Cardenal Mendoza Clasico Solera Gran Reserva is a Brandy de Jerez, a brandy made in the Spanish Sherry producing region of Jerez. Brandy de Jerez is aged in a Solera System, a fractional ageing process, more commonly used in Sherry production. Use of the solera ageing process for spirits is quite rare, however it is also used in the production of certain Solera Rums.
Sanchez Romate was founded by Juan Sánchez de la Torre in 1781 and is one of the last family-owned Sherry houses. Over two hundred years later Sanchez Romate is one of the oldest bodegas in Spain and one of the remaining wineries in the Jerez Designation of Origin that remains under independent family ownership. A brandy was first produced in 1887 and it is the fabulous Cardenal Mendoza Solera Gran Reserva which has become the family’s flagship brand, although their Sherries follow closely behind! Regulated under the strict auspices of the Consejo Regulador – the Brandy de Jerez regulatory body – and the even stricter controls of the bodegas of Sanchez Romate itself, the Cardenal Mendoza brand surpasses these regulations with ease, making it one of the greatest and most sought after brandies from Jerez.
Cardenal Mendoza Clasico Solera Gran Reserva begins life much like any other brandy: it is made distilling a basic white wine from the region. After distillation, the new spirit is aged in 250 litres American oak casks for a period of 2 years. This is known as static ageing. The 2 year old brandy is then introduced into the unique dynamic ageing (also known as fractional ageing) system of the criaderas y soleras. At Sanchez Romate 500 litre casks, which have previously been used for ageing Pedro Ximénez (PX) and old Oloroso Sherry wines, are then used to age the brandy. The spirit is then continuously blended though the solera process for many years. So, as the brandy is drawn off the bottom of the solera it is continually being replaced at the top end. The casks are never emptied, so there is always a blending of new and old spirit with the new spirit and the old spirit each bringing their respective character to the brandy. As this is a fractional ageing process, it is impossible to put an age on this brandy, but Sanchez Romate put an average age of around 15 years on their Cardenal Mendoza Clasico Solera Gran Reserva.
From Cardenal Mendoza:
Its appearance is bright, transparent dark mahogany with copper glints.
On the nose it is clean, elegant and well-rounded with hints of the Sherry which seasoned the barrels.
On the palate it is beautifully balanced, warming and smooth while it has a very long finish where all the subtle nuances come together leaving a lasting impression of personality with hints of raisin and prune.
Serve in a large brandy balloon, as a digestif after a meal. This is also a great match for chocolate, try it with dark chocolate with at least 60% cocao.