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  • Writer's pictureJane Staples

A Taste of Sunshine

Updated: Dec 26, 2020

Last year, I attended an exclusive tasting of Alvear Wines from Spain with a group of sommelier colleagues. We were privileged to have Maria Alvear with us, the Marketing Director and 8th generation direct descendent of the original founding family. Bodegas

Maria Alvear, Marketing Director at Bodegas Alvear

#Alvear, started in 1729, is the oldest winery in Andalucia, located in the hottest and driest region of southern Spain. Bodegas Alvear specializes in wines made from the Pedro Jiménez varietal. Their name symbolizes tradition, dedication and a thorough knowledge of the wine and grape trade.

These wines, although like Sherry in style, are called #Montilla, like the D.O.(District of Origin). This distinguishes them from Sherry wines made in the neighbouring coastal district of Jerez. The soil in Montilla, a region of #Andalucia in southern Spain, is chalky and limestone-based, providing excellent growing conditions for the Pedro Jiménez grape varietal.

The unique characteristic about Montilla is the #Solera system of aging, which involves fractional blending and many rows of barrels. We tasted a beautiful Pedro Jiménez dessert wine, for example, which includes doses dating back to 1927, when that particular Solera system was started.

We tasted Spain’s favourite aperitif, Fino, with its distinctive salinity and dry, refreshing savoury aspects. Typically #Fino is enjoyed before dinner, served very cold, with tapas. It apparently also works well with sushi. Next, we tried Alvear Medium-Dry, which is slightly sweet and fuller-bodied than Fino. It goes well with strongly flavoured foods such as onion soup or spicy foods.

We finished this very informative tasting with two dessert wines, crafted from grapes dried in the sun on grass mats. Aromatic Pedro Ximenez De Añada has a luscious, satiny palate, with flavours of dried fruit, orange rind, dates and hints of rosemary honey. You could serve this with dessert or it could happily be dessert on its own.

This event provided an exceptional opportunity to taste some of Spain’s most coveted wine products. I have to say that if you can’t visit Andalucia at the drop of a hat, this is the next best thing!

If you would like to learn more about this unique type of wine, I recommend visiting the Alvear website:

There is also a website devoted entirely to Sherry and Montilla, run by Ruben Luyten:

Cheers! Happy sipping!

Jane Staples - Accredited Sommelier, Wine and Food Writer 2017

Photo credit, Jane Staples


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