Sherry comes bang up to date

Flagship Wines 09.05.13

Flagship Wines 09.05.13 - Credit: Archant

THE latest En Rama sherry is now available. Gonzalez Byass, the producers of Tio Pepe and other sherry producers have recently launched their latest En Rama sherries and I was reminded of its fresh delicate aromas and flavours at a fortified wine tasting recently.

En Rama is the local jargon used by workers in sherry producers in Jerez to refer to wine in its natural unfiltered state before the filtering and clarification pre-bottling processes to which wines including sherry are subject. Tio Pepe Fino En Rama is made from wines in carefully chosen soleras that showed great finesse and intensity of aroma and flavour.

The Solera system in which sherry from different years is blended and aged contributes to the consistent quality of the wines. Sherry is aged under a covering of flor, a naturally occurring yeast, and is extracted from under this and allowed to settle for a few months in a stainless steel tank before bottling.

As En Rama sherry is unfiltered and unclarified it should be kept cool and to enjoy it in its wonderful lightest most delicate state consumed within three months of bottling. After this time some of youthful characteristics may be less noticeable but the wine will gain in intensity and depth of flavour of the savoury almond and citrus notes.

Tio Pepe En Rama and others of this ilk are just part of the broad spectrum of flavours of sherry. Manzanillas and Finos are similarly light crisp and tangy though more so in the former with its salty tang derived from maturation on the coast at Sanlucar de Barrameda. There is a slow gradation from this light sherry style through to the richer slightly nutty Amontillados to Palo Cortado which starts off like an Amontillado but ends up closer to the richer sweeter Olorosos that have a marmalade / orange zest note on the aroma and palate.

Olorosos develop when the flor dies naturally or if it is killed by fortification and though naturally dry they are often sweetened and having often aged for longer are darker and have a higher level of alcohol. The best known commercial version of Oloroso is Harveys Bristol Cream that was loved by sherry drinkers in the 70s and this particular style is the culprit we can blame for the negativity towards sherry that is obvious today.

However, as more sherries and contemporary sherry bars are available in which to enjoy the ever increasing array of sherries shipped to the UK it is becoming more acceptable to admit to enjoying it, whether it’s the dry Fino or sweeter Amontillado and Olorosos. It’s also worth seeking out some of the VOS and VORS classifications of sherry which were introduced in July 2000 for excellent aged Amontillado, Oloroso, Palo Cortado and PX wines. VOS, standing for Vinum Optimum Signatum in Latin and Very Old Sherry in English, must be at least 20 years old while VORS, Vinum Optimum Rare Signatum or Very Old Rare Sherry, must be at least 30 years old. These are only available in limited quantity and often in half bottles so won’t break the bank or go off in the fridge...

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So why not try some sherry soon, you’re bound to find a style you like and they make a great alternative to dry white wines and easily complement many dishes. They’re great to cook with too… But that’s another story! Back to the latest, freshest delicate tangy En Rama from Gonzalez Byass, delicious on a summery warm day like today with tapas.