Friday, July 27, 2007

Sherry from Jerez

'A small dry sherry please' said the lady to the barman. He turns to the shelf behind him..takes the half-full (half-empty is maybe better) bottle...produces a tulip shaped 'scooner' glass from below the bar and pours this brownish liquid into the glass. Now..if the lady has been drinking this for years..she is either very limited in her habits..or her taste buds resemble those of the lesser-spotted earth beatle of Goolagunga! You & I would say..yuck..I don't like Sherry!

Sherry can be wonderful..but is rarely drunk outside the wine-trade in the Spain..well..of course it is.

Sherry comes exclusively from the Jerez-Xérès-Sherry D.O. in Andalusia in the south of Spain.
There are various styles............
Finos are bone dry and pale straw in color. They are aged under a blanket of special yeast called flor which gives them a light crisp acidity and snap with a leesy note reminiscent of aged champagne. They should be served chilled..and within 3-4 days of opening....something the lady above will never know...
Then there is:
Amontillados are dry and clear amber colored, although some producers ship them off-dry for the American market. They start their lives as Finos but are given additional cask aging without flor, which adds wood, nut and caramel notes
Then it gets sort of complicated:
Palo Cortados are also dry and clear amber colored, this is the rarest style of sherry, an Amontillado which through very long aging acquires the rich toffee,smoke, milk chocolate, andspice notes of an Oloroso.
Olorosos are dry and range in color from amber to a deep nut brown. They are fortified to about 17.5% and then wood aged without time under flor. They are darker and fuller-bodied and range from bone dry to off-dry
Amoroso / Oloroso Dulce are Olorosos in the off-dry to sweet range and are blended with small amounts of Pedro Ximenez to add sweetness.
Cream Sherries are Olorosos which have substantial amounts of sweet Pedro Ximenez wine added before aging.
Pedro Ximenez Sherries are opaque, brown/black in color. They are made exclusively from Pedro Ximenez grapes which have been allowed to dry on straw mats in the blazing Andalusian sun before being pressed to yield an intensely
sweet essence. Drink these with friends..or spread the bottle out over a period.....this is heady stuff.
One day I will prepare a menu and drink only Sherries throughout the meal.
One of my favourite producers is Lustau....I have drank a few of his sweeter styles..some memorable like

"Solera Reserva" East India Sherry: So named because in the old days the wine would change in the heat and rough handling of shipboard travel to the East Indies, this wine in many ways resembles a Malmsey Madeira, which shares its heated aging process. Figs, caramel, and mocha on the nose linger on the palate as well; expectations of sweetness but kept in balance with a clean finish. This can be kept after opening for months ..believe me....!

And so to the wine which started me off....
Lustau Manzanilla Papirusa Solera Reserve.
Hang on.. you say..Manzanilla..that's not in the list above....
true..cos it is a little different in that it is produced in the
small town of Sanlucar de Barameda.
Manzanillas are a sub-category of Finos and
also bone dry and pale straw in color.
They are made in the same way as other Finos.
They share the same character as Finos too,
except they tend to be somewhat lighter in weight
and more delicate with a distinctive hint of saltiness.

These taste best..where? ..well..obviously in their home area...
is there anything better than a warm evening..some tapas
and a glass of Manzanilla?(there is..lots..but let's stick to the subject)

My two favourite tapas bars are:
El Faro in Cadiz..there is a restaurant..but not for me.. the tapas bar is wonderful have to stand at the bar or sit on a window-sill....they serve cold and warm tapas..and you drink Manzanilla..maybe Hidalgo La Gitana

The other great place is in Sanlucar
Casa Bilbainos..set in the wonderful square in the town....
you over-eat here..cos everything looks good...
you drink more than you should..cos the dry Manzanilla takes over...

The square is always full in the evenings..the buzz gets to you..
this is where I want to stay forever!!!
Oh yes..why I started this
Lustau Manzanilla Papirusa Solera Reserva
Jerez, Spain
As a Reserva.. a little fuller in style than most....
very tangy, clean and crisp with just a hint
of saltiness. I find this improves over a
couple of day after opening...
Points...well..depends where you are.......
at home 16.5..
in Andalusien...
ask me tomorrow on the beach.


Joe said...

I can't wait to see that all-Sherry meal! Amazing how location screws with your scoring. Great post - I am so in the dark on these wines.

Jhon said...

I like the story of
jerez sherry, a famous Spanish wine with awesome taste.