Monday, February 26, 2007

Wine Club - Sherry

I'm usually the one who researches and buys the wine for wine club every month, so it was a real treat for me in February when one of our members offered to round up some Sherries for us to try. Given that we are mostly all Sherry neophytes, and we were tasting through four very different styles of Sherry, we did this as an open rather than blind tasting and read up on the different styles as we tasted. He also brought an amazing and varied selection of food (pictured above) - homemade black olive tapenade, pistachios and almonds, olives, and Garroxta, a really wonderful aged Spanish goat cheese. Looking at the scores, all of the wines got better with the food, but in most cases they didn't necessarily go perfectly with everything - some played really well with the nuts, others with the cheese, etc. But overall the food pairings were really good, and led to us drinking rather a lot of Sherry as we had to keep trying all the different combinations, and all those salty foods made us thirsty!

Barbadillo Fino Sherry Sanlucar de Barrameda SP
Very pale. Nose of caramel and vanilla, butterscotch, with hints of lemon and hyacinth. Very dry and light bodied, quite acidic. Sour sweet salty, all in one. Good with almonds and olives. 2.3 alone, 3.2 food. 1/3 alone, 2/4.5 food. $7.99

Hidalgo Manzanilla La Gitana Sanlucar de Barrameda SP
Very pale. Nose is a little retiscent, but once it starts showing it just grows. Butterscotch, caramel, nuts, honeysuckle. Palate is compex with salt and honey. Dry but round, medium body. Great with pistachios. 3.0 alone, 3.2 food. 2/4 alone, 1/5 food. $11.99 (500 mL)

J.P. Perez & Co. Amontillado Sherry, Jerez SP
Honey brown/toasted caramel. Nose has vanilla extract, caramel and maple syrup. The flavor is reminscent of a tawny port. Silk sweet, but not cloying, with some earthy undertones. Very drinkable. Balanced acidity, medium to heavy body. Good with cheese. 3.3 alone, 3.7 food. 2.5/4 alone, 2/4.5 food. $8.99

Hartley and Gibson's Oloroso Sherry, Jerez SP
Deep brown, almost coffee colored. Sweet, and a little bitter. Slightly medicinal, like a horehound cough drop. Alcoholic heat in the throat. Heavy bodied. Particularly good with the tapenade and cheese. 3.0 alone, 4.1 food. 2/4.5 alone, 2/5 food. $12.99

(Understanding the ratings: Wines are scored on a 5 pt scale. The scale does not reflect a formal evaluation of the wine, just how much people like or dislike it. Scores reflect averages and ranges across the group. Wines are tasted and scored first alone, and then with food. )

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