Gonzalez-Byass Tio Pepe Palmas - Diamonds In The Palm Of My Hand

Gonzalez-Byass’ Tio Pepe Fino is probably the most famous brand name in Jerez. In a move born of equal parts genius artistry and marketing hype, Gonzalez-Byass created the Tio Pepe Palma series.

Just about everything about Sherry is a factor of how much flor, the local yeast responsible for the Sherry’s styles and flavors, coats the barrels (or butts or botas) in the winery. Also, how fine the flor is. The cellar masters mark the quality of the wine in a barrel by scratching lines indicating quality. Enough lines and you have a palm or palma. Barrels marked with one palm, uno palma, are rare, dos palma even rarer and so forth.

The Palmas series are Finos bottled directly from barrels marked uno palma, dos palma, tres palma. To add to the excitement - or hype - Gonzalez Byass enlisted famous wine writers and Sherry afficiandos to help select the botas each year.  

These palma botas are the engine room of a Fino solera. They are especially pungent and bitter and salty at once, all the qualities that novices have a rough time adjusting to. The Dos Palmas, bottled in 2019, shows a complex, detailed, deeply intense nose with dust, oranges, roasted cashews. The palate is robust and a little round, long with just a hint of sweetness.

The Tres Palmas might well be the best Fino I’ve ever had. The intensity, especially of the nose, takes it to an other-worldly plateau, but it’s coupled with focused precision of expression and aristocratic finesse. The palate is the pure expression of Fino and so vibrant it feels as though I’m drinking it straight from the butt (it was bottled in October 2020, so it’s fairly recent). The Dos Palmas is basically a world class musician riffing on an acoustic guitar; the Tres Palmas is her plugging into an electric and coolly trading licks with the band.