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yeast, known as or, develops on the surface
of nos and manzanillas. This stops the wines
oxidising any more, retaining their freshness
and lightness. Amontillados and olorosos
don't develop or, so as they age over time
they oxidise and will taste more intense.
To make matters more interesting, all of
these sherry styles are blends of wines from
di erent vineyards and vintages. Butts of
each particular style are arranged by year in
a 'solera' system. Older barrels are topped
up with wine from younger barrels to ensure
consistency in avour. Amazingly, the barrels
in some solera systems can be more than 100
years old, meaning that your bottle of sherry
can contain a proportion of very old wine
indeed. See, I told you sherry was special...
Take a tour
The best way to get to grips with the di erent
styles and see a solera in action is by visiting
one of the many sherry bodegas in Jerez.
A company founded by Brits is a suitable
place to start, so head for
Harveys (Calle Pintor Muñoz
Cebrian, tours and tasting
from 10am, €8/£6).
Andalucian houses are
typically arranged around
a central courtyard and this 19th-century
bodega boasts a colonnaded portico with
a 100-year-old vine. A museum in the old
distillery contains vintage wine presses, while
the cathedral-like cellars stacked with soleras
will leave your head spinning - the largest
houses 6,000 butts. Tastings include popular
Harveys Bristol Cream and a luscious PX.
One of the largest bodegas is owned by
González Byass and named after its most
famous sherry: Tio Pepe (Calle Manuel María
González, tours and tasting from 12pm, from
€12.50/£9). Jump on board the little train for
a tour that takes in a barrel house designed
by Gustav Ei el (of Tower fame), autographed
butts - look out for Picasso and Martin Luther
King - and the sherry-loving mice who have
learned to sip from a glass. Follow their
example and end your visit with a refreshing
glass of Tio Pepe, a classic no.
The sherry bodegas aren't the only sight
worth seeing in Jerez, however. The town
SHERRY WITH STYLE
Try these at home and remember
to serve chilled...
HARVEYS SIGNATURE 12 YEAR OLD
A velvety blend of oloroso and PX with
rich notes of dried fruit and gs.
LUSTAU 'PAPIRUSA' MANZANILLA
Light and bone-dry with a delicious salty
tang. A versatile sherry to pair with food.
£15.35, Berry Bros
TIO PEPE FINO
Crisp, dry and savoury, it's the perfect
aperitif with salted almonds and jamón.
£10, Sainsbury's, Waitrose
VALDESPINO 'EL CANDADO'
Pour this luscious, treacley PX over
vanilla ice cream for a decadent dessert.
BRITS BECAME FANS OF SHERRY WHEN
FRANCIS DRAKE SACKED CÁDIZ AND
MADE OFF WITH 2,900 BARRELS OF IT
ageing and grapes used; colour is a handy
way to distinguish them. The most widely
produced style is no, a pale and bone-dry
sherry with nutty, tangy avours. Manzanilla
is a light version of no that comes exclusively
from Sanlúcar de Barrameda and has a
distinctive salty taste.
Progressively darker in colour and heavier
in style are amontillado and oloroso, which
are aged longer than no to produce more
complex avours. Cream sherries are made
by blending an oloroso with the sweet juice
from dried PX grapes; while the sweetest
sherries, 'Jerez dulce', are made from PX and
Moscatel (see box, for recommendations).
All of these styles start life in the same way,
as fermented grape juice. After fermentation,
the wines are forti ed with brandy - less for
the lighter nos and manzanillas, more for the
heavier amontillados and olorosos - and put
into 500-litre barrels called butts.
Thanks to the reaction between the wine
and the oxygen in the butt, a creamy lm of
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