Palomino Fino is a green, thin-skinned grape from Spain, that, following the falling pop­u­lar­ity in drink­ing Sher­ry, is being up­root­ed on a large scale in se­ve­ral coun­tries.

Characteristics
This is a variety that thrives on chalk based soils of the kind found around Cadiz in southern Spain.

It is also char­ac­ter­ised by aci­di­ty levels quickly drop­ping when the grape ap­proach­es ma­turi­ty. This, together with a neutral flavour and a proneness to easily oxidise, makes it a perfect choice for a wine maker that wants to produce fortified wine. Sherry style wine is for example produced in California’s San Joaquin Valley, as well as in South Africa (where Palomino is known as Fransdruif, the “French grape”).

Wines
An overwhelming majority of the Palomino Fino production ends up as Sherry or similar fortified wines in other countries.

You can find a dry varietal Palomino Fino in Spain’s Andalusia or in France’s south – Languedoc Roussillon – and south-west – Côtes de Gascogne. Due to low acidity and being a low aromatic grape, they tend however to be anonymous and uninteresting wines.

Food pairing
A dry varietal is nice with a steamed cod, combined with a slightly seasoned sauce. The wine is best served at 8-10°C/46-50°F.

A Sherry or a Sherry-like wine is not what you might expect to combine with food, but the Sherry styles Fino and Manzanilla are surprisingly food friendly. Try them with green olives, anchovies, or charcuterie. Serve the wine at 12-14°C/54-57°F.

Where is it grown?
Palomino Fino is reported to be planted on 22.645 ha/55,956 ac around the world, making it the thirty-eight most planted variety on the planet. It has however decreased with twenty-five percent in the first decade of the twenty-first century. In some countries, the decrease has been dramatic.

The major plantings can be found in Spain’s Cadiz where Jerez is situated (9.250 ha/22,857 ac), in the Canary Islands (3.304 ha/8,164 ac), and the northern Galicia (3.302 ha/8,159 ac). In Portugal, it is found in the north (Altro Tras-Montes) and in the west (Ribatejo e Oeste).

  • Spain 18.836 ha/46,545 ac, MPG 11 (a 32% decrease)
  • Portugal 3.033 ha/7,494, MPG 17 (no area reported in 2000)

Outside of Spain, Palomino Fino is reported to be planted in seven countries. The acreage varies from small to very small.

  • South Africa, 270 ha/666 ac, MPG 24 (an 83% decrease)
  • USA 135 ha/333 ac, MPG 56 (a 58% decrease)
  • France 134 ha/332 ac, MPG 103 (a 69% decrease)
  • Argentina 115 ha/283, MPG 46
  • Mexico 109 ha/269 ac MPG 18
  • New Zealand 14 ha/35 ac MPG 22 (a 33% decrease)

In Australia, none of the 124 ha/307 ac reported in 2000 remains in the statistics of 2010.

History
Palomino Fino is recognised as being native to Spain’s Andalusia region, where it has been documented as early as the sixteenth century. The vast number of synonyms, more than one-hundred fifteen, also indicates that it is an old variety.

Its name is said to derive from a knight – Fernan Ibanez Palomino – who took part in the liberation of Andalusia from the Moorish conquerors. “Fino” is most likely derived from the grape’s thin skin.