Written by Al Drinkle
We are incorrigible. The trip that Richard and I made to Jerez in southern Spain earlier this year was to acquaint ourselves better with our pre-established Sherry producers - not to add anybody to the roster. And yet somewhere in the cellars of Emilio Hidalgo, we realized that we could not live without these subtle, vital and venerable wines.
Is that not a viable buying strategy? To import wines that, if all else fails, we would be willing to drink in vast quantity ourselves? Besides, this operation based in the heart of Jerez provided a missing link for us – a small-scale, family-run Sherry bodega brimming with history, integrity and irresistible wine. Admittedly, these are not wines that we needed, but the fact that we pursued them anyway proves how badly we wanted them! And as more and more of you learn how rewarding and life-enriching the consumption of fine Sherry wine can be, we’ll be ready for you…
Fernando Hidalgo, one of the fifth-generation proprietors currently at the helm, explained to us that very little has changed at the bodega since its inception in 1874. No flare, no techno-wizardry, just careful handling of fine wine and the resilient patience to let it develop into something more sublime. Even the Olorosos begin their lives with some flor influence (or at least the encouragement of biological development) before each barrel pursues its destiny* and as a result, the Emilio Hidalgo house style tends towards wines of elegance and levity. This is the first time that these legendary wines have been available in Alberta, and we’re proud to be your exclusive source.
Emilio Hidalgo Fino “La Panesa” $68
At 15 years of average age, this is probably the oldest Fino in the region and if I was restricted to one descriptor it would have to be “complete.” It’s an ample and rich wine with such detail, complexity and abundance of flavor that it threatens to transcend the category. In short, La Panesa is an Jerez legend and a wine that no oenophile should deny themselves.
Emilio Hidalgo Amontillado “El Tresillo” $68
I’ve seen this wine labelled as “Amontillado Fino” which makes perfect sense – it’s a lithe and nuanced oxidative wine that’s still haunted by the ghost of its fino past. This also averages 15-years at bottling and is noteworthy for a regal freshness and enticing mahogany aromatics.
Emilio Hidalgo Amontillado “El Tresillo 1874” $118
Even before you consider the superlative aromas and flavors here, this is a wine of staggering importance. The solera for this bottling dates back to 1874 when the original Emilio Hidalgo established his bodega and during the interim, five generations of Hidalgos have lovingly perpetuated it with their own wine. It’s bottled at an average age of 50 years and like any of the world’s greatest mature wines, it couples the complexity and tranquility of benign development with an ageless sense of energy and intensity. Descriptors aren’t futile, but they’re superfluous because the inventory of aromas and flavors that it offers borders on the infinite.
Emilio Hidalgo Oloroso “Gobernador” $40
A 12-year-old wine of beautiful, burnished high-tones of roasted chestnut, autumnal pipe-tobacco and Wuyi Rock tea. Around here we’re used to the delightfully punishing Don Gonzalo Oloroso from Valdespino and though this is less complex, it’s also less assertive and much more appropriate at the table. This is fully oxidative sherry at its most sprightly and playful.