditional manner, blending various aging barrels to establish a cuvee for bottling.
What makes them pretty unique among sherry producers is that they do not employ any of the predominant commercial grape variety, Palomino (which can make up a substantial or entire portion of most Sherries out there) in their cuvees. They are all made 100% from the noble grape variety of the region, Pedro Jimenez. Pedro Jimenez is the prized grape of the region from the standpoint of depth of flavor and quality, no question.
But over the last few decades the amount of Pedro Jimenez, a variety with low yields and a somewhat fussy demeanor, has been substantially replaced by the lesser but far more predictable and higher-yielding Palomino. If you are a regular fan of Sherries, that information should be very exciting, and you should be all over this one.
In terms of style, Amontillado is the top of the list of dry styles, with much more body, deeper color and more pronounced nuttiness. The use of the more substantial Perdo Jimenez yields a wine that has more layers and complexity vis-à-vis most Amontillados out there (actually almost every one we have tasted over the years). You’ll notice that depth right away with the Pedro Barquero Amontillado Gran Barquero, and see a lot more unfold as you settle in with a glass. A great aperitif, a superb accompaniment to a variety of tapas (sardines, chorizos, manchego, and especially olives), soups and a surprising number of other lighter finger food type courses, this is no ‘one-trick’ sherry.
One of the additional benefits of sherry (and Madeira while we are at it) is that you can serve yourself a glass, put the cork back in and it will be the same tomorrow, next week or next month. We actually poured a lost bottle of Amontillado that had been open for three years and it was remarkably engaging and virtually unchanged. These wines have been intentionally oxidizing in barrels for years so they are pretty bullet proof and are one of only a handful of wines that can function in this way.
Our broad message, then, is to drink/explore the historic beverage known as sherry. Our specific message is to drink this one, as exciting an ambassador for the genre as we have come across in a long time. We could go the glamour route like the winery did and talk about a piece on the subject of Amontillado by Edgar Allen Poe or its part in the film Babette’s feast. But that doesn’t say anything about this Amontillado.
This excerpt from Wine Advocate does, “The NV Amontillado Gran Barquero is an impressive 25-30 years old. It wears a dark amber robe and a subtle, elegant and focused nose. It’s an Amontillado of finesse, with biological, salty notes and roasted almonds, close to the Fino character. The palate shows a medium-bodied wine of a velvety texture, fine acidity and clean, focused flavors, It represents superb value for the quality it delivers….95 points.” Serve with a slight chill, salud!