Sherry, the least understood wine?

Sherry has an image problem in the Netherlands. It’s largely remembered as something grandma used to sip in the evening, or put in her trifle. Is it joining Madeira and Marsala, respectable fortified wines now largely denigrated to wines you cook with?

javier-hidalgoQuality wines are meant to be drunk. It wasn’t always this way. Historically, sherry was a popular drink in Holland. I worked for a while at Wijnkelder Brouwersgracht, an original cellar dating from the 17th century. Up until the 1980s, it was a storage and tasting place for sherries. But today, the average bottle of sherry in the Netherlands costs €5-7 and is bought in the supermarket. These wines do not represent the artisanal nature, the quality and diversity of styles that distinguish true sherry. I was in Jerez recently, and had the opportunity to visit three bodegas. I will not spend time here discussing how sherry is made. What I want to illustrate is the amazing range of styles of wines, and their culinary possibilities. During tastings, my hosts were fond of suggesting food combinations, and it is my belief that if sherry will enjoy a renaissance in the Netherlands, then restaurants must lead the way!

Bodegas Tradicion

bodegas-tradicionI first visited Bodegas Tradicion. This relatively young house was formed in 1998 yet only produces aged sherries. This is facilitated by buying in wines from other producers, an established practice in the industry. Two sacas (the process of drawing off of wines from each barrel) are performed traditionally by hand per year, leading to an annual production of about 13,000 bottles, half intended for the domestic market.

In Jerez, aged sherries whose blend have a minimum average age of 20 years are designated VOS, or Very Old Sherry. Blends with a minimum average age of 30 years are designated VORS, or Very Old Rare Sherry. more>>

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