Now that we are back in lockdown, and to raise everyone’s spirits in sherry week, we thought members might appreciate a look at one of the wine world’s most colourful regions. This time last year I paid my biennial visit to the so-called sherry triangle of Jerez, Sanlucár de Barrameda and Puerto de Santa Maria, the three towns that have become inextricably linked with the production of Andalusia’s most famous wines. Here is a flavour of what I saw.
Soil, soil and more soil…
The best vineyards of the region are planted on albariza soil, the pale, chalky earth that soaks up and retains moisture over the winter, and which reflects sunlight back up to the vines in summer.
The cathedral-like cellars of Jerez, with huge shuttered windows, allow maximum air circulation. This is crucial to the ageing of the wines.
Sampling from barrel
Fino, manzanilla and amontillado Sherries are aged under a layer of yeast, known as flor. This both protects the wine from oxidising and imparts the distinctive flavours to these Sherries. In order to draw tasting samples from the barrels a unique device known as the venencia was developed. This punches through the layer of yeast ensuring the sample remains clear of yeast particles.
Sherry and tapas
Sherry makes a brilliant match with tapas. If you are tasting a large number of sherry samples in one sitting, some tapas at the end of the tasting is extremely welcome!
The vibrant colours of Jerez
Jerez is a great place to explore (once we’re able to travel again). The following pictures give a flavour of the place. I was fortunate to have a spare hour during my trip to visit the fruit and veg, and fish markets in the centre of Jerez.