The Edinburgh trade was honoured last night to welcome Antonio Flores, the firm’s chief oenologist, for the González Byass Sherry Summit. The event took place in the wine shop/bar/restaurant of Le Bon Vivant where they have an intimate basement tasting room.
Antonio led us through a wonderful tasting in his inimitable and charming andaluz manner, more than ably assisted by his thoroughly capable team of UK managing director Martin Skelton, GB’s man in North Britain, Paul Shepherd, and Peter Allison, GB’s international spirits manager.
The tasting was seriously interesting, and part 1 followed the development of the grape must through Fino to old Amontillado. Part 2 took a look at the Palo Cortados and part 3 traced a path from sobretablas oloroso to the 30 year old Matusalem. Finally we arrived at the sweetened Oloroso and Pedro Ximénez.
Here are some brief notes on the wines:
Mosto 2014 As yet unfortified at 11.9% with 7-8 g/l glycerol and about 1 g/l residual sugar. Fruity with notes of apple and fresh apricot, a slight hint of dissolved CO2. Effectively a young table wine.
Sobretablas Fino 2014 Now fortified to 15.5%, the wine is made and ready for the fourth criadera, with 7g/l glycerol and 1 g/l residual sugar. It is slightly fuller and ever so slightly more Sherry like but still tastes much like the mosto.
Tio Pepe Fino This is what the wine is like after 5 years under flor which has been busy consuming the glycerol (now down to only 2g/l) and residual sugar (down to 0.5 g/l). It is of course the finished Tip Pepe, much drier, less fruity and a lot more delicious. (See separate post).
Tio Pepe en Rama saca 2015 This is the unfiltered, straight from the solera version of Tio Pepe, rich in zippy flor notes with considerable depth of flavour. (See separate post).
Viña AB Amontillado This is a further development of wine from the Tio Pepe solera which spent 8 years there followed by 4 years of oxidative ageing. Technically (but unfortunately not legally) this is a “Fino-Amontillado” which still shows many Fino characteristics but with attractive oxidative notes and a smoothness from the dead yeast cells in the butts. Lovely. (See separate post).
Amontillado del Duque VORS Viña AB with a further 18 years of ageing in the solera del Duque. This is a serious and totally delicious wine which is simply a (very carefully managed)development of the original mosto and shows the evolution of a Sherry and the effects of flor and oxidation. (See separate post).
Sobretablas Oloroso 2014 18% With an old gold to pale amber colour and a fruity nose with orange and dried fruit notes, traces already of oxidation, and a soft and fruity palate, this is made wine ready for the criadera.
Oloroso Alfonso 18% Here we see how a further 8 years in the solera system develops the wine, and how the absence of flor gives a completely different style. The residual sugar is 3.5 g/l while the glycerol is about 9 g/l. This is a typical oloroso, dry, well rounded and generous. (See separate post).
Palo Cortado Leonor Made from mostos which must be suitable for Fino and fortified to 15.5%, but which can’t sustain flor for more than a few months in the sobretablas stage. Once identified as Palo Cortado it is fortified to 18% ready for the solera. (See separate post).
Apóstoles VORS This wine starts out with 87% Palo Cortado from the Leonor solera at 12 years old then blended with 13% PX. The blend is then aged a further 18 years. It has 50 g/l sugars. What a wine! So refined and characterful – and quite unusual. (See separate post).
Oloroso Solera 1847 Dulce The wine is a blend of 75% Oloroso from the Alfonso solera and 25% PX and is a Cream Sherry with an average age of 8 years and 120 g/l sugars. (See separate post).
Oloroso Dulce Matusalem VORS This stunning wine is made from Solera 1847 and simply aged a further 22 years. Transpiration losses change the sugar reading to 130 g/l, but the attendant concentration balances this with intense flavour. (See separate post).
PX Nectar Produced from GB’s own PX vines, the grapes are late harvested then dried in the sun for a good 2 weeks before being fermented to about 5% then fortified to15% and aged for 8 years. The sugar reading is 380 g/l. (See separate post).
PX Noe VORS This is simply Nectar aged for a further 22 years which give it much greater concentration. It is immensely fruity, and despite the huge amount of sugar, has a delightful balance and lightness of touch. (See separate post).
After the tasting a selection of Sherry cocktails was available, but they weren’t for me (nor a few others). A wine as perfect as Sherry simply cannot be improved upon.
Such an interesting event does wonders for goodwill towards Sherry and has certainly fired up a deeper interest in this great wine. A larger venue could surely have been filled, cask samples permitting, but everyone there enjoyed themselves immensely and learned a lot.
¡Muchísimas gracias, Antonio!