Updated: Jan 22
Gran Duque D'Alba - Solera Gran Reserva - 40%
A relatively new brand, Gran Duque D’Alba launched in 1945 and repackaged to this decanter bottle in 1973 as they expanded their global distribution. Looking up info on this brand gave me a nice primer on Brandy de Jerez which needs to be produced in the sherry triangle (the wine for distillation may come from outside this region), aged in 500 liter American oak casks that have previously held sherry, and utilize the solera method of aging. This expression uses a solera system with 10 criaderas (a group of barrels comprising one stage of progression in a larger set of barrels - each group of barrels is progressively older). The distillation uses Palomino and Airen white wines. Currently bottlings contain 17g sugar/liter (I'm unsure how much sugar is in this older bottle). Distillation proof is 65%. Designated as Solera Gran Reserva, Gran Duque D'Alba has a minimum average age of three years.
This bottle has a laser code on it reminiscent of late 90s laser codes and the bottom of the bottle sports an 02 so I imagine this is an early-2000s.
Nose: Caramel. Blue cheese. Chocolate covered strawberries. Fresh lumber. More blue cheese. Coffee. Digging it.
Flavor: Simplified version of the nose. Caramel. Blue cheese. Oxidized sweet vermouth. Young wood. Not cloying. Sherry notes really deepen.
Structure: Briefly heavy from the sugar. Dries out with a short finish and oxidized and tannic notes.
Alcohol Integration: Decent clarity and action. Transitions can be choppy.
Score: 6 (Solid) If it wasn't for the blue cheese note I'd be very ho-hum about the experience. But that note on the palate and nose are enough to keep me interested. It may even be enough to get me to grab the last two old bottlings as a conversation pour. This version doesn't read as sweet to me as the bottling Steve reviewed HERE.
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6 - Solid - Above Average
5 - Acceptable For The Situation
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1 - Drain Pour
Source: Gran Duque D'Alba