I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – I love sherry. It’s so versatile and yet completely under appreciated.
We enjoyed most of this wine last night with the WSET Fortifieds study group and I finished the bottle off this evening alongside some blue cheese and jalapeño stuffed olives – perfect tapas-like food to accompany this Montilla-Moriles Fino.
This Fino sherry is a white varietal fortified wine originating not from Jerez or Manzanilla-San Lucar de Barrameda, but further inland in the Andalusian DO of Montilla-Moriles. About 95% of the grapes grown in Montilla-Moriles are Pedro Ximenez, but some are Palomino and that’s what has been used to make this Fino wine. In Montilla-Moriles, Palomino grapes are usually grown in the vara y pulgar trained style and on albariza-like soils rich in chalky limestone. Fortified to 15% abv after fermentation and marked as ‘palo’ after what’s called the ‘first classification’ (when the flor is observed and the winemaker makes a decision about what kind of wine it’s likely to end up being), they are aged biologically in a solera system under the thick layer of yeast called flor.
Fino is made in the fractional blending system from the ‘primera yema’ or first pressing of the grapes. Its characteristic aroma and taste profile is dominated by flor and this Alvear is no exception; flor is sacchromyces yeast that grows in the solera barrels and protects the wine from oxidizing. This allows it to keep its pale colour and develop the briny, aldehyde-based flavours and aromas.
This wine is clear and bright, pale lemon green with legs noted.
On the nose it’s a developing wine, clean with intense aromas of aldehyde and briny flor, green olives, salty almonds and pears with the slightest hint of yellow apples.
On the palate, it’s dry with medium acidity, fortified to a low level with low alcohol. The body is medium with medium + intense flavours of yeasty flor, salty almonds, brine and more green olives. There is the slightest taste of Anjou pear and the wine is surprisingly fruity and fresh.
I really enjoyed this wine with the olives and almonds. It would be equally fabulous with any typical Spanish tapas dish such as Iberico ham or a little sardine. The food changes and softens the wine’s profile immensely. This wine is very good; it’s a typical example of a Fino and has a great balance between the alcohol and complexity of salty flavours and aromas. Higher acidity would earn it a higher rating, but lower acidity levels are common for sherry. Completely enjoyable, affordable and great quality to boot.