Today I tasted…. Hidalgo Pastrana Manzanilla Pasada
In an hour or so, I’ll be sitting down to the first ever Twitter sherry tasting, organised by Sherry Notes. There’ll be five different sherries to taste, but I may have lost the power to type by the end, so I’ll save one of those tastings for tomorrow’s post!
So this afternoon I’ve tasted a small sample of Pastrana Manzanilla Pasada, made by Hidalgo La Gitana in Sanlucar de Barrameda. This is a single vineyard Manzanilla, from the Pastrana vineyard in the Miraflores pago near Sanlucar. It was first released in 1997 as a collaboration between Hidalgo and Cristiano van Zeller, a winemaker from Douro in Portugal, and probably best reflects Manzanilla as it was before the trend for younger, lighter, clarified wines came along.
Pastrana is aged for an average of 12 years, much much longer than a typical Manzanilla, and by this time the flor is waning. This means that much of the dead flor falls to the bottom of the barrel and begins to break down, imparting further complexity, depth and body to the wine. It is then bottled with minimal clarification, to preserve the complexity as much as possible.
It’s a noticeably darker golden colour than a typical Manzanilla, and in the mouth it’s fuller bodied and weightier. The aromas are noticeably of ageing flor: yeasty, bready notes alongside barn-floor aromas and a noticeable smell of agar (I’m a microbiologist originally, and the smell of agar plates never leaves you!). This gives way to a savoury, meaty aroma reminiscent of jamon.
Take a mouthful, and the flavours again begin with strong yeast and autolytic influences. There’s also some salinity but not as much as you’d expect from a wine aged in Sanlucar, and certainly none of the freshness of a young Manzanilla. And just as the initial flavour combinations are waning, in comes a surprisingly strong hazelnut finish which hints at the beginnings of oxidative aging. We tasted this with and without food and, whilst the complexity is enjoyable when drunk solo, this wine really came into its own with food. We paired it with jamon, after Stuart had been so struck by the meaty aromas. Married with the jamon, the saltiness and umami flavours of the wine really shone. I think it would be worth trying with some of the foods that I’d normally match with an Amontillado too – I’ll need to try.
This is a complex, savoury and fully-developed wine that really demands your full attention. It’s not an everyday Manzanilla – the younger varieties are far better suited to quaffing with crisps, almonds and prawns – but I can hardly believe I’ve been ignoring it on the shelf of our supermarket for so long!