Friday, 2 March 2018

Zerej II Palo Cortado 20%, Barbadillo

Bright clean amber tinged chestnut to mahogany with coppery gold glints, fading through amber to a trace of green at the rim.
Attractive start with plenty of toasted almond and hazelnut, faint buttery and bitter orange notes along with a certain crispness and faint bitterness, from its Sanlucar origins presumably. There are suggestions of salted caramel and just a hint of oak. It is very much Amontillado in character, yet there is a certain weight in the background. Subtle, nuanced and appealing.
It is definitely fuller on the palate with more Oloroso character showing through yet remains extremely elegant and there is a perfect counterpoise between Amontillado and Oloroso. It is beautifully rounded with an attractive open texture, now with hints of walnut, leather and tobacco, very faint hints of tannin, and the whole comes together with delightful complexity. This seems to be a wine one could enjoy at any stage of its production. Superb.
This delightful wine is one of four magnums in the second release of the Zerej and is the oldest wine in the set. After ageing briefly under flor the wine was re-fortified and aged oxidatively for an average of 25 years in a very old solera. The Palo Cortado is bottled at various ages, the youngest being the 15 year old Obispo Gascón, followed by the VORS (now also named Obispo Gascón) which is well over 30 and the rare (barely 40 bottles a year) Reliquia at around 100 years. It is interesting to see the wine in a roughly half way stage between two younger bottlings, and it comes from one butt laboriously selected by Montse Molina and Armando Guerra, bottled without any filtration or stabilisation in March 2017.
180 euros for the set of 4 magnums, no individual price but excellent value.

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