Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Amontillado de Jerez, Solera matured by Miguel Fontadez Florido, from the Lustau Almacenista range

I have some other notes, older, to post; but they can wait.

I love sherry. It's great value, it's complex and savoury, it seems to defy convention. I chuckle as folks turn their nose up, muttering about granny's favourite tipple and paying too much for something far more popular.

The mere process of its creation fascinates me. Its maturation is paramount - the soul of the wine is not so much in its viticulture, but in the vast bodegas that store barrels upon barrels (literally) in their towering soleras. Titans of the booze industry blend thousands of barrels - Domecq, Gonzalez Byass & Harvey's all produce ridiculous amounts, their names ubiquitous with the wine and region.

As far as I know, it is only Lustau that champion the Almacenistas: the garagistes of sherry country. Hobbyists: doctors, authors or tradespeople with space for a few barrels and use it to make their own wines. Unburdened by producing definitive styles for a global market, they produce some classic wines. They're individual. This particular Amontillado comes from a 30 barrel solera. I don't know much else about it - average age or anything - but I do know that it's rather tasty.

The colour is brilliant amber.

The nose has roasted citrus, figs, salted & toasted almonds, salted caramel, beaten leather, cured ham and a touch of chestnut. There's also a savoury dustiness that's rather compelling. It's also a touch spicy, prickly almost.

Rich, dry sherries are such a curveball. The nose suggests sweetness, but there's none. As bone dry as a Fino, but with the curbing nature of oxidation, it becomes softer, nuttier with an almost creamy finish. All that remarkable complexity from the nose follows through. Without food, it is a touch sharp, but it should be. That zippy raking that it gives, that jolt to the saliva glands, the delightful cleansing on the palate that follows, all of these things are an acquired taste.

I'm glad I acquired it.

Tasted 23 December at Miller's Court, whilst avoiding Christmas tree responsibilities