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With the James Bond movie Spectre being released today, no time could be better to drink Bollinger. The most suave spy in the world has been sipping on Bollinger since Moonraker in 1979. While we can’t all drive a fully loaded, customized machine gun having Aston Martin, we certainly can chill down a bottle of Bolli! The 2004 Bollinger "Grande Année" Brut Champagne ($109) is as good as Champagne gets; all barrel fermented and full of masculine, Pinot Noir power and high class elegance. We even have a few bottles of the limited 2009 Bollinger "James Bond 007" Brut Champagne ($195) in stock for the diehard fan of Bond & Champagne!

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Entries in Sherry (22)


"Sherry" style wines from Córdoba

Gabriel Gómez walking through his 8 hectare estate. -Image from Jose Pastor Selections

Perched in the Sierra Morena Mountains, about an hour north of Córdoba, sits Bodega Gomez Nevado on the hillsides of a town called Villaviciosa de Córdoba. While the family’s winemaking history goes back to the 1700’s, the bodega has been making sherry-style wines since 1870 and became the first winegrower in Spain to have their vineyards certified organic in 1988.  With the Bodega situated more than 200km from Jerez, their vineyards do not fall under any of the three D.O. permitted to make Sherry, thus can not benefit from using the term Sherry.  And to be fair, it is different from sherry; the soils are different, the grapes are different, the climate and the winemaking certainly differ.  In the Sierra Morena you won’t find palomino dominating the vineyards, nor will you find the chalky, white albariza soil it grows best in.  Rather you will find a grape called Airén, with Pedro Ximenez as the runner up, heavily planted in clay and slate soils.  The grapes and the soil combined with the harsh continental mediterranean climate means their wines usually get to 15-16% abv without fortification.  Bodega Gomez Nevado takes pride in never having to fortify their wines.  The result is a richer style “sherry” then we are used to in Jerez. The Gomez Navado 'Palido' which means pale, is their "fino” style wine. The grapes are harvested from 40+ year old Airen, Pedro Ximenez and Palomino vines sitting 300-500 meters in elevation, with Airén making up 60% of the blend. The first press juice is fermented dry and aged in a solera system for an average of 5 years before it’s bottled ‘en rama’ meaning it comes straight from the barrel, with very minimal fining or filtration. The first thing that struck me about the Gomez Nevado Palido En Rama Sierra Morena (375ml) is its color, much more walnut in color than the pale finos of Jerez.  The nose is beautiful with notes of roasted hazelnuts and chestnuts, white flowers, rosemary, and a hint of sea salt.  As to be expected it is rich and full-bodied but it still has that bright tang from the flor, only its a more roasted tang rather than salty.  The flavors are much different than traditional finos, full of umami with flavors of extra virgin olive oil, asparagus and raw mushrooms.  A unique wine indeed. It seems they need their own word to describe these wines; while sherry in style, they are certainly different.  

I always stress having food with Sherry or sherry-style wines, because they offer so many potential pairings, especially with those classically hard to pair umami foods.  Considering this wine is from Andalucía, I decided to make Gazpacho de Andaluz, a classic in the region, to go with the Palido.  The key to this simple and delicious tomato based Gazpacho is having exceptional Sherry Vinegar.  I suggest the Sanchez Romate Vinagre de Jerez Reserva (375ml) $14.99 that we get from Alexander Jules. Some Sherry Vinegars tend to be too sweet and thick, almost like balsamic, whereas the Sanchez Romate had beautiful acid and intense flavor.  The richness of the Palido complimented the acidity of the Gazpacho perfectly, while the acidity brightened up the wine. Seafood also pairs really well with the fino style so I added some sweet big shrimp on the side. Both quite brilliant pairings. I’m always looking for local products to work with sherry styles so I couldn’t resist buying some fresh Armenian cheese from the little Armenian shop on my block to see how it paired. Of course the name of the cheese eludes me, but it reminded me of a cross between a feta and a ricotta salata and it went great with the Palido. LA residents, definitely something to try!!


-Olivia Ragni


A Tale of Two Amantillados


Herederos de Argüeso was established in 1822 by León de Argüeso in Sanlucar de Barrameda only two years after his move to the city. He quickly prospered as a grocer and used his money to purchase the cellar of San Jose in the barrio bajo containing some very old soleras. Today, a team of bodegas belonging to Argüeso are situated in the same area, on the same street and have some stunning buildings that hold soleras with the original coffered ceilings from the 16th century convent that used to lie there. The barrio bajo is said to be unique due to its position that traps the humidity and salty sea air into the neighborhood thanks to the barrier created by the higher barrio alto. All of the Argüeso wines have a beautiful salinic and tangy character to them which can be attributed to the barrio bajo and proximity to the sea. León de Argüeso did not marry or have children, so he left his fortunes to his niece and nephew, thus the names Herederos (heirs) de Argüeso. The coolest part of it all.. the original solera systems León purchased (which were already fairly old) are still in production today, and said to be up to 250 years old. The wines of Argüeso are difficult to get on the export markets.

I know what you’re thinking, 'why would you tell me that story about this fantastic producer if I can’t even get their sherry?'.....That’s exactly how Joe Manekin, our sherry buyer, and Alexander Russan of Alexander Jules felt, so they sought out to remedy this problem.

K&L and Alexander Jules (a local Sherry importer and bottler) teamed up to get Argüeso to California. Together they went to Sanlucar and were tasked with the difficult, and simply agonizing chore of tasting 27 barrels of very old and rare (VORS) Argüeso Amontillado in order to determine which bota was their favorite. Very old and rare indeed, this 27 barrel solera is an average of 50-60 years old!! Ultimately Joe and Alex chose two bota (barrels), bottling each as single barrel Amontillados. There is a very limited amount of this stuff considering you are only legally allowed to remove a bit less than 10% of the wine from each bota. After days and days of tasting and eating copious amounts of jamon, they finally returned with two gorgeous and rare Amontillados:

The Alexander Jules Amontillado "Singular" K&L Single Barrel 4/27 Sanlucar de Barrameda, which is the more feminine expression of the two with notes of fresh ground espresso, cocoa and dark chocolate, white flowers and old books. The palate certainly shows its fino roots with fresh, high-toned brightness, apple skins and tons of salinity. Finishing with roasted hazelnuts, toffee, apricots and a full yet elegant round body. On the other hand, the Alexander Jules Amontillado "Singular" K&L Single Barrel 19/27 Sanlucar de Barrameda is more masculine with an intense nose of smoked almonds, deep dark roasted coffee, salted caramel, dried figs and prunes. The palate is bit chubbier and meatier with even more intense notes of salinity, espresso beans, toffee and caramel.

There were only about 65 bottlings of each the 4/27 and the 19/17 and there are very few bottles left to be had. A rare chance to taste not only Argüeso but single barrel bottlings of a very old solera.

For more information on the collaboration visit Joe’s original post about his trip.

-Olivia Ragni







Sherry Experiment: Part Two - Korean Food


Rey Fernando de Castilla Fino En Rama & Banchan at Kobawoo House

This week, our very own Joe Manekin of Redwood City graced us with his presence in Los Angeles.  In honor of his visit we decided to drink sherry! For a small corkage fee we were allowed to bring our sherry to Kobawoo, a Korean joint specializing in Bossam.  I was lucky enough to sit with not only Joe, but also Keith Mabry of the Hollywood store, Amy Atwood of Amy Atwood Selections and Alex Russan, importer of Alexander Jules sherry. The five of us set out to continue the sherry pairing experiment.  Korean food and sherry don’t seem like an obvious pairing, but we took on the challenge with a resounding, “Well, not sure if this is going to work but let’s see what happens.”

It worked. Reeeally well. Surprisingly well. We found another amazing pairing, Sherry and Banchan. Here’s the idea behind it:

Joe Manekin digging into our Jangban Guksoo (acorn noodle dish)Sherry is often drank alongside charcuterie plates which have items such as chorizo, jamón Serrano, green olives, and marinated peppers; all items created out of necessity of preservation. Thanks to Mr. Mabry, the original idea was to try sherry with Banchan, the side dishes that are served at the beginning of the meal. This includes things like kimchi, originally created as a method to preserve vegetables,  and various other items that are pickled, fermented, or cured.  The idea was genius. While Spanish charcuterie and Korean banchan couldn’t be more different, the basic idea of preserving food with these methods manages to create a perfect pairing for dry sherry.   Banchan also creates a similar atmosphere important to sherry and Spanish culture.  It is a few small plates to be shared, Korean tapas you could say.

The sherry:

Rey Fernando de Castilla Fino En Rama Jerez (375ml $21.99Rey Fernando de Castilla is an exceptional, small independent sherry house owned by a Norwegian who focuses on bottling high quality sherries.  His bottling of En Rama Fino is no exception.  En rama sherry is sherry that has been bottled straight from the barrel, unfined and unfiltered.  It’s often advised to drink en rama as quickly as possible to enjoy all of its fresh qualities.  But we decided to drink this en rama which was bottled last October, and is almost a year old at this point.  The incredible thing is it was still fresh and vibrant, but started to lose some of its pungency and was beginning to build some richness. I think this en rama could evolve quite nicely with age, and develop some interesting flavors.

Alex sporting his hand bottled Bodega Sánchez Romate FinoIn addition to the Rey Fernando en rama fino sherry, we also drank a very special bottle of Alex’s favorite barrel of fino from the solera at Bodega Sánchez Romate, hand bottled (himself) en rama. But it doesn’t stop there, Alex was gracious enough to bring a pretty rare bottle of manzanilla from Bodega Argüeso, needless to say, we had a lot of phenomenal sherry.  They all went went seamlessly with our Korean food.  There was no thought or effort, no grasping at strings to make the paring work somehow, someway; it just worked.  And not only with the Banchan, but also with our Jangban Guksoo, a dish made of acorn noodles and some red chili salad, Haemul Pajun, a seafood pancake which is sort of like the Korean version of a Spanish Tortilla but with seafood and a bit of pancake batter, and our Bossam which came with thinly sliced boiled pork, lettuce, daikon radish and a fermented fish paste.   The umami flavors in each of these Korean dishes complement sherry perfectly.  Spiciness is mellowed by the sherry, items that are fermented, cured, or pickled ( which existed in every dish ) provided a great component for the finos to mingle with.  Maybe there’s a scientific reason all these flavors went so well with our sherry or maybe it’s simply because I was surrounded by good company and lovers of sherry.  Try it out for yourself and decide. Regardless, sherry at the Kobawoo House was an unforgettable experience for me. 

Olivia Ragni