Today I tasted…. Cruz Vieja Palo Cortado
This bottle was a surprise delivery that arrived on 30 December – just in time to for New Year’s Eve. So, as well as our sherry-scented bubbles which are dosed with a little Palo Cortado, we had a whole bottle of Palo Cortado with which to toast the arrival of 2015!
Cruz Vieja is the recently launched brand from Bodegas Faustino Gonzalez, which you can read more about here. The Palo Cortado is the latest Cruz Vieja sherry to come to the market, and in common with its stable-mates it’s fermented in cask and bottled En Rama. The bodega doesn’t specify an average age, but all its sherries are relatively old. Judging from the astringency and complexity, I’m guessing this is an average of about 20 years or possibly more.
The wine is a dark amber in colour, verging on light mahogany, with hints of green. It’s clear and bright, more so than I would have expected for an En Rama. In fact, I had a bottle of another old Palo Cortado on the go when I opened this, so I compared the two – the Cruz Vieja En Rama was actually clearer than the other, more filtered Palo.
On the nose, it’s less immediately resinous than some Palos. It starts with a strong caramel aroma, with some burnt notes, and then comes floor polish, vanilla and grilled meat.
Take a slurp and its the classic Palo combination of Amontillado flavours and rich, velvety Oloroso body. Flavours start with bitter caramel, toasted nuts and lemon juice. This gives way to meaty notes again, along with soy sauce and ginger reminiscent of teriyaki. As I’ve already said, it’s quite astringent, but this was softened when we tasted it with grilled pork. It also went brilliantly with a spicy Szechuan pork stir fry. The finish is surprisingly soft considering the earlier astringency, and it’s all about roasted hazelnuts.
For me, this is a Palo Cortado for food, rather than sipping solo. It’s complexity and notes of long oxidation both benefit from balancing with something really savoury. I wouldn’t rule out matching it with Marmite on toast (!), but it really sang when paired with meat, especially pork.Sadly, at present Cruz Vieja sherries are not available in the UK. However, La Casa del Jerez’s website is currently under redevelopment to enable selling online for overseas customers. You can also order directly from the bodega, by contacting them through their website or sending an email to . And if you’re visiting Jerez you can enjoy a glass at one of the local tabancos and restaurants now stocking Cruz Vieja (including La Carbona)