Sherry – More Than Just an Apéritif
The term Sherry comes from the Spanish city Jerez (de la Frontera) – most likely for the reason that the English merchants who began purchasing the native liqueur wine in the 18th Century simply couldn’t pronounce it. Jerez is thus a synonym for Sherry and is still used in Spain today. Only wines that originate from the so-called Sherry Triangle at the southeastern tip of Andalusia are permitted to claim protected DO status. Its full name is: Jerez/ Sherry y Manzanilla de Sanlúcar de Barrameda. The cities Sanlúcar de Barrameda, Jerez de la Frontera and Puerto de Santa Maria form the border of the Sherry Triangle. The prerequisite for Sherry consists of a finely balanced mesh of local climatic conditions, lime-rich chalky soil, the specific grape varieties used – and above all the Solera method.
Solera - Making Sherry Sherry
The basis for this liqueur wine is generally dry white wine. The most important grape variety for the production of Sherry is Palomino Fino and accounts for over 90 percent of the total cultivated area. In addition to Palomino Fino, the very sweet grape varieties Pedro Ximénez (PX) and Moscatel are also grown. These grapes are generally used for blending, but the PX is also vinified as a varietal wine. After the fermented wines have been fortified with brandy for the first time (to at least 15 vol%), the Solera method comes into play. At least three (often more) rows of casks are laid on top of each other. The bottom row of casks is the solera, and the upper rows are called criaderas. The wine that is then sold and consumed comes exclusively from the solera row. However, only 30 to 40 percent of the wine from the solera is removed, and then the casks are topped off with the wine from the next row above. The wine removed from the casks in the second row is then replaced with wine from the third row casks, and so on. The empty casks from the top row are then filled with young wine - mosto. This method produces the unique Sherry flavour on the one hand, but also ensures the consistent quality of individual brands for many years.
Depending upon alcohol content, degree of oxidation, sugar content and other contributing factors, Sherries can be very diverse and are classified into types, among them: Fino, Amontillado, Olosroso, Cortado and Cream Sherry. See which ones appeal most to you. We especially recommend our selection of Almacenista Sherry from the Bodega Emilio Lustau. What does almacenista mean? Well, let’s just say that they make the very best Sherry!