Monday, November 5, 2007

Sherry for Summer

Sherry is disappearing, not evaporating, it is just not being purchased by consumers. The super sweet sherry which Great Aunt Nora used to consume from the early afternoon onwards doesn't really count.

True sherry takes its name from the town of Jerez de la Frontera, which is on the southern tip of Spain. Typically it is made from Pedro Ximenez (or PX to his friends) or Palomino grape varieties. Sherry is usually classified as flor (or fino), amontillado, or oloroso. The latter being older and sweeter.

To confuse consumers even more the name sherry (and port, and tokay) will begin to be phased out in the near future, following a trade agreement with the European Union. This follows similar off-limit names as Champagne, Burgundy, and Chablis.

A fino sherry is typically light in colour (eg pale straw), clean and dry on the palate, and generally they are consumed young. Fino sherry acquires its distinctive aroma and flavour from the flor yeast which grows in the barrel on top of the finished wine. This produces delicate nutty and salty characters, combined with refreshing acidity. For this very reason it is a fantastic drink for a summer’s afternoon, accompanied with olives, sardines, or chorizo, over looking the sea.

In South Australia one very fine example of a fino sherry comes from Seppelt in Barossa Valley. The Seppelt Fino DP 117, is light delicate, and very dry. It shows the beautiful characters of the flor on the aroma and the palate, which lasts for ever.

In Mildura (in Victoria) the local Slow Food group is proposing to have it classified as an endangered food and trying to included it in the international Ark of Taste. By including it in the Ark of Taste, Slow Food may work with local producers to promote the products and establishing quality and authenticity standards. In Mildura fino sherry has been made since 1888, using techniques appropriate for the Australian climate.

So this summer what better drink to enjoy with our Mediterranean climate than a refreshing and food friendly fino.

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