Valdespino is among few family-owned bodegas in Jerez, and with a history of sherry production going back six centuries, also one of the oldest. Alfonso Valdespino was one of 24 knights who fought for the city of Jerez with King Alfonso X, against the Arabs in 1264. As a reward for his efforts he was given land in the Jerez region. Today Valdespino belongs to the Estevez family, and they own 750 hectares of their own vineyards in Jerez, rare in this region, which allows them close control over grape quality. Their Pago Macharnudo vineyard provides the grapes for their single vineyard wines, which include the Fino 'Inocente', the 'Amontillado 'Tio Diego' and the Palo Cortado 'Viejo CP'. They are one of the only bodegas currently producing single vineyard sherries. Valdespino is also renowned for their VOS (Very Old Sherries) with over 20 years of ageing and VORS (Very Old Rare Sherries), with over 30 years of ageing.
Valdespino's single vineyard (Pago) Macharnudo Alto is located five kilometres to the north-west of Jerez, in the privileged area of High Jerez. It is at 135 metres above sea level, with a south-east aspect and a 10 % gradient. The white 'albariza' soil is typical of Jerez DO, and comes from a layer of earth rich in marine fossils. Thanks to the high content of calcium carbonate, its clayey texture does not split; it is soft when wet and absorbs rain like a sponge, and when it dries out it forms a layer that holds in the water, preventing evaporation. This reserve of moisture encourages the vine roots to develop, some reaching to more than four metres depth, allowing them to use this water reserve when needed.
Fermentation takes place in 600 litre American oak barrels. The fermentation temperature is controlled by not filling the barrels completely, then adding cooled grape must when necessary, to moderate the temperature. Once fermentation is finished, when 13% alcohol is reached, the wine is fortified to 15% and the veil of 'flor' (yeast) appears on the wine's surface, protecting it from oxygen and transforming its components. The new wine 'Sobretabla' spends one year in barrel before being transferred to the 'Solera of Tio Diego' for fractional blending. It spends eight to ten years ageing biologically, during which time around 50% of the 'flor' dies. The wine evolves naturally into oxidative ageing as the Flor dies off (there is no extra fortification to 18%). It achieves a higher strength by concentration and evaporation up to 18%. The average age of the final Sherry is over 20 years at the time of bottling.
An intense amber colour. The nose shows notes of both the biological and oxidative ageing, yeast, bread, but also dried fruits and a hint of toffee, caramel and leather. Very dry, very complex, with a generous body and well balanced acidity.