By: Joe Manekin | K&L Spanish and Portuguese Wine Buyer
It's all about Jerez (sherry) and Rioja this week.
Last March, I visited one of my favorite young Spanish winemakers. We were talking restaurants, and he mentioned a well known seafood spot in a town named Sant Feliu de Guixols, along the Costa Brava north of Barcelona. This is not a Michelin starred restaurant; it is the type of spot with amazing, simple, local ingredient focused cuisine, likely frequented by owners of other Michelin starred restaurants, winemakers, locals, and food savvy tourists. This restaurant, he said, is owned by a crazy guy who is known to regularly throw fish back at his fishmongers in the unfortuante event that it is not what he is looking for. The owner is similarly passionate about wine and his list features two types of wine: Burgundy and Sherry.
Hearing this caused me to think more about these two styles of wine, both so endlessly fascinating yet only one (Burgundy) taken seriously by collectors and a majority of oenophiles. If Burgundy is often cited as the ultimate wine of terroir (of course one could make the argument for others, but Burgundy is the most popular), then I would offer that Sherry is the ultimate wine of method in the cellar, where so many variables come into play and decisions are made by master blenders with years of acquired knowledge. In a region where the amount of time to produce the younger, fresher style of wine, fino, still takes four years, most amontillados take at least 8 years, and there are many soleras featuring wine over 50 years old, there is not surprisingly a sizeable talent base of winemakers who know and understand how wines develop in barrel over many years. Given the amount of time it takes to make these wines, their originality and impossible to replicate flavors, sherries continue to be real bargains in the world of fine and collectible wine.
Yesterday, the staff tasted some sherry, here are two highlights with staff commentary:
Herederos de Argueso Amontillado Sanlucar de Barrameda - $24.99
"I am a fan of the dryer Amontillados, and this just sings. The salty character reminds one of a Manzanilla, but the nutty, citrus, burnt sugar notes can only be Amontillado. Fully dry, but complex, long ans simply lovely. Don’t miss this. For under $25 it is a steal." (Keith Wollenberg, K&L Burgundy buyer)
"This ultra dry, penetrating Amontillado is exactly the right wine to have on hand for an elegant aperitif. With a bright rancio nose and flavor to spare, this is one great example of the fantastic value that Sherry provides to fans of older, complex wine. It has a finish that one cannot get any other way than with patience, it is so long and full of nuance. I recently added a few ounces to chicken stock for some leeks that I was braising and the leeks stole the show away from my fancy wild salmon! Great Amontillado!" (Gary Westby, K&L Champagne Buyer)
1979 Gonzalez Byass Palo Cortado Añada Jerez - $129.99
"Again, one gets the salty notes I find so appealing, but this time combined with amazing length. This has complexity, and a finish that simply goes on forever. Elegant, wonderful, and oxidized but fresh at the same time. This is simply incredibly impressive sherry." (Keith Wollenberg, K&L Burgundy Buyer)
"30 years of tasting sherry did not prepare me for the experience this wine provided! Wow, so complex, such richness, but for me it was the length and balance that set this wine apart, it is really special" (Greg St. Clair, K&L Italian wine buyer)
2.) RIOJA tastings
Thursday November 17th: Vibrant Rioja III
Vibrant Rioja tasting (all reservas and gran reservas!) in Redwood City store (5-6:30pm). $5 Details
Friday December 2nd: Bodegas Riojanas
Join us in Redwood City at 5pm on Friday December 2nd for a closer look (and taste) of one of Rioja’s most well respected traditional bodegas: Bodegas Riojanas. As with the best of traditionally made Riojas, these are wines which drink terrifically upon release, and then continue to improve and age for decades.
To illustrate this, we will be pouring most of the winery’s range of Reserva and Gran Reserva wines. For those who get there early enough, we will even be offering tastes of their terrific 1978 Viña Albina Gran Reserva and the legendary 1964 Monte Real Gran Reserva (both for educational purposes only; we do not have these wines for sale). We will have some Spanish themed snacks to accompany the wines. This should be a real treat – get there early for a taste of the old wines and a prime spot in the bar!
5pm-6:30pm. $8. This is a walk-in tasting, but you can RSVP here to let me know you're coming.
Back with more good stuff next week, until then take care.
Spanish, Portuguese, Latin American Wine Buyer
K&L Wine Merchants
Ph: 877.559.4637 ext. 2748