What a whirlwind visit that was! Arrived in Málaga at noon on Sunday and caught the 18.30 train home on Wednesday. As you can see, I packed a lot in between visiting with friends, doing some wine research for (I hope) another article and, of course, having some lovely food. Also got to see the Christmas lights, which were gorgeous as usual. And I did a LOT of walking – a total of 66,628 steps! I almost didn’t go because I’m a bit broke at the moment, which was also the reason I didn’t have my usual summer Málaga getaway. But with the oncology appointment looming (next Monday!) I decided that I would take a short break whether I could afford it or not. Sometimes you just gotta live.
The indoor thermostat is saying it’s 17.9ºC in the house. It’s been a strange “change of seasons” these past few weeks, what with going to Galicia and instant winter mid-October, then to Madrid for autumn weather, and then back home to sunshine and sandals again. But it does seem like sandal weather is over for the year. Not bad lasting until mid-November. But although I am layered up at home I think I’ll indulge in a little heat before bed.
It’s always such a pleasure to taste these wines. Finos Palmas is an annual limited selection of a small number of the very best casks of Tio Pepe Fino sherries from Bodega González Byass in Jerez de la Frontera.
This year’s selection was made mid-October by Antonio Flores, Gonzalez Byass’ master winemaker, and master of wine Peter Liem and, as always, bottled “en rama”, without filtration or clarification.
The tasting took place at Lalola Taberna Gourmet inside the Hotel One Shot Palacio Conde de Torrejón and was led by Silvia Flores, sommelier, assistant winemaker at González Byass, and Antonio’s daughter. It was different this year as it was the first time Finos Palmas has been presented to the public (rather than just press) before hitting the shelves. Really hard to pick a favourite, though of course the 53 year old Cuatro Palmas is in a league of its own. But all the wines, including a taste of Tío Pepe en Rama to begin, show the development of the finos and each one is delicious in its own way.
So while I was away in Galicia I got an invitation to the Spanish book launch of my friend José Pizarro’s Andalucía, which is being held in Madrid on October 30th. You may recall I went to London in May for a event at the Spanish Embassy that included celebrating José’s 25 years as a chef and was also the launch for the English version of this book. But you know, I want to be there to support José and so I booked my train to Madrid and a hotel for a couple of nights, even though I can’t exactly afford to travel right now.
And THEN something amazing happened. Out of the blue I was asked by Decanter Magazine to write another city break travel piece for them… on Madrid! This is my third commission from Decanter in a year, and I am thrilled about that. But also, it will end up paying for my trip and I can use my time there to do research for the article. How perfect is that? 🙂
The Cuatro Palmas (four palms) is an annual limited selection of a small number of the very best casks of Tio Pepe Fino sherries from Bodega González Byass in Jerez de la Frontera, which are usually publicly presented to the sherry and hospitality trades and selected press in November.
This year’s selections will be made later this week by Antonio Flores, Gonzalez Byass’ master winemaker, and master of wine Peter Liem and, as always, will be bottled “en rama”, without filtration or clarification.
I was fortunate enough to attend a tasting of these incredible wines at Andalucía Sabor, called The Ages of Tío Pepe, which included the “mosto” from this year’s harvest, Tío Pepe en rama (bottled last May) and the four different Palmas. This past July Cuatro Palmas won the International Wine Challenge “Champion of Champions” Trophy and the title of Best Wine in the World.
The tasting was led by Antonio Flores with his usual blend of passion and poetry. Truly one of the most charismatic of “sherry whisperers”, Antonio took us through the six ages of Tío Pepe from “infancy” to “wise old age” and had us compare each age with the previous ones to appreciate the development of each stage. A delicious and educational process. Looking forward to trying this year’s selection.
- Una Palma is a 6 year old Fino selected from three casks, out of a total of 142, that exemplifies the evolution of the style.
- Dos Palmas is an 8 year old Fino selected from just two casks out of 150, reflecting the elegance of a well aged wine.
- Tres Palmas is a 10 year old Fino selected from a single cask at the limit of the biological ageing process.
- Cuatro Palmas iis a Fino that has passed to being an amontillado, and is selected from one of just six casks that have been ageing in González Byass for more than 50 years. It reflects the ability of Tío Pepe to evolve over time. Only half the cask is bottled.