2014-En Rama tutored tasting
I’m a huge fan of sherry. For bang per buck it’s probably the best value wine there is and I’m a regular attendee at the world’s biggest sherry event, The Great Sherry Tasting. With over 200 wines to taste it can be slightly overwhelming but this year I’m focussing on the En Rama style and a tutored tasting event led by Beltran Domecq of the famous sherry dynasty.
Beltran’s humour is as dry as the sherries we were tasting which make his sessions enjoyable as well as informative. He started off with a little history lesson (Al-cohol is a Moorish word-who knew?) and then moved on to detail how sherry is produced.
Palomino is the grape type used for the paler sherry types, the Finos and Manzanillas. After being barrelled the young dry white wine has reached an alcohol level of 11%. “Flor” yeast develops naturally on top protecting the wine from oxidation. This process creates the chemical compound acetaldehyde which gives sherry its characteristic pungent smell.
At The first classification the paler wines are graded as Finos and the darker as Oloroso. The wines then go through a process of fortification with the addition of pure grape spirit which increases their strength.
The wines are then aged in American oak casks using the Solera system, a dynamic process of ageing based on fractionally blending different vintages to ensure quality and consistency.
For the sherries to be En Rama the Wines are taken out of the butts in the ageing system without stabilising treatments such as fining, clarification or cold stabilisation. Because of this, Finos and Manzanillas En Rama need to be consumed within 6 months and, if opened within one week.
Beltran explained that Sherry should be drunk from a wine glass and not a schooner at between 5-7 degrees C and should always be stored upright. In terms of food matching, sherry works really well with
seafood tapas, salads with vinaigrette, fish, sushi, sashimi, jamon, mild cheeses and smoked fish.
The En Rama sherries are launched onto the market every year on the summer and have a terrific freshness and depth of flavour that can be lost in the stabilisation process. If you regard sherry as a drink for maiden aunts you should put aside your prejudices and try them out!