When I studied languages at school I was taught the difference between “active” and “passive” moods, and this came to mind when discussing Sherry availability in the UK yesterday with Helen Highley of criadera.com. Many Sherry bodegas have “representation” in the UK which amounts to almost nothing. The importer has no sales force or distribution beyond their own location, no promotional activity, and at least one has no website. The wine is imported to fill a gap on their list. This situation is no good for Sherry aficionados, always looking out for something interesting, and no good for the bodega. This represents the passive mood.
Luckily the active mood is here and there is at last change in the air. Yesterday afternoon I had the pleasure of tasting some exciting Sherries with Helen and Roberto Rodrigo of Goya 23, Edinburgh’s best Spanish deli. Helen had brought a range of wines from two bodegas which she is importing in a small way (at first!) with the idea of building up a range of interesting Sherries which she can retail online to connoisseurs, or sell through carefully selected specialist wine merchants. This is an entirely separate venture from Criadera which will in no way affect its impartiality.
The bodegas in question are Urium and Faustino González, both in Jerez, and it was fascinating to see how the wines contrasted. Both had their distinct house style, but how distinct they were, with Urium showing real polish and finesse compared to the wilder racier style of Faustino González. Both bodegas make delicious wines of unimpeachable quality, they are just different, and that’s what made the tasting – indeed Sherry itself - so interesting.
From Urium were:
Fino en Rama (50cl, around 8 years old, saca May 2015)
Smooth with traces olive brine and ever-developing flor
Amontillado (50cl, around 15 years old)
Very elegant, quite fragrant and balanced, proper Amontillado
Palo Cortado (50cl, around 15 years old)
Very attractive with a trace of cinnamon on the nose, elegant on palate
Oloroso (50cl, around 15 years old)
Fairly full with savoury hint and trace of oak, some charm
PX (50cl, around 15 years old)
Velvety with coffee, chocolate, fig and raisin, charming but serious
And from Faustino González:
Fino en Rama (half bottle, around 10 years old, saca April 2015)
Bursting with flor zip
Amontillado en Rama (75cl, 18-20 years old)
Still notes of flor (!) racy bitterness balanced by implied sweetness, unusual and exciting
Palo Cortado en Rama(75cl, 18-20 years old)
Even a trace of flor here too, but hazelnuts on the nose and a slightly savoury, tangy palate
Oloroso en Rama (75cl, 18-20 years old)
Savoury notes, traces marmalade and cinnamon, generous and very fine
The online service will be called sherryboutique.com but will not go live for three or four months when Helen hopes to have all the necessary arrangements in place. If all goes well she hopes to expand the range, so watch out for this, it is a great idea and deserves support.