CELEBRATING SHERRY WEEK

To celebrate International Sherry week (6-12 November 2023) and the renaissance of this exciting historic wine, I have picked my favourite dozen from the range of styles:

DIATOMISTS MANZANILLA, MIRAFLORES BAJA (15%)

£12.95-£14.95 hf bt Cockburns of Leith, Edinburgh; Cork & Cask, Edinburgh; Aitken Wines, Dundee; St Andrews Wine; Inverurie Whisky Shop

Diatomists is a new brand name in the sherry world created by three friends: Antonio, George and Tommy who aim to put zip and verve back into sherry with a range of well-priced fruit-driven styles.  Their Manzanilla from Miraflores Baja pago (vineyard), aged five years under flor in coastal Sanlucar de Barrameda, is remarkably fruity, minerally, silky smooth and approachable.

MANZANILLA PASADA BLANQUITO Bodegas Callejuela (15.5%)

£25 for 50 cl Fion Wines, Edinburgh

Twelve year old Manzanillo from this boutique Sanlucar-based bodega where Pepe and Paco Martinez with Ramiro Ibanez as consultant winemaker are taking their wine quality to a new level – only using grapes from their own vineyards.  Blanquito, named after its founder, comes from El Hornillo vineyard.  Enticing lemon and saline notes, dried hay, savoury and spicy with a deep briny finish.

 

 

FINO VINA CORRALES, PAGO BALBAINA NV [SACA 2022] Bodegas San Francisco Javier (15%)

£34 for 75cl bt Corney & Barrow

Acclaimed winemaker Peter Sisseck caused a stir when he invested in Jerez six years ago, claiming that sherry was Spain’s most exciting white wine.  This 8-9 year old Fino from famous Balbaina pago is purposely put into a Burgundy bottle to highlight its similarity with white wine.  Loved their Saca 2022 bottling with its floral herby notes, creamy rich texture, olive and almond flavours.

LA BOTA DE FINO NO 115 Equipo Navazos (15%)

£30.95 for 75cl bt Fine Wine Portobello; Lea & Sandeman; Drinkmonger

If you love sherry and haven’t discovered Equipo Navazos, you are in for a treat.  Originally a private buying group set up by Eduardo Ojeda and Jesus Barquin, it is now a commercial ‘marquista’ venture snapping up forgotten mature butts to create interesting bottlings.  Bota 115 is an old Fino originating from famous Macharnudo Alto vineyard; beautifully golden with grassy herby hints – bottled unfiltered to preserve all flavours.

EL TRESILLO DRY AMONTILLADO FINO Bodegas Emilio Hidalgo (17%) ***STAR BUY***

£54 for 75cl bt The Whisky Exchange; Les Caves

Exciting find from Jerez-based Emilio Hidalgo, run by the 5th generation of the family.  This is simply exquisite – incredibly rich nutty and complex with smoky nuances and a salty almond finish.  It started life as a Fino with 10 years under flor yeast, then with 5 years in contact with oxygen it transformed into an unusual Amontillado-Fino.  El Tresillo is the name of a card game that used to be played in the winery.

ANTIQUE DRY OLOROSO NV Bodegas Fernando de Castilla (20%)

£37 for 50cl bt Woodwinters; Drinkmonger

Rich nutty fruitcake notes, dried fig and meaty truffle flavours with such a smooth rounded texture – no age statement here, but it contains very old wines in the blend showing the complexity of a 20 year old.  Historic Fernando de Castilla was revived in 1990s by Norwegian sherry-fanatic Jan Pettersen – and is one of the best artisan Jerez bodegas.  Benchmark dry Oloroso.

MORRISONS THE BEST DRY PALO CORTADO (19%) ***BEST VALUE***

£7.25 for hf bt Morrisons

You can find Palo Cortado in several supermarkets now (M&S and Waitrose), but I particularly liked this effort from Morrisons winemakers with its caramel toffee, hazelnut and coffee flavours.  This amber liquid is so smooth and mellow – but still quite fresh, grippy and bone dry – impressive for the price.

EL ALJIBE PALO CORTADO PAGO DE ANINA VORS Bodegas Poniente (21.5%)

£110 for 75cl bt Swig

Palo Cortado from the other end of the scale.  This 30 year old+ sherry is made from forgotten clones of Palomino revived by this new bodegas’ founder Alberto Orte is in El Aljibe vineyard within famous Anina pago.  Dark toffee and walnuts, bitter chocolate with orange, intense complexity – just 165 bottles produced.

MOSCATEL ORO, LOS CUARTILLOS Bodegas Primitivo Collantes (15%)

£18 for 75cl bt Fion Wines

Unusually delicate sweet Moscatel made by the leading winery in Chiclana de la Frontera, a town south of Jerez recently included in the Sherry DO.  Moscatel is grown in their Matalian vineyard – part fermented and fortified with no oak – this is all about floral notes, honey, zesty juicy mango flavours – fresh, youthful and zippy.

MEDIUM SWEET AMONTILLADO ‘AS YOU LIKE IT’ VORS Bodegas Williams & Humbert (20.5%) ***STAR BUY***

£29-£31 for 50cl bt The Whisky Exchange; The Wine Society

Rare Amontillado blend from a forgotten and recently revived 27 butt solera.  Honey, toffee, dried herbs, spicy and figgy flavours, with a burnt caramel note to finish.  Intriguingly the name comes from the old custom of adding sugar to austerely dry old Amontillados – which Williams & Humbert’s founder used to do for his wife.

PEDRO XIMENEZ VORS LIMITED EDITION Bodegas Lustau (15.5%)

£85 for 75cl bt Bancroft Wines; The Whisky Exchange

One of the favourites from my recent visit to Lustau’s bodegas in Jerez.  This sweet PX comes from their small six cask 1930’s solera – dark treacle toffee, with hints of coffee, raisins and liquorice – beautifully rich and rounded.

PEDRO XIMENEZ VERY OLD SOLERA 1918 Bodegas Ximenez Spinola (15%) ***STAR BUY***

£58 for 75cl bt The Whisky Exchange; Thorne Wines

All wines made by Ximenez Spinola’s owner Jose Antonio Zarazana are made from the PX grape – and this intense sweet sipping sherry from their oldest solera begun in 1918 is undoubtedly their best.  Figgy, fragrant, rich creamy with hint of molasses, unctuously sweet – but so superbly fresh.

By Rose Murray Brown MW   Published in The Scotsman 11 November 2023

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