What to drink this week
Sherry is shaking off its drab image and looking sharp, enthuses Harry Eyres
The graphs showing sherry sales over the past decade look distinctly droopy. Overall sales have almost halved since 2002, with particularly sharp declines in the two biggest export markets, the UK and Holland. But this gloomy picture is alleviated by an exciting renaissance at the highest quality levels. Free from the dowdy image generated by heavy, sweetened brands, sherry is finally emerging as one of the world’s greatest and most versatile wines.
Why you should be drinking it
High quality has always been maintained by certain large- or mediumsized bodegas such as González Byass (Tío Pepe), Valdespino (Fino Inocente), Barbadillo and Hidalgo La Gitana. Now, certain small bodegas offer exceptionally fine, and finetuned, examples of the different sherry styles, made in tiny quantities.
What to drink
Sherry isn’t really a single wine, but a family of wines of widely different character, ranging from the pale and delicately dry manzanilla to the intense, treacly sweet Pedro Ximénez. This week, I’m highlighting somewhat fuller-bodied examples of the driest styles, manzanilla (from the seaside town of Sanlúcar de Barrameda) and fino.
Two excellent manzanillas that show a little more depth and roundness than the ultra-fresh La Gitana are Barbadillo’s Solear (right, £5.49 per half-bottle; www.slurp. co.uk) and Argüeso’s San León (£8.40; www.masterofmalt.com). Barbadillo’s Pastora Manzanilla Pasada En Rama (£6.99; www. tauruswines.co.uk) is a little longer-aged, with a deep straw colour and pungent flor character. An exceptional fino, averaging nearly 10 years of age, with lovely fullness and a long fine finish, is Fernando de Castilla’s Antique Fino (£15.95 per halflitre; www.slurp.co.uk).