What to drink this week
News from sherry country A fall in quantity has led to a surge in quality, reports Harry Eyres
Reports of the demise of sherry are exaggerated. To be sure, the vineyard area has shrunk markedly— on a recent visit, I saw sunflowers growing on many hillsides I remember being covered with vines in the 1980s —but a greater focus on quality has emerged, together with some truly exciting new developments. Certainly, at the Feria de Sevilla (reportedly the world’s largest private party), I noted no lack of appetite for manzanilla, the bone-dry, salty and fresh version of fino aged in the old seaside town of Sanlúcar de Barrameda.
Why you should be drinking it
Sanlúcar used to be considered (by Jerezanos) to be sleepy and decidedly inferior to grander Jerez, but, to some extent, the roles have been reversed. Sanlúcar is home to a number of fine family firms, of which by far the largest is Barbadillo (others are Hidalgola Gitana and Argüeso). Barbadillo’s scale—it owns 1,485 acres of vineyards—has enabled it to experiment and diversify into table-wine and sparkling-wine production, while maintaining the highest standards with its classic sherries.
What to drink
My favourite Barbadillo sherry, Manzanilla Pasada En Rama Pastora (£31.47 per three 37.5cl bottles; www.amazon. co.uk), is ultra-fine, bracingly dry and long in flavour. I was also greatly impressed by a couple of winemaker Montse Molina’s ‘experiments’: Mirabrás 2014 (right, £21.45; www.les caves.co.uk) is made from partially dried grapes fermented in cask and the result is a golden-hued, delicious cross between manzanilla and white Burgundy. As for Quadis Criado en Barrica 2014 (£11.99; https://cellarandkitchen.adnams. co.uk), this blend of Tempranillo, Petit Verdot, Syrah and Tintilla de Rota has deep, blood-red colour and lots of earthy, minerally character with attractive freshness.