Pedro Ximénez: Millbrook's Best Kept Secret
Have you tried the Millbrook Limited Release NV Pedro Ximénez (also known as the nectar of the Gods!) yet? Made using the incredible solera ageing method, this is a deeply golden, sweet, silky-smooth drop, bursting with toffee, apricots, raisins and roasted hazelnuts. The blend from a few years ago was awarded 97 points in the Halliday Wine Companion… and some say this current blend is even better!
Read on to discover what Pedro Ximénez is and how it is made below!
So, what is Pedro Ximénez?
Pedro Ximénez (also known as PX) is a naturally sweet, fortified wine made from (you guessed it!) Pedro Ximénez grapes.
Hailing from the Andalusia region in southern Spain, PX is a famous Spanish sherry.
The variety was first brought to Australia in 1832 and it is now grown across Australia, most notably in the Swan Valley and Perth Hills in WA; Rutherglen in Victoria; and the Barossa Valley in South Australia.
How do you pronounce Pedro Ximénez?
Did you know that in Spanish, the letter 'x' can be pronounced like an 'h' in English? Try the following pronunciation for PX: ped-ro him-meh-nez.
How is Pedro Ximénez made?
Grapes are left on the vine much longer than other varieties and are harvested with very high sugar levels (usually around 20 to 24 Baume). The fruit is then allowed to dry out in the sun in a process aptly called 'asoleo' in Spanish or 'sunning' in English. This process effectively produces raisins and intensely concentrates the sugar, acid and flavours within the grapes.
The grapes are then pressed, and the sweet must (freshly pressed juice) is fortified before being transferred to a solera ageing system.
What is fortification?
Fortification is the process of adding distilled spirit (usually grape spirit such as brandy) to wine. The resulting wines have a higher alcohol content compared to normal table wines, often reaching 17 to 20% ABV.
Examples of fortified wines are sherry, port, vermouth and madeira.
The fortification process means that the sweet PX juice does not undergo fermentation. It is instead transferred to a solera system to age before being blended.
What is a solera ageing system?
A solera ageing system is a blending and maturation technique which produces consistent, high-quality non-vintage wines every year by staggering the ageing process across a number of barrels. See the image below for a diagram of this system.
This system typically consists of a tier of stacked barrels arranged in separate groups from oldest to youngest. These groups are called 'criaderas' in Spanish.
The oldest barrels (called 'solera') are usually located at the bottom of the solera system and contain the wine which will be bottled.
Once the bottled wine has been drawn from the bottom barrels, they are topped with wine from the next group of barrels containing slightly younger wine. This group will then be topped from the next group of barrels and so on. The final, youngest group of barrels will be topped with wine from the most recent harvest of PX grapes.
It is important to note that during this process only a small volume of wine will be removed from each barrel, ensuring a staggered ageing process. Bottling and topping will also usually occur several times a year to maintain this consistent, fractional blending.
Millbrook’s solera ageing system is well established and now in its 18th year. The system yields a PX wine that has complex and mature flavours (from the older wines) and a fresh crispness (from the younger wines).
How do you serve Pedro Ximénez?
Best served cold (between 12 to 15 degrees Celsius), PX is a match made in heaven with cheese, fruits and decadent desserts - particularly chocolate flavoured treats!
For a traditional pairing try 'arroz con leche' or rice pudding with raisins and cinnamon!
“The latest blend of the Millbrook PX is an expressive fortified wine, exhibiting rich aromas of raisins and toffee. The wine has a luscious, generous palate of caramel, creamed honey, dried fruits and chocolate pastry.
"This is a highly anticipated wine each year. Loved equally by the winery crew and customers, with the limited stock allowing us to make the most of blending small, cellar-aged fractions from our 'solera' barrels.”
- Winemaker, Emma Gillespie
Shop the Millbrook Limited Release NV Pedro Ximénez here.
The Solera System