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Cardenal Mendoza Solera Gran Reserva Brandy de Jerez

Cardenal Mendoza
Solera Gran Reserva
Brandy de Jerez


By Robert Plotkin

It's something that just a decade ago pundits would have considered highly improbable. Nevertheless sales of Spanish brandies worldwide now exceed those of Armagnac, one of the revered brandies of France.

The most celebrated appellation of Spanish brandy— Brandy de Jerez— is located in the southwest province of Andalusia, the same region renown for its Jerez-Xeres Sherry. Brandies de Jerez are hot commodities with aficionados because of their lavish bouquets and lush layered palates. They are quite unlike another brandy. Perched firmly atop the category is Cardenal Mendoza Solera Gran Reserva Brandy de Jerez.

Founded in 1781, the prestigious house of Sánchez Romate devoted its first century perfecting Cardenal Mendoza, an exquisite Solera Gran Reserva brandy, the highest designation bestowed on a Brandy de Jerez. Its production begins by aging pot-distilled grape spirits for two years in oak casks used previously for Pedro Ximénez and old Oloroso wines. At that point, the young brandy is deemed ready to become a part of the bodega's solera, the region's traditional method of maturing Sherry.

Among the legendary benefits of solera aging is maintaining the continuity of the brandy's character and preserving its noble lineage, which means that critically acclaimed Cardenal Mendoza has changed little since its debut in 1887. The luscious brandy has a luminous, dark mahogany hue, richly textured body and a rapturous bouquet of toffee, cinnamon, bittersweet coffee and plump raisins. Equally tempting is its complex, sherry-influenced palate of plums, caramel, spice and roasted nuts. The finish is long and sophisticated.

If you're looking to swoon over an incomparable spirit, the smart money is on Cardenal Mendoza Solera Gran Reserva. It's an sensational brandy at a remarkably affordable price.