1990 Pedro Ximenez, “Don PX” Gran Reserva, Toro Albalá, Montilla-Moriles, Spain


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Pedro Ximénez (also known as PX and many other variations) is the name of a white Spanish wine grape variety grown in several Spanish wine regions but most notably in the Denominación de Origen (DO) of Montilla-Moriles and in Jerez. Here it is used to produce a varietal wine, an intensely sweet, dark, dessert sherry. It is made by drying the grapes under the hot sun, concentrating the sweetness (in a similar way to straw wine production), which are then used to create a thick, black liquid with a strong taste of raisins and molasses that is fortified and aged in solera.

When you think of sherry you probably think of the triangle of Jerez, Sanlúcar and El Puerto de Santa María but most of the Pedro Ximénez for PX wines actually comes from next door region Montilla-Moriles. This is where Toro Albalá is located, they were the first bodega to sell a sweet PX dessert wine and continue to be revered as experts in vintage Pedro Ximénez. The bodega was set up in 1922 by grower José María Toro Albalá to capitalise on the popularity of Fino with local farm workers. The winery is in a former power station at Aguilar de la Frontera, which gave rise to the joke that the wine was electric, their fino is still called “Eléctrico” today. When oenologist and nephew of the founder Antonio Sánchez took over the bodega in the 1960s, he moved the focus toward traditional ageing in a “crianza” system, although wines from Montilla can’t call themselves sherry. Around 30% of their grapes come from their own vineyards, and 70% from partner growers. The soleras in the subterranean tunnels of the old building comprise of approximately 6000 barrels, some of which contain the oldest wines available in Andalucía. Antonio is an expert in the Pedro Ximénez grape but also in the history of his region and has set up a small museum stuffed with books, paintings and local archaeological finds from the vineyards.

This one is from the 1990 vintage and has been aged in old oak casks for up to 30 years. It is unctuous and extremely concentrated and is essentially Christmas pudding in a glass. Perfect with proper vanilla ice cream or dark chocolates. This is an original and unique expression of a vintage gran reserva PX. It has a beguiling nose of exotic spices and fruits combined with more classic caramel overtones. With great acidity the wine has great freshness, and not at all cloying. A real treat for the senses.

Alcohol: 17% abv (37.5cl)

Closure: Cork

Grape variety: 100% Pedro Ximenez

Flavour Profiles: Very sweet, Aromatic, Rich, Raisin, Fig, Spice, Christmas Pudding, Black Treacle.