THE FIRST LADY OF SHERRY CAR­RIES ON A TASTE­FUL TRA­DI­TION

MONTSE MOLINA

Seabourn Club Herald - - UNCORKED - By Susy Atkins

Bar­badillo’s wine­maker takes a slen­der, long-handled metal stick with a lit­tle cup on the end — known as a ve­nen­cia — and plunges it into an oak bar­rel. The cup emerges full of cool, fresh sherry which she splashes into my glass, re­leas­ing a scent of freshly baked bread and citrus peel. It’s the win­ery’s renowned Solear man­zanilla, made in the an­cient cel­lars of the Bar­badillo bodega in San­lú­car de Bar­rameda and aged for six years in-cask be­fore re­lease.

“The most spe­cial part of my job is work­ing in a wine re­gion with so much tra­di­tion, cen­turies-old winer­ies and wines,” says Montse Molina.

She has worked at Bar­badillo for over 20 years, and still loves ev­ery­thing about sherry. “Af­ter all this time, it is still ex­cit­ing for me to taste a sherry wine that’s fresh, alive and tasty af­ter so many years of ag­ing. And it’s amaz­ing that its fla­vors are due to the yeast ac­tions and our tra­di­tional meth­ods of pro­duc­tion.”

Molina grad­u­ated from Catalunya Univer­sity with a de­gree in oenol­ogy and viti­cul­ture be­fore start­ing her ca­reer as a wine­maker. She doesn’t only make sherry — she’s also re­spon­si­ble for de­vel­op­ing a white wine made from sherry’s palomino grape, a bot­tle-aged sparkling wine made from palomino blended with chardon­nay, and one of the re­gion’s only red wines, too. “Tra­di­tion is not a lim­i­ta­tion,” Molina says, and she’s clearly ex­cited by the in­no­va­tions too.

Later, she shows me an eclec­tic and dazzling range of the win­ery’s sher­ries, in­clud­ing a 30-year-old amon­til­lado a with notes of spice, gin­ger, pep­per and caramel, and an equally aged palo cor­tado with the most ex­traor­di­nar­ily long fin­ish, re­veal­ing lay­ers of choco­late, cof­fee and hazel­nuts. She ex­plains the con­cen­tra­tion is due to the loss of wa­ter over time and it gives char­ac­ter — “acid­ity, salti­ness” — to these ven­er­a­ble old sher­ries.

But she main­tains an­other kind of sherry is the best on the din­ner ta­ble. “Man­zanilla sherry is the most gas­tro­nomic wine,” she de­clares. “I like to match it with prawns, tuna, fried fish, and dishes with saline or vine­gar touches. And in­ter­na­tional food based on fish — es­pe­cially sushi!”

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