A special bottle of Fino Sherry produced to mark the marriage of Doña Pilar and Luis Gomez in 1967, making this a Fino with 50 years in bottle. Would I want to drink the entire bottle, possibly not? Nevertheless a fantastic experience demonstrating how much potential biologically aged sherries have to develop in bottle over half a century.
This curiosity was something picked up at auction recently for a modest amount. Described as a special bottle of Fino Sherry produced to mark the marriage of Doña Pilar and Luis Gomez, which as a private labelling, very likely was never released for general retail sale.
Printed on the label is the following text:
“Especialmente embotellado y ofrecido por los exportadores del vino de jerez con motivo del enlace matrimonial de s.a.r. la infanta doña pilar de borbon y borbon con el excmo. sr. d. luis gomez-acebo duque de estrada”
Translated into English:
“Specially bottled and offered by exporters of sherry on the occasion of the marriage of H.R.H. the Princess Doña Pilar de Borbón y Borbón with the Hon. Mr. D. Luis Gómez-Honourable Duke of Estrada”
Some further digging fleshes out the story a little, though mostly educated guesses. The people in question, Doña Pilar was the sister of King Juan Carlos I and aunt of the current Spanish King Felipe VI. She married Don Luis in 1967, provoking minor scandal that the groom didn’t possess royal blood. This was presumably bottled not long prior to the wedding, making it a Fino with 50 years in bottle. I’m told the shipping bodega probably used the same wine as for their standard bottling, typically a good example its type, which would have been supplied by one of a number ageing bodegas.
Appearance The bottle looked in good condition, though there’s no information on how it was stored. I was surprised to find it stoppered with a familiar plastic T stopper cork, though I’m told this was normal. Unsurprisingly the cork disintegrated on attempting to remove it, so the wine was strained through a sieve. Pouring a deep tawny colour, with slight cloudiness and small specks of black sediment, a little off-putting, though to be expected after 50 years.
Nose Traces of the original flor are immediately noticable, with the wine’s Fino roots remaining in tact. Rich marzipan, dried apricot, shriveled, dried out almonds and soft chamomile, typify a mature Fino character, while bitter dried orange peel, brazil and walnut shell express an alter Amontillado ego. Quite distinct from either category, markedly mature wet woody notes, musty and cobwebby, prompting a little apprehension as to what the palate holds in store.
Palate Wow, remarkably drinkable. Intensely dry, with more prominent bitterness than typical young Fino, though the wine’s Fino signature remains easily discernible. Superbly integrated, with Marsala like glycerol richness, minus the glossiness. Brazil nuts, dried and bitter orange zest, clove and cinnamon spice. Wonderfully persistent finish.
Conclusions Noticeably oxidative and a little challenging, though plenty enough charm sticking around to enjoy a glass or two. Shared amongst a number of fellow sherry geeks. Would I want to drink the entire bottle, possibly not? Nevertheless a fantastic experience demonstrating how much potential biologically aged sherries have to develop in bottle over half a century.
Many thanks to the esteemed Paula MacLean for her expertise and opinion in building the story behind this wine, on which details have been rather elusive.