Sherry Cocktails & Fresh Fino
As the “ultimate natural wine” Sherry fits perfectly into our summer cocktail program, because nothing better encapsulates a summer’s ocean breeze than fresh Manzanilla or Fino. “Flor is like plankton,” said André Tamers of De Maison Selections, “the closer you are to the Atlantic, the more vigorous the flor.” And because Sherry gets its nutrition from the barrels of the solera, “like a baby in the womb,” once that connection is severed the Sherry must be bottled and dated. “It’s like Champagne,” he added. “It’s about disgorgement dates.” Choosing to provide bottling dates on the label, before shipping the wine while refrigerated, André said, “Some think that Fino and Manzanilla should be nutty,” mistaking aromas of bready yeast and doughiness for nuttiness; “but it’s nutty [only] if it’s oxidized”, and these biologically aged Manzanillas and Finos are not oxidized beneath their protective layers of flor.
If a Fino does begin the oxidative process, then it becomes an Amontillado, which is where you’ll find aromas of hazelnut. “Fresh is what we’ve been fighting for,” he added, which is why “we put bottling dates on our labels”. But adding bottling dates has become a serious point of contention. “It’s counterproductive for the large sherry houses; it’s very complicated for them to add bottling dates.” And while there are some who prefer to enjoy their Finos with age, André’s bottling dates ensure that one can make that educated choice. “If I want an old Fino, I’m going to drink Amontillado,” he said. Because with Manzanilla, it’s all about the fruit.
In time for the summer’s heat, Scott Rosenbaum, our Spirits Strategist, fine-tuned André’s Jostling Board, which calls for:
1 part Cesar Florido Fino
1 part Ginger Beer (we like Regatta for its cardamon notes)
Dash of Fresh Lime Juice
Build in ice-filled rocks glass. Garnish with lime wedge.
Not from Sanlucar de Barrameda, like Manzanilla, Cesar Florido is from Chipiona and one of the only Sherry producers who ferments his own wines, made from grapes grown by his extended family members. Super fresh, with citrus acidity, yeasty notes and salinity, the Cesar Florido Fino also perfectly pairs well with oysters, seafood and jamon, as does La Cigarrera Manzanilla.
And while these biologically aged Sherries should be stored in the refrigerator and served chilled, Amontillados, which experience hybrid aging, should be served at room temperature. Once open, Finos and Manzanillas should last for 3-5 days, maybe ten, while Amontillados will last for 3 weeks, and Olorosos for 3 months.
If you’re looking for something a little heartier, a little earthier to whet your whistle, try our take on the traditional Bamboo cocktail– the Red Bamboo:
1 part Bodegas Grant “La Garrocha” Amontillado Sherry
1 part Red Vermouth
Dash of Orange Bitters
Orange Peel, for Garnish
Stir over ice and strain into chilled cocktail glasses. Garnish with orange peel.
Allowed to oxidize under flor, where it ages in the solera system for 9 years, the Grant “La Garrocha” Amontillado comes from a Bodegas in El Puerto de Santa Maria that’s been owned by the same family since 1841. Savory, nutty and bready, while bright on the palate with a light spice on the finish, “La Garrocha” is also a great pairing with seafood, but also with bisque, fois gras and cured meats.
“Once you start doing things with food, you realize how great these wines are,” said André. “Most people don’t know it, but they love Sherry.”