I’m the first to admit that when it comes to drink-related knowledge, sherry is an area that I’m not really up to speed with. I suppose I still think of it as something a rather wayward auntie would drink at Christmas. I’ve made more progress with fortified wines in the past couple of years though. As I’m currently spending more time in the kitchen during lockdown, I thought it would be an ample time to get stuck into some high-quality sherry, and see if I could suss out some food pairings along the way.
Once again, huge thanks to Magnum Wine Shop for gifting me with some wonderfully decadent new additions for my drinks cabinet. I’ll try and keep the tasting notes fairly concise, so you can get to grips with each sherry a la Masters of Malt style.
A bit of background for the brand behind the sherry though. Each gifted product comes from Bodegas Hidalgo, who are one of the finest sherry brands on the market. They are a family-owned estate, occupying the same bodega in the seaside town of Sanlucar de Barrameda since the 18th century. The sea breeze ensures that the bodega is cool during the hot summer months, which helps preserve the freshness of the sherry barrels which are protected from oxidation by a layer of yeast (this is also known as ‘flor’). Hidalgo are unusual in the sherry region for owning many of their own vineyards, which guarantees that quality Palomino Fino grapes are used for the sherry making process.
With this in mind, I had very high hopes for my selection of sherry. Please give me a shout if you have any further recommendations!
MANZANILLA LA GITANA (15%)
I was advised to drink this first, as it functions as a decent entry level sherry. Manzanilla is the driest of the dry sherries, and is matured in American oak casks for at least five years. The flor in each barrel thrives in this climate and lends the sherry its distinctive tangy character.
This one is more like a white wine than anything else. You can pick up soft fruity notes on the palette- apples and some rounded citrus, as well as a delicate hint of peach. There’s plenty of acidity, which pairs very nicely with olives, seafood and smoked food (we found it worked particularly well with some smoky chorizo). This was my boyfriend’s favourite out of the lot.
AMONTILLADO NAPOLEON (17.5%)
Amontillado Napoleon is fed with lashings of Manzanilla Pasada Pastrana, which is one of the fullest and most complex Manzanillas. It is then fortified for a second time and aged with oxygen to create a medium to dry sherry. This gives a darker, richer colour than the Manzanilla La Gitana.
On the nose, its suitably nutty, with hints of caramel and vanilla thrown in for good measure. It’s an addictively alluring smell.
The taste is marvellous- sweet but subtle. The nutty flavours combine with a delicate fruity background, which gives a light, sweet finish. I found that this one worked very well indeed with a few triangles of Manchego on the side. I probably spent the majority of my evening quaffing my way through this one, as you can see below.
PEDRO XIMENEZ TRIANA (15%)
As recommended by Magnum Wine Shop, we drank this one last. It’s also the sweetest by a mile (one of the sweetest wines in the world apparently) due to the sugar content of the Pedro Ximenez grapes, so it works well poured over some ice cream as a cheeky treat.
Aromas of raisins and toffee practically leap out at you when you open this one up. Rather than just smelling of pure sugar, there’s a richness to this sherry, which predictably intensifies in the tasting. There’s hints of treacle, as well as subtle notes of prunes, plums and fig, which make it taste like liquid Christmas cake. The texture is thick, so it may well become a little cloying after a few glasses. That being said, it’s a highly enjoyable end to a meal, serving as an excellent substitute for a dessert.
Despite being a complete novice, each sherry has been an absolute delight. If pushed, I’d say Napoleon was my favourite, as it really does have that easy drinking ability, as well as some decent structure on the palette. It’s the one I appear to have drank the most of anyway. Thank you so much to Magnum Wine Shop for spoiling me rotten.
Up until now, I don’t think I’d really given sherry the appreciation it deserves, but it’s something which will now be coordinated into many tapas evenings at home. I would fully encourage you to do the same.
As ever, if you’re looking to stock up on the finest alcoholic supplies, pop by Magnum Wine Shop in Swindon or visit http://www.magnumwineshop.co.uk/