What to drink this week

News from sherry coun­try A fall in quan­tity has led to a surge in qual­ity, re­ports Harry Eyres

Country Life Every Week - - Town & Country Notebook -

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.

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