Review: Matusalem Oloroso Sherry 30 Years Old
Category: Oloroso Sherry
Origin: Bodegas Gonzalez Byass
Bottling: Gonzalez Byass
What they say:
The vineyards in Jerez are unique to the area. The soil in Jerez is majority Albariza, a white soil which contains up to 60% chalk and therefore has a large capacity for maintaining moisture, very important given the long, hot and dry summers as irrigation is prohibited. The area has a unique microclimate influenced by the surrounding Atlantic ocean and rivers Guadalquivir and Guadalete. The prevailing winds are moist and warm, and now and again dry and hot levante winds from north Africa. Temperatures are warm with 70% humidity and annual rainfall is 600 litres/m2. The harvest in Jerez begins mid August and generally lasts for 3 weeks maximum. The Pedro Ximenez grape, although a white grape, is treated slightly differently as it is destined for sweet wines. The grapes are collected from the vine slightly later and they are then sun dried in a process called ‘soleo’ when the grapes bunches are laid out on esparto mats in the vineyard for up to two weeks. During this time the grape loses about 40% of its volume due to evaporation of water which causes concentration of sugars.
The Palomino must destined for Matusalem comes from the first press of the continuous presses so as to obtain slightly more structure and body. Following fermentation to between 11% and 12% alcohol the wine is fortified to 18% alcohol and then enters the Oloroso solera. An empty space of 100 litres is left in the casks so that the wine has a large surface area in contact with the oxygen and therefore undergoes complete oxidisation. The Pedro Ximenez grape undergoes a strong press similar to the process used for making olive oil. The must then begins to ferment although stops at around 7% alcohol due to sugar stress. At this time the wine is fortified to 15% alcohol and then enters into the Pedro Ximenez solera. After ageing separately for an average of 15 years the two grapes varieties are blended, 75% Palomino and 25% Pedro Ximenez. The blend then enters into the Matusalem solera where is will spend a further 15 years.
Matusalem after 30 years in cask has acquired an intense mahogany colour with profound aromas of dried fruits, raisins, spices and mature wood. On the palate smooth and sweet, long and velvety. Matusalem has an interesting bitter sweet finish due to the mix of the sweet Pedro Ximenez and bitter tannins from the oak.
SERVING AND PAIRING
This wine should be served slightly chilled in a small wine glass. Ideal with mature cheeses or blue cheeses such as Silton. Also perfect as a dessert wine with fruit pudding or apple pie.
What I say:
A 30 year old Oloroso base sherry, with just a dash of Pedro Ximenex thrown in to make it extra special – if that wasn’t enough age it for 15 years before and 15 years after blending, producing a fabulous 30 year old!
Umbrous walnut wood
Rich dried fruits, raisins, cherry and berries, much more tannic oak wood, dunnage warehouses, nutty walnut and also a refreshing herbal pine aroma – like freshly dropped pine needles
Slightly thinner than the PX we tried this has much more sharpness and acidity to the fruit, raisins mix with blackcurrants and elderberries, quite earthy and rich but slightly citric, like drinking fruit concentrate, slightly ascerbic with both oak and fresh pine wood notes
Long, woody and fruit but with a sprinkling of chopped nuts
Hard to choose between PX and Matusalem for my favourite, I think the age and balance in this Matusalem tip the balance for me. Looking forward to trying a lot more from this Bodega!