This morning I headed into London to run a Sherry and Port session for Hakkasan’s (high-end London restaurant) staff training. It was an interesting class, and I was introducing most of the attendees (the majority of who are young people with English as a second language) to the wonderful world of these fortified wines for the first time, which was quite fun.
We began with Tio Pepe Fino, which as usual was a benchmark of the Fino style, in all its salty, tangy glory. Then we went to a complex Amontillado from Lustau – the Los Arcos Solera Reserva. The final Sherry was perhaps the most interesting, and most widely appreciated: Williams & Humbert Dry Sack Sweet Old Oloroso Solera Especial 15 years. This is a remarkably complex sweet Oloroso with lovely treacle, prune, plum and raisin notes. It’s sweet but also quite fresh with a nice savoury dimension, and is good value at around £10 for a half bottle.
For Port, we began by comparing the Ramos Pinto 10 Year Old Tawny with the Quinta de la Rosa LBV 2004. Both were beautiful examples of their style, with the La Rosa showing really nice cherry fruit, and the Ramos Pinto showing some spicy bite as well as lovely smoothness of texture. Then something really nice: the 1985 Taylor’s Vintage Port. It’s drinking very well now, at its mellow, smooth, balanced peak. Nicely complex and without any rough edges, I’d drink this now or in the next couple of years.