Fortified Wines - Sherry

Fortified Wines - Sherry

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 food:

Fino : light and dry

Manzanilla : delicate, dry with a salty tang

Oloroso : full, smooth with a walnut flavor

Amontillado : dry, smooth, nutty

Palo Cortado : amontillado nose, oloroso-like palate

Pale Cream : crisp, subtle sweetness

Cream : sweet, dried fruit flavor

Pedro Ximénez : rich, sweet, raisin-like flavor

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