The best headline I have seen so far (and indeed, they are in short supply this month) captions a letter to The Daily Telegraph. It is headed ‘Dry – like Sherry’ and reads: ‘Sir, Visiting my local bottle bank, the signs for a dry January are not great.’ Well done, London E1.
Sherry does seem to be having a robust time as we continue to be locked down. I have been having a joyful correspondence with some sherry afficionados in the US, where we all agreed that there could be worse fates than being locked down (or up) in a sherry sacristía right now.
I am indebted to Peter Dauthieu in Jerez who expects that 2020 sherry imports to the UK will have actually increased by three percent over 2019. A trend reversal. Hoorah. It would seem that lockdowners are seriously knocking down more cream sherry and the classic dry styles are just ahead of the previous year. A total of just under 1 million nine-litre cases sold. This is good news.
It is, however, chastening to note that the 1970s heyday of sherry consumption in the UK import figures would have made it to five million nine-litre cases, accounting for an eighth of all wine imports.
This month is also a time for going through old files and old things generally. A nice thank you letter from Edward Heath dated February 10th 1979 indicates that I had sent him a bottle of Croft Original – he had enjoyed a glass or two at a recent wine trade fair. Vino generoso (much better words than fortified wine) indeed.
These wintry days see me currently enjoying the delightful raisiny La Cilla from Barbadillo. There is something about the deeply marinated PX style that immediately invokes the Christmas pudding, the roaring log fire and, dare I say it, a touch of decadence. A sort of everlasting liqueur chocolate. During these dank, dark days (in more sense than one), one sometimes needs a mid-morning warmer. It saves on the central heating. Sloe gin is remarkably good at performing this function, as is Sr Pedro Ximénez himself. A genuinely small glass – not a bl**dy Elgin – is sufficient to clear the fog and invigorate the mind and body until lunchtime. Also, après le repast, a splash of PX over ice cream, always enhances and enlightens.