Toro Albalá

“Mindboggling” Vintage-dated Pedro Ximénez

Toro Albalá should need little introduction as the most significant producer of Pedro Ximénez in the world today. Under the (some would say eccentric) guidance of Antonio Sánchez Romero, in 1970, Toro Albalá was the first Montilla producer to commercialise bottled, dessert-styled Pedro Ximénez. We believe the Bodega also remains the world’s only specialist in 100% vintage Pedro Ximénez. Toro Albalá works with the finest vineyard holdings in Montilla and today houses the oldest and most legendary stocks in the region.

Founded in 1844, Toro Albalá is based in Aguilar de la Frontera, right in the bullseye of DO Montilla-Moriles, the hilly Andalucían hinterland that forms ‘P.X. country’. The DO surrounds the two towns of Montilla in the north and Moriles in the south, both in the Province of Cordoba. In 1922 José Maria Toro Albalá purchased the Estate and made his mark by moving the whole Bodega into a former electrical plant. It was here that José Maria began to write the blueprint for the modern incarnation of Toro Albalá.

The vintage-dated Pedro Ximénez wines represent the most profound and concentrated expressions of PX from the Toro Albalá stable. These wines are incredibly intense, black as pitch and infinitely complex.

Toro Albalá’s old, bush-vine Pedro Ximénez is planted on the bleach-white, chalky albariza soils of the region. This soil type is not unique to Montilla-Moriles—Sherry’s other capitals of Sanlúcar de Barrameda and Jerez de la Frontera share the spoils. However, the combination of these light soils with altitude and the hot, dry climate—one that can sufficiently ripen Pedro Ximénez—set Montilla apart from its maritime-influenced sister regions.

This producer’s reputation lies in the balance of extraordinary sun-ripened richness and depth of old vine P.X., combined with a bright, savoury quality, which never allows the wines to veer into the cloying end of the spectrum. This is managed through strict quality control, from the old vines and great soils, all the way through their very long aging process.

The Bodega’s mindboggling vintage wines are black as pitch, indescribably complex and represent the most profound expressions of P.X. from Andalucía. But Toro Albalá’s offering isn’t limited to their P.X. nectar. Back in the 19th century, when Toro Albalá’s forefather Antonio Sánchez Prieto first started to produce and age wines in the village of La Noria, his emphasis was mainly on Fino wines. This is a tradition kept bang up to date by Toro Albalá’s famous unfortified savoury wines—the Fino en Rama Eléctrico and a stunning thirty-year-old Amontillado.

The Range

Toro Albalá Poley Palo Cortado En Rama 25 Años NV (500ml)
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Toro Albalá Poley Palo Cortado En Rama 25 Años NV (500ml)

Like all sherry-style wines in Montilla-Moriles, even the dry ones, this Palo Cortado is made from Pedro Ximénez grapes. It starts its life as a Fino, then becomes Amontillado as the flor dies and evolves further towards Palo Cortado as the character of the oxidative aging becomes stronger. You could say this wine is selected from the heavier, darker casks of Amontillado.Bottled unfiltered with an average of 25 years, it opens with an intense with tobacco leaves, walnut and hazelnut underpinned by pepper and clove spice and notes of orange peel. The palate is dry with citrus peel and roasted nuts joined by super-fine, moreish savoury texture. It finishes with salty and intense close. It deserves the best jamón you can get your hands on.

Bottled unfiltered with an average of 25 years, it opens with an intense with tobacco leaves, walnut and hazelnut underpinned by pepper and clove spice and notes of orange peel. The palate is dry with citrus peel and roasted nuts joined by super-fine, moreish savoury texture. It finishes with salty and intense close. It deserves the best jamón you can get your hands on.

“Names have changed and all labels are new; they are all named Poley and have a reference to the number of average years the wines have spent in the solera, like the NV Poley Palo Cortado en Rama Solera 25 Años a Palo Cortado, which has 20% alcohol and 25 years of average age. It's nutty, spirity and peachy, with a touch of varnish and a sleek palate, pungent and moderately bitter, very pleasant to drink.”
93 points, Luis Gutiérrez, The Wine Advocate
Toro Albalá Poley Palo Cortado En Rama 25 Años NV (500ml)
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Toro Albalá Don PX 2002 (375ml)
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Toro Albalá Don PX 2002 (375ml)

Toro Albalá reserve select lots of their best vintage wines for later release. These rich and complex Pedro Ximénez wines are destined for very long aging in oak barrels. After filling and sealing, these barrels are left for decades in their single-vintage state. It's during this slow maturation that the wines undertake their delicious, savoury, rancio transformation (through controlled exposure to oxygen) which brings a kind of nutty, iodine character that infinitely complexes the sweet, fruit cakey wine but also gives it added freshness. Naturally, as the wines concentrate in flavour and texture, the colour darkens and the mouth-feel thickens. Vintages are selected for release after a minimum of 20 years in barrel and only when they have attained these classic hallmarks of aged PX. 

“I tasted the 2002 Don PX, which has 17% alcohol and 399 grams of sugar and seems denser and more concentrated than the 1999 I tasted next to it. They are all different degrees or declinations of similar aromas and flavors, such as dates, raisins, coffee and espresso coffee. This comes through as balanced and tasty, not too sweet.”
93+ points, Luis Gutiérrez. The Wine Advocate
Toro Albalá Don PX 2002 (375ml)
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Toro Albala Don PX Seleccion Luxury 1980 (200ml)
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Toro Albala Don PX Seleccion Luxury 1980 (200ml)

The museum releases of vintage-dated Pedro Ximénez wines represent the most profound and concentrated expressions of PX from the Toro Albalá stable. Produced by the first two generations of Toro Albalá, the Convento Selección bottlings represent the very finest, oldest and rarest selections from their inventory, while the Selección wines were vinified by the second generation and Antonio Sanchez Romero—third generation and current head of the estate. The Ginés Liébana label is reserved for older lots that have been purchased and raised by Toro Albalá. Its ‘current’ release (1937) has been maturing in their Aguilar de la Frontera cellars since 1960.For those who have not had experience with PX of this age, these wines are incredibly intense and infinitely complex. These are very different from the younger blended examples—not only in their complexity but also in their heightened savoury nature. Luckily, only small serves are required of these elixirs, and they will keep for months—even years—once opened, provided they are stored carefully (at cellar temperature for added longevity). They are a rare treat on a degustation menu or at the end of a meal. The Amontillado and Palo Cortado present as very intense aperitifs, while the PX wines are pretty much the ultimate pairing for chocolate, coffee, or any dish loaded with these ingredients.

17% ABV. “The 1980 Don PX Selección is said to come from a warm and dry year that favored the raisining of the Pedro Ximénez grapes. This has lots of candied fruit and spice and combines the 17% alcohol with a whopping 340 grams of residual sugar. This aged in American oak butts until its bottling in September 2018. It surprised me with a complex and somewhat savory nose, reminiscent of bitter chocolate, licorice and roasted coffee, carob beans and black pepper. It’s super concentrated, dense and pungent, with a savory component, meaning the sugar is not as noticeable as you might think. It came through as complex and layered, very complete and intense.”
97 points, Luis Gutiérrez, The Wine Advocate
Toro Albala Don PX Seleccion Luxury 1980 (200ml)
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Toro Albala Don PX DB Selección Luxury 1980
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Toro Albala Don PX DB Selección Luxury 1980

The museum releases of vintage-dated Pedro Ximénez wines represent the most profound and concentrated expressions of PX from the Toro Albalá stable. Produced by the first two generations of Toro Albalá, the Convento Selección bottlings represent the very finest, oldest and rarest selections from their inventory, while the Selección wines were vinified by the second generation and Antonio Sanchez Romero—third generation and current head of the estate. The Ginés Liébana label is reserved for older lots that have been purchased and raised by Toro Albalá. Its ‘current’ release (1937) has been maturing in their Aguilar de la Frontera cellars since 1960.For those who have not had experience with PX of this age, these wines are incredibly intense and infinitely complex. These are very different from the younger blended examples—not only in their complexity but also in their heightened savoury nature. Luckily, only small serves are required of these elixirs, and they will keep for months—even years—once opened, provided they are stored carefully (at cellar temperature for added longevity). They are a rare treat on a degustation menu or at the end of a meal. The Amontillado and Palo Cortado present as very intense aperitifs, while the PX wines are pretty much the ultimate pairing for chocolate, coffee, or any dish loaded with these ingredients.

17% ABV. “The 1980 Don PX Selección is said to come from a warm and dry year that favored the raisining of the Pedro Ximénez grapes. This has lots of candied fruit and spice and combines the 17% alcohol with a whopping 340 grams of residual sugar. This aged in American oak butts until its bottling in September 2018. It surprised me with a complex and somewhat savory nose, reminiscent of bitter chocolate, licorice and roasted coffee, carob beans and black pepper. It’s super concentrated, dense and pungent, with a savory component, meaning the sugar is not as noticeable as you might think. It came through as complex and layered, very complete and intense.”
97 points, Luis Gutiérrez, The Wine Advocate
Toro Albala Don PX DB Selección Luxury 1980
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Toro Albalá Poley Amontillado en Rama 35 Años (500ml)
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Toro Albalá Poley Amontillado en Rama 35 Años (500ml)

21% ABV. A textured wine of salty, nutty intensity and great finesse, this old Amontillado is drawn from a solera laid down in 1922. Like all of Toro Albalá’s wines this is made from 100% Pedro Ximénez grapes. The average age of the wine when bottled is 35 years old (five more than required for VORS in Jerez) and, remarkably, at 21% ABV, the wine has not been fortified. The ripeness of the fruit sugars at picking, then the natural evaporation that occurs with such long aging, account for the natural alcohol level in the wine. It is a lovely, driven, spicy, nutty and smoky Amontillado with a generous, pulpy, glycerol-rich personality and a complex finish that has a twist of quinine and bitter coffee.

It is a lovely, driven, spicy, nutty and smoky Amontillado with a generous, pulpy, glycerol-rich personality and a complex finish that has a twist of quinine and bitter coffee.

“Names have changed and all labels are new; they are all named Poley and have a reference to the number of average years the wines have spent in the solera, like the NV Poley Amontillado en Rama Solera 35 Años a Amontillado. It has 21% alcohol and 235 years of average age, 15 years under flor and the rest topped up in an oxidative way. It's salty, sharp and pungent, with flavors of saltpeter, iron and iodine, finishing dry, long and with a salty twist. It's pungent, complex and very long.”
93 points, Luis Gutiérrez, The Wine Advocate
“Sharp, roasted almonds and lots of iodine. The nose has intense hints of ashes and I love it. Accompanied by caramel. Its overall profile is about complexity. On the palate, it has a lot of tension, freshness, and an explosion of flavours that grows even further. It is a wine that is very noble and that lasts very long. Salinity and power. Exciting.”
18/20 points, Ferran Centelles, jancisrobinson.com
Toro Albalá Poley Amontillado en Rama 35 Años (500ml)
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Toro Albalá Poley Oloroso En Rama 15 Años NV (500ml)
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Toro Albalá Poley Oloroso En Rama 15 Años NV (500ml)

17% ABV. From a solera approaching a century of production, this rich yet almost fully dry Oloroso averages 15 years of age.It’s fleshy, with a round and velvety texture and a long, vibrant finish. Unfortified again, the nose throws hints of caramel, orange rind and toasted almonds. The palate is mellow and super-complex, with lively freshness and complex flavours of quince, bitter orange and loads of brown spice and tobacco notes. The finish is long and iodine-rich. Perfect to drink on its own or sensational with almonds, charcuterie and very mature cheese.

It’s fleshy, with a round and velvety texture and a long, vibrant finish. Unfortified again, the nose throws hints of caramel, orange rind and toasted almonds. The palate is mellow and super-complex, with lively freshness and complex flavours of quince, bitter orange and loads of brown spice and tobacco notes. The finish is long and iodine-rich. Perfect to drink on its own or sensational with almonds, charcuterie and very mature cheese.

“The color is a bright orange, and the youthful nose is redolent of dry apricots, toffee and walnuts. Medium- to full-bodied, velvety, it has the telltale toffee and caramel flavors of an Oloroso. The strong bitter note makes an appearance again in the finish.”
90 points, Luis Gutiérrez, The Wine Advocate
Toro Albalá Poley Oloroso En Rama 15 Años NV (500ml)
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“[Toro Albalá]… own 45-ha of vines and may be small, but the wines are exemplary. The international fame of the bodega probably rests on the quality of its fabulous old PX dulces, including legendary vintage wines...” John Radford, The New Spain

“Above all, [Antonio] Sánchez’s philosophy is to showcase the appellation of Montilla-Moriles. He achieves this not only through the sweet Pedro Ximénez wines for which the region is famous, but through other traditionally-styled wines of notable class and character.” Liem and Barquín, Sherry, Manzanilla and Montilla

“Toro Albalá from Montilla-Moriles keeps releasing small lots of very old vintage-dated sweet Pedro Ximénez and this time I also tasted a couple of dry, old, vintage-dated Amontillados of mindboggling quality.” Luis Gutiérrez, The Wine Advocate

Country

Spain

Primary Region

Montilla-Moriles, Andalucía

People

Winemaker: Antonio Sánchez

Availability

National

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