Among the other goodies we brought from our recent trip to Spain were three different Sherry-style bottles.
We decided to open and taste the three of them together, to accompany an assortment of Spanish cured meats, sausages and cheese we bought on our last day there.
I can't think of a better combination to see us thru watching two matches in the Mondial.
Manzanilla, 'Fino' Papirusa de Sanlucar Barrameda E. Lustau
6/98. Bought in Malaga for $8 June-98.
Manzanilla is the lightweight (but still fortified) Sherry-style white wine drank all around Andalusia. Unlike heavier Sherries, Manzanilla should be served cold and does not keep well long after it is opened.
COLOR: Medium straw color.
NOSE: Pungent nose with the familiar light oxidized aroma. The nose gives a pronounced impression of spices and even salt...
TASTE: Completely dry with pepperish taste. At 15% alcohol it goes extremely well with almost any kind of Andalusian dish. From smoked fish, to cured meat, to spicy seafood.
LENGTH: Not really.
TEXTURE & BALANCE: If you can call a 15% alcohol dry white wine lightweight - then this one here was. There are all sorts of Manzanilla, this is a high-end one (seriously!) where them term fino applies both to its constitution and its smoothness.
OVERALL: Excellent! This kind of fino Manzanilla is better drank along with food. Too dry for an aperitif on its own.
MARK: 17/20.aaaaaaaaBUY MORE? Yes.
6/98. Bought in Malaga for $36 June-98.
Malaga, Benefique 'Oloroso' 25 years Larios
This is a real rarity. Malaga wines - which used to be in fashion decades ago - are usually sweet, or even every sweet, fortified wines. This expensive Benefique is a dry solera wine, aged for at least 25 years. Only 6000 bottles were produced and each of them is numbered.
COLOR: Deep, rich ember color, looks more like a Cognac than wine.
NOSE: Profound! Rich sweetish fruit (though not forest-fruit), plenty of wood notes, multi-layered and complex. A perfumed nose that demands attention.
TASTE: A wonderful combination of dryness and richness on the palate. I don't know whether there is or isn't any residual sugar in this wine, but the perceived taste is that of immensely rich though completely dry nectar. Reminded me of a great old single malt whiskey, just more opulent and mouthfilling.
LENGTH: Unbelievably long and singing aftertaste.
TEXTURE & BALANCE: This is a 18% alcohol monster. So rich yet very elegant. Fruitiness, fat texture with good acidity gives this wine(?) a very polished balance.
OVERALL: Superb!! A real treat. Because of its dryness it can be had together with matching 'strong' food. May very well be enjoyed on its own of course.
MARK: 18/20.aaaaaaaaBUY MORE? Yes.
6/98. Bought in Malaga for $25 June-98.
Sherry 'Rare Cream' Solera E. Lustau
This was sold to me as one of the best 'demi-sec' Sherry available. Well, demi-sec it isn't. It is as sticky sweet as I can remember ever drinking.
COLOR: Dark red, almost brown. Looks pretty viscous.
NOSE: Pretty concentrated nose but very sweet smell of sugar. Think of caramel just off the frying pan, add some burnt wood, and you'll get an idea of the nose.
TASTE: Did I say sweet? Hot and sweet on the palate with little else. Nothing wrong with the taste if you like sticky juices. I don't.
LENGTH: Hot and sweet...
TEXTURE & BALANCE: Either the shop guy made a mistake or the Spanish idea of 'demi-sec' is weird. At 20% alcohol this Sherry lacks any fruit and acidity to balance the sweetness.
OVERALL: Out of respect to the (printed) price and the seller's words I'll say "Good", but I hate to think what the lesser stuff of this kind taste like...
MARK: 15/20.aaaaaaaaBUY MORE? No.
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Jacob "Yak" Shaya.