Saturday, June 17, 2017

She-e-e-rrry......... Sherry Baby! WSET Class 8 Part 1

Tuesday was my penultimate wine class - time to get nervous! Next week is the big exam!

This week was all about Sherry and Port.

Sherry is made from white grapes only. The alcohol is increased by adding more alcohol after fermentation. In taste, that means that it can range from bone dry to really sweet depending on what is added. Our instructor noted that Sherry has a bad image, thanks to its own marketing strategy of many years ago. While trying to carve out a niche in the liquor market, Sherry was touted as an old lady's drink and the old ladies bought it in droves.

Unfortunately, nobody else did. And the old ladies were not a market that was going to last forever.

Now that Sherry has this old lady associating, it has definitely affected its appeal - but has kept the prices down....

Dave, our instructor, really likes Sherry - thanks to his initial introduction to it in a WSET course. When he was running a liquor establishment - not sure if it was a store or restaurant - one summer, he bought a case of Sherry to sell to customers as he extolled the virtues of Sherry. At the end of the summer, the case was gone - he had sold one bottle to a customer and had bought the other 11 and taken them home!

After trying three different types of Sherries, I have to say that, although I really enjoyed the aromas of the different Sherries I tried, I did not like the taste of any of them. I am pretty open to new tastes, especially with alcoholic beverage, but I really did not enjoy any Sherry. I will go over what I had, though, with ratings provided by my instructor, rather than me.

First was the rather inexpensive ($20) Tio Pepe. This pale, gold Sherry was a Fino - which is the youngest type of Sherry. A natural yeast called flor forms on the top of the barrel when it is fermenting (and the alcohol percent is about 15%) and this prevents any oxidation. It had a great aroma, smelling of vanilla, cloves, nuts and prunes and was medium intensity. On the palate, was a different story, It had some pretty interesting tastes as I detected green pepper, stewed fruits, biscuit and prune. It was dry with medium acidity, medium body and a medium finish. It was reminiscent of 'Almonds' and was rated Very Good.

Next was a Lustau Amontillado Sherry which is the next level in Sherries. This pale, amber, clear Sherry has a higher alcohol than Fino because it is fortified with spirit so the flor dies and the Sherry becomes somewhat oxidized. It can be dry to medium and this one was dry. On the nose it had medium plus intensity and aromas of walnuts, vanilla, honey, figs and sultanas. On the palate, there was also caramel and hazelnut and medium acidity, medium plus finish and a medium plus finish. This wine was $22 for a half bottle and had 18.5% alcohol. This 'Hazelnut' Sherry was rated Very Good. 

Our final Sherry was a Lustau Oloroso - think 'O' for 'Oxidized'. It is aged from seven to 30 years and is the best of the Sherries. Don Nuno was $26 for a half bottle and was medium amber in colour. It had medium intensity on the nose where I noticed raisin, jam, fig, vanilla and a hint of smoke. On the palate there was also prune, raisin, cloves, honey, and Christmas cake! It was another dry Sherry with medium acidity and a medium plus body. I thought the this 'Walnut' Sherry had a long finish and was rated Very Good. 

I was hoping to have a better appreciation for Sherry but, no luck. It smelled so good but despite the complexity of tastes, I didn't enjoy it. 

What about Port? 

You'll just have to wait until my next blog post!

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