Some may shake their heads in disbelief when told that sherry could be the next hot wine style. Sherry suffers from a polarised image. Among the younger drinkers it is considered to be fusty, sweet, even cloying. However, wine professionals and fans think of it as one of the best value wines, with complexity and depth of character. The growing number of trendy sherry bars opening up in cities such as London and New York and increasing media attention point to a revival in popularity.
Sherry originates from Jerez in the southwest of Spain. It is a fortified wine made from the white grape palomino. Neutral spirits are added after fermentation to increase the alcohol level. Wines are aged in the solera system, a complex blending of young wines with older wines.
There is a large range of sherry styles: dry, off dry, sweet and lusciously sweet. Dry sherries include Fino, Manzanilla and Amontillado. Next is the Oloroso, which can be dry or sweet, and then cream sherries, which are sweetened with Pedro Ximenez wine. The sweetest style is the syrup-like Pedro Ximenez, with more than 400 grams of sugar per litre.
For a sherry tasting experience, gather a few friends and taste the entire range from dry to sweet over a meal. Lustau, a renowned sherry producer founded in 1896, has been described as the "Rolls-Royce" of sherries and is a good way for wine lovers to initiate themselves.
Lustau Puerto Fino Sherry Solera Reserva
Fino sherry and Manzanilla (a similar style produced in the seaside town of Sanlucar de Barrameda) is the lightest style and lower in alcohol (15 per cent). Jancis Robinson describes it as "the freshest, tangiest wine in the world". Its salty, yeasty favour comes from "flor" - a strain of yeast that produces a layer over the wine, protecting it from oxidation. Enjoy Fino while it's young and treat it like a white wine. Once opened, it should be finished within a few days.
Smoky, almond, nutty notes. Medium body, refreshing and intense with a slightly salty palate. Works well as an aperitif and with oysters, nuts, and steamed fish. HK$179
Lustau Dry Amontillado Los Arcos Solera Reserva
The Amontillado style starts ageing like the Fino. It ends the process with contact with oxygen. This creates a darker wine with nuttier notes. Amontaillados are dry naturally, though some houses may sweeten them.
Nutty, raisins, with hints of toffee. Intense on the palate, bone dry, well-balanced, long with a touch of bitter almonds at the end. Try with richer foods such as crab, pigeon or duck. HK$179
East India Solera Sherry
An Oloroso style blended with Pedro Ximenez to produce a sweeter wine. Lustau has named this blend after the first of its wines that were shipped to India.
Raisins, candied fruit, fruitcake nose. Well balanced with rich fruit, sweet and spicy. Will pair with blue cheese, foie gras or braised meat dishes. HK$300
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