Sherries from Emilio Hidalgo – La Panesa, El Tresillo & El Tresillo 1874

Emilio Hidalgo’s story begins in the 1860s, and notably some of these soleras from the 19th century remain in use today. A card game played by generations of the Hidalgo family, the story has it that players used to sneak a copa from the solera of the family’s oldest Amontillado before dealing each round, and so it became known as El Tresillo. The solera of the La Panesa was started in 1961 to commemorate the birth of the Hidalgo brothers first nephew, named after a vineyard they once owned, the label calls it a Fino Especial, referring the strikingly long 15 years ageing under flor, making it one of the oldest Finos available today.

Emilio Hidalgo La Panesa Especial Fino

Bodegas Emilio Hidalgo’s story begins in the 1860s, after Jose Hidalgo Frias invested in several sherry soleras, before being joined in 1874 by his nephew Emilio Hidalgo, formerly a businessman from Antequera, Malaga. Emilio took the helm of the business, storing his wines in the bodega owned by his brother in law Raimundo Garcia Vega. These two men had married sisters Ana and Josefina Lopez, whose family owned the Santa Ana and El Bote vineyards in the Pago Carrascal. Emilio soon expanded the firm’s vineyard holdings to 140 hectares in the Pagos Añina and Carrascal, though in common with many bodegas in the region, these have since been sold in order to concentrate on work in the winery. The firm now buys in ready fermented musts from several regular suppliers, which have sometimes already been fortified.

Serious tasting note face: Yours truly tasting Emilio Hidalgo’s El Tresillo & El Tresillo 1874 at El Guitarron de San Pedro in Jerez

When Raimundo died without any children Emilio inherited his estate, and at the beginning of the 20th century, acquired the old Bodegas Molina Calle Clavel from Servando Álvarez Algeciras. This bodega was built in the late 19th century with traditional construction, of thick walls and high ceilings, with a central patio, dampened albero floors, few and high windows covered with esparto grass covers letting fresh air in while shading the sunlight, providing the cool and humid conditions ideal for maintaining the flor and ageing sherries.

The firm saw local success as an almacenista, and by the 1920s had established an office in London and was venturing into international markets. By 1935 brothers Juan Manuel and Emilio Martin Hidalgo had taken over the running of the family business, succeeding in opening markets in Europe, the USA and Japan. As family members have come and gone, the bodega’s name has changed several times, since 1970 known as Emilio M Hidalgo & Cia. Today the company remains in family hands, cousins Juan Manuel, Emilio and Fernando representing the fifth generation of the Hidalgo family. Formerly a lawyer, Juan Manuel deals with finance, Emilio acts as general manager, and Fernando handles export. Manuel Nieves remained the capataz at the bodega for 40 years, being succeeded by his son Jesus upon retiring several years ago.

The bodega remains committed to its legacy of quality and of producing wines that defy ever changing fashions and commercial demands. Notably some of these soleras from the 19th century remain in use today, producing exquisite and fantastically complex wines, indeed that continue evolving and gaining in complexity to this day.

Emilio Hidalgo Especial Fino La Panesa

The solera of the La Panesa was started in 1961 to commemorate the birth of the Hidalgo brothers first nephew, Alfonso Rodriguez Hidalgo. Named after a vineyard they once owned, the label calls it a Fino Especial, referring the strikingly long 15 years ageing under flor, making it one of the oldest Finos available today. While most wines this old would have turned to Amontillado by this age, a little flor still remains, preserved by carefully watching the humidity and temperature, which are maintained by keeping the solera in the most humid part of the bodega. The 7 criaderas of La Panesa’s solera are refreshed from only the best butts of Hidalgo’s basic Fino solera in only very small sacas and rocios, and though not explicitly bottled En Rama, undergoes only the lightest of filtration before bottling in several yearly sacas.

Emilio Hidalgo La Panesa Especial Fino

Appearance Bright brassy gold.

Nose Wow, a fantastic kaleidoscope of aromas initially bewilders the senses. Heaps of yeasty flor character at the fore, with lemon mustiness, white peppercorn and mustard seed. Notes of buttered toast meld with loads of almond and macadamia nuttiness, then salted almonds. There’s marine, saline hints of quayside and sea air, followed by clean synthetic engine oil, and a touch of implied glyceric sweetness. Subtle lychee and tzatziki cucumber fruitiness gives further depth.

Palate Heaps of yeasty flor character again stands out, with salty olive brine, anchovies, and salty sourdough bread. Hazelnut and green almond are thrown into the cauldron along with toasted almonds and buttered burnt toast, then there’s past their its lemon flesh and zest, and just a hint of lemon sherbet. Now qualifying for a free bus pass, the acidity’s become a little dulled, but the memory of youth’s still fresh, making for a fantastically well rounded and integrated personality, an old gentleman who will happily linger reminiscing for hours.

Conclusions Especial Fino indeed. Fabulous roundness and integration, with tremendous multi layered complexity, mature but with traces of youth remaining. Outstanding.

Emilio Hidalgo El Tresillo Amontillado Fino & Amontillado Viejo 1874

Emilio Hidalgo El Tresillo Amontillado Fino & Amontillado Viejo 1874 at El Guitarron de San Pedro in Jerez

Emilio Hidalgo also bottle two Amontillados, both from the same solera started in 1874, soon after the bodega was established. A card game played by generations of the Hidalgo family, the story has it that players used to sneak a copa from the solera of the family’s oldest Amontillado before dealing each round, and so it became known as El Tresillo. El Tresillo Amontillado Fino begins with roughly 8 years biological ageing, before 4 to 5 further years ageing oxidatively, drawn from the third criadera of the solera at an average 15 years of age. El Tresillo Amontillado Viejo 1874 comes from the same solera but is bottled from the oldest butts at an average 50 years of age.

The El Tresillo Amontillado Fino shows bright rusty, autumn orange. Giving brazil nut shell and hazelnut, tanned leather, cinnamon and clove spice, and sinewous woody tannins, with a core of sour orange juice. Outstanding.

El Tresillo Amontillado Viejo 1874 appears a more reddish, rusty brown colour. More walnut on the nuttiness spectrum, with a little hazelnut, and old polished hardwood furniture. Clove studded dried out oranges, pimento pepper spice, sinewous woody tannins and leathery texture, layered complexity. Just stunning.

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