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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.

£11.99, Tesco

LUSTAU 'PAPIRUSA' MANZANILLA

Light and bone-dry with a delicious salty

tang. A versatile sherry to pair with food.

£15.35, Berry Bros

Rudd

TIO PEPE FINO

Crisp, dry and savoury, it's the perfect

aperitif with salted almonds and jamón.

£10, Sainsbury's, Waitrose

VALDESPINO 'EL CANDADO'

PEDRO XIMÉNEZ

Pour this luscious, treacley PX over

vanilla ice cream for a decadent dessert.

£17.95, Lea

Sandeman

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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