Rey Fernando de Castilla is a sherry bodega with passion for providing wines of the highest quality. Started by an important family in Jerez, the Andrada-Vanderwilde family, that has been involved in the wine industry here for over 200 years. This family took over some very old sherry and brandy cellars to focus on Brandy production in the 1960s. It wasn’t until 1999 that a Norwegian who had fallen in love with Sherry, Jan Pettersen, purchased the bodega, and shifted the company's focus to Sherry. He expanded the bodega’s sherry production with the purchase of many old soleras from the neighboring and esteemed almacenista Jose Bustamante, turning Rey Fernando de Castilla into one of the best independent sherry houses. While most of Pettersen’s wines qualify for the age dated VOS or VORS status, he does not believe in this system. Instead, his line of high-end sherry is called the “Antique Collection.” He has an Antique Fino (a bottling I highly recommend trying) that’s an average of 8-9 years old and resembles the traditional style richer finos that existed back in the early 1980’s when Petterson first came to the Sherry triangle. The Antique collection is always bottled unfined and often minimally filtered and see extended aging in the cellar showing incredible maturity, expression and skill.
I recently had the pleasure of drinking a bottle of the Antique Palo Cortado that my boyfriend bought me for my birthday...he knows me so well! Palo Cortado, the unicorn of Sherry styles, is always a mystery. Maybe that is why it is the rarest of Sherry styles, and perhaps the most celebrated. There are a couple of things we can surmise about a Palo Cortado, it was once aged biologically, like a fino, and for some reason or another refortified and sent to spend the rest of it life aging oxidatively. For what reason, why or how this decision is made, is often unknown and unregulated. In fact the Consejo Regulador says it only to be “the existence of certain very specific characteristic,” but that characteristic is never mentioned. Another commonly offered definition is that it has the aromas of an Amontillado and the palate of an Oloroso. However it has come about, I’m happy it did, especially this one. The Rey Fernando de Castilla Palo Cortado $59.99 is over 30 years of average age with both tremendous aromatics and flavors. Aromas of cocoa, roasted chestnuts, tiramisu, and nutmeg beam from the glass. The palate is bright at first, showing it’s years aged under flor with a beautifully tangy acidity, lemon rind and burnt orange peel. The palate turns to flavors of almonds, mocha and espresso on the finish. Potentially, the finest example of Palo Cortado that exists. Sherry lovers, if you haven't tried this bottle yet, what are you waiting for?