About the Producer
Valdespino is a tiny crown jewel of a winery that exists within a much larger wine and spirits company called Grupo Estevez. The goal of the winery is to use all the possible resources of the company to make some of the finest, most distinctive and artisinally-produced Sherries that are available today. This "spare no expense" approach applies to everythng from the entry-level Finos and Manzanillas all the way up to their uber-rare and amazingly complex VOS and VORS wines that hearken from ancient and well-kept soleras.
The origins of this historic bodega date back to 1264 when Don Alfonso Valdespino, one of 24 Knights responsible for expelling the Moors from Jerez, was rewarded for his efforts by the king, granting him land in the city of Jerez. And thus began Bodegas Valdespino! The estate was purchased most recently by Grupo Estevaz in 1999.
Today, Valdespino is unique in the world of Sherry for 3 main reasons: The vineyards, the winemaking, and the length of aging.
The heart and soul of Valdespino, of course, is its vineyards. They are the only sherry house to make a series of wines from a single vineyard, called Macharnudo Alto. This parcel is considered one of the “grand crus” of Jerez because it is located at the highest altitude and on pure Albariza soils (bright white chalk). The single-vineyard Macharnudo wines are also considered part of the Grandes Pagos de España, an elite group of very special vineyard sites throughout Spain, and Valdespino is the only sherry house with this status.
In addition, all Valdespino wines are barrel-fermented in used oak and also allowed to decide their destiny naturally (biological vs. oxidative aging)! Almost all the houses in Jerez do the fermentations in stainless steel and inoculate the Flor to produce wines of a particular style. They are also one of a few estates that take the solera system to the extreme going way beyond DO minimum regulations for all the categories. As an example Fino sherry is required to have 2 criaderas(nursery levels of the solera) and the DO average tends to be 3 – Valdespino’s Fino Inocente has 10 Criaderas! This additional aging, of course, gives the wines an additional level of complexity, texture and concentration.
When it comes to food and wine pairings – sherry has a lot to contribute. One unusual aspect in this regard is that biologically aged wines (those aged under veil of flor) possess umami. This savory/earthy taste characteristic is very pronounced in the biologically aged wines of Valdespino because of not only their natural winemaking techniques but because the wines are aged well beyond the average for their peer group.
About the Wine
First of all, Inocente is of one only Fino wines still to be fermented in wooden casks, 600-liter American oak butts. Moreover Valdespino is using indigenous yeasts, whereas since the 1970’s all other bodegas have been using stainless steel fermentation tanks and many of them switched to cultured yeasts. While these modern techniques are less labour-intensive and result in a more consistent fermentation, they also takes away a bit of the traditional character and the diversity of a large array of casks.
Fino Inocente is quite a unique Fino, for different reasons. Bodegas Valdespino is one of the oldest bodegas in the area, and they stick to traditional methods. The Inocente name was trademarked in 1894 but it had been in use much longer. Originally it was the name of a specific vineyard in the pago Macharnudo.
Grape / Blend
Palomino, Fino Sherry
Winemaker's Tasting Notes
Yellow straw-colored, medium intensity. Pungent, delicate and complex with almond notes and autolysis. Soft entry on the palate with a round smooth feel and structure; lots of volume and character as well as a fresh and saline taste.
94 Points - Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
As with many other wines from the José Estévez group, there is a special bottling of Valdespino's flagship NV Fino Inocente in magnum, but in this case they have kept the bottles for six months as the wine is from the saca otoño 2016, the autumn bottling from 2016. So the wine is offered with some extra bottle age. It has all that you expect from Inocente, a long aging wine fermented in bota from grapes grown exclusively in the Macharnudo Alto vineyard and bottled with an average age of ten years. All the textbook aromas and flavors are there, coupled with the elegance and mineral intensity the Macharnudo white chalky soils provide. Customers who purchase one of this scarce magnums probably know Inocente already. This will have a longer development in bottle. Only 600 magnums were filled in the autumn of 2016.
94 Points - Wine and Spirits
Inocente is one of the only Fino Sherries (and perhaps the only one) that still follows the tradition of fermentation in wood. The slow exposure to oxygen as it ages in barrels increases the wine’s aromatic complexity, the notes fanning out beyond salt and citrus toward herbs and smoke. It feels tense and firm, driven by electric acidity, ready for tapas, like boquerones or fried baitfish.
93 Points - Decanter
A textbook Fino. A single vineyard wine, this is the last remaining Fino to be fermented in oak butts. It is aged for some ten years yet carries its age very lightly. This is superbly complex - think salted Marcona almonds and tangy green olives, with a thrillingly dry character.
Product size: 750ml