Fino Perdido Sanchez Romate in a nutshell
An unusual style of fino, closer to how such sherries tasted in the 1950s.
Here’s an interesting wine. First, a bit of a sherry styles recap as it can all get a bit complicated. Most sherry is aged in a solera. This is a system of barrels containing different ages of wine. Every six months or so, wine is taken out of the oldest barrels for bottling or blending, these are then topped up with wine from the next oldest and so on until the youngest barrels are topped up with young wine. This ensures consistency and means that the wine contains quantities of very old wine, guaranteeing great complexity of flavour. Sherry age statements, like 10 or 15 years, are therefore approximations.
Now, a fino is a style of wine aged under a layer of yeast called ‘flor’. This flor protects the wine from oxygen, keeping it fresh and pale. The flor cannot live on wines older than about 12-15 years, as they lack the nutrients the yeast needs. When the yeast dies, the wine then ages with oxygen contact, becoming what is known as an amontillado. An amontillado is an aged fino. But an old fino can take on some of the characteristics of an amontillado, despite being aged continually under flor.
Which brings us onto this wine, called Fino Perdido. It’s produced by one of the oldest houses in Jerez. Sanchez Romate has been around since 1781. The name means ‘lost fino’ and it comes from a small solera called Celestino, made up of 15 barrels. Most finos are bottled with an average of 5 years, here, the age is closer to 8, meaning you have a richer, darker wine. It is also bottled with very little filtering. According to someone in the trade, this is much closer to how finos used to be in the 1950s, before the industry was modernised and heavy filtering came in. The result is something with all the refreshing qualities you’d find in a fino, but with a little funkiness. It’s more full-bodied, with a taste of brown apples. It’s a fascinating style of wine which really takes you into the cellars and explains the ageing process to you. It’s also extraordinary value, with beautiful 19th century-style labels.
Great with seafood, prawns on the grill, and richer shellfish such as crab. Also excellent with hard, salty cheeses and cured ham. It’s a tapas maestro.
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