Behind the Cork™ - González Byass NOE 30 year Sherry

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González Byass NOE 30 year Sherry ($49.99)

This Sherry is from Jerez de la Frontera in south-western Spain. All true Sherry fortified wine comes from the vineyards around Jerez de la Frontera and the neighboring towns of Puerto de Santa Maria and Sanlúcar de Barrameda. Together they form the three points known as the 'Sherry Triangle.’

This NOE sherry, which has aged for over 30 years, follows a careful winemaking process that results in an impressive showing of the Pedro Ximénez grape.

Antonio Flores, winemaker and master blender at González Byass, is the maker of this sherry.

It has an intense dark brown color, with aromas of figs, coffee and spices. It is very sweet, fresh and has a silky palate.

This is dessert in a glass. Serve this one slightly chilled on its own or with acidic desserts


Disclosure of Wine Sample Submission: I received this wine at no cost for review. The opinions expressed are entirely my own.

Sample Provided by Rebekah Polster on behalf of González Byass

Behind the Cork™ - González Byass Viña AB Sherry

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González Byass Viña AB Sherry ($24.99)

This Sherry is from Jerez de la Frontera in south-western Spain. It is a city of long-standing wine traditions. All true Sherry fortified wine comes from the vineyards around Jerez de la Frontera and the neighboring towns of Puerto de Santa Maria and Sanlúcar de Barrameda. Together these three form the three points known as the 'Sherry Triangle.’

The Spanish Viña means vineyard and AB refers to Andrés Botaina, the original owner of the vineyard that supplied the grapes.

The Palomino grapes destined for Viña AB begin life as Tío Pepe. Following fermentation to between 11% and 12% alcohol the wine is fortified to 15.5% alcohol and then enters the Solera. The unique temperature and humidity in the Jerez cellars, the 15.5% alcohol and an empty space of 100 liters left in the cask create the perfect conditions to form a layer of yeast known as the ́flor ́ on the surface of the wine. This flor is the most important influence on the Fino wine as it protects it from the oxygen and gives it its unique aroma and character.

The wine remains for a minimum of 4 years following the traditional Solera system under the flor. After this time the wine is moved to the Viña AB Solera where it remains for another 8 years.

This Viña AB Sherry is amber in color, with nut and vanilla aromas. On the palate it’s got a big initial flavor that quickly moves to an easy finish with just a bit of saltiness and bitterness.

Serve this one well chilled with most any light fare. Cheers!


Disclosure of Wine Sample Submission: I received this wine at no cost for review. The opinions expressed are entirely my own.

Sample Provided by Rebekah Polster on behalf of González Byass

Ever Wonder? What's the Difference Between Sherry and Port Wine?

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I was recently asked about the differences between Sherry and Port. And while they may at first seem similar, they are actually quite different.

Both Sherry and Port are fortified wines meaning that distilled spirits, like brandy, are added to the wine. But that’s where the similarities end. Sherry and Port come from different places, are made with different grapes and are made in different ways.

Sherry comes from the Jerez region of Spain, where the primary grape is Palomino - a white grape. Fortification takes place at the end of fermentation. Most Sherry is then aged in a solera system, where vintages are blended together to ensure the consistency of the final product. Sherry's flavor ranges from bone dry to syrupy sweet. Dry Sherry ages under a cap of flor yeast, preventing the wine's contact with oxygen. These wines are usually crisp and refreshing. Other Sherries are aged in contact with air which gives them a nutty, rich flavor.

Port is produced in the Douro Valley region of northern Portugal, hence the name Port. The primary grapes used in the production of Port are red grapes and include Touriga Nacional, Touriga Francesa and Tinta Roriz (Tempranillo), but more than 80 varieties are permitted. With Port, fortification takes place midway through fermentation. This kills the yeast which ends fermentation. Being that fermentation was not complete, a bunch of residual sugar, not yet consumed by the yeast, remains in the wine, making it sweet. Styles of Port can be broken down into Ruby or Tawny. Ruby Ports are younger and tend to have more syrupy sweet profiles. Tawny Ports undergo extensive barrel aging which lightens their color and imparts more nutty, caramel, and spice flavors.

So, while both Sherry and Port are fortified wines, they are quite different. Cheers!


Behind the Cork™ - Tió Pepe Fino Sherry

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Tió Pepe Fino Sherry ($20)

Tió Pepe’s Fino Sherry is from the city of Jarez in southern Spain's Andalusia region.

It’s made from the Palomino grape, fermented to the 11-12% ABV range, fortified to 15.5% and then enters the Tió Pepe Solera. While it spends four years in the Solera, a layer of yeast, known as the ‘flor’ forms on the surface of the Sherry within the cask. This protects the Sherry from oxygen and gives Tió Pepe it’s unique aroma and character.

The aroma is notable for its yeast along with notes of toasted almond. This Sherry is a pale golden yellow in color and light in flavor (hence Fino). It’s completely dry and, when served very chilled, makes for a wonderful aperitif.

Sherry can also be used to make cocktails. And, Javier Ortega Diaz of Las Vegas NV recently used this Sherry to make the ‘Sophia’ cocktail that won the U.S. Tió Pepe Challenge in New York City and moved him on to the recent International Tió Pepe Challenge Final in Jerez.

The award winning ‘Sophia’ cocktail included 2 oz Tió Pepe Fino Sherry, 3/4 oz Solerno Blood Orange Liqueur, 1/2 oz Fresh lime juice, 1/2 oz homemade kumquat, rosemary & thyme syrup and 1 oz homemade sparkling hibiscus water and is served over ice. Sounds amazing!

So, whether you enjoy Sherry straight up or mixed in a cocktail, try this one from Tió Pepe. It’s quite nice. Cheers!


Disclosure of Wine Sample Submission: I received this wine at no cost for review. The opinions expressed are entirely my own.

Sample Provided by Rebekah Polster of Donna White Communications


Fortified Wines: Sherry and Vermouth

 

In recent posting we've addressed fortified wines including Port, Madeira and Marsala. All these wines are produced by adding either Brandy or neutral grape spirit to wines during the fermentation process or after fermentation is complete.

Without getting too much into the details of distilled spirits, Brandy (derived from the word brandywine, or burnt wine) and grape spirit are produced by heating wine to the point where the alcohol evaporates and is collected separately. Fortified winemakers then use these distilled alcohols to increase the alcohol levels in fermented wines.

While grape spirit is simply neutral-flavored grape alcohol, Brandy takes this grape alcohol one step further by aging it in wooden casks to smooth out the flavor of this otherwise harsh alcohol and give it its unique flavor.

Other popular fortified wines include Sherry and Vermouth.  Sherry, from Spain, is typically fortified with Brandy after fermentation is complete to produce a dry fortified wine. There are sweet styles of Sherry but the finer ones, from Spain, are dry.  The Spanish Sherries are made in multiple styles:

Dry Sherry: Made predominately from the Palomino grape:

  • Fino & Manzanilla - Very light in flavor. Can have salty fruit flavors.
  • Amontillado - A bit bolder with nutty flavors.
  • Palo Cortado - This is much richer with roasted flavors of molasses and coffee.
  • Oloroso - This style is intentionally exposed to oxygen during aging resulting its dark appearance and nutty flavors.

Sweet Sherry: Made from Pedro Ximénez or Moscatel grapes:

  • Pedro Ximéniz (PX) - This is the sweetest style with flavors dates and figs.
  • Moscatel - This has sweet caramel flavors.
  • Sweet Sherry: A blend of Oloroso and PX Sherry.

Vermouth is another fortified wine originally from Italy. Vermouth is produced from neutral grape wine or unfermented wine must. Producers then add additional alcohol and their own mixture of botanical products including fruits, herbs, spices and roots. After the wine is aromatized and fortified, the Vermouth may be bottled dry, or sweeteners such as sugar may be added to create the sweet style of Vermouth.

So during the past few entries we've made a quick pass through the most popular fortified wines. Next, we'll investigate dessert wines.  Cheers!