Sherry enjoys a rejuvenation
By Dave Buchanan
ASPEN — What’s old is new again, as a sage once offered, and that’s certainly true in regards to Sherry.
You remember Sherry, that Spanish fortified wine that originated in Jerez (the proper pronunciation isn’t as easy as it looks but that’s where the Sherry name derived). Sherry enjoyed a long run but when tastes and drinking styles changes, it unfortunately was relegated to the kitchen cabinet.
Ah, but now the merry-go-round turns and Sherry comes to the fore. By the way, the name Sherry, like Bordeaux and Burgundy and Champagne, is protected by law and capitalized because it refers to an actual region. More information about Sherry is available here
Sherry comes in various levels of dryness, but since all Sherry is fermented dry and then fortified with brandy, the sweetness level is controlled after fermentation. In regular wine-making, the sweetness (or hints of sweetness) are controlled by stopping fermentation before the yeast bugs eat all the sugar.
Sherry styles range from fino, the driest, to sweet (or cream) Sherry.
What makes Sherry particularly unique is the solera system of aging. Here, large casks filled with younger wines gradually feed into smaller casks, sharing the attributes of many vintages, allowing the wine to ages until it’s a tawny liquid exploding with flavor.
The term “dry sack,” which refers to the solera method of aging, sometimes is used generically for Sherry but today that’s a line of fine Sherry imported by Kindred Spirits
of Miami, Fla.
As it is with other fine wines, aging brings a depth and range of flavors to Sherry under-appreciated by someone unfamiliar with Sherry's finer qualities.
“Sherry is coming back into their own,” offered Abbey Glazer of Kindred Spirits. “”It’s all about education, because many people still don’t understand how good Sherry can be.”
A medium-dry Sherry, such as an oloroso, is a delightful aperitif served chilled, something to be savored when the day ends and dinner comes to mind.
Two week we sampled two Sherry, Dry Sack (a blend of Palomino and Pedro Ximenez grapes) and Dry Sack 15, the more-sophisticated older brother blend of Oloroso and Pedro Ximenez that sees at least 15 years in oak casks and is promoted as a dessert wine and after-dinner drink.
Smooth, dark, intense, Dry Sack 15 was a lively palate pleaser even at 10 a.m. with a full day of tasting ahead. It was full of roasted nuts, dark raisins and figs, with hints of vanilla and black flowers, as a friend offered.
Dry Sack is produced by Williams and Humbert
, owners of the largest (1,200 acres) bodega in Spain. Dry Sack 15 retails for around $30 for a 750-ml bottle.
**Dry Sack Sherry, imported by Kindred Spirits of Miami, Fla., was featured at the Food & Wine Magazine Classic in Aspen.