It all started after parking the car under one of the orange trees in the historical city center of
Jerez de la Frontera, in southwestern Spain. I’ve always liked wine but I hardly knew about
sherry. Of course, sometimes I had a glass of dry Fino sherry as aperitif, but nothing else.
I already knew, while getting out of the car and smelling the particular sherry flavor, this would
be a great discovery!
My First Sips
The first big cellar I ran into was González-Byass. I could smell the fermentation through the medieval castle-like walls and it drew my attention immediately. However, I thought it would be too touristy and not authentic enough so I decided to walk by. I became more aware of the town and saw there were many more cellars. I decided to enter Lustau. This opened a new world to me! Here they explained to me exactly how sherry is made and aged. First there is the miracle of the flor, a natural yeast layer that covers the wine and prevents it from oxidation. However, sometimes it goes wrong and the yeast doesn’t do its job: the wine oxidizes and turns into amontillado. The winemaker knows which wine won’t be suited for a dry sherry and decides to top it with alcohol from the beginning. This turns the wine after aging in an amber colored oloroso.
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The Sherry System
I couldn’t believe my eyes at the sight of the barrels piled up in three layers or more. Already fascinated by this complex, miraculous sherry, I tried to understand the solera and criadera ageing system. After having tasted the whole range, from fino to the sweet Pedro Ximenez, and having walked in the Palomino vineyards, I fell madly in love with this wine region. I can’t get enough of listening to the passionate winemakers and learning about their wines. Jerez de la Frontera, a small town with history, to which I will always return.