Finos Palmas 2016

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The Cuatro Palmas (four palms) is an annual selection of a small number of the very best casks of Tio Pepe Fino sherries from Bodega González Byass in Jerez, which are publicly presented to the sherry and hospitality trades and selected press at an invitation only event in November.

palmas-2016-5Pedro Rebuelta, Cayetano Martínez de Irujo, Antonio Flores

I was fortunate enough to be invited to the presentation, which was held at the spectacular Palacio de las Dueñas, the seat of the Duke Of Alba, in Sevilla. Only opened to the public in May, this 15th century Gothic-Renaissance-Mudejar style palace, with is long halls and garden courtyards, was a perfect venue for the presentations and tastings.

This year’s selections were made in September by Antonio Flores, Gonzalez Byass’ master winemaker, and renowned sommelier Gérard Bassett, and bottled, as always, “en rama”, without filtration or clarification. Not an easy task, but eventually wines were selected for each of the four palmas.

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  • One Palm is a 6 year old Fino selected from three casks, out of a total of 142, that exemplifies the evolution of the style.
  • Two palms is an 8 year old Fino selected from just two casks out of 150, reflecting the elegance of a well aged wine.
  • Three Palms is a 10 year old Fino selected from a single cask at the limit of the biological ageing process.
  • Four palms is a Fino that has passed to being an amontillado, and was selected from one of just six casks that have been ageing in González Byass for 51 years. It reflects the ability of Tío Pepe to evolve over time.

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The presentation took the form of a palace tour, stopping at a different garden courtyard to sample each wine, while “winemaker poet” Antonio Flores not only regaled us with the unique characteristics of each Palma, but also (aptly) read from the works of Antonio Machado, born in the palace in 1897. This was followed by a sumptuous buffet lunch, with all the Palmas flowing freely. Not surprisingly all the 2016  Finos Palmas stock has been sold already, but you can still find it in select wine shops in Sevilla, such as the Corte Inglés Gourmet Experience.

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foto de familia

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Tío Pepe en Rama 2015

tio pepe en rama 2015[click on image to enlarge]

Three blog posts in a row about sherry! After starting last week with the Manzanilla 50 Years celebration at Hotel Alfonso XIII and then the Feria de Vinos Generosos at Voraz, this week it was the presentation of the 6th release of Tío Pepe en Rama (Bodegas Gonzáles Byass), held at the gorgeous Casa Guardiola.

Tío Pepe en Rama is a limited edition unfiltered/unstabalised fino chosen each year by master wineblender Antonio Flores @Hacedordevinos (AKA the winemaker poet) from two of the oldest Tío Pepe soleras, Rebollo and Constancia. Sixty casks made the final selection (from the 600 initially chosen by Flores last October) and were bottled on April 13th. This is the fourth time Sevilla has had the honour of being selected as the site for the first presentation of this unique wine, fittingly each time on the Monday of the April Feria.

We were treated to a special tasting by Antonio Flores in which three sherries were paired with flamenco: Tío Pepe en Rama with Bulerías de Jerez, AB Amontillado with Alegría de Cádiz, and Del Duque 30 year old VORS amontillado fino (“Tío Pepe grown up”) with Sevillanos [short Instagram video here]. It was a delight to be taken through the different ages of Tío Pepe (amontillados begin life as fino or manzanilla), though of course the star of the show was the youngest member of the family. Flores calls Tío Pepe “bottled Andalusian sunshine” and the en ramas allow people to enjoy a “straight out of the cask” sherry experience. This year’s edition has more nutty and yeasty aromas than the usual Tío Pepe. Fresh, citrusy and saline, it’s excellent with salty foods like almonds, olives, oily and smoked fish. Oh, and Bulerías.

Finos Palmas 2013

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I am very excited to have been invited to tonight’s Finos Palmas tasting event in Sevilla, which will also be live-streaming in Madrid, Barcelona and Jerez, starting at 19.00 Spanish time. This is the third year that Gonzalez Byass has done the limited edition Palmas bottlings and, like their Tío Pepe en Rama, these wines have become very trendy. As they are bottled direct from the cask, with no filtering or refining, this means that the wine is best drunk within six months.

finos palmas 2013Initiallly destined for Tío Pepe these specially chosen casks were judged to have potential for extra ageing. Finos Palmas casks are marked with a vertical chalk line and the number of “palm branches” proportional to its age. These elegant old finos have been selected cask by cask by Gonzalez Byass winemaker and master blender Antonio Flores in collaboration with Master of Wine Sarah Jane Evans.

Fino Una Palma is an evolved fino with six years of biological ageing under a still active covering of flor. From a solera of 142 casks only three casks (numbers 1, 9 and 11) have been selected.

Fino Dos Palmas has been ageing over eight years in contact with a thinner layer of active flor on the surface. From the solera of 150 casks, only two (numbers 7 and 26) show this distinctive feature.

Fino Tres Palmas comes from a single cask (number 30) out of a 150 casks solera, and after ageing for 10 years still preserves traces of live flor that continue to permeate the wine.

Fino Cuarto Palmas is the jewel of the Solera Museo, containing just six casks (this year only number 3 was chosen). It is an extraordinary and very limited edition 45-year-old amontillado.

Finos Palmas 2013 LiveStreaming from 19.00h (Spanish time)
Twitter hashtag: #FinosPalmas

An introduction to Finos Palmas by winemaker-poet Antonio Flores

Feria Friends in Jerez

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One of the best things about going to a feria is meeting up with friends. This week I visited my favourite feria in Spain, the Feria del Caballo in Jerez @feriadejerez_, with visiting London foodie friend Nicola Swift @ShedLikesFood and fellow Sevilla blogger Fiona Flores @Seville_Writer.

Usually I spend most of my time at this feria taking photos of the splendid horses but somehow this year it was all about meeting up with old friends, and also meeting new ones, at the massive Bodegas Gonzales Byass caseta (which not surprisingly won first prize). It was great to hang out with old friends Annie Bennett @anniebennett and José Pizarro @jose_pizarro again, meet Ellie @PearCafe & Dan @EssexEating from Bristol and Tom & Owen @Bar44Tapas from Wales, and also see my good Twitter buddy Antonio Flores @Hacedordevinos. The Tío Pepe en Rama was flowing, lovely food was passed round, fabulous flamenco artists entertained us, and then all too soon is was time to catch the last train back to Sevilla. For next year we have vowed to do this again but book accommodation so we can party into the night. Eep!

Tío Pepe en Rama 2013

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I had a great time my friend and fellow blogger Fiona (Scribbler in Sevilla) attending this year’s presentation by Gonzalez Byass of Tío Pepe en Rama at swish Abades Restaurant in Triana. It was a gorgeous spring day and a perfect location looking across the Guadalquivir River towards the Torre del Oro.

Tio Pepe En Rama is a limited production of a special fino at its most delicate, before the usual processes of stabalization, clarification and filtration. For the 2013 edition, winemaker and master blender – and Twitter pal! – Antonio Flores (@Hacedordevinos) made a selection of the best casks from two ancient soleras: Tío Pepe Constancia y Tío Pepe Rebollo. Flores described this wine as “wild” with aromas of bread and almonds, salt and minerals and with a citrus finish, highlighting its special light colour, taste and smell, which he equated to the city of Sevilla. I found it much lighter and fresher than regular Tío Pepe and it was very easy to drink while we snacked on aperitifs on the sunny terrace.

Given its unique characteristics it is recommended that Tío Pepe en Rama be drunk within three months of bottling. This year’s fabulous label comes from one of the orginal designs of the Gonzalez Byass Foundation, taken from its historical files.  If you want to try a bottle you can order it from the online store, but hurry because stocks won’t last long.

Bodegas Tio Pepe Online Store