• sarah.bb@eatsdrinksandsleeps.com

Eating and drinking my way through life and learning all the while

The Palmas – some fine rare, old sherry from Gonzalez Byass

Gonzalez Byass has done it again, they have launched a very special sherry that is likely to sell out very fast and it’s not just one sherry but a collection of four old, rare sherries.
The Palmas range are so called because of the mark made on the barrel, a fino is given a chalk line, an oloroso a circle and the very best finos with the best aromas – ‘grande olora’ get a little nick at the top of the chalk line– that looks like a palma leaf – hence The Palmas.

Palmas mark on barrel

Gonzalez Byass has three main bodegas the wine in each bodega tastes different, and even the barrels of wine located next to each other in the same bodega are different.
The whole point of Solera wine is you take wine from each of those bodegas and blend them together to make a consistent product, effectively eliminating any variation between barrels and vintages.
Palmas wine is completely different. The point about Palmas is the wines are selected by the barrel, and are the very best barrels. The first three of the range are finos, una, dos, tres palmas, while quatro palmas is a 40-45 year old amontillado – a very old, very rare sherry indeed.
So the Palmas wine are those barrels which have the most amazing, delicate smell and flavour. It is no coincidence that these are the barrels which also have the thickest layer of flor – due to the temperature and humidity in that particular part of the bodega. As these wines age and the flor stays they become una, dos, tres quatro palmas and each additional tick is a sign of age within a palmas wine.
Sherry must be aged for a minimum of three years, most commercial finos are therefore just three years old, Gonzalez Byass’ world famous Tio Pepe is 4.5 years old as is Tio Pepe en Rama.
So what Gonzalez Byass have done with Una Palma is look for a six year old fino and select the barrels that have the best growth of flor in the bodega.
Of the 25,000 odd barrels of fino houses at Gonzalez Byass just four barrels were selected that at six years old had a thick layer of flor.
They were bottled en rama, which as you may know I’m a big fan of en rama as without lots of clarification you get a fresher, livelier, more characterful fino. But the key difference with Una Palma is not that it is en rama but that it is a barrel selected wine – en rama I guess is an added bonus.

Dos Palmas is an 8 years old fino, again when creating this wine they were looking for barrels with great examples of flor at 8 years old, which is a bit rarer but still exists.
Only two barrels were selected, so 1,000L of Dos Palmas exists, which equates to 2,000 bottles – two of which are in my kitchen.
For me, this is my favourite of the four. Don’t get me round I could happily drink all four, but this offers excellent value at £18 per half bottle and is one very special fino.
For the Tres Palmas, wines are taken from the solera level on an amontillado solera. Normally, a wine taken from here would be a blend of every barrel in the solera level, some would have no flor, others bits and pieces, Gonzalez Byass found just two barrels that still had flor and so are technically still fino as they have not oxidised.
Of those two barrels, half was taken from each barrel to make one complete barrel leaving 500L of Tres Palmas a ten year old fino.
At £35 for a half bottle is it still well worth it, so intense and concentrated and starting to get some amontillado character.

And finally onto Quatro Palmas – it is something completely different. It is technically an amontillado and is 40-45 years old. Six barrels of this have been found in the ‘musea solera’ it is a wine that spent a long period of its life under flor before oxidising and becoming amontillado. A wine at this age is usually very difficult to drink, but because of the time it spent under flor it is still a great wine, and still very enjoyable.
I urge you all to head to Camino or Bar Pepito, where you can taste all four with some amazing tapas creations before deciding on your favourite (s) and snapping up a bottle from any of the stockists below, while stocks last.
Lea & Sandeman, The Wine Society
 

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