Let’s get one thing straight. Bodegas Alvear does not make sherry. It makes wines that taste a lot like sherry, look a lot like sherry and are as good as any sherry we have ever tasted, but these are wines from Montilla, a two and a half hour drive north east of Jerez.
Warmer and further inland, Montilla is the kingdom of Pedro Ximenez and the grape is used for both dry and sweet wines. The sweet wines are the most famous; thick, sticky, treacle-like wines. Alvear’s Solera 1927 (which contains wine from before the Wall Street Crash) tastes like all your Christmases have arrived at once.
Their C.B. Fino, which is made under the same flor yeast you find in Jerez, is a delight. The big difference between the C.B. and a classic Fino sherry is the warmer climate in Montilla means the flor is thinner and its flavour is less marked. The climate also means that the wine does not need to be fortified to reach the magic 15% ABV. The result is an extraordinary wine; unmistakeably Fino but unlike anything else on the market.
What truly sets them apart from the rest is their range of dry PX wines. Take everything you think you know about the grape, and throw it out the window. The 3 Miradas is a true reflection of the Sierra de Montilla land, where they express terroir in light, unfortified wines. Fermented and left for eight months in large cement jars under a veil of flor, then aged in botas (the traditional barrels in the area), the resulting wines are dry and zesty with pure fruit characteristics – rather different to the sherry-style wines for which Alvear is famous.