Perched in the Sierra Morena Mountains, about an hour north of Córdoba, sits Bodega Gomez Nevado on the hillsides of a town called Villaviciosa de Córdoba. While the family’s winemaking history goes back to the 1700’s, the bodega has been making sherry-style wines since 1870 and became the first winegrower in Spain to have their vineyards certified organic in 1988. With the Bodega situated more than 200km from Jerez, their vineyards do not fall under any of the three D.O. permitted to make Sherry, thus can not benefit from using the term Sherry. And to be fair, it is different from sherry; the soils are different, the grapes are different, the climate and the winemaking certainly differ. In the Sierra Morena you won’t find palomino dominating the vineyards, nor will you find the chalky, white albariza soil it grows best in. Rather you will find a grape called Airén, with Pedro Ximenez as the runner up, heavily planted in clay and slate soils. The grapes and the soil combined with the harsh continental mediterranean climate means their wines usually get to 15-16% abv without fortification. Bodega Gomez Nevado takes pride in never having to fortify their wines. The result is a richer style “sherry” then we are used to in Jerez. The Gomez Navado 'Palido' which means pale, is their "fino” style wine. The grapes are harvested from 40+ year old Airen, Pedro Ximenez and Palomino vines sitting 300-500 meters in elevation, with Airén making up 60% of the blend. The first press juice is fermented dry and aged in a solera system for an average of 5 years before it’s bottled ‘en rama’ meaning it comes straight from the barrel, with very minimal fining or filtration. The first thing that struck me about the Gomez Nevado Palido En Rama Sierra Morena (375ml) is its color, much more walnut in color than the pale finos of Jerez. The nose is beautiful with notes of roasted hazelnuts and chestnuts, white flowers, rosemary, and a hint of sea salt. As to be expected it is rich and full-bodied but it still has that bright tang from the flor, only its a more roasted tang rather than salty. The flavors are much different than traditional finos, full of umami with flavors of extra virgin olive oil, asparagus and raw mushrooms. A unique wine indeed. It seems they need their own word to describe these wines; while sherry in style, they are certainly different.
I always stress having food with Sherry or sherry-style wines, because they offer so many potential pairings, especially with those classically hard to pair umami foods. Considering this wine is from Andalucía, I decided to make Gazpacho de Andaluz, a classic in the region, to go with the Palido. The key to this simple and delicious tomato based Gazpacho is having exceptional Sherry Vinegar. I suggest the Sanchez Romate Vinagre de Jerez Reserva (375ml) $14.99 that we get from Alexander Jules. Some Sherry Vinegars tend to be too sweet and thick, almost like balsamic, whereas the Sanchez Romate had beautiful acid and intense flavor. The richness of the Palido complimented the acidity of the Gazpacho perfectly, while the acidity brightened up the wine. Seafood also pairs really well with the fino style so I added some sweet big shrimp on the side. Both quite brilliant pairings. I’m always looking for local products to work with sherry styles so I couldn’t resist buying some fresh Armenian cheese from the little Armenian shop on my block to see how it paired. Of course the name of the cheese eludes me, but it reminded me of a cross between a feta and a ricotta salata and it went great with the Palido. LA residents, definitely something to try!!