jamie goode's wine blog: High end Sherries from Fortnum

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

High end Sherries from Fortnum

Notes on three high-end Sherries tasted with Fortnum & Mason wine department head Tim French. He's developed an own-label range with Bodega Tradicion, and they're really impressive.

Fortnum & Mason Amontillado VORS
This is a 40 year old wine but it has so much vitality. It has a massively complex nose of citrus peel, smoke and old furniture, that’s fresh and fruity but also very rich. The palate is dry, tangy and mouthfilling with lovely length and complexity. ‘It’s almost hypnotic in its power and strength, with a salty character, tar, caramel and dried figgy fruits’, says Tim. This unctuous wine is great with food, particularly nuts and smoked fish. ‘It’s a wine to be discussed and enjoyed with company’, says Tim. ‘There’s so much to get into, you need the helping hand of education to enjoy it.’ (£18.50/half bottle) 95/100

Fortnum & Mason Oloroso VORS
This has a richer, nuttier nose than the Amontillado, with some caramel and fudge. ‘There’s a layer of richness that is almost like Christmas cake’, points out Tim. The palate is soft, rich and broad-textured. Smooth, complex and nutty with woody, slightly earthy notes. The finish is intense and almost eternal: you can still taste it minutes later. ‘The thing I love about it is that despite its age, there is still some fruit here with a broad array of secondary flavours, such as smoky bacon, burnt toffee, leather and tobacco’, says Tim. ‘It’s as if you have a magnifying glass: all these flavours come into such focus.’ It’s a wine that is luscious and sumptuous on the palate, yet it is bone dry. How would you use a wine like this? ‘The dream partner is top air-dried Spanish ham’, reckons Tim, ‘but one can be versatile with it: it’s lovely with a big rich beef stew, great with cheese, and works brilliantly as a digestif’. As with all these sherries, a little goes a long way, and you can keep an open bottle for a long time, so even though it isn’t cheap, a bottle can provide a lot of pleasure over many evenings. (£18.50/half bottle) 94/100

Fortnum & Mason Pedro Ximénez VOS
This is mind-blowing stuff. It’s a concentrated brown/black colour with a consistency of used engine oil. The super-sweet aromatic nose is raisiny, yet fresh at the same time. The palate is thick, viscous and incredibly sweet, while remaining quite pure and even a little elegant. ‘This is impossibly unctuous with huge intensity’, remarks Tim. ‘It’s so intense and opulent’. He reckons it works bizarrely well with blue cheese and also works well with chocolate. ‘It’s a pudding in its own right: you almost need a spoon to drink it’. (£19.50 half/bottle). 93/100

As well as offering these Sherries separately, Tim has designed a ‘Jerez Box’, which contains a bottle each of the Oloroso and Pedro Ximénez Sherries, together with a measuring funnel and instructions on how to mix a cream sherry (20 ml PX and 80 ml Oloroso) and an Amoroso (40 ml PX and 60 ml Oloroso). We tried them both, and they were deliciously different. ‘We’re trying to be educational as well as delivering a great product’, emphasizes Tim.



At 3:54 AM, Anonymous Dave said...

These sound great and well priced for what they are. It's been said many times before, but I'm always amazed at the prices of these very old sherries. They must be the bargains of the wine world at the moment.

At 10:19 PM, Blogger Jamie said...

Old sherries are IMHO as serious as first growth Bordeaux or top Burgundies, but they are much, much more affordable. You are right!


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