You either love it or hate fortified wine , in my experience no other option is viable, you either get it or you don’t, basically it’s a bit of a Marmite drink. There is no doubting that sherry causes debate with its many styles from bone dry to cloyingly sweet. This Oloroso which literally translates to Fragrant or scented is somewhere in between dry and sweet. Just before I get into reviewing this bottle here is a quick explanation of something called Flor, followed by an introduction to the different styles of sherry (fortified wine ) as I understand them …….
Flor is a film of yeast on the surface of wine, important in the manufacture of some styles of sherry. During the fermentation phase of sherry production, the flor yeast works anaerobically, converting sugar into ethanol. It is also essential to keep young wines away from exposure to air by sealing (covering ) the surface of the wine in airtight barrels, to avoid contamination that tend to spoil it.
Styles of Sherry
Fino – Clear, bone dry with aromas of bready dough and almonds, aged in barrels with a covering of yeast on the surface which is referred to as Flor to prevent oxidation, must be served chilled and is great with salty Tapas including olives, nuts and Jamon Serrano. Best drunk young. Typically around 15 -17% abv
Manzanilla – the driest sherry and clear, very similar to Fino (still with layer of Flor) with perhaps a sharper taste and slightly salty, again great with Tapas, nuts and salty dishes. Typically around 15 – 17% abv
Amontillado – Aged under Flor initially then fortified again with alcohol again this time at a higher level (16 -18% abv) which breaks up the Flor allowing for oxidation, creating a darker colour wine with a more pronounced nuttier caramel like flavour although still on the dry side.
Palo Cortado – One of the rarer sherries, starting out as a Fino under a layer of Flor, when the Flor dies off naturally it starts to resemble an Amontillado style then for some unknown reason begins to develop a richer more complex flavour like that of the next darker style, Oloroso. 16-18% abv
Oloroso – No Flor here, still quite dry, darker browny amber gold colour with more pronounced flavours, still nutty with prunes, raisins and butterscotch. 16-20% abv
Pedro Ximénez (PX) / Moscatel – Extremely sweet style, made with PX grapes that have been dried out in the sun to increase sugar levels. Usually dark brown in colour thick and syrupy and very sweet with flavours of figs, raisins, toffee, chocolate and liquorice. Moscatel is similar, both styles labelled under their grape variety. Normally around 17-17.5% abv.
Very Rare Oloroso (M&S)
Made by a renowned Sherry house and bottled by Marks & Spencer this Oloroso marketed as BOB (Buyers own Brand) is a lovely example of a single vineyard sherry from Bodega Lustau in Jerez, Spain.
First thing to remember is this must be served chilled
Dark typical sherryesque colour with aromas of nuts (almonds and hazlenuts), malt cake, wood varnish and chocolate.
Tatse wise – Salty tang, malt cake again with raisins, sultanas, orange & lemon peel, vanilla oak and burnt toasted nuts.
Although brilliant on its own, it really comes alive when paired (as I did) with a selection of Tapas including Chorizo, Iberico ham, olives and almonds.
So don’t turn your nose up at Sherry, it’s now a trendy drink, so try some in all its styles, you may be pleasantly surprised.
M&S around £8 – £10 (37.5cl 20%abv)