Wine: Have a very Sherry Christmas!
Sherry is a fortified wine made in Spain’s sherry triangle near the Andalusian towns of Jerez de la Frontera, Sanlúcar de Barrameda and El Puerto de Santa María. The soil in this region provides the perfect growing conditions for the Palomino, Pedro Ximénez and Moscatel grapes used for making sherry wine. Sherry has been made for over 3,000 years and for the most part in the same way that it is today.
Sherries are aged in barrels where they are exposed to both natural yeasts and oxygen throughout their lives, giving them a wide range of flavours, from dry salinity to nutty toastiness, to unctuous dried fruits. Fortification takes place after fermentation with any sweetness being added later. Most styles rely on a Solera system of aging in which barrels of sherry are partially emptied and replenished, making each bottle a near-infinite blend of vintages. The flavour possibilities of the Solera system are endless.
Although we may think of Sherry less with food than our Mediterranean neighbours, it is very versatile and pairs beautifully with many dishes. Because of the broad range of styles that Sherry offers, from the drier Fino’s with tapas or light fish, to the nuttier Amontillados (think Gazpacho!) and through to the dense, indulgent and dessert perfect match Pedro Ximénez, there is a sherry to suit each stage of a meal. In terms of value, measure for measure Sherry is really good value. Drier Sherries can last up to a week in the fridge, the sweeter ones can be held for up to a year so although the initial investment may be higher than wine, they last much longer.
Christmas is a lovely time to gift or be gifted Sherry or indeed Port. The holidays allow us some time to experience new tastes and flavour with family and friends so no harm in putting a new Sherry or Port on the Santa list. I guess Santa may want a drop too mind!
Here are a few suggestions.
Lustau Fino Porto Fino – Made from the Palamino grape, aged underneath a veil of yeast called flor, these are the lightest Sherries, dry, nutty, and a bit salty like the ocean surrounding them. A serving temperature of between 4°C and 9°C is suggested. Perfect with salty snacks and tapas - think olives and anchovies.
Lustau Pedro Ximénez San Emilio - from the grape that bears its name, Pedro Ximénez grapes are laid out in the sun after picking until they are practically raisins. After that the fermentation starts slowly and is then halted to maintain all the natural sugars. The resulting wine is aged for many years. It is ebony in colour, the aromas are reminiscent of figs, raisins and dates. Enormously sweet, velvety and soft on the palate, with a very long finish. Best served around 12-14°C or lower to balance the sweetness. Excellent with pure chocolate desserts or over vanilla ice cream, pâté or blue cheese.
Barao De Vilar 10-year-old Tawny Port - matured for 10 years in seasoned oak casks, acquiring a softened mellow texture with an intense complex nose which complements the appealing raisiny fruit. Ready to drink, makes a delicious dessert wine with mince pies or a good Irish blue cheese like Cashel Blue.
Lustau Amontillado Los Arcos Dry Sherry 375ml
This dry Amontillado acquires a genuine, rich and nutty flavour through years of ageing. Amber in colour, with hazelnut aromas on the nose.
Light, soft and round on the palate, with a long aftertaste.
The Los Arcos Amontillado is ideal as a warming aperitiff, with tapas, especially nuts and meats. It can also be served with a meal or any type of cold meat platter or richly flavored seafoods. It is best served lightly chilled in a copita or white wine glass.
Lustau Fino Puerto Fino Very Dry Sherry 375ml
Very dry with citrus pith and steely notes, this classic fino sherry is the ultimate aperitif with tapas. Deceptively complex it is virtually unrelated to Grandma's tipple of sweet Sherry, in fact it's so dry you will either love it or hate it. The only way to find out which is chill it on a hot afternoon and consume with green olives and salted nuts.
Lustau Manzanilla Papirusa Very Dry Sherry 375ml
"Impressive is the superb non-vintage Manzanilla Papirusa. Its light straw color is accompanied by a spicy, nutty nose, elegant, dry flavors, delicious purity, and a smoky intensity. It would be fabulous with sushi. Drink it over the next year.' – Wine Advocate
Lustau Oloroso Don Nuno Dry Sherry 375ml
'The NV Dry Oloroso Don Nuno is produced from Palomino grapes, fortified to 20%, and aged in American oak botas. Its heady, aromatic nose still has some fruity aromas from the grapes, intermixed with the noble woods, which comes through as a textbook, young Oloroso nose. The medium-bodied palate reveals very clean flavors of roasted nuts and a touch of brandy. It’s a good entry-level Oloroso, with good quality to price ratio. Drink 2013-2015.' – 87/100, Wine Advocate
Lustau Pedro Ximénez San Emilio Very Sweet Sherry 375ml
Deep, dark brown and viscous. Redolent of ripe fruit, figs and dates. Rich, sweet, velvety and soft in the mouth, well balanced, with a long finish showing the wine's great age.Serve between 12-13ÂºC in a white wine glass with rich desserts, cakes and pastries, or pour a little over the best quality vanilla ice cream. This wine can also accompany strong blue cheeses, or may simply be enjoyed as a digestif for the sweet-toothed.