Pedro Jimenez is like drinking a liquidised sticky toffee pudding. It’s that good, but unlike a chocolate bar, it has no added sugar. It’s just made from grapes like any other wine. So how on Earth do they make such a flavourful, delicious wine that feels like bungee jumping on your tongue into a vat of molten toffee? To find out, we must visit Spain in the Springtime.

 

It’s Starts with the Soil

Pedro Jimenez, or PX, grapes are grown on ‘arena’ and ‘barro’ soils. Arena is 70% compacted sand, and 10% limestone with a dash of iron oxide, which is very fertile. Barro is even more productive. It’s heavy clay produces wines full of body, and so already you can see how PX gets to be as thick as sauce.

 

There’s Nothing Rushed About Pedro Jimenez

PX takes its time to ripen. That’s because there’s only 65cm of rain in Jerez every year – which is positively miniscule. You’d be hard pressed to make a pot of tea with it. As a result, PX spends all the livelong Spanish summer photosynthesizing sunshine into sugars and flavour molecules. It’s a high powered grape. There’s even a region, Montilla-Moriles, that’s even hotter and drier, where the thin-skinned Pedro Jimenez is unable to hold onto much of its liquid at all. Consequently, the grapes are like raisiny cherry bombs of flavour.

 

Then Pedro Jimenez Spends Some Extra Time Sunbathing

I wouldn’t mind being a Pedro Jimenez grape. After harvesting, they get to lie out on straw mats under the Spanish sun, and just raisinify. You see as they’ve been separated from the vine, water evaporates from their skins. This concentrates and intensifies their delicious flavours of prunes and molasses.

 

After That, Pedro Jimenez Just Hangs Out For a Few Years

The grapes go through the normal pressing process to make wine. But they’re added to a big pyramid system of barrels called a ‘solera’, where young wine at the top is gradually moved down through to barrels at the bottom, where the more mature wine is. The system ensures that you get the same reliable flavour every time you buy a sherry house’s produce. All of this takes place over a few years with the sherry mingling together and developing its flavours.

 

The Result:

Scrumptious. Pedro Jimenez is so nice I introduced it to my mother. That’s how serious I am about my relationship with it. It’s like the best rum and raisin ice cream you’ve ever tasted but with more dark caramel flavours, and yet it’s not saccharine. It’s a heavy, very full bodied wine which pairs beautifully with pudding.

 

Some Excellent Matches:

There’s some great recommendations in our article ‘Food pairing ideas for Pedro Ximenez’. But remember – what grows together goes together. As a result, you might want to try some Spanish desserts that the local palette created over many years to match the country’s wines.

  • Turron de Alicante y Jijona. This is a Spanish nougat made with honey, eggs, almonds and nuts. Pedro Jimenez is sweet enough to take on that level of sugaryness, and like a champ, still come out on top.
  • Arrope. It feels like PX was made for Arrope. This is a dish of grape must, which as you can imagine has wonderful fruity qualities. If you’re visiting the country, make sure you get your hands on some.

 

A Really Good, Affordable Example:

  • Alvear Pedro Ximénez De Añada. This grapes that went into this particular bottle were so fine that they were made like a conventional wine so that the solera system wouldn’t even out its brilliance. Unfortunately like all good things, there isn’t very much of it. You only get 375ml per bottle, so order yours before it disappears and enjoy something special. Robert Parker gave it 93 points.

 

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