Claiming to be the smallest, and unequivocally one of the smallest bodegas in the Marco de Jerez, Viña Santa Petronila is within a stones throw of Jerez , surrounded its own old vine albariza vineyards in the Pago Macharnudo. Norwegian Brita Hektoen and her Spanish husband Agustín are the current custodians of this Casa de la Viña, catering for events and accommodating guests, alongside operating a working bodega where they produce superb but extremely limited wines.
Santa Petronila claim to be the smallest, and unequivocally are one of the smallest bodegas in the Marco de Jerez sherry producing region. Established in the 18th century by Fletcher Ivison, who named it after his wife Petronila Pastor, the bodega is now in the hands of Norwegian Brita Hektoen and her Spanish husband Agustín, who operate it as a Casa de la Viña. Alongside operating a working bodega, they teach visitors about sherry production from vineyard to bottle, and also cater for many different events, from tastings and dinners, to flamenco and artisan classes. Brita and Agustín have kept the house traditional while sympathetically updating it with modern facilities, including a salt water swimming pool, and can accommodate up to 24 guests.
Within a stones throw of Jerez, Santa Petronila is surrounded their own vineyards, 3 hectares of pure albariza planted with old vines in the Pago Macharnudo. The vineyards are harvested by hand, then the wines are fermented in barrel, putting them amongst a select few bodegas who choose not to ferment in stainless steel. The bodega doesn’t have its own bottling facilities, so the wines are contract bottled by Esporsil. Santa Petronila produce a Fino, Amontillado, Oloroso, Pedro Ximénez, and occasionally blend the latter two into a Cream, with all being bottled En Rama. They take a maximum of two sacas from each wine every year, each saca limited to 300 individually numbered bottles. Brita and Agustín’s Fino En Rama is aged for an average of 8 years, with this saca taken on 2nd December 2016, and my bottles numbered 117 and 118. On the same day the Oloroso and Pedro Ximénez were blended to produce only 200 bottles of the Cream, my bottle numbered 43.
Many thanks go to Helen Highley for making these stunning wines available in UK through her business Sherry Boutique, who have a number of retail stockists. Be quick as these wines are extremely limited, and Helen has only a tiny allocation of the Cream, so contact her directly if you’d like any.
Santa Petronila Fino En Rama
Appearance Medium brassy lemon gold, with some noticeable specks of sediment.
Nose Immediately quite mature and musty smelling, there’s notes of stagnant rusty water melding with dusty oiliness that nods towards Palo Cortado. Soft overripe citrus balances the maturity with some fruitiness, bringing to mind squeezed orange leftovers and slightly past its best lemon flesh. Herbaceous notes of sage and thyme are thrown into the pot, with just a hint of minty eucalyptus in the background.
Palate Bitter soft yellow grapefruit citrus and green hazelnut, with only mild acidity, compensated by more bitter peppery underripe green olive oil and lemon juice. Hazel and acorn nuttiness, and earthy notes of wild forest mushroom, give this a little weight, along with textural cabuzuela lees. Subtle flor character, with fine sea sea crystal and chalky albariza minerality further underpin the structure, followed by a lasting finish.
Conclusions Superb. Rather an aberrant and impetuous character, this has maturity and intriguing complexity, contrasted by a youthful and lively facet to it’s personality.
Santa Petronila Cream En Rama
Appearance Coppery reddish brown, surprisingly fresh looking for Cream.
Nose A squirrel’s been at work here, this has a whole stash of nuts! Hazelnuts, brazil nuts, walnuts, with fresher green almond, unroasted coffee berries and peppery cocoa. Unmistakably creamy notes of coffee and orange liqueur chocolates, slightly spirity brandy butter, burnt toffee, and is that a hint of fried bacon fat?
Palate Heaps of orange zest, dried and candied peels, cinnamon and succulent raisins, with roasted hazelnuts and fresh brazil nuts. Unroasted coffee cherries, dried blueberries and cranberries, and gooseberry tartness give a bright acidity that helps keep this from becoming at all cloying. There’s sweet grapey muscat glossiness, with lactose softness on the palate, and hints of black peppery spice. In a word, coffee and orange cream liqueur chocolates in liquid form.
Conclusions Outstanding. This maybe hasn’t the complexity of a great Amontillado or Oloroso, but manages an astonishing balance of sophistication, opulence and freshness.