Updated: Jan 21, 2021
Cardenal Mendoza Solera Gran Reserva - 40%
When I think Brandy de Jerez, this is the bright yellow label that comes to mind. Only Torres seems to surpass Cardenal Mendoza in terms of US shelf presence. Despite its presence, I haven't seen too many raves, and at $40-$50 a bottle it's not going to get a ton of play in cocktails. I picked this up because it was a slightly older bottling (early-aughts?, $30), and I've been trying to get a feel for what to expect from the category.
This offering is another Solera Gran Reserva (minimum 3 years of aging). Some write-ups suggest that it's actually an average of 15 yrs, but without minimum age statements, Brandy de Jerez age claims are taken with a grain of salt. It's pot distilled and produced from Airén grapes grown in the La Mancha region.
Nose: Raisins. Chocolate. PX. Cheap wood. Mulled spice. It's not very expressive. Quality reads entry level.
Flavor: Some surprising complexity. Sherry. Chocolate. Caramel. Blue cheese. Espresso.
Structure: Thin. Very thin. Mostly linear. With a mild mid-palate kick. Decent length, but the notes are barely whispering.
Alcohol Integration: Nose and structure suffer from dilution.
Score: 4 (Not Complaining) I know I did plenty of complaining above. But the notes are pleasant; the flavors are there. It's just flat and thin. Damningly thin. Even the unexpected complexity can't salvage the structural issues.
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I feel like I'd get more just exploring sherry.
10 - Reevaluate The Budget
9 - Stash Two (If Able)
8 - Stash One (At The Right Price)
7 - Highly Recommend It To Strangers
6 - Solid - Above Average
5 - Acceptable For The Situation
4 - Not Vocally Complaining
3 - Anything Else To Drink?
2 - Nothing Nice To Say
1 - Drain Pour