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 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, typical of Jerez DO, 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. When it dries out it forms a hard layer which prevents evaporation. The reserve of moisture encourages the vine roots to develop, allowing them to access water when needed.
Unusually for modern day Jerez, fermentation is traditional and takes place in 600 litre American oak barrels. After 11-13% 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 wine 'Sobretabla' spends one year in barrel before entering the solera system for fractional blending over eight to ten years, which gives it great complexity and consistency. There are ten barrel stages, or 'criadera', while most Finos have only three. Each stage adds extra complexity to the final wine. The finished Fino, which has an average age of ten years, is drawn from the last barrel, the 'solera'.
Straw-yellow coloured. The aromas are delicate and complex, with notes of almonds and autolysis. On the palate it is savoury, with flavours of green apple, sea salt and toasty yeast. The barrel fermentation adds extra body and structure. Long and persistent.