My Conversation with Andre, About Sherry
We are excited by all the talk about Sherry in the air, like yeast in the Bodega, including the #SherryRevolution started on Twitter by André Tamers of De Maison Selections, and Eric Asimov’s most recent publications for the NY Times. To quench the dialogue’s thirst, we hosted a Sherry tasting in Studio TEW last week, during the Spain vs. Portugal game, which was well attended by a number of friends and buyers. And this morning, I followed up with André, who has been importing and representing Sherry for the past eight years, to see what he had to add to the conversation.
After tasting through André’s selections of Sherries, it became clear that the different flors, or yeasts, each offered different notes and aromas. Some showed notes of the sea, others a pinch of penicillin or cheese rind, which got us talking about the concept of the bodega as the wine’s terroir. “This makes sense,” said André, “flor is distinct, and to me this is important. It supersedes the vineyard.” The proximity of the bodegas to the ocean, which creates different factors of humidity; the age of the solera, some with yeasts that date back to 1830; and the age of the barrels, all of these factors affect the development (and flavors) of the flor.
“To say that the vineyards are the future [of Sherry] discounts the wines that have been made,” he added, noting that all of his Bodegas estate bottle. At Bodegas La Cigarrera, the Manzanilla is produced exclusively from vineyards in the Jerez Superior DO, and because the Bodega is located at the base of a hill, which captures the humidity of the Atlantic like a sail, there’s a funk to their flor, which makes their Manzanilla unlike any other.
Believing that vineyard selections can most certainly be important to the future direction of Fino Sherries–unoxidized wines that spend the least amount of time under flor–André suggests that perhaps this requires “a new investigation that would imply less aging.” He also emphasizes that one cannot disregard the fact that the flor found in Bodegas César Florido, which sits 25 meters from the Atlantic, is wildly different from the flor of El Maestro Sierra, which is located inland, in the interior of Jerez-Xérès-Sherry, where it resides in 60-100 year old soleras. The further the bodega is from the Ocean, the less concentrated its flor.
Coined as “fast-faders” by Hugh Johnson and Jancis Robinson in The World Atlas of Wine, an open bottle of fino sherry “should be drunk like any other white wine, within hours rather than days.” And so, to ensure that the consumer is aware of when these NV wines have been bottled, André prints lot numbers (the winery’s bottling date) on his back labels of Fino and Manzanilla sherries, to help ensure that each bottle is as fresh as possible. “It took me eight years to do this, to put into place this bottling date system,” he said, as he spoke about the differences between these unoxidized wines and their oxidized siblings, Amontillado and Oloroso Sherries. And while the Finos and Manzanillas are protected from oxidizing by their layers of flor in the solera, these delicate wines will oxidize in the bottle, if kept for too long.
With heat being such a dangerous element to the wines’ stability, André employs refrigerated shipping for his Finos and Manzanillas, in small lots, again to ensure the Sherry’s freshness. Not an inexpensive endeavor, due to the limited movement of trucks, this is yet another demonstration of André’s obsessed commitment to Sherries.
And while we love Sherry, we realize that Sherry need not always be consumed straight from the bottle, and so we also offered a few cocktails at our tasting.
2 oz Fino or Manzanilla
1 dash of orange bitters
Chill over ice and serve neat with an orange peel
4 oz Spanish Cava (we served Avinyo Cava Brut Penedes)
1 oz Sherry Oloroso
(not served that afternoon but divine!)
1 oz dry Sherry
1 oz Dry Vermouth
1 dash orange bitters
Serve with a lemon peel twist
If you missed our tasting, catch Danielle on Friday at Bowery & Vine from 6-9, where she’ll be pouring three El Maestro Sierra Sherries: Fino, Amontillado 12 Anos and Oloroso 15 Anos, along with a few Spanish wines.