Wine Blogging Wednesday #51: Baked Goods



By Kori ~ November 12th, 2008.

The November edition of Wine Blogging Wednesday, the blogosphere’s monthly virtual wine tasting event, is hosted by Joe Roberts of 1WineDude. Joe selected Baked Goods as this month’s theme in which he asks us to select a wine that has been deliberately heated, or Madeirized.

Since he also left the door open for us to select any sweet fortified wine, we chose to taste the 1927 Solera Alvear Pedro Ximenez from Montilla-Moriles, Spain. In the summer of 2007 when Dad (John) and I were studying for our Certified Specialist of Wine exam, we became fascinated with the fractional blending system known as solera that is used to age some fortified wines.

Solera is a process for aging liquids such as wine, vinegar, and brandy, by fractional blending in such a way that the finished product is a mixture of ages, with the average age gradually increasing as the process continues over many years. A solera is literally the set of barrels or other containers used in the process. –Wikipedia

Any wine labeled solera will carry the vintage date of the original cask so this 1927 solera was blended from casks that were first started in 1927. The process to produce this wine began over 80 years ago, and this wine represents a little bit of each vintage during that 80 year span.

As we were learning more about fortified wines and the solera system, we were anxious to try one. About that time, we received an email alert from Wine Exchange touting this highly acclaimed wine. At $15.99, we couldn’t resist and purchased two bottles. We tasted the first bottle shortly after receiving the shipment, thought it was great, and had been holding onto the second bottle. This Baked Goods theme gave us the perfect opportunity to open it. It was even better than I had remembered.

One other fun fact that makes this a perfect Baked Goods selection is that when the grapes were at their optimal degree of maturity, they were spread out on mats to dry in the sun until they became raisins. I’d say that lying out in the sun until you’re shriveled up definitely constitutes being deliberately heated, or baked.

1927 Solera Alvear Pedro Ximenez (Montilla-Moriles, Spain): Half bottle (375ml). A white sherry that is dark amber in color. An exceptional nose of caramel and nuts. Sweet flavors of maple syrup, nuts, caramel, and butterscotch with a hint of prunes come through on the palate. Tastes like a baked Snickers bar. Medium-bodied and extremely smooth. Excellent by itself but would also be good with dessert or over ice cream.
Quality: 4 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to Buy: Wine Exchange (California), $19.99 (was $15.99); Available elsewhere, $16-$27


Filed under: Dessert Wine, Five-Bangs For Your Buck Wines, Fortified Wine, Lesser Known Varietals, Spanish Wine, Wine Blogging Wednesday, Wines Under $20, Wines Under $25

Reader's Comments

  1. 1WineDude | November 12th, 2008 at 9:17 am

    I’ll take it!

    Great post, and the first all-PX wine of this WBW event.

    Looooove the PX…. :)

  2. Justin Roberts | November 12th, 2008 at 10:47 am

    Great choice. I recon this is probably the best PX out of Montilla.

    What most people don’t realize is most of the Jerez PX’s are made in Montilla and then given a bit of time in barrel here…

  3. Paul Zitarelli | November 12th, 2008 at 4:27 pm

    Kori -

    The solera system sounds fascinating! Is the purpose to maintain consistency? And if so, don’t wines made like this lose some of the uniqueness of an individual vintage?

  4. Kori | November 12th, 2008 at 9:00 pm

    Dude,
    Glad you liked the post. Thanks for hosting! It was a great theme.

    Justin,
    Thanks. And good point about the PX’s made in Montilla.

    Paul,
    The primary purpose of the solera is to maintain both a house style and consistency of product. As a result, they obviously do lose some of the uniqueness of individual vintages. However, the advantages seem to outweigh the disadvantages. When the young wine is blended with the older wine, it picks up the characteristics of the older wine. That combination enhances the complexity of the wine while maintaining quality and house style.

  5. Justin Roberts | November 13th, 2008 at 3:23 am

    Paul

    One other thing. A solera can also be used to manage quality. Any butt containing wine which is not up to scratch can be removed from the system increasing the average quality. Depending on the style the wine can sometimes take years to work through a solera, so constantly re-tasting butts and removing wines which don’t cut it can lead to a fantastic final product.

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