BEST SHERRY WINE

BEST SHERRY WINE

Sherry is a fortified wine made from white grapes that are grown near the city of Jerez de la Frontera in Andalusia, Spain. Sherry is produced in a variety of styles made primarily from the Palomino grape, ranging from light versions similar to white table wines, such as Manzanilla and Fino, to darker and heavier versions that have been allowed to oxidize as they age in barrels, such as Amontillado and Oloroso. Sweet dessert wines are also made from Pedro Ximénez or Moscatel grapes and are sometimes blended with Palomino-based sherries. The sherry designation contains some of the driest as well as the sweetest wines on the planet.

Today, sherry, just as with other spirits or liquors, can only be made within a specific region. Known as the Marco de Jerez or “Sherry Triangle,” sherry is made in three towns in Southern Spain — Jerez de la Frontera (known simply as Jerez, and pronounced “he-ref”), Sanlúcar de Barrameda, and El Puerto de Santa Maria.

After fermentation is complete, the base wines are fortified with grape spirit in order to increase their final alcohol content. Wines classified as suitable for aging as Fino and Manzanilla are fortified until they reach a total alcohol content of 15.5 percent by volume. As they age in barrel, they develop a layer of flor—a yeast-like growth that helps protect the wine from excessive oxidation. Those wines that are classified to undergo aging as Oloroso are fortified to reach an alcohol content of at least 17 percent. They do not develop flor and so oxidize slightly as they age, giving them a darker color. Because the fortification takes place after fermentation, most sherries are initially dry, with any sweetness being added later. In contrast, port wine is fortified halfway through its fermentation, which stops the process so that not all the sugar is turned into alcohol.

Wines from different years are aged and blended using a solera system before bottling so that bottles of sherry will not usually carry a specific vintage year and can contain a small proportion of very old wine.

Jerez has been a center of viniculture since wine-making was introduced to Spain by the Phoenicians in 1100 BC. The practice was carried on by the Romans when they took control of Iberia around 200 BC. The Moors conquered the region in AD 711 and introduced distillation, which led to the development of brandy and fortified wine.

Wine production continued through five centuries of Muslim rule. In 1264 Alfonso X of Castile Spain took the city. From this point on, the production of Sherry and its export throughout Europe increased significantly. By the end of the 16th century, Sherry had a reputation in Europe as the world’s finest wine.

Christopher Columbus brought Sherry on his voyage to the New World and when Ferdinand Magellan prepared to sail around the world in 1519. He spent more on Sherry than other significant supplies.

Sherry became very popular in Great Britain, especially after Francis Drake sacked Cadiz in 1587 and acquired 2,900 barrels of Sherry. These spoils of war were brought back to the British Isles and made Sherry very popular. Because sherry was a major wine export to the United Kingdom, many English companies and styles developed. Many of the Jerez cellars were founded by British families.

BEST SHERRY WINE, DRY AND SWEET TYPES

  • Fino is the driest and palest of the traditional varieties of Sherry. The wine is aged in barrels under a cap of flor yeast to prevent contact with the air. There is oxygen exposure, but the perfect amount, given the flor’s protective abilities. Relatively simple and great chilled, this is a good, inexpensive introduction to sherry. Try it with tapas. Fino sherries are purely biological in their production.
  • Manzanilla is an especially light variety of Fino Sherry made around the port of Sanlúcar de Barrameda. Manzanilla is also aged under the flor and shares many characteristics with fino sherries, except for one: Manzanilla sherry is only made in Sanlúcar de Barrameda.
  • Manzanilla Pasada is a Manzanilla that has undergone extended aging or has been partially oxidized, giving a richer, nuttier flavor.

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  • Amontillado is a variety of Sherry that is first aged under flor and then exposed to oxygen, producing a sherry that is darker than a Fino but lighter than an Oloroso. Naturally dry, they are sometimes sold lightly to medium sweetened but these can no longer be labeled as Amontillado. The result is a beautiful tawny specimen, often tasting woodsy, with candied fruit and nut elements. Amontillado sherries retain both the biologic and oxidative elements of sherry production.
  • Oloroso (‘scented’ in Spanish) is a variety of Sherry aged oxidatively for a longer time than a Fino or Amontillado, producing a darker and richer wine. With alcohol levels between 18 and 20%, Olorosos are the most alcoholic sherries. Like Amontillado, naturally dry, they are often also sold in sweetened versions called Cream Sherry (first made in the 1860s by blending different sherries, usually including Oloroso and Pedro Ximénez). If you’re looking for sherry at its most dense and sophisticated, this style is for you.
  • Palo Cortado is a variety of Sherry that is initially aged like an Amontillado, typically for three or four years. This will develop a character closer to an Oloroso. This either happens by accident when the flor dies or commonly the flor is killed by fortification or filtration.
  • Jerez Dulce (Sweet Sherries) are made either by fermenting dried Pedro Ximénez or Moscatel grapes, which produces an intensely sweet dark brown or black wine or by blending sweeter wines.

Grapes for Sherry Production

Currently, there are only three white grapes grown for sherry-making:

  • Palomino: the dominant grape used for the dry sherries. Approximately 90 percent of the grapes grown for Sherry is Palomino. As varietal table wine, the Palomino grape produces a wine of very bland and neutral characteristics. This neutrality is actually what makes Palomino an ideal grape because it is easily enhanced by the sherry winemaking style.
  • Pedro Ximenez: used to produce sweet wines. When harvested these grapes are typically dried in the sun for two days to concentrate their sugars.
  • Moscatel: used similarly to Pedro Ximénez, but it is less common.

Fortification

Immediately after fermentation, the wine is sampled and the first classification is performed. The casks are marked with the following symbols according to the potential of the wine:

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a single stroke indicates a wine with the finest flavor and aroma and thus compatible with Fino or Amontillado. These wines are fortified to about 15 percent of alcohol to allow the growth of flor.

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A single stroke with a dot indicates a heavier, more full-bodied wine. These wines are fortified to about 17.5 percent alcohol to prevent the growth of flor, and the wines are aged oxidatively to produce Oloroso.

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a double stroke indicates a wine that will be allowed to develop further before determining whether to use the wine for Amontillado or Oloroso. These wines are fortified to about 15 percent alcohol.

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a triple stroke indicates a wine that has developed poorly and will be distilled.

Fine Sherry and What To Eat

The wines under the ‘sherry’ umbrella range from the lightest and driest in the world right through to the sweetest and everything in between. Here are just a few of the key styles to try and what to eat with them. All but one here are made from the white Palomino grape.

Fino and Manzanilla

The lightest and driest sherries, with virtually no sugar content. Not the style that most Brits associate with sherry, but these days it’s hugely popular. Treat like a dry white wine.

Straw-colored, crisp, with nutty floral notes. It’s aged under a beautiful layer of ‘flor’ made of local yeasts that protect its light color and give huge flavor to the wine.

Drink with: Lots of tapas would be a good start! In particular, anchovies, fine ibérico ham, crisp fried fish and plump juicy prawns, as well as sushi. Always drink fridge cold in a wine glass. Order good olives and almonds than just keep grazing.

Amontillado

A style that started life as a fino, but then aged for several more years creating a delicate and elegant wine, dry, amber-colored with floral and caramel notes, dried fruits and hazelnuts.

Drink with: Perfect with mushrooms, risottos and Spanish rice dishes. It pairs incredibly with asparagus and artichokes, as well as smoked fish and cured meats. Also, brilliant with spiced oriental and Asian dishes. It’s so versatile with most foods.

Oloroso

Oloroso translates to ‘aroma’. It’s powerful and robust, and a bit higher in alcohol (at least 17%). Aged in contact with oxygen, the color has more of a mahogany tinge. Olorosos will be warming, rounded, with hints of wood, hazelnut, and dried fruits.

Drink with: As a more powerful sherry it pairs wonderfully with braises, stews, casseroles and mature cheese. It also goes wonderfully well with good rare tuna dishes.

Pedro ximenez

‘PX’ as it’s often termed is no shrinking violet. If fino is the driest sherry in the world, then this is the sweetest, with up to 50% sugar content! Not made from palomino, but actually from the Pedro Ximenez grape, sun-dried in the Andalucian sun to concentrate its sugars before being pressed.

Drink with: vanilla ice cream as a saturating topping. Also, heavenly with any chocolate dessert, such as churros with hot chocolate sauce. Contrasting it also pairs wonderfully with strong blue cheeses.

Please sample some of our fine selections of Sherry or go to our main site for an absolutely complete selection of fine wines and exceptional beverages for your pleasure.

 

Deliciosa manzanilla 2019 en rama valdespino, 15%

El Maestro Sierra amoroso medium, 19%

Mil Pesetas cream sherry NV, 18%

Don PX vino dulce de passas 2017, 17%

Gonzalez byass apostoles palo cortado VORS, 20%

Pedro’s almacenista selection amontillado, 19%

Xeco fino, 15%

Croft Particular sherry, 17.5%

Gonzalez byass del duque VORS amontillado sherry, 21.5%

BEST SEMILLON WINE

THE BEST SEMILLON WINE

Sémillon is one of the wine world’s somewhat famous grapes. This gold-skinned grape produces France’s most famous and revered sweet wines, such as Sauternes, and some greatest dry white wines of Australia and the best Semillon wine of either France for Sauternes or Australia for fine dry white wines

Semillon Sémillon Grapes

The Sémillon grape is native to the Bordeaux region. It was known as Sémillon de Saint-Émilion in 1736.It first arrived in Australia in the early 19th century and became extremely popular. The Semillon grape by the 1820s the grape covered over 90% of South Africa’s vineyards, where it was known as Wyndruif, meaning “wine grape”. It was once considered to be the most planted grape in the world, although this is no longer the case.

Sémillon, which is relatively easy to cultivate, consistently produces six to eight tons of grapes per acre from its vigorous vines. It is fairly resistant to disease and ripens early, when, in warmer climates, it acquires a pinkish hue. Since the grape has a thin skin, there is also a risk of sunburn in hotter climates; it is best suited to areas with sunny days and cool nights.

The Sémillon grape is rather heavy, with low acidity and an almost oily texture. It has a high yield and wines based on Semillon can undergo significant aging. Along with Sauvignon blanc and Muscadelle, Sémillon is one of only three approved white wine varieties in the Bordeaux region.

The grape is also key to the production of sweet wines such as Sauternes. For the grapes to be used for sweet wine production, they need to have been affected by Botrytis cinerea, (also known as “noble rot“). This fungus dries out the grapes, thus concentrating the sugar and flavors in the grape berry.

Semillon showing signs of developing noble rot

The grape’s home is Bordeaux, and in the 1960s it was planted more than any other variety there. It is here on the Atlantic coast that Sémillon gives its most famous expression: the botrytis-affected wines of Sauternes. Foggy mornings followed by sunny afternoons encourage the development of Botrytis cinerea, leading to the luscious, long-lived wines that are some most collectible in the world.

When vinified, sweet wine made from Sémillon can take on a multitude of flavors, particularly peach, nectarine and mango, with notes of citrus, nuts and honey. Because of the concentrations of sugar and glycerol the wine demonstrates a very silken texture.

Often lacking the acid required to balance its weight, Sémillon is often blended with Sauvignon Blanc. Muscadelle is also added to enhance the fruitiness of the white Bordeaux Blend. Intensely structured Sémillon wines may be barrel-aged, while fresher examples are typically fermented in stainless steel.

As a dry wine, Sémillon requires a unique set of conditions in which to make quality wine including a certain amount of rain to produce these top quality dry wines of the unoaked Sémillon. The best Hunter Valley wines are some longest-living dry white wines in the world.

Sémillon is an important cultivar in two significant wine producing countries. In France, Sémillon is the preeminent white grape in the Bordeaux wine regions. The grape has also found a home in Australia; whereas today the country’s major white varieties are Chardonnay and Sauvignon blanc, early in the country’s viticultural development it was Sémillon that was the most significant white variety.

France

In France, the Sémillon grape is grown mostly in Bordeaux where it is blended with Sauvignon blanc and Muscadelle.[6] When dry, it is referred to as Bordeaux blanc and is permitted to be made in the appellations of Pessac-Léognan, Graves, Entre-Deux-Mers. However, when used to make the sweet white wines of Bordeaux (such as those from Sauternes, Barsac and Cérons) it is often the dominant variety. In such wines the vine is exposed to the “noble rot” of Botrytis cinerea. Which consumes the water content of the fruit, concentrating the sugar present in its pulp. When attacked by Botrytis cinerea, the grapes shrivel and the acid and sugar levels are intensified.

Australia

Sémillon vines growing in Gisborne, New Zealand

Sémillon is widely grown in Australia, particularly in the Hunter Valley north of Sydney. Four styles of Sémillon-based wines are made there:

  • a commercial style, often blended with Chardonnay or Sauvignon blanc;
  • a sweet style, after that of Sauternes;
  • a complex, minerally, early picked style which has great longevity;
  • and an equally high quality dry style, which can be released soon after vintage as a vats- or bottle-aged example.

The latter two styles were pioneered by Lindemans, Tulloch, McWilliam’s Elizabeth, Drayton and Tyrrell’s, and are considered unique to Australia.

Most examples of these bottle-aged Hunter Semillons exhibit a buttercup-yellow color, honey characteristics on the nose and excellent complex flavors on the palate, with a long finish and soft acid. Young Hunter Valley semillon is almost always a dry wine, usually exhibiting citrus flavors of lemon, lime or green apple. Cooler-year Hunter Semillons seem to be the most highly sought after.

Sémillon is also finding favor with Australian producers outside the Hunter Valley in the Barossa Valley and Margaret River regions. The Adelaide Hills is becoming a flourishing region for Semillon with the cooler climate producing some wines of great complexity.

South Africa

Semillon is one of the Cape’s true heritage white varietals, with origins as early as the 17th century when it became known as Groendruif which translates as Green grapes. This grape variety accounted for more than 90% of plantings in the first half of the 19th century. While South African Semillon has not quite taken off as a serious commercial category in single varietal form in the modern era, there are stunning wines being made from especially older vineyards. The best South African Semillons have juicy fruit with often an ethereal-like citrus perfume, fine texture, herbal interest and manage to marry the intensity of flavors.

Other regions

Outside of these regions, however, Sémillon is unpopular and often criticised for lack of complexity and intensity. As such, plantings have decreased over the last century. As referenced above, the grape can still be found in South Africa and Chile. The latter is reputed to have the largest plantings of this grape, although the number of acres planted with Sémillon fluctuates often. California growers plant Sémillon primarily to blend it with Sauvignon blanc. There are some wineries in Washington State that have produced Sémillon as a varietal wine since the early 1980s; others actively produce Sémillon for Ice Wine and Late Harvest wines. The grape is also planted in Argentina, Canada (Niagara and British Columbia) and recently in New Zealand.

Semillon and Great Food Pairing

The Hunter Valley in Australia is the place to go for the best Semillon wine the most distinctive style. Fresh and zippy when it’s young, more complex and oily as it ages this is the perfect wine for raw and lightly cooked shellfish especially with Asian flavors.

Oysters

Fresh crab

Clams

Sashimi

Seafood salads

Spring vegetables such as asparagus and peas

Dishes with fennel

Dishes with a citrus influence

Lightly cooked fish dishes such as sea bass and razor clams

Soft shell crab

squid

smoked fish such as salmon or trout

Barossa Valley Semillon and other rich selections

Fuller and riper, often with a lick of oak, Southern Australian Semillons can take richer fish and shellfish dishes and light meats like chicken and pork – again with an Asian accent. Try:

Scallops (probably my number one choice)

Grilled lobster, prawns or Moreton Bay bugs

Salmon and salmon trout

Fish or chicken in a creamy Asian sauce

Seafood risotto

Thickly sliced ham

Pork or chicken satay

Other spicy but not over-hot pork dishes

Please review some fine selections of the Best Semillon Wine. Also, please go to our website for a complete selection of all our fine beverages

2011 Brokenwood ILR Semillon 750ml

2014 Carpenter Semillon 750ml

2015 De Romance 750ml

2017 Moss Wood Semillon 750ml

2015 Moss Wood Wilyabrup Margaret River Semillon 750ml

1995 Tirecul La Graviere Monbazillac Cuvee Madame Vendage Tardive 500ml

2004 Two Hands For Love or Money Cane Cut Semilion Late Harvest 500ml

1942 Yquem 750ml