Top-rated Fino and Manzanilla
Bodegas Hidalgo, Napoleon, Manzanilla Amontillada
Decanter average score: 18.75/20pts (95+/100pts)
Individual judges’ scores: Pedro Ballesteros Torres MW 19 Sarah Jane Evans MW 19 Nick Room 18.5
The Hidalgos came from Santander in northern Spain, starting up in 1792. Over two centuries later Hidalgo is the strongest name in manzanilla, thanks to the much-travelled sixth generation, Javier Hidalgo. It is among the producers who farm without chemicals, and its most famous wine is the super-delicate La Gitana. Among its dry wines it also has an en rama, and a single-vineyard wine – one of the few in Jerez – Pastrana. Pastrana is a pasada – an aged manzanilla. Napoleon is one step on: an aged manzanilla that has developed a sensuous richness on its way to becoming amontillado.
Pedro Ballesteros Torres MW A great wine: complex and expressive, melding the deep expression of amontillado and the fresh lightness of manzanilla.
Sarah Jane Evans MW Glorious amber colour with reddish tinges. A nose laden with vanilla, almonds, coconut and mocha. Pungent, punchy palate: firm grip, very intense. Powerfully salty but with an underlying fruit note to soften the briskness. Long and superbly complex: Sherry at its unique best.
Nick Room Deep amber hue. Very concentrated, pungent nose of toffee and roasted nuts. Bone dry palate that is very specifically manzanilla with an underlying saltiness. Well balanced and powerful.
Price: £11.50–£12.99 (500ml) Cambridge Wine Merchants, Christopher Piper, Ellis Wharton Wines, Majestic