This article was published in The 30 Second Wine Advisor on Friday, Jun. 27, 2014 and can be found at http://www.wineloverspage.com/wineadvisor2/tswa20140627.php.
Where did Sherry go?
Looking at trends in food and dining, you might expect Sherry to be the next big thing. Tapas and "small plates" are hip; and the art of the cocktail is booming. So why not turn to Sherry? This natural cocktail was the original drink for tapas, which were served on tiny dishes used as lids ("tapas," in the vernacular) to keep fruit flies out of one's drink while dining al fresco in Jerez.
But it's just not happening. If anything, good Sherry is all but disappearing from the marketplace, at least in this neck of the woods. I had a tough time finding quality Sherry for this report. Even quality wine shops that used to be reliable sources for decent Sherry producers like Emilio Lustau now seem limited to mass-market brands like Dry Sack or Harvey's Bristol Cream , if that. No, thanks!
I just don't get it. Sure, Sherry is very different from traditional table wine, but there's a great deal more to it than that crystal decanter half-filled with sickly sweet, months-old stuff that your elderly aunt used to keep on the sideboard for occasional after-dinner nips. The Food 52 blog ran an excellent article this week, declaring Sherry The Home Cook's Best Friend and pointing out that sommeliers love Sherry for its versatility and complex, concentrated flavors.
I had to browse three wine shops, though, including a big-box store where no one seemed to have any idea what Sherry is, before finding a good, fresh bottle of Fino from Osborne, a major Spanish producer, at my usually reliable neighborhood wine shop, The Wine Rack.
If you're a wine drinker who doesn't care for the darker, heavier style of Sherries like Oloroso, Amontillado or the sugar-sweet Pedro Ximenez, there's no better place to start than Fino. Lighter in color, bone-dry in flavor, it's still bold on the palate, redolent of pecans and roasted, toasted flavors backed by zippy acidity and a pleasantly bitter finish. You'll find my tasting report below.
Wine Focus for June: The wines of Spain
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We've been tasting red and white wines (and rosado, and Sherry, too) from all regions of Spain, and those who for any reason have a hard time finding Spanish wines may go for the nearest geographic or stylistic neighbors. Pyrenees or Roussillon in France, for instance, or non-Port Douro reds and Portuguese whites bordering on Galicia.
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Today's Tasting Report
Osborne Fino Sherry ($11.99)
Clear, very pale gold color. Pleasant subtly nutlike Fino scent. The back label points us toward almonds, but I'd call something more like lightly roasted cracked pecans. Dry and crisp on the palate, which may come as a surprise to those who assume that all Sherry is sweet. Alcohol, too, though robust at 15 percent, is on the light side for Sherry. It's best served chilled, although I'd avoid palate-killing cold. Try taking it out of the refrigerator a half-hour or so before serving, then watch its flavor emerge as it opens up in the glass. U.S. importer: Evaton Inc., Stamford, Conn. (June 16, 2014)
FOOD MATCH: It was fine served by itself, as a cocktail-style aperitif, and also went well with creamy cheese. Fino will also serve at the dinner table, where it made an interesting match with a frittata filled with fresh garden green beans and browned onions, garlic and green pepper.
WHEN TO DRINK: Unlike sweeter Sherry, Fino is best served fairly fresh, but the Osborne's sturdy modern metal screw cap will help with that. Still, since it's non-vintage (as are all Sherries), you'll want to place your trust in a reliable merchant with good turnover who won't stick you with old, dusty bottles from the back of the shop.
VALUE: Wine-Searcher.com shows an average $15 retail price for Osborne Fino Sherry, but it's widely available, as I found it, in the lower teens, and a very good value at that price point.
WEB LINK: Here's a link to notes on all the Osborne Sherries, with further links to fact sheets and more.
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