Le Sommelier presents the Don PX Gran Reserva 1990 and Don PX 2017…
Bodegas Toro Albalá is one of the driving forces of D.O.P. Montilla-Moriles, the neighbouring region of the D.O.P. Jerez-Xérès-Sherry. Toro Albalá began here, in the heart of Southern Cordoba, in 1922 with small wine grower José María Toro Albalá. José had just restored the former electric power station of Aguilar de la Frontera, some 50 km from Córdoba. He purchased a small winery in a nearby village, and moved the entire operation to this newly restored facility, 14,000 m² in size. José knew this former electric power station, and its maze of subterranean tunnels, was perfect for the ageing and conservation of dry wines. Eléctrico is still in use today for some of their top finos.
But from the beginning José’s goal was to have a space to house and grow stocks of aged wines, an idea considered a huge risk in that era. Fortunately, his amazing foresight paid off.
In the 1960s, José’s nephew, enologist Antonio Sánchez, joined the team, and strengthened the bodega’s crianza system. Antonio brought with him his extensive wine training in France, as well as his bloodline in the vineyards and winery, planted when he was merely six years old. Antonio rightly remains the iconic figure of the winery today (as does his omnipresent sunglasses), and this oenologist, alchemist, and inventor is the one responsible for directing the winery into its highly respected focus on the sweetest of wines, the unsurpassed Pedro Ximénez. Indeed, Toro Albalá was the first bodega to sell a sweet PX dessert wine, and continues to be seen as the foremost experts in vintage Pedro Ximénez. Their cellars contain more than 6,000 barrels, some of which house the oldest wines in Andalucía.
We are proud to feature two of Toro Albará exceptional’s PX wines in this release, with the newly released PX 2017, and the rare library showing of PX Gran Reserva 1990.
If you have any inquiries about these wines or availability, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
The lengthy, traditional process for producing all of Toro Albalá’s Pedro Ximénez sweet wines is the same. The PX grapes are laid out on long, porous mats to dry in the hot sun for 10-12 days, with whole bunches turned over hand by hand daily for uniform drying. The grapes are then pressed, and ferment over a 2 month period to 8-9% alcohol. At this point, an aguardiente (distillate) made from the same PX pressings is added to bring the wine up to 17%. The finished wine is left to settle in concrete vats for 2 years, and is then transferred to 50-150 year old American oak barrels for further aging, the length of which depends on the wine. The wine is then bottled and released.
“The 1990 Don PX Gran Reserva has unusually high sugar, close to 400 grams (when this range is usually less than 360). Compared with the rest of wines, this feels like a very good value. These wines mature in old 550-liter American oak casks for decades, and the wines have great concentration. It felt unusually perfumed, a little spirity and with notes that made me think of Moscatel—notes of orange peel and flowers, and of course the raisin and dry dates and figs from these wines made with raisins. It’s sweet and dense like motor oil and leaves a combination of raisins and chocolate in the spicy and faintly warm finish. This was bottled in early 2019.” – 93 points, Luis Gutiérrez, Wine Advocate
”Wow! Dried grapes are fermented as far as possible (this has 387g/litre of residual sugar) then lightly fortified and freshened up with some Amontillado before ageing for 28 years in old US oak butts. Complex, rich walnuts, spiced rye, dried fruit, iodine, coffee, liquorice and treacle. Try with dark chocolate or pour over ice cream.” – 93 points, Tina Gellie, Decanter
Grape(s): Pedro Ximénez
Region: DOP Montilla-Moriles, Spain
Price: $39.00 (per 375mL bottle)
The Don PX wines come from the youngest, sweet vintage wines of Toro Albalá. After the grapes are dried, sugars concentrated, and grapes pressed, the must is stunted with aguardiente when the ideal sweetness is reached, bringing the final alcohol to 17%. The fortified wines are decanted into stainless and local cone-shaped Tinajas tanks to naturally settle, before bottling.
As these early release wines are not barrel-aged nor blended, they are wonderfully pure examples of PX, capturing all the delicious raisin and honey notes and tanginess of the style. The palate glows with concentrated fig, honey and dried fruit notes and finishes with a warm, lingering, sweet finish.
Varietal: Pedro Ximénez
Region: DOP Montilla-Moriles, Spain
Price: $21.95 (per 375mL bottle)
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