Pio X 1903 from Gonzalez Byass: an ancient Moscatel

gonzalez bayas PIO X

There’s something special about very old wines. While I was tasting through the Las Palmas sherries with Martin Skelton last week, I got a chance to try this remarkable wine, and alongside it as a comparison, the same wine that had been aged in bottle since 1919.

The Pio X hails from a single barrel of wine that was made in either the 1850s or 1860s, before phylloxera hit the region. This wine was made from Moscatel Menudo Blanco (which is Muscat Petit Grains), which was replaced after phylloxera by Muscat d’Alexandria, and was the 2600 litre barrel was dedicated to new Pope Pius X (Pio X in Spanish) in 1903 by current chairman Mauricio Gonzalez Gordon’s great grandfather. The wine wasn’t fortified and had an alcohol level of just 9%.

Over the years wine was removed from this cask, most notably 1000 litres in 1911. After this the odd 50 litres were removed from time to time, but this stopped in 1946. The current bottling is from the remainder of the cask, which by this stage was just 90 litres of incredibly concentrated wine. This was enough for 120 bottles, of which 100 will be sold (expect retail price to be around £1000), and 20 kept.

As well as tasting this wine, we also got to look at the same wine, but bottled back in 1919. Just 14 wines were left, and Gonzalez Byass were sure that 7 of them were Pio X. So it was incredible to compare the journey that the same wine took in cask and in bottle. They are both equally compelling, but different.

Gonzalez Byass Pio X
The release wine, aged for more than 150 years in cask. Super concentrated and very intense with amazingly smooth flavours of raisin and spice, with a hint of treacle. So viscous and smooth and intense. 97/100

The same wine from bottle: 
There’s a freshness here with hints of mint and earth as well as sweet raisins and spice. Viscous and intense with fine herbs and spices. Some leafy detail. Compelling stuff. 97/100

 

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