WHEN SOMEONE ASKS “WHAT IS PALO CORTADO?”
Palo cortado is an oxidatively aged sherry wine characterized by its finesse and elegance on the nose, similar to that of Amontillados, and by the structure and strength it displays on the palate, which are similar to those of Olorosos.
MAKING AND AGEING PALO CORTADO
It could be said that the Palos Cortados of the past simply “happened” in the winery.
In the old days, when the wine fermented butt by butt and was classified purely by nosing, it was highly possible for there to be notable differences from one butt to the next, either due to temperature or humidity, or even to the precision with which the wines were fortified (“encabezado”). What used to happen was that after the cellar master had classified a butt for the first time as suitable, on account of its organoleptic properties, for making Fino, he would draw a line on the butt in chalk. This was the “palo”, or “stick”. If when tasting from the same butt later he noticed that the hoped-for layer of ‘flor’ had not appeared on the surface of the wine, the cellar master would then draw a chalk line across the “palo” that had marked this butt as potential Fino, to indicate that that was not going to happen and that the wine would instead become a “palo-cortado”, or “cut stick”.
These days it is highly uncommon that a wine just “occurs” in such a way: wine-making equipment and tasting are one hundred percent efficient and do not accommodate such haphazard assessments. Now, making Palo Cortado is based on a series of selections, made at every stage of the process, starting with the vines and the care deployed in pressing and processing the must, through to the ageing in the winery. The selection of the butts in which the Palo Cortado is to age in the cellars is of course an extremely important part of the ageing process. Practice today is to select very fine musts, early free run juice, as these should produce elegant Palos Cortados.
Tasting note for Palo Cortado
Chestnut or carob brown in colour, displaying a broad range of subtle aromas, combined with notes typical of Amontillados and Olorosos, together with citrusy (bitter orange), lactic and buttery notes. On the palate these wines are rounded and full-bodied with a long finish, however, on the palate they still show a different elegance and finess compared to Olorosos.
How to drink Palo Cortado?
As it is aged oxidatively, it is a full-bodied wine that pairs well with rockfish, grilled vegetables and well but not too strongly flavoured dishes. It is also a good match for gelatinous meat, strongly flavoured meat, any dish you can eat with a spoon, classic aperitifs, sausages, salami and mature cheese
Recommended serving temperature: 9-10º C.
At González Byass, we have traditionally produced exceptional Palos Cortados made through the Criadera and Solera System such as Leonor, as well as vintage Palos Cortados that have set the bar globally, and limited editions such as the XC Palo Cortado “de ida y vuelta” bottled this year to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the first circumnavigation of the globe.
XC Palo Cortado “de ida y vuelta”
To find out more, immerse yourself in the different types of Palo Cortado in this video with Antonio Flores.