The president of the Consejo Regulador took advantage of his discourse at this week’s summer course at the International University of Andalucía in La Rábida (Huelva) to ask people to think again about Sherry and leave behind the stigma of it being a wine for drinking in bars or an aperitif. He has promoted Sherry as a multi-faceted wine which should be treated as such and not just seen as an aperitif, and it should be drunk from a wine glass, not a tasting glass.
He said that Sherry has a great affinity with gastronomy and is the perfect match for typical Andalusian dishes such as gazpacho, shellfish or white fish. He also regretted that there are wines from the Sherry DO which are hardly known or consumed in Spain yet in other countries like Britain and Holland they are widely consumed; these are the blended wines Pale Cream, Medium and Cream.
To restore the value of this great wine he stressed the importance of demonstrating that it has as much diversity as there are vineyards in the DO, giving it an enormous range of nuances. He also stressed the role of the Consejo in promoting Sherry, boosting education of sommeliers, ensuring Sherry appears more on restaurant wine lists, something which could be financed by selling the wines at the price they deserve and not selling them too cheaply.
Before his discourse, Beltrán outlined to his audience the different types of Sherry: the dry palomino wines Fino, Manzanilla, Amontillado, Palo Cortado and Oloroso, the sweet wines made from Moscatel or Pedro Ximénez and the blends thereof. He explained the climatic and quality factors which affect each Sherry harvest and the unusual ageing process in American oak butts in cathedral like bodegas with high rooves and grit floors which keep a steady temperature of 20 degrees.
Also present was one of the great Sherry figures: Pilar Pla, who at 90 years of age recalled how difficult it was for her to run her bodega El Maestro Sierra in a world dominated by men, as it was then. She had to prove that by hard work and considerable tenacity she had what it took before they would accept and support her. She said that her bodega owed its success to her team of employees and that she had no intention of retiring and would continue running it as it is she who keeps it alive.