I had a great evening yesterday. I was invited by “Paladar y Tomar” to the launch ceremony for the González Byass’ Finos Palma series held in streaming in Barcelona, Jerez, Madrid and Sevilla. The ceremony was conducted by Antonio Flores, Master Blender, who introduced the wines with a lot of sensitibity.
There were presented four very delicate and special sherries, called “Fino una palma”, “Fino dos palmas”, “Fino tres palmas” and “Cuatro palmas”. To those not used with the technical terminology “Palma” is a classifying mark reserved for Finos of the highest quality. Gonzalez Byass has been drawing off these Fino Sherry for the last three years. For this occasion, they were assisted by Sarah Jane Evans, Master of Wine and Sherry lover.
The Fino Una palma is a Fino Sherry aged 6 years. Only 3 butts out of a Solera of 142 butts were drawn off. It is a quite impressive Sherry with a sharp saltiness while being surprisingly smooth, showing notes of toasted almond and cigar.
The Fino Dos palmas is aged 8 years. Only 2 butts out of a Solera of 150 butts were drawn off. It shares the same features than the Fino Una palma, but I would say that it has a very shy personality. It reminds me a quiet boy that is eclipsed by the popularity of his older brother. Nevertheless, its smoothness is asking you to drink it plain.
The Fino Tres palmas is aged 10 years. Only the butt “number 30” out of a Solera of 150 butts was drawn off. It is an astonishing Sherry that evokes silence, quietness. The nose, very intense, moves towards a mix of toasted almond and hazelnut. And the aftertaste lingers for minutes! It is a thrilling wine under the category of “Fino Amontillado”, that is a Fino in process of getting transformed in an Amontillado (by oxidation). Tasting it, I recalled the long lasting final minutes of the Beethoven Nº 5 piano concerto’s Adagio.
The Cuatro palmas is aged 48 years! Only the butt “number 3” out of a Solera of 6 butts was drawn off. It is difficult to talk about an Amontillado that speeds you up to another level of conciousness. A striking, round, full-body, powerful, lingering and complex wine that carries you to another world! It is the transmutation of the Albariza soil in poetry. Tens of thousands of years distilled in some drops that will bring a lot of pleasure to those lucky enough to get one of these bottles. Following the simile that I used for the Fino Tres palmas, I would say that the Cuatro Palmas is the final minute of the Mahler’s Third symphony (I come out in goose pimples every time that I listed it!).
We ended up the ceremony with a free food-wine pairing. Besides the four mentioned wines, we drunk Leonor, a nice Palo Cortado aged 12 years. We ate an excellent ham from Guijuelo; some cheese delicacies served by Enrique F. Ojanguren (very tasty cheeses, indeed, but that is another story); and some biscuits (good contrast between the biscuit’s sweetness and the Cuatro Palmas).