Review: Oloroso Gran Barquero
Oloroso Gran Barquero is fermented and aged, by Pérez Barquero S.A. in Montilla, Spain and bottled at 19% ABV.
Earlier this Spring Wayne Curtis wrote an article on the effect of sherry on the flavor profile of Scotch Whisky and the somewhat symbiotic relationship they have had for the past 100 years or so. After reading his piece I realized that while I have had sherry in the past, I did not know the flavor profiles well enough to pick out their contribution to the flavor profile of Scotch or any other spirit. I decided to reach out to David Driscol of K&L Wines to ask him for recommendations for an Oloroso and Pedro Ximénez style Sherries since these are two of the more common sherry finishes you find in whiskey. One of his recommendations was for Oloroso Gran Barquero from Pérez Barquero.
Pérez Barquero has been making fortified wines in the Montilla-Moriles region of Spain since 1905. While their oloroso is very similar to an oloroso sherry, it cannot be called sherry because it was not made in the Denominación de Origen region of Jerez-Xérès-Sherry. This fortified wine starts off with 100% Pedro Ximénez grapes and once the wine has fermented Pérez Barquero uses an solera aging system with three layers of criaderas or nurseries and the final solera.
Quickly, the solera uses a system of fractional blending where barrels of younger wine are stacked on top of barrels with older wine. When the wine in the bottom barrels is fully mature Pérez Barquero will remove a fraction of the wine from the solea for bottling. They then top up the solera barrels with wine from the criadera level above. This process is repeated at each level where younger wine is mixed with slightly older wine and left to mature. Now Pérez Barquero says that through this system the oloroso is allowed to age for 15 years before bottling but it is not clear if that 15 years is the time it takes for new wine to move through the system before bottling or if it is some average age of young wine mixed with "old" wine in the solera.
Noes: The aromas is amazing. It smells of dried fruit, baking spices and vanilla. The nose is similar to fruit cake or a rum raisins cake.
Palate: On the palate the oloroso is bright, semi-dry and has a medium body. The flavors are completely different from the aromas; the oloroso tastes nutty like a mix of walnuts, and hazelnuts. There is also a fresh fruit quality to the flavors that remind me of sweet grapefruit and white grape juice.
Finish : The finish is medium long and has a very nutty and slightly doughy character almost like marzipan with the faintest hint raisins and baking spices at the end.
Conclusion: This oloroso is fascinating. The nose and the palate are complex and so drastically different that it makes the drinking experience a little confusing. For this reason I don't know that Oloroso Great Barquero will become a regular staple in my home but it had peaked my interest to try a few other sherries in this style.