Sherry vinegar is a perfect combination of sweet and sour, it’s warm tones lend depth to cooked beans, lentils and punch to vinaigrette’s. We carry a number of sherry vinegars and the Alvear vinegars are some of the best. Alvear S.A. was established by Don Diego de Alvear in 1729. It is still owned and run by the Alvear family, and is the oldest winery in the region. The fino from Alvear is one of the most popular finos produced. It is from these same soils and these same grapes, the Pedro Ximénez (PX) grape, that the sweet and dry vinegars of the Alvear estate are made.
The PX grape is the queen of the Montilla-Moriles Denomination of Origin, and the workhorse of the Alvear vineyards. While most sherry vinegar is made from Palamino grapes or a combination of Palamino and PX, Alvear is 100% PX. ThePX is an early grape. Due to the high temperature of the summer in the southern part of Spain, the harvest takes place at the end of August or beginning of September, one month before the rest of Spain.
The PX grape is also extremely high in natural sugars. For the sweet vinegar the grapes are left on the vine to become quite ripe, they are then transferred to mat to further concentrate their flavor. The sweetness comes from this concentration of flavor not any “noble rot”. The grapes are pressed and the production of the wine goes through a sherry like process, being blended over a period of several years. The vinegar PX (sweet) is made from this concentrated wine.
For the dry PX the same grape is made into a wine called Montilla which is almost like an Amontillado sherry. This is also the base for the dry PX wine. At Alvear, they claim the flavor of the Montilla wine/vinegar is better than its rival Amontillado because of the type of airborne yeast that resides in the moist soil. The mother (the vinegar starter) is from a batch left over from the grand matriarch grandmother of the Alvear family, which is kind of amazing.
Give them a try!