It’s not every day you get invited up to London to have lunch at Moro and join in on a masterclass hosted by Miguel Montero of Valdespino sherry so I jumped at the chance. Sherry is having a real resurgence in the UK, and particularly in London where places like Moro, Brindisa and Barrafina are creating some amazing dishes and tapas to go with the different styles. Sherry is no longer thought of as a drink for your Aunt at Christmas!
The emphasis of the tasting was matching the different styles of sherry to food. Miguel started the tasting by stating that sherry can be drunk throughout a meal, from aperitif, with fish, meat and then dessert.
Valdespino is one of the oldest and one of the few still family-owned bodegas in Jerez. They also own over 750 hectares of vineyards which is very rare in this region, and they are also the only bodega to make single vineyard sherries.
We started the tasting with the Manzanilla Deliciosa, this is their lightest style of sherry, quite yeasty and bready on the nose with notes of flower blossom and a salty/chalky aftertaste. The salinity of the sherry comes from it being aged by the sea in Sanlucar de Barrameda, rather than inland in Jerez. This went really well with stuffed olives, salted almonds and Iberico ham.
The Inocente Fino is the same sherry as the Manzanilla but it is aged in Jerez. It has delicate aromas of almond, green apple and toasty yeast, but without the salty finish. Unusually for modern day Jerez, the Fino is still aged in 600 litre American oak barrels which is the traditional way. We stock this in half bottles (£7.99) which I think is the perfect size as sherry should not be left open in the fridge or back of a cupboard for long!!
Onto the main course of wood roasted pork with wild mushrooms and roast almonds – to match this dish I tried the Tio Diego dry Amontillado and the Palo Cortado Viejo. For this the sherry was served at room temperature rather than chilled. The Amontillado has a rich nose of caramel and toasted nuts, the dryness cut through the fat of the pork and the nutty notes complemented the almonds and mushrooms in the dish.
The Palo Cortado was more intense with a rounder fuller palate really nutty with intense notes of dried fruit, spice and vanilla – a great match to pork or even slow cooked shoulder of lamb or lamb tagine.
Following a brief pause to let the main course go down, we all opted to have Malaga raisin ice cream with Pedro Ximenez El Candado. Pedro Ximenez or PX for short is the sweetest style of sherry – grapes are harvested and dried out in the sun for about 2 weeks to concentrate the sugars. The grapes are then pressed and the wine is aged on average for about 10 years. It is deep mahogany in colour with notes of caramel, prunes, dates, chocolate and fig. It is smooth and velvety on the palate with an amazing length. A great match to dried fruit desserts or simply poured over vanilla icecream for a quick but delicious end to a meal! We have half bottles for £10.99 which I think are amazing value for the process that goes into making it.
As if we hadn’t eaten enough – out came some Spanish blue cheese. I managed just a small sample with the Oloroso Solera 1842. With this sherry 10% PX is added just to give it a slight sweetness/caramel notes – it was a perfect matching and great way to end a meal.
So, the different shades of sherry – this is a really brief introduction (we are hoping to do a tasting next year), but they are truly the most versatile and food friendly wines and I urge you to give them a go!
A big thank you to Liberty wines for putting on the lunch and Sam Clark at Moro for the amazing food.