Alvear Fino En Rama 2004
Known for bold reds, crisp whites and distinctive sparkling and fortified wines, Spain has embraced international varieties and wine styles while continuing to place primary emphasis on its own native grapes. Though the country’s climate is diverse, it is generally hot and dry. In the center of the country lies a vast, arid plateau known as the Meseta Central, characterized by extremely hot summers and frequent drought.
Ribera del Duero is gaining ground with its single varietal Tempranillo wines, recognized for their concentration of fruit and opulence. Priorat, a sub-region of Catalonia, specializes in bold, full-bodied red blends of Garnacha (Grenache), Cariñena (Carignan), and often Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. Catalonia is also home to Cava, a sparkling wine made in the traditional method but from indigenous varieties. In the cool, damp northwest region of Galicia, refreshing white Albariño and Verdejo dominate.
Sherry comes from only one place in the entire world, Andalucía, Spain where the soil and unique seasonal changes give a particular and unsurpassable character to its wines. The process of production—not really the grape—determine the type, though certain types are reserved for certain grapes. Sherry's main grapes include Palomino, Pedro Ximénez and Muscat of Alexandria.
Tasting Notes for Sherry
Sherry is a fortified wine that comes in many styles from dry to sweet. Fino, from Jerez, and the similar style called Manzanilla, from the humid and cool, coastal town of Sanlúcar de Barrameda, are the lightest and driest styles, and are meant for early consumption. Their creation is dependent on the action of flor, which are benevolent film-forming yeasts that make a floating veil on the surface of the wine, which aid in protecting it from oxidation. Amontillado happens when a Fino’s layer of flor fades and the wine starts to oxidize. Quite simply it is an aged Fino that has a darker color and richer palate. When flor yeast dies unexpectedly, the result is Palo Cortado. A Palo Cortado Sherry can behave like Amontillado on the palate but often show a greater balance of richness and delicacy. Oloroso never develops flor but is oxidized for anywhere from five to twenty five years, becoming aromatic and strong like a fine bourbon. A sweetened Oloroso is a Cream sherry; a Pale Cream is one that has had the color removed. Pedro Ximénez and Muscat, representing a tiny proportion of production can make some amazing single varietal sweet sherries but the vast number of styles are primarily based on the Palomino grape.
Perfect Food Pairings for Sherry
For Fino and Manzanilla, think Spanish tapas: baked anchovies, patatas bravas, olives, cold cuts and manchego. For Amontillado and Palo Cortado, dishes like roasted turkey, grilled tuna, artichokes and asparagus will go well; dark chocolate could pair with these too. Rich poultry and foie gras will work with dry Oloroso. Cream Sherry and sweet Pedro Ximénez should be enjoyed with dessert or cheese.
Sommelier Secrets for Sherry
Most Sherry produced is dry and meant to pair alongside traditional Spanish food. The British and American markets have traditionally focused on the sweet ones.