Time for Philo’s Triple Cream “Solera” Sherry
In just two weeks, the old solid wood cellar doors at Rancho de Philo Winery in Alta Loma will be opened to the public for limited sales and tasting of Triple Cream Sherry wine. Bottle and case sales begin November 14th and will end on the 22nd – just in time for holidays.
Proprietors Janine Biane Tibbetts and husband Alan produce their prized sweet sherry on Wilson Avenue in the foothills of Rancho Cucamonga. It is here at their boutique winery that the multi-gold-medal winning dessert wine is created via the Spanish “solera” barrel aging process. It is considered “the finest” California cream sherry by industry experts and connoisseurs alike.
“In all my travels (as educator, winemaker and International judge) I have found some of the best fortified wines in the USA come from the Cucamonga area. They are the closest wines in style and quality to their European heritage. Very high quality wines,” said Australian born winemaker Daryl Groom of Healdsburg in Northern California wine country.
Side note: Groom 2007 Barossa Valley Shiraz just received ’93 Points’ rating by Wine Spectator’s Insider tasting panel.
Rancho de Philo was founded by vintner and wine industry pioneer Philo Biane (Janine’s father) in 1973, after he retired as President/CEO of Brookside Vineyard Co. in Guasti-Ontario. He studied and toured European winemaking countries, visiting several Spanish “bodegas”. “He learned the secrets of making truly outstanding aged sherry, and decided this was a product worthy of ‘retirement’.
Upon his return to Guasti, he started his first solera and the process of producing sherry in the true Spanish style…setting it aside and letting it sleep while waiting that illusive time of retirement,” said Janine.
The traditional “solera” system of fractional blending from a pyramid of oak barrels, results in the finest in aged sherry. The bottom series of barrels is where the oldest finished wine is drawn for annual bottling and replaced with wine from above barrels “criaderas”, of the similar (newer vintage) wine.
“In 1975 Philo made his first small sherry bottling for family and friends only. In 1977 he asked his daughter, Janine to join him and learn the process. Philo passed in 1999 and Janine and Alan became proud proprietors of Rancho de Philo.
“Over the years we have slowly expanded to fifteen soleras. Each year, we carefully draw off a small amount from the lowest level of the soleras to be used in the blend of wine ranging from 12 to more than 45 years of age. The result is a beautiful, complex wine of deep amber color with hints of golden raisins, butterscotch, and almonds,” said Janine.
“Our Triple Cream Sherry is produced from the Mission grape variety which was first brought to California by the missionary fathers in the 1700’s. It has proved its value for 300 years and continues to do so. In Spain, the traditional grape used for sherry is either the Palomino or Pedro Ximinez.”
“Given the sugar content of this wine (13.5%) and alcohol (18.5%), it definitely goes best with desserts. Our preference is to sip it with pies or tarts or custards. It is wonderful with anything made with apples or pears or nuts or mild cheeses,” said Janine. “In preparing these desserts, flavor is enhanced by using a little of the wine. Poach the fruit in the wine before making a pie or tart. Sprinkle a little more over the fruit before baking. Pairs well with fresh fruit and cheese too.”
Sautéing chicken or pork? “Use a little wine instead of (or with) the oil or butter. The very best is to use this wine when cooking onions. No matter how you are going to use the onions, the dish will take on a new dimension. Serving a cream soup? A teaspoon (or so) stirred into it just before serving lends a subtlety to it that is wonderful,” said Janine.
The 2008 blend has earned the following awards;
> 4-star Gold 2009 Orange County Wine Competition
> Gold, Sweepstakes 2009 Monterey International Wine Competition
> Gold, Best of Class 2009 L.A. International Wine and Spirits Competition
> Gold 2009 Dallas Morning News International Wine Competition
> Gold 2009 San Francisco International Wine Competition
> Gold 2009 Pacific Rim International Wine Competition
The 2009 blend will be available at $24.95 per bottle, 2008 blend $34.95, and 2007 blend $39.95. We have a very few bottles of the 2006 blend available for $75.
Rancho de Philo Winery is located at 10050 Wilson Avenue (west of Haven Avenue and Chaffey College) in Alta Loma. Open November 14th through the 22nd, from 9:00am to 5:00pm. Telephone 909-987-4208