Barbadillo palo cortado Obispo Gascon in a nutshell
A gorgeous example of the rarest and most mysterious kind of sherry.
The palo cortado is the most curious type of sherry. It’s usually described as an amontillado with the body of an oloroso, but it begins its life as a fino. For some reason, the flor dies back or doesn’t form at all, and the wine begins to age oxidatively. In the past when barrels began to do this, they were marked with a cut symbol, or in Spanish, a ‘cortado’. Palo cortados can also be created deliberately. One producer let me in on the secret: you begin with a delicate Palomino grape, most suitable for a fine fino, then let the wine ferment and age under flor briefly before adding alcohol to kill the yeasts so that the wine ages with air contact.
However they are made, palo cortados run the gamut, from wines that are closer to amontillados in style (just with an extra bit of body), to ones that are almost oloroso in their pungency. The one I’m recommending is definitely in the former category. Age has given it a nose of almost cognac-like intensity, with notes of toffee and hazelnut. On the palate, it’s extremely dry, with more nuts – almonds and hazelnuts – and salty edge. It’s very much like an amontillado, but you get earthy cheese rind notes on the finish that take it into oloroso territory. I’m making it sound challenging, but it’s really not at all. My parents and wife loved sipping it after dinner, and the bottle disappeared very quickly.
It’s produced by the family firm of Barbadillo, founded in 1821 and still in family hands. Based in Sanlucar de Barrameda, it produces a superb range of wines, including the bestselling Solear Manzanilla. In 2014, they released the world’s most-expensive sherry, Versos 1891, for £8,000 a bottle. Happily, the palo cortado Gascón Obispo is rather more affordable.
This wine loves cheese like nobody’s business. A fine old manchego would be just the thing, but that extra body means that it’s great with stilton, too. Also very nice with pâté and cold meat pies.
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This review was last updated in November 2020. If you have any questions, suggestions for future reviews or spot anything that has changed in price or availability please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.