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 Fernando de Castilla'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 to give 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 then undergoes natural malolactic fermentation, converting harsh malic acid to softer lactic acid. 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 the youngest Criadera in the Solera. The wine then begins its ageing process under flor, a special type of yeast. Antique Fino is carefully selected from the classic fino and is aged for a further 4 years without any movements, except for monitoring the condition of the Flor yeast. The wine is fortified again, prior to bottling and this time, to 17% Alcohol.
Rich and long with greater depth and complexity than a standard Fino - as such Jan refers to this as his 'Winter' Fino! Appealing salty tang and a long citrus finish. Very fresh and pure.
This should be served cool, but not very cold. It pairs well with smoked fish, Spanish charcuterie and mature cheeses. Jan enjoys this with scallops served with herbs and garlic.