I cannot think of a more misunderstood or wronged drink as Sherry. In my book Sherry wines are some of the most versatile wines at any table, and represent some of the greatest value wines available. This week's wine - a Manzanilla Pasada (aged) from Lustau's 'Almacenista' range, is a true manifestation of purity, finesse, complexity and place.
Pale straw gold in color with an intense, tangy nose showing aromas of almond, bruised citrus, apple and a distinct whiff of a salty sea breeze. It is bone dry, minerally and very focused with great palate definition, depth and breadth of flavor. The spirity alcohol is smooth and very well integrated. This wine has a really, long salty, tangy finish.
Sherry is a fortified wine from Andalucía, Spain. By fortified I mean that a spirit alcohol has been added to the wine. In the case of Sherry it is added after the wine has fully fermented dry - hence Sherry is a dry wine, unless a sweetening agent has been added later to make a sweeter (i.e. cream) style.
Manzanilla is a specific dry style that is only produced in the town of Sanlúcar, close to the sea. It often seems to have a delicious salty tang. Like a Fino Sherry, it is biologically aged (i.e. in the absence of oxygen) under a film of yeast called flor. A Manzanilla Pasada is an aged Manzanilla. Instead of the usual three years of biological ageing, this Pasada Sherry spent seven years in a solera of old (80+ years) barrels.
At the Table: Part and parcel of being misunderstood has meant that Sherry rarely enjoys its rightful place at the table. Manzanilla - regular or aged, is one of the best apéritif wines you can find anywhere. Tangy and dry, it truly does whet the appetite and is delicious with all sorts of tapas - olives, almonds, cured and air-dried meats etc.. At the table, It holds its own as well. This Manzanilla Passada is perfect with consommé or broth type soups. It also is one of the few wines that you can enjoy with artichokes and works really well with shellfish and fish dishes as well as cheesy egg dishes. Give it a try!
About Lustau and Almacenista Manzanilla Pasada
Bodgeas Emilio Lustau is highly regarded and respected Sherry Bodega in Andalucia, and it dates back to 1896, when it was founded. Lustau makes a wide range of Sherry types, widely available in the United States. The word 'Almacenista' means a small Bodega/stockholder of Sherry wines, who holds and sells them to the larger Bodegas/shippers such as Lustau. Lustau's Almacenista range consists of special sherries that are carefully selected from top Almacenistas. As mentioned above, this Manzanilla Pasada was aged for seven years in the traditional Sherry solera maturation system of fractional blending.
• For more on Sherry Wines see 'Why Sherry is so Extraordinary'
Mary Gorman-McAdams, MW (Master of Wine), is a New York based wine educator, freelance writer and consultant.
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