Wednesday, 24 August 2011

A Sherry with a Hint of a Sea Breeze

Sherry for me has to be one of the greatest wines in the world, but it’s image suffers in this country so badly, when you mention the word Sherry to most people, an image of there grandparents sipping Harvey’s Bristol Cream or Croft Original instantly springs into there mind.  But there is so much more to Sherry than this, it covers a broad range of styles, from the light and pale Fino to the heavy and dark Oloroso’s.

Produced on the southern coast of Spain, in an area referred to as the Sherry triangle, which is made up from the three towns of Jerez de la Frontera, El Puerto de Santa Maria and Sanluca de Barremeda. Palomino grape is the main grape used, they do however occasionally use Pedro Ximenez or Moscatel to sweeten, it is then fortified use a grape spirit (Brandy), but unlike Port, it is added after the fermentation process has completed so it remains a dry wine. They employ a fractional blending system called a Solera, hence why you don’t get a Vintage Sherry, and the ageing process happens in barrels under a layer of yeast, which is known as the Flor. This layer of yeast is extremely important, as its presence denotes the style, apart from being a fortified wine it is also an oxidised one. For the lighter Fino and Manzanilla styles you want a thick layer of Flor so to prevent as much oxygen getting to it as possible. Where as for the darker Amontillado and Oloroso style you want a greater degree of oxidisation, as this give it its colour and nutty flavours.

I’m not the biggest fan of the darker styles of Sherry, but I am of Manzanilla, now just to confuse things even more, Manzanilla and Fino are the same sherry apart from one difference, Manzanilla comes only from Sanluca de Barrameda. Situated on the coast, the cooling sea breezes help to keep the Bodegas cool; it also imparts a slightly salty tang to the wine, which in a blind tasting really helps you tell the difference between Fino and Manzanilla.

La Gitana
is Spain's most popular Manzanilla brand, and should be served well chilled, on the nose, if you close your eyes could almost mistake it’s aromas for a sea breeze. On the palate you got these wonderfully fresh flavours of Greens Apples and Almonds along with a real salty tang and a touch of yeasty/doughy characteristics, you have a good level of acidity which all combines beautifully. The big difference against other whites is you get a real kick from the level of alcohol due to the fortification; you get a real warming sensation in the back of your throat, which just helps to make this wine even more sensational than it already was.

Is this a wine that I would recommend, well I hope from what I've written you could take the guess that the answer is yes, it’s great to drink on its own chilled on a hot day or as an aperitif, which ever way you want to drink it, try it.

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