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International Trophy Dry Fortified over £15 – González Byass, Sherry, Spain

A refined and distinguished amontillado, with an elaborate nose of smoked walnuts, fresh leather, dark chocolate, raisins, roasted nuts, dates and umami notes. Explodes with flavour on the palate, which is full in flavour, concentrated, long and very true to type. A top wine (21.5%).
£75 Berry Bros & Rudd, General Wine Co

THIS WINE IS perhaps the ultimate expression of the en rama craze which has gripped Sherry fans in recent years – the bottling of ‘raw’ Sherries straight from the barrel, without clarifying or filtration.

Since 1880, the winemakers and winery managers of González Byass in Jerez have been using chalk to mark the casks of maturing wine in the bodega in order to identify their contents.

Long before the advent of barcodes and computerised scanners, a glance at the chalk would tell them all they needed to know: a single line meant a fino Sherry, a circle an oloroso. But then there were the few casks adorned with one or more palmas: meaning palm tree, the mark is a single chalk line with horizontal ‘branches’ coming out.

These wines are developed finos that are characterised by a special refinement, delicate aroma and longevity. As they mature further, they accumulate more branches on the cask – uno, dos and tres – until the final stage in their lives at cuatro palmas.

This wine is a remarkable 48 years old, making it a venerable amontillado, sourced from one of only six remaining casks in a part of the bodega known as the Museo Solera. Needless to say, this is very much a finite resource, with just one cask of Cuatro Palmas – equating to only 1,000 bottles – bottled each year.

The range was first released in 2011, when Jancis Robinson MW was involved in the selection and final blending of the wines. Since then there have been three further releases, always bottled in the autumn. For this Trophy-winning 2014 blend, winemaker Antonio Flores was joined by wine writer and blogger Jamie Goode.

Antonio Sniff (small)

González Byass winemaker Antonio Flores has only released four editions of Cuatro Palmas

Tasted against

There were no other Regional Trophies tasted in this category.

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