Top 5 Sherries
Time to delve into one of my greatest liquid passions … the fortified wines made around the town of Jerez de la Frontera in Andalusia, southern Spain – known as Jerez in Spanish and Sherry in English. If you’re not yet a Sherry drinker, forget whatever you think about sweet cream “sherries” sipped by elderly aunts and open your mind to one of the most exciting and diverse wine categories around. Sherry comes in a range of styles, though most are made from the same white grape, palomino. Following is a very brief overview of the five main categories of Sherry and an introduction to five of the best bodegas whose Sherries are available in Australia (each produces a wide range of styles not just the one shown here). To learn more about their hometown, see my Top 5 Jerez (city guide).
Fino Gutiérrez Colosía
The driest Sherry is aged under a covering of yeast called flor, this prevents it from oxidising, keeping it pale and delicate; wonderful with oysters. Most Fino is produced in the town of Jerez, but Gutiérrez Colosía, in the town of El Puerto de Santa Maria, produces the only commercially bottled Fino del Puerto. Manzanilla, Fino aged in the seaside town of Sanlúcar de Barrameda, is lighter still.
Amontillado Sanchez Romate
Amontillado starts as Fino but is then further aged without flor, allowing it to oxidise and gain an amber colour and deeper, nuttier flavour, though still completely dry. Ideal with hard cheeses. Founded in 1781, Sanchez Romate is today a modern winery practicing traditional techniques to produce delicious Sherries across all styles.
Palo Cortado Gonzalez Byass
The rarest Sherry style occurs naturally when flor dies on Fino and wine oxidises and develops some Oloroso-like characters, tasting somewhere between Amontillado and Oloroso. Great with charcuterie. Gonzales Byass, producers of Tio Pepe, has a VORS (very old rare Sherry) range with an average age of 30+ years.
Oloroso El Maestro Sierra
The palomino juice used for rich, dark amber Oloroso is fuller-flavoured than that used for Fino and is aged oxidatively (without flor) from the outset. Oloroso is dry and nutty, like Amontillado, but with a richer texture and higher alcohol. Delicious with game. Founded in 1830, El Maestro Sierra is an artisanal bodega on the outskirts of Jerez.
Pedro Ximenez (PX) Equipo Navazos
Made from pedro ximenez grapes, PX is an intensely-flavoured, dark, almost syrupy, naturally sweet Sherry with rich, dried fruit flavours. Perfect with chocolate. Equipo Navazos, founded in 2005 by a group of Sherry-lovers, seeks out and bottles small quantities of exceptional Sherry as limited releases.
Keen to know more about Sherry? Listen to my interview with Phillip Clark on Radio ABC’s Nightlife.