Académie du Vin Library friend Jancis Robinson has recently posted an excellent article on her website asking ‘What is to be done about Sherry’? What indeed. Spain’s finest wine has been in the doldrums for the last 30 years, especially in the UK, where its associations with net curtains, vicarage tea parties and drafty senior common rooms have done it no favours at all. And then there’s so-called ‘British’ sherry – a ghastly concoction made from imported grape must that has thankfully gone the way of the Austin Allegro and the tank top.
But, as our own Ben Howkins will be explaining in his forthcoming book, coming in September, Jerez’s finest is set to make a magnificent comeback, driven by new funding and fresh ideas among the major bodegas, and by an upsurge of smaller ’boutique’ bodegas that are promising to do for sherry what their counterparts in the shires of England have done for gin. And there’s a difference. Unless you drink your gin neat, in which case your ability to read this is probably already impaired by double vision, the taste of your own pet brand of mother’s ruin is likely to be all but obscured by the quinine and sugar (or aspartame) that goes on top. Not so with sherry. There’s a world of wonderful flavours to be explored in just about every bottle, from the crisp, cool Andalusian nights evoked by a glass of fino, to the deep, dark flamenco passions stirred by sipping a raisiny draught of Pedro X. And, pound for pound, more love, care, time and winemaking skill goes into a bottle of sherry than into any other wine of comparable price. More tea vicar? I’ll say so! Watch this space… Martin Preston