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My only real tasting note to post from the NorCal Party.
Sugar cube coated in carmel/chocolate, finish forever, perfectly balanced, not a flaw, not even a detractor in any way in my opinion, sweet tooth definately required. No rating, there is no comparison. I was all excited 'cause I thought Winebrat was going to bring a nice 80 to 120 year old Madeira, boy did I underestimate this guys generosity. When I saw the 1730 on the label I thought it was a brand name [Roll Eyes] An absolute treasure for me. Thank you again for sharing a wonderful, wonderful wine. [Big Grin]

[ 08-13-2002, 07:37 AM: Message edited by: stealthman_1 ]
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I bought the wine at a sherry store in Jerez Spain. The sherry store was a block away from Sandeman's sherry bodega. I won't disclose what I paid for it, but it was well worth the hall through the country. It was recently bottled so no worries about old corks. They bottled it with a tee cap. The label was brand new. I would have taken the bottle home as a souvenir but somebody walked away with it at the end of the evening [Frown] .

[ 08-14-2002, 05:30 PM: Message edited by: winebrat ]
I hate to cast a shadow of suspicion over the forum, but "1730" IS a brand name. If the bottle is black and the 1730 is serigraphed on the bottle in big reddish stylish print, then it's by no means a vintage date. The price should have been high but not ruinous depending on its real age ($30 to $100) and the producer could be either Pilar Aranda or Garvey, especially the latter. Garvey has bottlings of all types of Sherry in a 1730 lineup both in V.O.S. (20+) and V.O.R.S. (30+) levels of age. Notice the "+" which means anything over 50 years of age (which is in fact the case of Domecq's top bottles, for example) can only aspire to be identified as VORS though almost twice the age.
This is by no means intended to disappoint you: consider that if I'm right any of you could repeat the experience either by visiting Spain or by checking out the sherry retailers around your area...Besides, I bet the U.S. pricing of sherry will not be brutally unfair, as sherry producers are kind of desperate for promotion abroad. [Wink]
Well, I am disapointed. I think I paid about $140us. And I was taken. The Spanish man at the store spoke perfect english so their was no chance of confusion. He took me. Damn I hate being a tourist sometimes. It was still awesome though. Sorry for the confusion. This was by no means intended on my part to fool anybody. A few of the people sitting at my table are friends of mine and they know how I collect and share older Port, Madeira, and Sherry. I thought I stumbled upon something great [Frown]

"1730" must be Pilar Aranda, NOT Garvey (they use a "1780" label, sorry).
Therefore you need not feel taken in at all, as I don't know what $ they fetch. $100 is about as much as I remember seeing for a superb PX (and apparently that's what you got anyway, why care about the date??) but I ignore to what extent the absurdly diminutive production of these wines (often 150 bottles per year) may have provoked a boost in prices.
Of course, you know what your enthusiasm was about and you're free to feel disappointed, but in general I'd say there's no such a thing as the product you dreamed about. Vintage sherry is very rare, and the old dates in labels usually refer to the date when the solera was initiated. The fact that it is refreshed evry now and then makes it impossible to be certain about exact age of blends, but the best often average 40-60 years.
My favorite PX for my money average 30 and I can't imagine any better.
Having said that, PX from Montilla-Moriles (not exactly sherry region, but not an inch behind) sometimes carry a vintage date (1975 latest release, for 14$), and the museum releases of Bodegas Toro Albalá include wines from as early as 1939 (for a hefty couple of hundred, and no one is quite sure they're any better that younger stuff).
You see, Sherry is not Madeira in the sense that AGE (on an "older is better" basis) need not be so desirable after a certain limit. I have many old olorosos of about 20-40 years of age that are somewhat aggressive/spirity in the mouth (due to extended aging in wood, and evaporation). The nose is glorious but I don't enjoy drinking them as much. With a PX the problem is certainly not that, but a vintage PX from 1730 (if it existed) ought to cost several thousand bucks and be only 10 times as interesting as a 30-50 year old solera version, just for the sake of age, an auction rarity. Meanwhile you should be able to enjoy the best solera versions from (Spanish prices) 20-70 €. IMHO you ought to be happy, at least about prospective repetitions/incursions in this field. [Big Grin] ?
If "almost" means you didn't buy it then my purpose has backfired. Of course I ignore what you're being asked for, but that winery has disappeared completely (the solera ran dry) and there's no human way of getting any more of that wine, which incidentally ought to be excellent, and doubly expensive as an extinct rarity.

Now in general:

I've always been rather suspicious of Sherry bodegas saying things like "the only reason why we don't get higher ratings in the US is that Americans are so obsessed with vintage dates that they simply won't recommend a wine when they believe there's no way of guaranteeing the consistency of the product (whereas in fact the solera system of course guarantees the homogeneity of the product like no other)" but now I'm getting to verify this in person: Why all this fuss with mediaeval dates on bottles? If you like the contents why do you feel disappointed with the non-vintageness of it?
Do you ever drink Aussie stickies? Why do such terms as "Museum Release" or "Rare Special" sound less tricky than "Solera 1910"? If you enjoy Chambers muscats enough to pay what they fetch and you travel to Rutherglen, ask the guy the real average age of the product and get something like "this is a solera from ---- but no vintage stuff," will you stop enjoying the wine?

Sorry, I re-read and see I may be sounding overexcited, but it seems to me that you're questioning a system that's older than our greatgrandparents on the basis that it simply isn't "chic." All I can say is there is no vintage Sherry/Montilla for sale in the regular trade any older than the first decades of this century, and when it comes to dry vintage sherry I think one of the very few houses doing it is González-Byass, where the current releases are around the late 60s-early 70s. If that doesn't blow your nose away the vintage date on the label won't either.
For 19C vintage stuff decidedly try Madeira.
I get your point, Gastronauta. I was unaware that this winery no longer existed, and this could very well explain the asking price. Do you happen to know when they closed? And please don’t get me wrong, the Solera system IS a great way to ensure constant quality. It is just that I am more used to a year on a bottle to be a vintage (harvest) year.
Hi, it seems we are awake while America still sleeps... I can look this up; I remember a very fond letter from a follower of this bodega being sent to Decanter a few years ago complaining about the solera having exhausted. The guy (German, I think) had managed to pick several remaining bottles at a supermarket in Málaga...for peanuts, I believe. Since then, it's pretty obvious that speculation has had a word in the whole business...
If you give me the quote I might be able to tell you how much of the sum is going into the anecdote of "you know, this is impossible to obtain, maybe the last bottle."
Well, that seems to be very reasonable, especially since the two most expensive sweeties in the region (in that Sherryish profile) are retailing for about 35-55€. The quality of the wine is a mere suppposition on my part, though, but reputation is good. Surely it sold for less when they were in business, but since then many other wineries have adjusted prices to something that more accurately reflects what's inside the bottle: so very often it's absolutely top stuff, held in a solera for 20-40 years WITHOUT seeing any profit other than the sales of a limited number of used to be ludicrously cheap. I can inquire (second-hand info) or scan that Decanter letter for you.
BUT if you want a couple of tips for similar stuff that I HAVE tried and is priced in that range, even below over here at least, I will gladly offer a few names too. [Big Grin]
By all means: please do! It is quite hard to find a good quality Malaga over here, most have the words "kitchen quality" or "for cooking use" on the label...the same for Marsala and, to a lesser extent, Madeira.

*EDIT: Your last post appeared while I was typing this one, TNX for the info!*

[ 08-21-2002, 06:38 AM: Message edited by: StevieCage ]
In Málaga:
LOPEZ HERMANOS have two stickies and one dry at the top of the ladder for the appellation. The stickies are one Muscat and one PX, called respectively DON SALVADOR (will check) and DON JUAN. In that high-end bottling there's also a SECO TRASAÑEJO (I think that's its name) which is DRY.
They have also released a new line called RESERVA DE LA FAMILIA tagged at about 12€ that includes another PX (50cl). It's been acclaimed as very good, though it doesn't sell here yet.

In Montilla-Moriles:
Alvear (PX Solera 1910) is fabulous, though +- expensive for 50cl.
Toro Albalá Don PX Gran Reserva 1972/1975 (those ARE vintage stuff) : great, and selling for 14€!!

In Jerez:
González-Byass PX NOÉ (VORS) sells for about 35€ and is so far my best-ever.
Sánchez-Romate PX CARDENAL CISNEROS is just as good, usually cheaper.
DOMECQ VENERABLE is among the top three, in theory better than the previous two. Costs +45€.
OSBORNE has a top line that sells for 90€+ but is said to be mindblowing, called PX RARE SHERRY.

This is all best-selling stuff (for this category, I mean) that you should be able to find. Since you're in continental EU you may want to check
for alternative prices.
Good luck & sweet teeth... [Big Grin]
FWIW, I thought it would be a good idea to have a reference for current pricing of Sherry in Spain. This is all PX and I have added a few Olorosos at the end. These prices (in €) are fom Vila Viniteca in Barcelona. Some of these prices are so good that I actually DO pay 150% in Tenerife, so they may be a little misleading... I have added a * to *** personal rating for reference, where "?" means I haven't tried &/or never heard of it. When there's a vintage date like 1999 or 2000 the product is amber/mahogany and just as unctuous, but has not been subject to the blackening aging process. Some of these young things are delicious.

ALVEAR Pedro Ximenez Solera 1910 0,5 L. M-M *** 45,65
BARBADILLO Pedro Ximenez La Cilla Sherry * 11,87
GARVEY Pedro Ximénez Gran Orden Sherry *** 34,83
GONZALEZ BYASS Noe Sherry *** 27,02
HIDALGO Pedro Ximénez Napoleón Sherry * 9,59
LUSTAU Pedro Ximenez San Emilio Sherry * 11,96
LUSTAU Pedro Ximenez Murillo Sherry ** 30,02
LUSTAU Single Cask Pedro Ximénez Sherry ? 23,89
MAESTRO SIERRA Pedro Ximénez Viejísimo Sherry ** 50,33
ORLEANS BORBON Pedro Ximénez Carla ? ? 9,83
OSBORNE Pedro Ximenez Viejo Sherry *** 95,00
PEREZ BARQUERO Pedro Ximenez M-M ** 8,38
SANCHEZ ROMATE Pedro Ximénez Sherry ? 4,15
SANCHEZ ROMATE Sacristía Pedro Ximénez Sherry ** 22,81
SANCHEZ ROMATE Cardenal Cisneros P.X. Sherry *** 25,95
TORO ALBALA Pedro Ximenez PX Young (1999/2000) M-M ** 8,99
TORO ALBALA Pedro Ximenez PX Young 3/8 M-M ** 5,86
TORO ALBALA Pedro Ximenez (VINTAGE) 1972 M-M *** 14,36
TORO ALBALA Pedro Ximenez (VINTAGE) 1972 3/8 M-M *** 8,99
TORO ALBALA Pedro Ximenez (VINTAGE) 1961 M-M ? 91,65

And here are some very old DRY SHERRIES.

LUSTAU VORS (AGE= 30+) Oloroso 116,90
LUSTAU VOS (AGE= 20+) Amontillado 77,98
GONZALEZ BYASS Oloroso Añada (=VINTAGE) 1964 86,52
GONZALEZ BYASS (Oloroso) Millennium Xerès: this is a blend made with some of the best vintage sherries of the century. 192,17
It was still great wine! The vintage date in this case would have been very important for two reasons. One, any item dating back to the 18th century is, at least in this part of the country, very rare. Two, for a wine drinker, any wine that could last over 270 years is just mindblowing. People view it as great priveledge to place a delicious liquid in their mouths that was crushed from grapes before the American Civil War, it's like tasting history, close your eyes you can almost subconciously go there. Of course in reality this means absolutely nothing, it's all mere perception. This still rings to me as one hell of a good wine, that has no comparison in my mind. I found the '63 Krohn one of the best ports period (though tawny) I've ever had (amazed as I didn't expect it to be any where near that) and then the PX went another 2 levels above that. The pure perfection this wine displayed should have taken 270 years to achieve, it was just that good.
No vintage on Sherries and Madeiras doesn't bother me in the least. I just know that I need to keep the bottles for a few years (a lot of years) before I can drink them and really enjoy the flavor myself. Others might like them earlier.

It's lovely wine. Very much a treat. I'm glad you folks had a good example of Sherry at your dinner. Not enough of that is drunk at these soirees.

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