Manzanilla, Fino, Amontillado, PX

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Some headlines that caught or attention this week

·         Ban on Indian mango imports to EU comes into force (BBC)

Where does this leave Mango chutney?

·         Chelsea 1 Atletico Madrid 3 match report: John Terry and Jose Mourinho suffer Champions League semi-final heartbreak (The Independent)

No comment

·         Men fear ridicule over ordering wine (The Drinks Business)

British men enjoy drinking wine at home but avoid ordering it in a pub in case their friends make fun of them, a recent survey has claimed.  Man up.

·         Beer giant Lion buys NZ wine estate (The Drinks Business)

Lion New Zealand has purchased the Morton Estate wine brand, including its Stone Creek vineyard, strengthening its expanding wine portfolio.  Bugger – there goes another independent winery down the supermarket route.

And on a happier note:

·         Protester hits Nigel Farage with egg (BBC)

Anyway, back on track.  After the wonderful warm weather that helped us clamber through the last few days of April we welcome May with galoshes and an umbrella.  However we didn’t allow this climate change to dampen our spirits last night.  12 of us donned our sombreros, put Gipsy Kings on repeat, flipped the doorsign over to say ‘Siesta’ and settled in to some serious Sherry tasting. 

We were guided on our journey by the very talented Bea, a native of Cadiz who now lives over here and who was on hand primarily to pronounce all the names in a convincingly appropriate accent and also to give us the lowdown on all things Jerez.  Last year Bea received her Diploma as a certified Sherry Educator from the Consejo Regulador de la D.O. Jerez-Xeres-Sherry – and as she also managed full marks in both parts of the exam, she was presented with a Venencia for coming top of the class!  Aha, an expert in our midst, not before time.

It was pointed out to us early on that it was a nice change for people to not be  forced to listen to us massacring our Spanish pronunciation but to actually learn from a professional at the top of her game.  So we sat at the back and tucked into tortilla español, habas fritas, almendras, aceitunas, chorizo ibérico de bellota, jamón ibérico de Extremadura curada 24 meses,  pan y chocolate de verde y negros.  Oh, and some sherries from Bodegas Rey Fernando de Castilla too.

Whilst skulking at the back we took the opportunity to make some notes which we have taken the liberty of repeating here:

Classic Manzanilla 15% – £7.99

Not to be confused with camomile tea (same name be warned!) this has spent 3 years under flor. Fresh and tangy with fresh apple and floral notes and a touch briny into the finish, Wayne’s having this with tonight’s fish and chips.

Fino En Rama 15% – £9.99

This is raw fino, no clarification just a very gentle filtering, it has spent 6 years ageing under the flor. Richer and fresher than the Manzanilla with an almost honeyed note to it, Alex suggests “gambas al pil pil” but then he would wouldn’t he?

Antique Amontillado 19% – £30.99

Oh my! This little number has been ageing in a barrel for 20 years, having started life under flor before additional alcohol added to kill the flor allowing oxidative ageing. Nutty, caramel notes in the nose but the palate is bone dry and deliciously complex. Jamón Jamón!

Classic Oloroso 18% – £14.99

No flor involved here, just oxidation over the course of 12 years. More viscous in the mouth, yet still dry it presents spicy, rich dark fruit notes and a long pleasantly warming finish. We like the idea of mature cheeses with this, but if more serious sustenance is what you’re after game and braised oxtail are good ideas.

Antique Palo Cortado 20% – £34.99

A real treat. This rarity starts life as a fino until the flor goes wrong. Luckily for us when the flor went wrong here it didn’t turn into sherry vinegar but into this rare beast that has hung out in a barrel for 30 years just becoming awesome. It has a lovely umami character that’d be mighty fine with some foie gras. If that’s not your bag then why not give wild boar a go!

Antique Pedro Ximenez 15% – £30.99

When the grapes we on the vine for this Alex hadn’t started shaving! Thirty years in barrels has made this soft, rounded and properly sweet with more sugar than is mentionable in polite company. This is unctuous and delicious and most of us enjoyed it with some 70% Green & Blacks. Chocolate dodger Alex loved it with salted almonds, and there was talking of marinating raisins in it, for a naughty apple strudel!

Solera Gran Reserva Brandy 38% – £50

One of the smoothest brandies that we’ve had the pleasure of. Drier than most Spaniards, a bit richer than cognacs and with such a long finish we’ve forgotten where we started!


It was a fabulous evening, the flamenco singers arrived at 1am, Wayne re-introduced us to Gin y Tonica (50/50), we danced until dawn and then went for a swim in the sea… yo no soy marinero, soy capitan, baile la Bamba…..

We’ve still got the Brandy here to taste and joining it this weekend will be…

Bank holiday on Monday so we’ll be shut, business as usual Tuesday onwards.  We have a delivery into town on Tuesday though, so we’ll be here from about 4pm onwards.

Avoid the tube strike and drink wine in Wimbledon Park I say…

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