I’ve never been one to make New Year’s resolutions or if I do, I don’t hold to them very tightly. I prefer to reflect on the past as I move forward into the New Year. But I really meant it when I declared on social media I want to #drinkmoresherry. As I make plans for 2015, I’ve been reminiscing about my comical and someone chaotic introduction to the wonderful world of sherry.
It was spring of 2013. I was preparing for my first flamenco trip to Jerez de la Frontera. I was studying bulerias with my teacher Laura Onizuka, and saw she would be performing at the Sherryfest West hosted by Bar Vivant and Galaxy Wine Company. Until this moment, I had never heard of Sherryfest, nor several of the bodegas being represented, nor even Peter Liem. I did not realize that his co-authored book would soon become what I affectionately refer to as my Sherry Bible. I just thought this would be the perfect way to further prepare for my trip Jerez.
I should preface that I prefer intimate settings to crowds of people. So, this experience was a bit of sensory and information overload. The small bar was filled with nine bodega reps, a small flamenco tablao for my teacher and her performers, a table with free tapas and several Portlanders squeezing in for the experience!
When I first walked in, I was handed the list of open bottles by vendor. I was still clueless about in what order sherry should be tasted. I felt like I was experiencing culture shock. I’m not even sure if I tasted all 38 bottles. I did my best to scribble tasting notes by the ones I really enjoyed. My top three by the end were Valdespino – Deliciosa Manzanilla, Emilio Lustau – Almacenista Oloroso Pata de Gallina (Garcia Jarana), and González Byass – Alfonoso Oloroso. However, I really enjoyed every bottle from Fernando de Castilla. I believe I didn’t take notes because Jan Pettersen was the so engaging in conversation.
Eventually, I gathered near the flamenco tablao and clapped along and shouted out jaleos. Jaime Gil from Valdespino stepped out for a little bulerias. He remains a great resource for me throughout my journey; always available to answer my questions. My hope is to visit the bodega on my next journey to Jerez de la Frontera.
As I look at this list, I’m compelled to taste through these again with fresh eyes. If I knew then what I know now, it would have been a whole different experience. Which is why I plan to #drinkmoresherry in 2015!