The Five Sherries you need for Christmas

Let Antonio Flores Expert winemaker from Spanish wine producer González Byass be your guide

As Britain’s love affair with Spanish food and wine continues to grow, get to know Jerez’s most famous export over the festive season. From a dry, chilled fino with savoury canapés to a sweet oloroso and moreish mince pies, explore a style of wine that’s so diverse there’s a sherry moment for every Christmas occasion.

Expert winemaker Antonio Flores from Spanish wine producer Gonzalez Byass talks through his top sherry picks for Christmas and explains why he thinks history and tradition is so important in winemaking…

Dry

Tio Pepe – Any Moment

Serve ice-cold, as chilled as Champagne
RRP £9.99 – £11 – Christmas promotions vary between £8 and £9, exact prices available on request nearer the time
Drink it anytime. Its savoury, palate cleansing properties make Tio Pepe the perfect refresher between the season’s indulgences
Available at all major retailers including Sainsbury’s, Waitrose and Tesco

The foodies’ drink of choice, get in the know and serve a chilled glass of Tio Pepe to guests this Christmas with a bowl of salted nuts or pigs in blankets.

Tio Pepe is produced in Jerez, Spain by expert winemaker Antonio Flores who says “Tio Pepe is made from palomino grapes which we age through the traditional solera system in our bodega in Jerez. Every three months my team and I sample every single one of the 22,000 barrels of Tio Pepe so that we can make sure it’s consistent, reliable and tastes absolutely perfect. Extremely dry, Andalusian sun in a bottle!”

Del Duque – The Surprising Moment

Serve slightly chilled
RRP £20
Drink it as an accompaniment to roast beef if you’re cooking this instead of turkey on the big day. The perfect surprise for your Christmas guests
Available at Selfridges, thedrinkshop.com, Oddbins, The Whiskey Exchange, BBR, Cambridge Wines, Farr Vintners, Fortnum and Mason, General wine Company, Hanging Ditch, Harvey Nichols, Peckham & Rye (Glasgow)

An exquisite amontillado aged for 30 years in the historic Gonzalez Byass bodega in the heart of Jerez, Del Duque has an intense concentration and complexity, so it’s great with savoury meals or cheese.

Antonio Flores says “A 30 year old Tio Pepe. This is the ideal sherry for those who have dry tastes. Del Duque is the natural progression of Tio Pepe in cask over time, exposing the wine to oxygen, giving a deep flavour which explodes like a canon on the palate.

Apostoles – The Cheeseboard Moment

Serve after chilling in the fridge for half an hour
RRP £20
Drink it with the after dinner cheeseboard or a special Christmas paté
Available at Ocado, Waitrose Cellar, Selfridges, thedrinkshop.com

Antonio comments “The perfect trilogy, the perfect blend of Palomino, Pedro Ximenez and American oak all perfectly balanced together. Technically this is an ‘off dry’ sherry as it’s mainly made with Palomino grapes. The addition of a small proportion of Pedro Ximenez grapes combine with the Palomino to create a complex yet smooth Palo Cortado. The result is a sherry that has hints of butterscotch and caramel with a delicate sweet finish.”

The wine is aged for 30 years in our solera system which before me, was looked after by my father. Because nearly all sherry is non-vintage, winemakers like us have to identify the barrels which we want to combine to produce a consistently perfect sherry. It requires a very well-trained nose and taste buds. You could say sherry runs in my blood!”

Sweet

Matusalem – The Mince Pie Moment

Serve chilled after placing in the fridge for half an hour
RRP £20
Drink it with blue cheese or mince pies. This is Christmas in a glass!
Available at Ocado, Waitrose, Selfridges, thedrinkshop.com

Winemaker Antonio Flores comments “Matusalem is a sweet oloroso sherry that’s full of raisin, fig and date aromas with a touch of spice from 30 years spent in barrel in the Gonzalez Byass bodega in Jerez. It’s made up of 75% Palomino grapes and 25% Pedro Ximenez grapes which make it deliciously sweet. This wine shows an interesting bittersweet finish, like life itself, bitter from the old tannins and sweet from the Pedro Ximenez. Savour the flavours of cinnamon, dried fruits and candied peel whilst nibbling on blue cheese or a mince pie. It’s Christmas in a glass!”

Noe – The Ultimate Sweet Moment

Serve after chilling in the fridge for half an hour
RRP £20
Drink it on its own if you have a very sweet tooth, or drizzled over vanilla ice-cream
Available at Ocado, Waitrose, Master of Malt, Tesco

Antonio comments “This is the ultimate sweet sherry. A dessert on its own or perfect drizzled over vanilla-ice-cream.” A 30 year pedro ximenez, it has an intense ebony colour and the smells and tastes of figs, coffee and spices.”

Peter Morrell, Food and Drink Editor of AboutMyGeneration added “I have written at length about sherry being one of the world’s most underrated drinks. Distant memories of visits to maiden aunts for a glass of ‘British’ sherry and slice of Madeira cake have become stuck in the phyche. But as Antonio so vividly describes above it is a versatile and multi-faceted drink for any occasion.

I have tried three of these sherries, two were paired with food at a recent Paella Tasting where all the matched wines were provided by González Byass. The clean dryness of the Tio Pepe was paired with a squid, prawns and squid ink black rice paella. The second was the Matusalem, 30 year in the making, it had a wealth of notes in the bouquet; dried fruits, chocolate and hazelnuts. On the palate it showed aromatic wood and exotic spice with hints of expresso coffee, it sat well with a rich cinnamon Rice pudding.

I sipped the Apostoles on its own, it’s another 30 year old beauty, showing aromas of tobacco, caramel and spice on the nose. This morphs into powerful flavours of chocolate, figs and nuts in the mouth.

All of these sherries demonstrate the high regard that this undiscovered drinking pleasure should be afforded

González Byass
www.gonzalezbyassuk.com

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