Alvear Pedro Ximénez Solera 1927
Review: Alvear Pedro Ximénez Solera 1927 87/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Published June 07, 2013
It seems lately, that whenever I am invited to an industry sponsored event, I am asked to try a new rum or whisky which has spent some time in a Pedro Ximénez cask (also called the PX cask and/or the Pedro Jiménez cask). The presence of the PX Cask can be tasted in premium rums like Ron Zacapa XO, as well as in single malt whiskies like the Auchentoshan Three Wood, as both rum and whisky producers have found this to be an excellent oak cask to use during maturation to add sweet raisiny flavour to their spirits. Because of the growing importance of the PX Cask, I thought an examination of at least one Pedro Ximénez wine would be a worthwhile venture upon my website. Fortunately for me, I met Maria Alvear at the recent Pacific Wine and Spirits, 40th Anniversary Portfolio Tasting. Maria is of course a member of the Alvear Family which produces the Alvear Pedro Ximénez family of wines. Maria arranged for me to receive a small bottle of the Alvear Pedro Ximénez Solera 1927 for review upon my website.
Alvear is one of the more prestigious Bodegas (wine houses) in Andalusia (an autonomous region of Spain). The grape varietal upon which the Bodega is built is Pedro Ximénez. This grape is believed to have been imported from the Rhine region (in Germany), and is used as the sole base for Alvear’s sweet, Fino, Oloroso, Amontillado and of course Pedro Ximénez wines. The wine which goes by the name Alvear Pedro Ximénez Solera 1927 is produced from the dried grape (or raisin) rather than from the fresh grape. Harvested grapes are placed upon special grass mats, and slowly sun-dried. The raisins are then crushed into a heavy, dense raisin juice (almost a syrup) which is used as the basis for the wine.
The fermentation and fortification process brings the alcohol level of the wine to approximately 18 percent. This is when the fortified wine is laid down to mature in wine buttes (made of American oak) which have been placed row upon row in stacks called cachones. Each row of wine butts contains wine of the same age. Fully matured wine is drawn from the bottom row which is called the solera. The row above the solera is called the first criadera, the row above that is called the second criadera and so on until we reach the top of the cachones which holds the youngest wine. When wine is drawn from the solera, the wine butts are only partially emptied. They are then refilled with wine from the criadera above them, which in turn are refilled from the criadera above them and so on until we reach the top criadera which is only refilled with fresh wine. This cascading process ensures that the final wine drawn in the bottom row is very consistent from year to year.
The Alvear Pedro Ximénez Solera 1927 wine is matured in a solera which was originally laid down in 1927, and therefore every bottle produced will have a tiny amount of the original wine from 1927.
In the Bottle 4/5
The Pedro Ximénez Solera 1927 is sold in the 375 ml bottle picture to the right. The bottle and the label are adequate for the purpose they serve, but they do not inspire me. On the more positive side, I note that the back label of the bottle has good information about how the wine is made, how you should serve it, and how you should store it. There are even some brief tasting notes which give the consumer a general idea of the flavour profile to expect.
I appreciate the effort on the back label, however, a snazzier bottle and a front label with more pop would help even further to draw the consumer’s attention.
In the Glass 22.5/25
The Alvear Pedro Ximénez 1927 (when poured in the glass) is a ruddy brown colour with a heavy, viscous body. The initial aroma is a reflection of dry fruit (mostly prunes with additional dates and raisins) and dark bittersweet chocolate. As the glass sits I notice building aromas of sweet dark caramel and maple, as well as an underlying impression of walnuts and pecans. There appears to be a bit of spiciness in the breezes above the glass, and perhaps I am noticing touches of marzipan and marmalade meandering within those breezes as well.
The overall impression I receive when I nose the Alvear Pedro Ximénez dessert wine is one of rich decadence.
In the Mouth 43/50
The initial flavour of the wine is sweet, rich, and complex as it crosses the palate with flavours of prunes, raisins, and candied dates taking center stage. There are strong flavours of dark chocolate caramel and maple syrup residing within the sweetness of the dry fruits. I also taste a light spiciness of tobacco accenting all of the flavours. Based upon what I taste, I think this dessert wine would pair nicely with a plate of dark chocolate covered walnuts and almonds coupled perhaps with a nice cigar.
After sampling a glass (or two), my conclusion is that the Pedro Ximénez Solera 1927 is sumptuous, decadent and yummy! The only factor keeping the score from reaching the stratosphere is that the sweetness becomes perhaps a touch cloying. That is the style of this wine of course and as such should not really be considered a flaw.
In the Throat 13/15
A dessert wine as sweet and heavily bodied as this obviously has the clichéd ‘long lingering finish’. Of note within the overt sweetness is a nice lingering spiciness turning the caramel into toffee and gently heating the palate and throat just a little as we sip. Flavours of chocolate and prunes linger the longest.
Final Impressions 4.5/5
The Alvear Pedro Ximénez Solera 1927 is a very nice dessert wine. It can be enjoyed as an after dinner sipper or as an evening nightcap. I even found great enjoyment when I poured a healthy dollop over my vanilla ice-cream. (Even better was when I added some freshly sliced peaches before pouring the Pedro Ximénez on top.)
If you are interested in some comparative reviews, here is a link to all of my Dessert Wine Reviews!
Note: My Wine Scores are computed in the same manner as my scores for distilled spirits. This means that my total score out of 100 is generally lower than what you would see in popular wine rating magazines. (Those magazines appear to have a system which scores almost all wines at 85 points or more.) My system is described below and you may (loosely) interpret my scores as follows:
0-25 A wine with a rating this low would actually kill you.
26-49 Depending upon your fortitude you might actually survive this.
50 -59 You are safe to drink this…but you shouldn’t.
60-69 Substandard swill which you may offer to people you do not want to see again.
70-74 A mediocre wine which will excite no one.
75-79 You may begin to serve this to friends, still rather unexciting.
80-84 Enjoyment begins here.
85-89 Very good to excellent!
90-94 You may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+ I haven’t met this one yet…but I want to.