There’s something about Sherry…

May 29, 2014

There's something about Sherry...

If you follow my blog, you’ll know I love making sure that all types of wine get the attention they deserve. Not every style of wine is a crowd-pleaser, but each has its pleasures and its enthusiasts. Sherry is one of those wines that keeps a low profile, perhaps because when it does make an appearance people are very vocal about their opinions, both positive and negative. I certainly respect that such a rich and intense experience isn’t for everyone, but sometimes I wonder if people realise the interesting options that exist beyond Nanna’s bottle of  Harvey’s Bristol Cream… you guessed it – you’re just about to find out everything you never knew you wanted to know about Sherry!

Just as Champagne can only come from Champagne, there’s only one region in the world that can produce Sherry. The name Sherry has been protected since 2010 and Sherry can only be produced in a specific ‘triangle’ of Spain, between Jerez De La Frontera, Puerto De Santa Maria and San Lucar De Carramenda. Australian producers now call their Sherry equivalents ‘Apera’. Sherry (and Apera) makers use a blending system called Solero, which involves a tiered system of mixing newer wine with older wine. The richness of a Sherry blend comes from the aged wine, while the young wine contributes freshness of taste. A sherry bottle will often display a year and this indicates the age of the oldest wine in the blend, for example: Solero 1927. I’ve come across a Solero 1830 in my time and I’m sure there are many even older. The grape varieties used to make Sherry are Pedro Ximenez, Moscatel and Palomino, the last variety being the most widely used.

So, what are these wonderful Sherries I have promised you? Let’s start with the dry varieties. Though often a neglected choice, dry Sherry is a perfect aperitif, perhaps paired with roasted almonds with rock salt and paprika. As an accompaniment to a first course we have successfully served it with a broth. Dry Sherry can partner with any dish as long as the flavours are balanced, tapas being the natural example. Regardless, it MUST be served chilled.

  • Manzanilla is a pale coloured, dry, salty delight that explodes in your mouth with a distinctive chamomile flavour.
  • Fino is also pale, but is a more neutral tasting dry Sherry, with a slight saltiness and an earthy, raw almond or chestnut flavour.
  • Oloroso is amber in colour and slightly richer in viscosity and taste. It has a nutty, dried almond character.
  • Amontillado is a medium dry Sherry, nutty like the Oloroso, but with a quality of lightness closer to the Fino.
  • The Paolo Cortado could be described as a cross between the Fino and Amontillado.

 

On to the sweeter varieties and most people are familiar with the cream Sherries, which live up to their reputations as rich and sweet (sounds like the perfect dating site profile). Commercial blends and online dating aside aside, the not-so-hidden treasure of Sherries is the Pedro Ximenez. Like a Christmas cake made of treacle, it boasts lush flavours of figs and raisins and its viscous goodness goes with everything from chocolate to churros. It’s such a popular and loved choice around the world: celebrity chefs cook with it, tapas bars serve it, try it and you will be drawn in by its luscious and surprising taste. Not convinced yet? When I served Pedro Ximenez with a dense New Norcia chocolate cake to my extended family at Christmas, we agreed it beat our other tipple, the famous Penfolds Grandfather, hands down.

One final, very important note: once opened, the drier Sherries such as Manzanilla and Fino should be consumed within 2-4 days of opening, after which they begin to lose their freshness. The sweeter Pedro Ximenez, similar to other fortified wines such as Muscat, can be kept for a much longer period of time after cracking the seal… if you can resist the temptation.

My Special Blog Offer – Please note this offer has now finished. Please see my latest blog post for the current offer available.

To give you the opportunity to explore the various exciting Sherry styles, I am offering two different blog specials this month:

1. Alvear 3 pack
This pack includes three of the styles described in the blog, allowing you to discover, compare and enjoy a variety of Sherries.

The pack comes at the special price of $100.00 and consists of one bottle of each of the following:

•    Alvear Fino 750ml
•    Alvear Amontillado 750ml
•    Alvear Pedro Ximenez Solero 1927 Dulce Viejo 750ml

2. Alvear 2 pack of Pedro Ximenez

At the special price of $90.00, the PX indulge twin pack contains one bottle each of:

•    Alvear Pedro Ximenez Solero 1927 375ml
•    Alvear Pedro Ximenez Solero 1927 Dulce Viejo 750ml

Both Pedro Ximenez’s  have material from the Solero 1927, the first bottle contains older material and the second contains younger material. If you purchase this pack you have the chance to really understand the effects of the Solero process – can you pick the difference in intensity between these two wonderful Sherries? Please share your experiences in the comments!

My Special Blog Offer – Please note this offer has now finished. Please see my latest blog post for the current offer available.

- Ann Marie,

La Vigna

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