Sherry Styles and History ...
Sherries can only be produced in the region of Jerez in south west
. After years of legal battles, sherry finally became a protected quality-wine name in 1996. The origin of production goes back to the moors and the castilians.
Sherry became popular in the UK when drake brought back over 3,000 barrels after setting fire to the spanish fleet at Cadiz. The 'consejo regulador' for sherry production was established in 1933.
This controlling body oversees every aspect of the process - vine planting, production, ageing and marketing.
Sherry exports reached its peak in 1979 when over 200 million bottles of sherry were exported from Jerez! Exports halved by 1989 and the industry was in crisis.
The increasing popularity of wine and so much 'sherry labelling' going on added to the domestic problems in Jerez.
In 1996, the european union gave the right to produce 'sherry' and the market has improved since then. Sherry can only be shipped from 3 centres in the province of cadiz - sanlucar de barrameda, jerez de la frontera and puerta desanta maria.
Sherry is made from the highest quality grapes grown on the albarizas (chalk lands) facing the atlantic ocean and and thriving on the prevailing atlantic winds, rainfall and heat common to this region.
GRAPE VARIETIES USED IN SHERRY PRODUCTION:
Palomino, Listan Palomino, Moscatel & Pedro Ximenez. Click here
to learn more about Grapes.
Sherries run the gamut from dry to sweet and almost ultra-sweet. There are loads of variations, so here is a simple guide. There are two general style categories, Fino and Oloroso, in which the the different types fall under.
Finos are light, dry, tangy, and impart a refined complexity at their best.
Olorosos are darker colored from gold to deep brown, nutty, rich, and can range from dry, medium-dry to sweet. Olorosos have a higher alcohol content and develop without the benefit of the flor (due to the higher alcohol percentage) and darker colors occur from the ensuing oxidation. Olorosos tend to be aged longer and consequently are more expensive than Fino types.
Manzanilla: A light and refreshing style of Sherry from the seaside town of Sanlúcar de Barremeda. Manzanillas have a hint of saltiness and go well with shellfish or just by itself as an aperitif. It's lower in alcohol, delicate and should be chilled and finished in a couple of days. Life is perfect with sauteed garlic shrimp and a glass of Manzanilla.
A little headier than a Manzanilla but still delicate in nature. Elegant and tangy with a blooming bouquet. An almost perfect seafood wine.
Amontillado: This is an aged Fino that has a higher alcohol level and has undergone some oxidation to give it an amber color. Dry and nutty, but some producers make it slightly sweeter by adding some PX.
This is actually a deviant Amontillado that verges on an Oloroso.
e. Pale Cortados are rare and occur as a fluke of nature
When aging Amontillados, the protective flor fails to develop and the result is a hybrid that is dry and nutty with great aromas that combines with the voluptuous body and complexity of an Oloroso.
Oloroso; Meaty and dense, Olorosos get their dark amber to brown color from exposure to oxygen during aging. These are more fortified than Fino-types (18-20%) and are rich with nutty and raisiny characters. Oloroso is still considered dry.
Cream; We're now in sweet territory. Cream sherries were created for the British taste buds. Olorosos are sweetened with PX and these cream sherries can vary from producer to producer and usually are made from lower grade Olorosos. They can be thick and sticky on the tongue to more delicate with complex flavors.
Pedro Ximénez; is at the
sweetness. It's dark, dense, lively, and sips slow and syrupy. It's made from the PX grape and often blended to sweeten other types of Sherries. A dessert wine with raisin-like aromas. Splurge and dribble some on top of vanilla ice cream.
Enjoying your Sherry;
Dry Finos Sherries should be drunk slightly chilled while Olorosos, the darker and sweeter ones, should be drunk at room temperatur
Amontillados can go either way. Finos, like white wine, should be finished within a couple of days upon opening while Olorosos with their higher alcohol can hold out a bit longer.