July 2016 - Wine of the Month
How often do you smell something that takes you back to a moment or a person that you loved long ago? Oozing with dried prune, fig and caramel flavours, Gonzalez Byass Nectar PX is a heady wine which will evoke your most loving memories. Nectar seems such an appropriate name for this wine, given its mouth-coating sweetness and treacly texture. It pours ebony in the glass and has complex flavours of caramel, dried fruits, figs, mocha and spice. Let us see what its origin is.
Pedro Ximénez (also known as PX and many other variations) is the name of a white Spanish grape variety grown in several Spanish wine regions, but most notably in the Denomination of Origin (DO) of Montilla-Moriles, in Andalucía. Here it is used to produce an intensely sweet, dark, dessert sherry-style wine. The grapes are dried under the hot sun (in a style similar to straw wine production), concentrating their sweetness, and then they are used to create a thick, black liquid with a strong taste of raisins and molasses. It is usually fortified (a fortified wine is a wine to which a distilled spirit has been added) and aged in solera, which is a process for ageing wine and other beverages by fractional blending in such a way that the finished product is a mixture of ages, with the average age gradually increasing as the process continues over many years. In the case of Gonzalez Byass Nectar PX, the estimated period of ageing is 8 years.
Regarding the origin of these grapes, DNA evidence has shown that Pedro Ximénez is an offspring of the Arabic table grape Gibi, and a half sibling of Alarije grape. In 2007, it was also confirmed that the table grape Corinto Bianco cultivated in Italy is a seedless mutation of Pedro Ximénez.
What you probably don't know is that Pedro Ximénez grapes have also thrived in Western Australia's Swan Valley since its introduction there by James Busby in 1832, due to the hot climate growing conditions and rich soils. In Australia, Pedro Ximénez is known under the synonym of Pedro and has been historically used to produce unfortified, sweet sticky wines infected with noble rot and labelled as "Pedro Sauterne" (in reference to the French dessert wine Sauternes).
Another curiosity is that when the casks used to age Pedro Ximénez Sherry are retired, they are often sent to Scotland and Ireland, where they are used to age fine whisky. Single malt whisky aged in sherry casks is regarded by some as a special category. The sweet Pedro Ximénez wine infused in the wood of the casks imparts some of the flavour and aroma of the wine to the whisky during the ageing process. In the whisky industry the taste of the Pedro Ximénez is very sweet. Most of the whiskies are just finished after maturation in other casks. The Pedro Ximénez sweetness is often combined with a smoky peat flavour.
Coming back to the object of this article, Gonzalez Byass Nectar PX is a dark golden cream sherry, which reminds of well-ripened fruit (raisins, dates, dried figs), caramel and fine wood. It is a full bodied wine, with a long finish and a very pleasant aftertaste. To fully appreciate its delicate aroma, it is recommended to serve it in a small tulip shaped glass to half the capacity. You can enjoy it at any time of the day, and it is also the perfect match for any sweet dessert. I am sure you will fall in love with it.
Alcohol Content: 15.0%
Residual Sugar: 370 g/l
Serve at room temperature: 16 ºC.
Average price: 8 € - 10 €.
You can find it in any specialised wine shop and also on the Internet (www.ideavinos.com, www.vinorema.com, www.elcorteingles.es).