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El Maestro Sierra Oloroso 1/14 Sherry (375ML)
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
Pilar Pla Pechovierto currently owns Maestro Sierra. She is assisted by Ana Cabestrero and Juan Clavijo who is the Capataz (more below on the job description of a Capataz). Doña Pilar is a widow whose husband was a direct descendent of the Sierra family. She respected her husband’s wish that the winery remain in operation and over the last thirty years she has kept the winery open, selling very limited stocks of wine to a few of the large Sherry houses. Because the wines have virtually remained unmoved due to the almost non existent business, the stocks at Maestro Sierra are some of the oldest in Jerez
The other important aspect of the winery is that since the wines have seen little sales the stocks have remained virtually untouched for the last thirty years. The soleras at the winery are easily over 60 years old and some might be close to 100 years old. The larger houses have pillaged their old soleras, leaving them with little old wine. Unfortunately the legistation only allows for wines to be labeled as old as 30 years old (VORS). They also maintain an inhouse cooper to uphold the tradition of their heritage. By anyone’s standard the crown jewel of Sherry is Maestro Sierra.
Known more formally as Jerez de la Frontera, Jerez is a city in Andalucía in southwest Spain and the center of the Jerez region and sherry production. Sherry is a mere English corruption of the term Jerez, while in French, Jerez is written, Xérès. Manzanilla is the freshest style of sherry, naturally derived from the seaside town of Sanlúcar de Barrameda.
Most sherries are dry and meant to pair alongside food but Americans have traditionally focused on the sweet ones. Sherry comes from only one place in the entire world, Andalucía, where the soil and unique seasonal changes give an unsurpassed character to its wines. The many styles change with the process of production, not really the grape, though certain styles are reserved for different grapes. The main grapes are Palomino, Pedro Ximénez and Muscat of Alexandria.
Pedro Ximénez can make some amazing sweet sherries. Cream Sherry is technically the sweetest, darkest style of Sherry, except sometimes Pedro Ximénez can be sweeter. The rest of the styles are dry and dependent on the action of flor, which are benevolent film-forming yeasts that make a floating veil on the surface of the wine and protect it from oxidation.
Fino, from Jerez, and Manzanilla, from the humid and cool coastal town of Sanlúcar de Barrameda, are the lightest styles and are meant to be drunk young.
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. Palo Cortado Sherries 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 five to twenty five years and become aromatic and strong like a fine bourbon.