The Great Sherry Tasting
Level Two, Oxo Tower Wharf, Bargehouse Street, London SE1 9PH
The Great Sherry Tasting is an annual event organised by Sherry Wines UK. The UK remains the most important export market for sherry and it is pleasing to see sherry enjoying somewhat of a renaissance in the UK and attracting a younger audience.
The event was held at Oxo2, Bargehouse Street, London on Monday, 12 September 2016 and there were 22 importers representing 30 producers showcasing around 200 sherries.
Additionally, 3 masterclasses were held during the course of the day featuring an in-depth session on the history, climate and geography of the region, sherry and food matching, and the sherry landscape in more detail. A mixologist was on hand to create a selection of classic and contemporary sherry cocktails which demonstrated sherry’s versatility.
With too many wines to experience in one day, I decided to focus on one of my favourite styles of sherry – Palo Cortado.
Palo Cortado wines combine the delicate nose of Amontillado with the body and weight of Oloroso. They tend to be aged for many years and as such, develop really incredible and complex flavours of rich creamy caramel, roasted nuts, bitter orange, coconut, dates and figs. They make an excellent table partner for nuts and aged cheeses, but are equally at home with rich stews and hearty casseroles.
Palo Cortado wines are produced from very fine must which is initially fortified to 15% abv and aged under flor, the thin layer of yeast which forms on the top of sherry wines to protect them from oxidation whilst ageing. These wines would ordinarily develop into Finos or Amontillados. In the case of Palo Cortado, the flor dies, the wine is re-fortified to 17% abv and the sherry continues to age oxidatively like an Oloroso.
Some Palo Cortado wines that impressed are below:
Bodegas Rey Fernando de Castilla
The bodegas of Fernando de Castilla are located in the centre of Jerez. They produce a wide range of brandies, sherries and rare sherry vinegars, with their “Antique” range having won numerous awards and representing their flagship collection.
Fernando de Castilla Antique Palo Cortado - I have to confess to already being a huge fan of the “Antique” range from Fernando de Castilla and this wine in particular did not disappoint. Orange peel and marmalade on the nose, followed by dried fruit, figs and prunes on the palate providing just a hint of sweetness before the long dry finish.
The main winemaking facilities of Lustau are located in Jerez and Lustau is the only winery to produce wines in each of the 3 cities of the Sherry triangle, namely Jerez de la Frontera, El Puerto de Santa María and Sanlúcar de Barrameda.
Palo Cortado Cayetano del Pino – This excellent Palo Cortado has an average age of 20 years old and the Solera comprises only 22 casks. The wine is bottled “en rama” with no filtering or stablisation and is very rich, complex and full bodied with an incredibly long finish.
Lustau Palo Cortado VORS – Another stunning Palo Cortado with an average age of 30 years old. This tasted like liquid honey with roasted nuts and a hint of dark chocolate.
Valdespino is one of the oldest wineries in Jerez and was acquired by Grupo Estevez in September 1999. One of the things which make this bodega unique is that it produces the only sherry wine fermented in oak barrels, rather than stainless steel.
Palo Cortado Viejo C.P. – A single vineyard Palo Cortado from their "Macharnudo Alto" vineyard. This has pronounced aromas of honey, orange peel and nuts, followed by a very full bodied and fruity body with dates, figs and prunes.
Palo Cortado Cardenal VORS – A huge, very powerful Palo Cortado made from carefully selected wines with an average age of 60 years old. This is simply beautiful, very bold, intense and incredibly complex, with a very long finish.
Bodegas Tradición is a new bodega located in Jerez, founded by Joaquín Rivero in 1998. It is however the successor of the oldest winery in Jerez - Bodega CZ, J.M. Rivero – which dates back to 1650.
Palo Cortado Tradición VORS - This Palo Cortado was made from a special selection of wines aged for many decades in American oak. It has a very delicate nose and an incredibly smooth palate with a long dry nutty finish.
Hijos de Rainera Pérez Marín
Bodega Hijos de Rainera Pérez Marín was founded in 1852 and is located in Sanlúcar de Barrameda. It is most famous for producing Manzanilla La Guita, the signature wine of the bodega. The bodega owns several other small soleras and has collaborated with Equipo Navazos to release small quantities of wines from these soleras.
La Bota 52 de Palo Cortado “Sanlúcar” – This very delicate and relatively young Palo Cortado was sourced from grapes from a single vintage in the Pago Miraflores in Sanlúcar de Barrameda. It is unusual in the way that it displays minerality from the coastal vineyards of Sanlúcar from where it is sourced and despite its youth, it has plenty of honey and nutty aromas and flavours.
I would like to thank Sherry Wines UK for bringing together some old (familiar) and new (at least for me) faces today and for providing such a wide range of sherries to taste. Considering how much care, time and attention and goes into producing these wines, sherry remains very competitively priced in the UK and there really is a style to suit all moods and foods. Try it now – don’t wait till Christmas!
Copyright of suerayuncorked.com - September, 2016