Sherry is the unique wine made in
southwest Spain. Like Champagne. its name is protected by law and may
only be applied to the wines made in the 'Sherry Triangle' around the
town of Jerez.
"White, chalky' Albariza soil, ample
sunshine and the cool influence of the Atlantic Ocean help to ripen the
Palomino grapes which produce the base wine for sherry. The best
sweetening wine will be made from the Pedro Ximénez grape.
After fortification, the sherry will be
stored in casks (butts), until the following year, when classification
will take place. All sherry butts are filled just five-sixths full. The
delicate wines, fortified to a maximum of 15.5 per cent alcohol, will be
classified as finos. Theare are three major styles of fino: fino,
manzanilla and amontillado. The type of fino depends on the influence of
flor, a yeast unique to Jerez. It's in the atmosphere and grows on the
surface of the wine, affecting its composition and flavor. The very
presence of flor produces the characteristic tangy and 'yeasty' nose and
flavor of the dry sherries.
Butts not classified as finos will develop
into the richer wines known as olorosos, which are fortified to 18 per
cent alcohol, a level too high to be affected by flor. Olorosos mature
in direct contact with air and are sometimes sweetened during this
process. To maintain style and consistency, a system of fractional
blending and maturation takes place. Known as the solera system, this
allows a younger wine to be added to an older wine after one-third of
the older wine has been drawn off for bottling.
Styles of Sherry
Sherry is diverse and therefore not only
makes an excellent aperitif wine, but is also extremely versatile with