Palo Cortado is a bit of a rarity in sherry. Generally, once the solera master has set each wine on its course, towards fino or oloroso, that's it.
But occasionally a fino will up and change in some mysterious fashion. The layer of flor which keeps oxygen out and allows the fino to retain all of its initial fresh delicacy dies, and the wine begins to age oxidatively, like an oloroso. If all goes well, you end up with a wine which shows aspects of both fino and oloroso character.
I am happy to report that all has gone well, and the Lustau Dry Old Palo Cortado NV (Marks & Spencer) offers flavours and aromas across the dry sherry spectrum.
It has the intense pungency of a fresh fino - the aldehydic note, not the apples - but at the same time, and in a tidy fashion, the contrasting aromas not fighting each other, it also smells very nutty, with even a little dried fruit character.
Absolutely dry, and light in body, with a clear nutty character giving way to a strong mushroom streak, and finishing slightly salty. And there's a definite edge of aldehyde, too.
The wine really didn't agree with a piece of rocquefort, but nut cake (from Delizique, I think) was a beautiful match. An excellent wine, 4+.