WineWriting.com & French Mediterranean Wine
Richard Mark James' wine and travel blog

04 September 2015

Spain: Sherry and Montilla; Fino, Manzanilla, Amontillado

I'll spare you the full-on editorial rant about how underrated proper dry Sherry is, and what a memorable wine and food moment it can be sitting outside a tapas bar in the southern Spanish evening sunshine sipping chilled Fino and nibbling on roast almonds and plump olives; as it's been said a thousand times before (1001 now - Ed.). So I'll cut to the chase with a dozen recommended Fino and Manzanilla (always dry) and dry Amontillado (comes in different guises but starts off dry) sherries, from mega brands to obscure special bottlings that make you go “wow” (flavour- and price-wise). Plus an aged dry style from the lesser-known Montilla region located 200+ km to the north-east of Jerez country not far from the beautiful city of Córdoba. All these wines are made from the Palomino grape variety except the latter made from Pedro Ximénez (used for rich sweet Sherries although the mainstay in Montilla for all styles).

"What is Palo Cortado?" video from www.bodegastradicion.es

Bodegas Barón Manzanilla Pasada Barón – Lively toasted almond notes, yeasty and intense vs rich and nutty vs dry and steely, delicious crisp finish. Yum. €20 Wines on the Green / Celtic Whiskey Shop Dublin, UK importer: Morgenrot Manchester.
Emilio Hidalgo El Tresillo 1874 Amontillado Viejo – Amazing aromas, pecan and caramel yet it's pretty dry and intense, concentrated 'extract' vs mouth-puckering 'salty' tang, very long finish. Superb. €70 as above, £70 Wine Bear, US c. $60 + tax.
Hidalgo La Gitana Manzanilla – Lighter than I remembered, delicate salty almond flavours and subtle tangy finish. Widely available.
Equipo Navazos La Bota de Fino Amontillado No. 45 Montilla (Pedro Ximénez) – Quite golden yet intense nutty straw profile, huge flavour vs crisp elegant and long. Wow. €47 as above; US: $66-$70 K&L Wines CA, the Spanish Table WA & CA; £38 Swig London.
Bodegas Tradición Palo Cortado 30 years old - More 'cooked' nose with walnut, intense mix of sweet 'n' sour, caramel vs salty, very long. Serious stuff. €85 as above, US c. $100 importer Valkyrie Selections, UK c. £70 Farr Vintners.
Gonzales Byass Tio Pepe Fino – Nice tangy yeasty almond notes, intense and nutty with crisp 'salty' finish. Widely available.
Alvaro Domecq La Janda Fino – Aromatic smoked almond flavours with almost sea salt edges, fresh light and dry with yeasty nutty finish. About €7-€10 in Europe.
Lustau La Ina Fino – Smoked almond tones, very intense and tasty with nice tangy length; very good for a huge brand. Widely available.
Fernando de Castilla Fino – Restrained nose, oilier style palate with smoked almond flavours, softer and less intense perhaps but still very tasty. £10.99 Virgin Wines.
Fernando de Castilla Fino En Rama - Aged 4-5 years and not fined or filtered. Quite elegant and more rounded, nuttier hazelnut notes, subtle intensity on the finish. UK £10+, US $22.
Delgado Zuleta Goya XL Manzanilla En Rama – Toasted almond, tangy and 'salty' with softer finish than some of the others, good though. UK £18-£19 UltraComida, Quintessentially Wine.
Other resources: WineSearcher.com, SherryNotes.com, jerez-xeres-sherry.blogspot.co.uk

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