To produce the Pedro Ximénez “El Candado” Valdespino, after having been raisined in the sun, the grapes are gently pressed and a very concentrated and sugary must is fermented. Given the high sugar content, the yeasts struggle, the ferment is slow and the alcohol content reached is around 4 to 6% before fermentation stops naturally. The PX is then fortified to 17% using grape spirit and is fed into the ‘El Candado’ solera system in the Valdespino bodega. It ages oxidatively in the old American oak barrels for around 10 years, during which time it is fractionally blended through the four different ‘criaderas’.
The Pedro Ximénez grapes for the “El Candado” are sourced from the Montilla-Moriles region, which is further inland and hotter and less humid than Jerez. After having been harvested, the grapes are raisined on esparto grass mats in the sun before they are vinified. The evaporation of water from the grapes concentrates the sugars, acids and flavours.
Valdespino is one of the oldest bodegas in Jerez, with a history of Sherry production going back six centuries. Back in 1264, Alfonso Valdespino was one of 24 knights who fought against the invaders for the city of Jerez with King Alfonso X. As a reward for his efforts, he was given the land that formed the basis of the bodega. Today Valdespino belongs to the Estévez family, who purchased the bodega in 1999. They own 750 hectares of vineyards in Jerez, including the renowned ‘Macharnudo’ Pago. This vineyard ownership allows Valdespino very close control over grape quality. They are one of the few bodegas to make single-vineyard Sherries and are also renowned for their VOS (Very Old Sherry) with over 20 years of ageing and VORS (Very Old Rare Sherry) with over 30 years of ageing.