Fellow Wine Lovers,
What’s the best festival you’ve been to?
For Wayne, Woodstock ranks highly from the vague snippets he can recall (you just had to be there, man), the Bang Face Weekender and the Hull International Sea Shanty Festival both coming a close second. My wife really liked the idea of Bookfest, until it was explained that it wasn’t simply an opportunity to sit in a tent on Wimbledon Common and read your book uninterrupted for 10 days. Rufus really wants to go to the Kattenstoet, particularly the bit when they throw the cats out of the belfry tower into the square below – however he’s not able to go because it’s in Belgium, he’s a cocker spaniel without a passport and apparently they stopped throwing real cats in 1817.
Me, well I don’t know. Having had, at university, a reasonably lucrative career driving people down to Glastonbury at 2am to help them climb the fence and pocketing enough cash to get me to the pub for the next week, my view of festivals is more from the position of facilitator rather than attendee. The Bearded Theory Festival in Derbyshire is an attractive proposition on name alone as is the Hop Farm Festival but the current favourite is of course our very own Great Sherry Festival.
Two weeks of drinking and talking about sherry in the comfort of our own shop with no need to queue for a portaloo or an overpriced falafel and no requirement to sleep under canvas. Yes, two weeks – far longer than your Isle of Wight or Reading events and far less smelly.
Last weekend really kicked it off – we had Bodegas Rey Fernando de Castilla Classic Dry Manzanilla 37.5cl £7.99; we had Emilio Lustau Almacenista Manuel Cuevas Jurado Manzanilla Pasada de Sanlucar 50cl (£21.99); we had Bodegas Rey Fernando de Castilla Fino En Rama 37.5cl (£9.99), we had… we had loads open.
And we’re going to have them all open again this weekend – I’ve attached a list if you’d like to see what we’ve got – so hopefully those of you that already love Sherry can re-visit some old favourites and those of you who’ve always wondered what all the fuss is about, well, you can find out what all the fuss is about…
As with all good festivals, there is always some sort of highlights programme late on a Saturday night and this festival is no different. Actually there is no programme but we do have a short list of firstly, things we have learnt about sherry this week and secondly, things we have learnt about you
Things we have learnt about sherry this week
Amontillado is the most adaptable – it goes with nuts, cured meats, mature cheeses, salt fish, baked fish, salt baked fish (!), consommés, shellfish, smoked fish, fresh tuna, artichokes, asparagus, mushrooms, game, spicy dishes and of course, on its own.
Manzanilla and Fino, with their low acidity, are the perfect foil to dressed salads – the vinegar acidity doesn’t have anything to fight with – so we can pencil in Salt & Vinegar Squares as a good match here too.
Cream sherry, when made with top quality Oloroso and a splash of PX is a joy to behold and far removed from the stuff in blue bottles – in fact it can even have a herbaceous character, reminiscent of a good Vermouth. Who knew? Definitely not us until this week…
Things we have learnt about you
Many of you came in and, quite rightly, said that you preferred the drier Manzanilla style of sherry, the stuff you enjoy with some tapas and olives and that really the sweet sherries were not your cup of tea and a bit Aunt Maud, if you will.
Best-selling sherry so far? Bodegas César Florido Moscatel Dorado 37.5cl £8.99 – a sweet sherry made from late harvested Moscatel grapes in Chipiona, on the coast. Oooo, that’s absolutely delicious, was the oft heard phrase!
So, in conclusion – sherry on tasting all day today and tomorrow, places filling on our various evening tastings, especially the Posh Italian Evening (see attached), and rugby on the TV all weekend.
England v Wales – I couldn’t possibly comment in writing!