Bodegas Rey Fernando de Castilla is located in the historic centre of Jerez. Its story began with the aristocratic Andrada-Vanderwilde family, who for two centuries provided grapes and wine for the production of sherry in the area. In 1972 Fernando Andrada-Vanderwilde took over some old sherry cellars and brandy soleras from a couple of local bodegas, and changed the name of the company from Fernando III to Fernando de Castilla.
In 1999 Jan Pettersen, a Norwegian with 15 years experience at Osborne, bought the company and also acquired a neighbouring almacenista, Jose Bustamente. He also formed a partnership with a local grape grower to ensure consistent supply of high quality grapes, unusual for the smaller bodegas, who usually have to rely on co-operatives. He decided to focus entirely on high-end, complex sherries - in the process upgrading the bodega to one of the most interesting and highly regarded of the small independent sherry houses in Jerez.
Whilst the company also produces Sherry Vinegar, and their own range of brandies, the Sherries produced here are amongst the finest in Jerez - from the pale, dry and elegant fino to the most unique antique wines.
There are two ranges: Classic, and the premium Antique range. It is the excellence of the Antique range of intensely pure and complex single solera Sherries that has largely driven Fernando de Castilla's reputation as masters in the production and ageing of fine, unblended, untreated Sherries (they do not fine, clarify or aggressively filter any of their wines).
Grapes are sourced from FdeC's partners vineyards in the Jerez district. The soil type is Albariza. Picking takes place in early September.
The wine is made from the first pressing of grapes, this gives a light fresh style. Fermentation takes place at relatively high temperatures to reduce fruit flavour. This makes a very neutral wine which is perfect for the production of sherry. The wine undergoes malolactic fermentation. In the February after harvest the wine is fortified with grape brandy up to 15% abv. Once at this stage the wine is then added to fill 4/5ths of the butt (600-litre casks of oak American oak) in the youngest Criadera (scale) in the Solera (a Solera is the total number of scales which can be from 3 up to 9). The wine then begins its ageing process under flor. Periodically, a portion of the wine in a barrel is moved into the next scale, using tools called the canoa (canoe) and rociador (sprinkler) to move the wine gently and avoid damaging the layer of flor in each barrel. At the end of the series only a portion of the final barrel is bottled. This process is called "running the scales". Only 20% of finished wine can be removed from the Solera in one year. The ageing process of the Manzanilla Solera takes place in Sanlucar de Barrameda and the average age of the sherry is 3 years old.
Pale, straw yellow in colour. Decidedly tangy, yeasty and salty nose. Lighter, crisper and more crackly than its older sibling - Fino. The palate lures you in with soft apple and citrus flavours, then attacks with a savoury nutty tang, and finishes with a salty reminder of the fresh spray of the sea.
Served chilled and try with salted almonds, light fish dishes or seafood tapas, such as tortillas de camarones. One of the few wines which matches smoked salmon.