Showing posts with label Jerez. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Jerez. Show all posts

Monday, November 8, 2021

International Sherry Week - With Pie

When the holidays roll around, sherry comes to mind.  It is festive, often sweet and pairs well with things like pumpkin and pecan pies.  There's no reason to relegate sherry to only the the holiday season, but it seems to be a little more welcome at this time.

In fact, International Sherry Week begins today, November 8, 2021.  It's the perfect excuse to get to know Sherry better.  There are so many styles of sherry from which to choose and so many pairings, especially at Thanksgiving, that maybe you could use a little help.  The folks at Gonzalez Byass - Spain's most well-known sherry producer - suggest a few ways to enjoy sherry in its different forms, with pie.   

Apple Pie with Gonzalez Byass Alfonso Oloroso  
This sherry is produced from 100% Palomino grapes and is significantly drier than Apple Pie, but the toasty flavors pair nicely with the sugar to provide a contrasting taste that is not cloying. The nutty character of the Alfonso pairs perfectly with the cinnamon and clove spices of the Apple Pie.  18% abv, $17

Pecan Pie with Harveys The Bristol Cream
This sherry is produced from a blend of 80% Palomino and 20% Pedro Ximénez grapes.  Its semi-sweet, velvety character enhances the nuttiness in both the pie and the Sherry.  17.5% abv, $20

Texas Two Step (a pecan and chocolate brownie pie) with Gonzalez Byass Solera 1847 Cream
This sherry is produced from a blend of 75% Palomino and 25% Pedro Ximénez grapes.  It adds a touch of sweetness and pairs nicely with the nuttiness and the not-too-sweet chocolate in this pie.  18% abv, $17

Cherry Pie with Gonzalez Byass Néctar Pedro Ximenez  
This sherry is produced from 100% Pedro Ximénez grapes.  It brings with it aromas of candied fruit, figs and raisins and offers a good contrast to the tart cherry flavors of the pie.  15% abv, $17

Harveys the Bristol Cream has been billing itself that way since 1882, when wine merchant John Harvey was importing what was known as Bristol milk, named after the British port city through which it passed on its way from Jerez, Spain.  It's a sherry, not a liqueur, and it is the only Spanish product with a Royal Warrant from the Queen of England, which was issued in 1895.

This sherry is a blend of four different sherries from the solera, the racks of barrels where sherry is aged for up to two decades.  The four sherries used in Harveys Bristol Cream - Fino, Amontillado, Oloroso and Pedro Ximénez - are of different ages, all made from 80% Palomino grapes and 20% Pedro Ximénez, in the home of sherry, Jerez, Spain.

The company advises you to serve The Bristol Cream "chilled or over ice in a wine glass with a slice of orange."  The iconic blue glass bottle now has one of those labels with a logo that turns blue when the perfect serving temperature is reached.  It carries an alcohol content of 17.5% abv and retails for about $20.  As you can see by the picture, I had mine at room temperature - no blue letters.

This sherry has a gorgeous chestnut brown color and an aromatic nose for days.  Raisins, brown sugar, dried apricots.  It's all on the palate, too - complex in an easy-to-understand way.  The sip is smooth but the acidity is quite useful if you want to pair it with food. Try it with banana nut bread, ginger snaps or pumpkin pie.  By the way, the finish won't stop. 


Monday, November 18, 2019

If Sherry Is Milk, This Is The Cream

Billing itself as The Bristol Cream since 1882, when wine merchant John Harvey was importing what was known as Bristol milk, Harveys Bristol Cream was named after the British port city through which the product passed.  It's a sherry, not a liqueur, and it is the only Spanish product with a Royal Warrant from the Queen of England, which was issued in 1895.  As I understand it, that is much more desirable than having a warrant issued in your name by the district attorney's office.

Harveys Bristol Cream is a blend of four different sherries from the solera - the racks of barrels where sherry is aged for up to two decades.  The four sherries used in Harveys Bristol Cream - Fino, Amontillado, Oloroso and Pedro Ximénez - are of different ages, all made from 80% Palomino grapes and 20% Pedro Ximénez, in the home of sherry, Jerez, Spain.

The company advises you to serve The Bristol Cream "chilled or over ice in a wine glass with a slice of orange."  The iconic blue glass bottle now has one of those labels with a logo that turns blue when the perfect serving temperature is reached.  I find that no refrigeration is required, especially if the weather is cool.  It carries an alcohol content of 17.5% abv and sells for about $15.  It could be the best $15 you'll ever spend.

This sherry has a gorgeous chestnut brown color and an aromatic nose for days.  Raisins, brown sugar, dried apricots.  It's all on the palate, too - complex in an easy-to-understand way.  The sip is smooth but the acidity is quite useful if you want to pair it with food,  and the finish won't stop.


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Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Italian Scores With Spanish Sherry Cocktail

Courtesy Tio Pepe
Spanish wine company Tio Pepe sponsors a yearly contest to see which bartender around the globe can come up with the best cocktail utilizing their Tio Pepe Jerez Xérès Sherry.  I'll admit, I was sort of pulling for the barkeep from Las Vegas, who made it to the finals.  In the end, Europe took the honor.

Italian mixologist Marco Masiero, left, was proclaimed the winner of the International Final of the Tío Pepe Challenge 2019.  Masiero's signature cocktail is called "El Beso de la Flaca."

The Bodega Gonzalez Byass has been in Jerez - southern Spain, the Andalusia region - for nearly 200 years.  Tio Pepe Jerez Xérès Sherry is named after the founder's uncle Pepe.  The vineyard soil in Jerez is chalky, all the better to hold moisture during the long, hot summer.

Tio Pepe is made from 100% Palomino Fino grapes, and is fortified to 15% alcohol.  Any higher and the flor could not form, the yeasty layer that covers the wine while it's in American oak barrels and prevents oxidation for the four to five years of aging.  The Solera method is used, with wines blended from vintage to vintage.  The types of sherry and their production is much more complex than my limited knowledge.  If you're interested, please read up online.  You'll be glad you did.  The sherry sells for $20.

This sherry has a golden-yellow tint and a forceful nose.  That wonderful resinous sherry smell is there in spades, along with walnuts and anise.  The sip offers similar wonders, with a completely savory approach.  It's as dry as a bone, provided the bone was lying in the desert sun for a while.  There's not a lick of sweetness, so it's not Grandma’s sherry.  The chalky vineyard soil seems to speak through what these Palomino Fino grapes have wrought.  There are notes of hazelnut, lemon and the all-important yeast layer - flor - that sits atop the wine in the barrel for five years.  The acidity is decent, but not too forceful, and afterward, the finish lingers with anise lasting the longest.  Wow, is all.



Monday, July 1, 2019

Spanish Vermouth Deserves Larger Role

Vermouth is an aromatic, fortified wine which is flavored with such things as herbs, roots, flowers, bark or practically anything that grows.  It originated in the 18th century as a medicinal aid.  Over the years, vermouth dropped from the pharmacy to the bar, where it became an aperitif and now resides as a necessary component of cocktails like martinis, Manhattans and negronis.

White vermouth - dry - is sometimes called French, while the red, sweet kind is called Italian.  Those two countries produce most of the vermouth that you'll find on the shelf, although it's also made in Spain as we will see.

The Jerez firm of Gonzalez Byass produces a pair of fine and surprising vermouths, dry white and sweet red.  The winery claims the century-old recipes are kept under lock and key.

La Copa Vermouth Extra Seco - the white - is made from 100% Palomino grapes - Fino sherry, actually - which was aged an average of three years in American oak casks in the traditional Solera system.  In addition to the grapes, La Copa Extra Seco includes wormwood, clove, cinnamon and the herb called savory.  Red fruits were added for a "balsamic aftertaste."  Alcohol in the extra dry vermouth tips in at 17% abv and it retails for $25.

This is completely different from every other white Vermouth I've tried.  It is aromatic and flavorful to a fault.  I smelled smoke, I smelled burnt caramel, I smelled thyme, cinnamon, clove, jasmine.  I tasted a burnt caramel or maple sap note.  It was actually one of the more expressive and interesting wines in my experience.  It sure as hell livened up a martini.  Don't spend extra on the gin - let La Copa white vermouth do the work.

La Copa Vermouth Rojo is made from 75% Palomino grapes and 25% Pedro Ximénez variety.  It's produced from Oloroso and Pedro Ximénez soleras, more than eight years old.  As in the Extra Seco, wormwood, savory, clove, and cinnamon are in the mix, along with orange peel and nutmeg in the sweeter blend.  Alcohol sits at 15.5% abv and it retails for $25.

The red vermouth smells of burnt raisins and tangerine.  The palate is sweet with a savory sword cutting down the middle.  The fact that it’s made from sherry is inescapable.

I used these vermouths in cocktails made with Beefeater London Dry Gin, which contains botanical elements like juniper, coriander, orange peel, lemon peel, angelica root and seed, licorice, almond, and orris root.  In a three-to-one gin blend, the white overpowered the gin.  I used the red in a one-to-one blend, which let the gin speak for itself but still allowed the sweet vermouth to contribute amply.  Both are also fine to sip all on their own.


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Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Not Your Grandma's Sherry

Bodega Gonzalez Byass has been in Jerez -- southern Spain, the Andalusia region - for nearly 200 years.  This sherry is named after the founder's uncle Pepe.  The vineyard soil is chalky, all the better to hold moisture during the long, hot summer.

Tio Pepe Jerez Xérès Sherry is made from 100% Palomino Fino grapes, and is fortified to 15% alcohol.  Any higher and the flor could not form, the yeasty layer that covers the wine while it's in American oak barrels and prevents oxidation for the four to five years of aging.  The Solera method is used, with wines being blended from vintage to vintage.  The types of sherry and their production is much more complex than my limited knowledge.  If you're interested, please read up online.  You'll be glad you did.

This sherry has a golden-yellow tint and a forceful nose.  That wonderful resinous sherry smell is there in spades, along with walnuts and anise.  The sip offers similar wonders, with a completely savory approach.  It's as dry as a bone, provided the bone was lying in the desert sun for a while.  There's not a lick of sweetness, so it's not Grandma’s sherry.  The chalky vineyard soil seems to speak through what these Palomino Fino grapes have wrought.  There are notes of hazelnut, lemon and the all-important yeast layer - flor - that sits atop the wine in the barrel for five years.  The acidity is decent, but not too forceful, and afterward, the finish lingers with anise lasting the longest.  Wow, is all.


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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Sherry: Santiago Palo Cortado

Wine is easy.  Sherry is difficult.

I want to be very upfront about this article and make the disclaimer right now: There is a geek alert in effect.  Continuing with the article means you may be a developing wine geek.  Understanding my explanation of sherry may require you to be one.

Just the mention of sherry sends me online or into reference books to be sure I’m not making any mistakes.  And even with the help, I’m still not sure I’m right.  Wine - in general - is easy.  Sherry is difficult.

To muddy the water - uh, the sherry - even further, this bottle is not even a regular, garden-variety sherry.  As if there is such a thing.  Palo Cortado is a rather rare type of sherry, only occurring naturally one to two percent of the time in sherry production.  As the sherry is aging in the barrel and under the flor - a film of yeast -  it is on its way to becoming a fino, or maybe an amontillado sherry.  The flor layer protects the wine from oxygen while it turns all the little sugars into alcohols.

Sometimes, though - that aforementioned one to two percent of the time - the flor disappears and leaves the wine exposed to oxygen.  Now it starts aging oxidatively, like the type of sherry known as oloroso.  This wine will be rich - like oloroso - and crisp - like amontillado.  The wine is officially an accident, but Palo Cortado can be manipulated by blending amontillado and oloroso.  That, however, is cheating.

The grapes for Santiago Palo Cortado come from Andalusia, in the southern part of Spain, near the town of Jerez.  It’s a place called the Sherry Triangle, where the bulk of Spain’s great sherry production occurs.  They are Palomino Fino grapes, 100%.  The wine is aged a minimum of twelve years in what is known as the Solera system.  Rather than try and blunder through a description of that myself, I’ll let the website Sherry Notes do that, without so much blundering.

"Barrels in a solera are arranged in different groups or tiers, called criaderas, or nurseries.  Each scale contains wine of the same age.  The oldest scale, confusingly called solera as well, holds the wine ready to be bottled.  When a fraction of the wine is extracted from the solera (this process is called the saca), it will be replaced with the same amount of wine from the first criadera, i.e. the one that is slightly younger and typically less complex.  This, in turn, will be filled up with wine from the second criadera, and so on.  The last criadera, which holds the youngest wine, is topped up with a new wine named sobretabla.  Taking away part of the wine and replacing it with the contents of other scales, is called rociar or 'to wash down.'"  

It goes on from there, but my head is spinning simply from copying and pasting that paragraph.

The finished sherry hits an alcohol level of 20.5% abv and retails for about $23.  A sample was provided to me by The Artisan Collection.

The wine looks great - the amber color of bourbon or a Newcastle Brown.  That deep color makes for high expectations in other areas, and those expectations are met.  There is a fair amount of alcohol on the nose, but wafting in and out - like the sound of a distant marching band on a windy day - are luscious fragrances of brown sugar, burnt caramel and dried raisins.  Now, high expectations are set for the palate.

If this is your first experience with Palo Cortado, the aromas may lead you to expect a very sweet drink, which is not the case.   The sherry is far less viscous than might be expected and quite dry, with none of the flavors having anything to do with the sweet aromas coming from the glass.  It drinks more like a spirit than a wine, with a strong nutty flavor and just an idea of raisins and caramel behind it.

The big story, though, is the acidity.  It zips across the tongue in racy fashion and really makes itself know in the throat, on the way down.  I have always heard sherry referred to as a sipping wine, or a cooking wine.  This one is a pairing wine.  The notes of chestnut and hazelnut are great with pork or even some herb goat cheese on a wheat cracker.  The acidity helps it mate with just about anything you could throw at it.  I'd have it with a steak, no problem.  A big, old-Vegas kind of steak.


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