A magnificent sea of sherry casks, inside Bodegas Valdespino, one of the oldest bodegas in Jerez. Valdespino use the traditional 'solera' system and are one of very few bodegas still producing single vineyard sherries.
In the solera system, the wine ages in a series of stacked American oak barrels, starting its life on the top row of the 'criadera'. Every year some is drawn off into the barrel in the row below, and the uppermost barrel topped up; this is repeated until the the final product is drawn from the bottom barrel at the end of the cycle. Valdespino use a ten barrel criadera for these sherries.
The criaderas of the acclaimed Inocente Fino solera are ranged on the left of the central aisle, and those of their Tio Diego Amontillado to the right. Both come from grapes harvested at the famous Macharnudo Alto vineyard, one of the highest and driest vineyards in the region, and are recognised as some of the finest of their kind.
Part of Grupo Estevez since 1999, Valdespino painstaking relocated their entire bodega – lock, stock and (every) barrel - in their solera to these purpose-built premises in the early 2000s. Careful regulation of humidity, temperature and airflow is key for any bodega, to maintain the complex climate required to ensure consistency of product and to the support of the yeasts which are key to the distinctive profile of a fino. The aroma of the aged oak barrels and rich, complex alcoholic in this cool and tranquil environment is one of the most divine things one can experience… this is truly a cathedral of wine!