Sherryfest + I’m Obsessed!

unnamedSherryfest is in full swing in New York City this week! I’m unable to attend, but I’m not bitter. I owe my passion, or should I say obession, for sherry because of Sherryfest!

I love this picture from Sherryfest West 2013 of Peter LIem, Cheryl Wakerhauser + Jaime Gil  photo by Motoya Nakamura/The Oregonian

I love this picture from Sherryfest West 2013 of
Peter LIem, Cheryl Wakerhauser + Jaime Gil
photo by Motoya Nakamura/The Oregonian

In March 2013, Sherryfest West, Galaxy Wine and Cheryl Wakerhauser, the owner and chef of Pix Patisserie/Bar Vivant invited several sherry ambassadors to represent their wines in Portland, Oregon. Cheryl is the trailblazer for putting sherry on Portland’s radar. She has the largest sherry menu in town with some of the best the Marco de Jerez has to offer!

Had I not attended, I never would have met Jan Pettersen from Fernando de Castilla or Jaime Gil from Grupo Estevez. Out of several representatives, these two men took time to talk me through their wines, and made sure I slowed down to enjoy each one. You can read more on that night in my first sherrysips post.

Last June, Sherryfest returned to the west coast in San Francisco. I was only able to participate through Twitter feeds. However, a small Sherryfest after-party came to Portland only hours before I had to board a flight to Costa Rica, but I was determined to fit it in!

Jan Pettersen and Jaime Gil set up tastings at Great Wine Buys – a wonderful wine shop in NE Portland that has an amazing sherry selection! Jaime shared wines from Valdespino: Manzanilla Deliciosa en Rama, Inocente Fino, Palo Cortado Viejo C.P., Don Gonzalo Oloroso VOS and Moscatel Promesa. I’m a huge fan of anything from Valdespino – this tasting made me a happy camper!

Jan shared his some of the best from his bodega: Fino en Rama, Amontillado Antique, Oloroso Antique and Pedro Ximenez Antique. His wines are refined, aged to perfection and in my opinion, worth way more than their price tag!

After my quick visit with them, I zipped over to Pix Patisserie/Bar Vivant. I love that Cheryl Wakerhauser always provides opportunities to learn about sherry from the wine makers on her menu! This time it was Lorenzo Garcia-Iglesias of Bodegas Tradición, the first bodega I toured, and Peter Liem, co-author of my “sherry bible” Sherry, Manzanilla & Montilla.

This was a unique, intimate setting for Peter and Lorenzo to share the basics of sherry, allowing those attending to taste along and ask their questions. The flight included La Gitana Manzanilla from Hidalgo, Fino from Bodegas Tradición, Amontillado VORS from Bodegas Tradición, Palo Cortado Viejo C.P. from Valdespino, Oloroso VORS from Bodegas Tradición, and Pedro Ximenez Antique from Fernando de Castilla. As soon as the class ended, I had two hours pack and fly to Costa Rica for eight weeks with 25 high-schoolers. I think three sherry tastings did the trick to calm the nerves!

Sherryfest Get Flor'dNow one year later, I am celebrating Sherryfest NYC through social media streams. I love what Sherryfest does to bring sherry into mainstream drinking scenes. Someday, I will attend again and hope to meet the many sherry lover connections I’ve made in the past two years. Until then, I raise my copita from Portland and encourage everyone to Drink More Sherry & Get Flor’d!

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One more thing…

After writing my last post about my visit to Bodegas TradiciĂłn, I learned a bit more from Peter Liem in my “sherry bible” that I wanted to share for clarification:

TradiciĂłn, Calle Cordobeses, 3 ~ This bodega is dedicated solely to old sherry. It doesn’t produce a single Fino nor does it release anything under the average age of 20 years. Being a “boutique” bodega, only 12,000-15,000 bottles are released each year – each labeled and individually numbered by hand.

The private art collection contains over 300 works of Spanish artists including Velázquez, Goya and El Greco. The Picasso tiles pictured in my blog were painted by him when he was eight years old!

For more details about Bodegas TradiciĂłn, you really should pick up a copy of Sherry, Manzanilla & Montilla: A Guide to the Traditional Wines of AndalucĂ­a by Peter Liem and JesĂşs BarquĂ­n.

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My First Bodega Tour

I’ve been daydreaming about going back to Jerez de la Frontera this year. I’ve never traveled completely on my own, but I’ve always envied women who have. As I research and plan out my way around the Sherry Triangle, I can’t stop thinking about my first, but certainly not my last, bodega tour.

It was a Saturday in May 2013. I was visiting Jerez for the first time on a flamenco tour. It was our day off, so we scheduled a tour with Bodegas TradicĂ­on. Our group filed into the beautiful old building. I had never seen anything like it before. The walls were covered in mildew and had a unique sour smell. The high ceilinged room was filled with black barrels stacked on each other.

Whether I didn’t hear clearly or perhaps it was information/sensory overload, I really couldn’t comprehend it all. I remember something about humidity mentioned, and a demonstration about adding to and sampling the wine. I was distracted by wanting to capture it all with my camera, even though it took terrible pictures in low lighting. At one point I got separated from my friends and nearly joined the wrong tour group. (I knew to move along when I noticed all the white hair and accents)

I found my friends in the tasting room. I expected sherry would pair well with chorizo, iberico ham and almonds, but who knew Fino is amazing with potato chips?! In contrast to my first introduction to  sherry, this tasting was slow, deliberate and educational. But again, I failed to retain what each sherry was, or how it was developed or why it progressively got sweeter. I was so intrigued by the bottles they had on display that were centuries old. Overall, the experience left its seeds to learn more.

A special highlight at Bodegas Tradicíon is their art gallery. I had studied Spanish artists in college while on exchange in Sevilla. I was amazed to see in person the paintings I’ve only read about in books. I loved being so close to paintings by Picasso, Velázquez and El Greco; I could see each individual brush stroke.

At the end, we went into the office and saw great old pictures framed from the history of the bodega and traditional harvest time. Throughout my ten days in Jerez, I slowly began to have a glass of Fino or Palo Cortado at every meal. I was completely fascinated by the bodega and the traditional way to make sherry. I can’t wait to visit more bodegas both large and small to continue my hands-on learning!

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My Current Sherry Favorites

sherryfaves

Today is my birthday. I have a bottle of my favorite Palo Cortado from Valdespino waiting to be opened. I’m still quite the novice when it comes to knowing all that’s available for consumption, but here is my current list of favorites:

Mazanilla: Valdespino Manzanilla Deliciosa, La Guita Mazanilla

Fino: Valdespino Fino Inocente (rare because it’s been aged for ten years.)

Amontillado: Lustau Los Arcos or Plaza Vieja; Grant La Garrocha

Palo Cortado: Valdespino Viejo CP; Fernando de Castilla Antique

Oloroso: Bodegas Tradicion VORS; Lustau Oloroso de Jerez Pata de Gallina

Cream: Valdespino Isabela; Lustau Deluxe Cream “Capataz Andres”

Moscatel: Cesar Florido Moscatel Pasas or Moscatel Especial

Pedro Ximenez: Fernando de Castilla Pedro Ximenez Antique

What’s your favorite? What do you recommend?