Named for the Spanish classic, and perhaps the most famous dessert wine in the world was the city of Jerez de la Frontera, in the Andalusian province of Cadiz, which since the Middle Ages a center for wine, liqueur and brandy-making. In 711 Spain was under Arab rule, but in spite of the Islamic Alcohol ban continued to produce wine. Caliph Alhaken II decided in the year 966, the uprooting of vines, but the locals argued successfully that some of the grapes too Raisins is processed, of which lived on the Muslims in the numerous campaigns. Therefore, only a third of the vines were destroyed. In the 12th Century, sent the Spanish sherry wine to England and received in return English wool. During this time, the wine got its name, derived from the Arabic name of the city "Sherish" or "Xeris". It was at this time as one of the best wines in the world. The conquest by the Castilian king Alfonso X (1221-1284) in 1264 Jerez brought back under Christian rule. The Christians allegedly gave before a battle, even their horses to drink of the wine in order to incite them. In 1483 the city fathers of Jerez enacted the first statutory provision for the production of sherry, the detailed arrangements for vintage, condition the leather wineskins, and the expansion of commercial practices involved.
Sherry was due to its durability for longer cruises perfectly suitable. The Portuguese navigator Ferdinand Magellan (1480-1521), for example, bought in 1519 before beginning its journey around the world hoses 417 and 253 barrels of sherry. In 1587, attacked the English pirate Sir Francis Drake (1540-1596) to the Spanish city of Cadiz, and took away 2900 barrels of sherry, in London, came to enjoy this wine. This quickly became immensely popular, and an English fashion drink. William Shakespeare (1564-1616) was an absolute fan of sherry, he treated himself to a considerable quantity every day in his favorite pub "Bear Head Tavern." Again and again, this wine was named in scenes of his works (Richard III., Henry IV , The Merry Wives of Windsor and Henry IV). In this context, Shakespeare - and the sherry - even to the naming of the Champagne involved (see below). In the 19th Century Spanish company settled in Jerez, there are some by name today. Around the world, wines produced under the name of Sherry, the brand and the name was protected until 1996 by the EU.
The vineyards in the DO range Jerez full name 'Jerez / Xerez / Sherry y Manzanilla Sanlucar de Barrameda "comprise about 10,500 acres. The vineyards are located largely in the direction of the Atlantic Ocean. Previously planted vines on all soil types, almost exclusively only on the bright white chalk ground Albariza (Latin alba = white). This soil is the first secret of success of sherry beside climate, grape varieties and the long experience of the wine. The planting of the vines are in rows (Linos), which are oriented north-south direction. This achieves maximum sunlight throughout the day. The main variety is Palomino (ListĂˇn), with approximately 90% of the cultivated area, the sherry grape par excellence. It contributes to the special character of the sherry. In addition, small stocks are more varieties of Muscat of Alexandria (especially in the area of Chipiona) and Pedro XimĂ©nez cultivated, which are used primarily to sweeten special sherry varieties.
To read the beginning of the sugar and acid content of grapes is crucial. The harvest is done by hand, the grapes in baskets ("kilos" each 11.5 kg) collected in order not before the press could be damaged. 62 of the baskets give a Carretada , The required amount of grapes for 500 liters of must. Destined for the production of sweet wine grapes of the Pedro XimĂ©nez and Moscatel during the day exposed to increasing the sugar content on mats of esparto grass in the sun to reduce the already low acidity further decreases, and covered at night so that they in the damp, cool night air not suffer damage. This sun treatment takes at least 48 hours. In a traditional procedure is still the grapes before pressing Yeso (Gypsum) is added. Usually, you have decided on pressing, which type of sherry from the material to be built. The fermentation takes place today, mostly in steel containing up to 40,000 liters capacity at temperatures between 22 and 24 Â° C. Some wineries apply fermentation in new oak barrels (or Barricas Botas) to.
After completion of fermentation , it is decided what wine is suitable for any type of sherry. Each and every barrel is tested by the capataz (Butler) and classified. The barrels are inclined to chalk lines (raya = line or stripe, or palo = pole, then see below for Palo Cortado) identified in four categories according to their value. This encoding is slightly different depending on the winery. A dash (una raya) is awarded for fine, elegant wines that are expected to set a good flora for Fino, Manzanilla and later amontillado. Two dashes (dos rayas) received full-bodied wines, where no rate is expected to flora and are therefore provided for oloroso. Three lines (tres rayas) get all the wines, their development can not be waived and are therefore classified according to a few weeks later. The low-quality wines with a slightly sour, harsh taste get four dashes (cuatro rayas) and for distillation or production of Vinegar determined. The wines of the first three groups are now left to themselves. A second assessment carried out after at least nine months, where the sherry types are finally determined (in some cases may still be changes).
The wines of the first group to be around 15% alcohol by volume content aufgespritet (this is called Encabezado) and begin the aging process in oak barrels with 600 liters capacity. The barrels are filled to five-sixths, so that an air chamber formed by two hands, the growth of the very important Pile possible. The spontaneous formation of the yeast on the wine surface prevents the oxidation of the types Fino and Manzanilla. This layer insulates the wine from the air, cut him off alcohol and leads him to typical flavors. The storage in warehouses on the ground floor is a characteristic of a steadily expanding, with the constant air flow through the openings of these halls makes it all possible. Modern warehouses are now air-conditioned for this purpose. The barrel has a volume of close and important relationship with the flor yeast layer. The pile cut off the alcohol and wine by the barrel wall is lost fluid. Due to the volume and the surface of the alcohol content remains always the same. If one were to use smaller or larger barrels, the balance would be disturbed and the flor yeast would die because they are only 14.5 to 16 vol% is. The second group is to wine gespritet vol 17.5%, thus preventing the Florbildung. By filling in the barrels under oxygen exposure begins the ripening process, setting out the called Oloroso wines.
The aging and blending technology in sherry is mostly "Solera" or "Criadera-Solera" called. Actually called the solera cask bottom row (suelo = ground) with the oldest wine. This technique makes the sherry into something special. Traditionally aged in sherry barrels superimposed rows (Escalas) the same type but different stages of maturity. In the bottom row is the oldest and youngest in the top row of the wine. It can be seen regularly on the bottom row up to a third sherry for consumption. This amount will be replaced from the overlying series - the so-called Criadera (dt "nursery", sometimes referred to as "nurseries" translated), which in turn is replenished from the next higher layer (second Criadera), to young, finally in the top row Wine is replenished. Thus, the characteristics of the older to the younger wines go through, so that quality and type always remain virtually the same. Most sherries go through six to seven, in extreme cases up to 14 solera stages. Today, the barrels are often no more than another, but in different groups, sometimes in different wineries.
The Solera's exquisite sherries are filled only with wines from the best vintages and harvests, so that in bad years (without padding with new wine) from the lowest Sherry casks are also not bottled. Generally, the minimum maturity period of three years Sherry, an Amontillado under seven years is almost impossible, and demanding brands to mature 15 years or longer. If the Finos are slowly losing their pile, may be of biological aging in a new pile ripening process to occur. First, it is converted into Fino Amontillado Amontillado and thereafter. When this process begins with the Manzanilla Manzanilla Pasada that converts eventually also in Amontillado. The range of many types of sherry ranging from light to dark and from dry to sweet. Regarding the color is usually: the brighter, the drier - the darker the sweeter. The sherry is always a white wine, and there is no variation Tinto (red wine), although the color can be very dark. It distinguishes between three main types of sherry. First, this mature without oxygen under Flor Fino and Manzanilla, and Amontillado maturing by oxidation, second, the oxygen-matured under influence of Oloroso, and third, the flavor lies between Amontillado and Oloroso Palo Cortado.
Fino: The classic bone-dry sherry with a bright, golden yellow color and the typical almond flavor that is compared to the other variants is relatively young, ready to eat. In Sanlucar de Barrameda, he is called manzanilla (see below). The grapes come mostly from the deeper, cooler growing areas. It is aged under a thick pile layer without oxidative effect. The alcohol content is between 15 to 18% vol. Fino is a base or a precursor for the two variants of amontillado and palo cortado. As described above, but from what was originally intended as fino wine over the years, still be an oloroso, when the pile layer dies of itself and the wine has a fragrant (oloroso) character.
Amontillado: The body's richest and most intense flavor Fino variant developed initially under Pile , in this stage, the wine is a fino. Spriten by over 16% alcohol or a blend with an old Fino the flor dies off and it will go through an oxidation phase. After ripening for 12 to 15 years, he called Fino Amontillado, after more than 15 years ago, he called Amontillado. The color develops depending on the age of gold over dark tan to a blackish brown. The delicate and spicy aroma reminiscent of hazelnuts. A true Amontillado is completely dry. However, there are also semi-sweet products of inferior quality, which are blended from Rayas and sweet wines. The alcohol content is between 16 to 22% vol. Originally, all were called Amontillado sherry, in the style of a Montilla-Moriles (Montilla) were generated, the name means, too, "Montilla-like".
Manzanilla: This bright yellow version is aged under Flor Fino and comes exclusively from the territory of Sanlucar de Barrameda. Due to the strong Atlantic winds prevailing here, the wine has a typical, slightly salty and slightly bitter taste. Because of the wet and cool in summer the air to keep the yeast throughout the year and there is far less compared to Jerez is a danger that the pile layer dies. First he called Manzanilla Fina and after further maturation Manzanilla Pasada. The alcohol content is between 15 and 19 vol%. The name derives from "manzana" (apple), which is called the freshness. A second variant names as origin "manzanilla" (chamomile), because the wine has the typical odor.
Oloroso: The main variant is created without a pile layer under oxidative effect. The Oloroso is darker, full bodied and stronger in flavor than fino and amontillado. The dry, amber-to mahogany-colored wine has a distinctive, fragrant aroma of walnut (oloroso = fragrant). He is one of the longest-lived wines, and has a shelf life of 50 to 100 years. The alcohol content is between 17 to 22% vol.
Palo Cortado: This rare variant may not be specifically produced only about one in a thousand barrels, and is not taxable under special conditions, a Palo Cortado. So it is official. At the annual quantities coming onto the market, many producers who produce regularly, but one must doubt it. Palo means "stick" or literally "thick line". With thick lines (or rayas palos) so the barrels are marked according to their quality (see above). A Palo Cortado is formed from an originally planned as a quality Amontillado. If now suddenly in a barrel, the flor yeast dies and comes to a premature intensive contact with oxygen, the wine can not be due to the lack of Amontillado flor yeast. But also a thoroughbred Oloroso is no longer possible because the wine has indeed begun as Amontillado. With equivalent qualifications will be provided so a wine only at this time to review and decision by the winemaker as Palo Cortado. The "palos" (dashes) are crossed, in a figurative sense, "cut off". This is the meaning of Palo Cortado = "truncated stick". Now he is going through a prolonged oxidative process. The mostly dry wine has the scent of a hazelnut-like amontillado and the taste and body of an oloroso. The alcohol content is between 18 to 20% vol. But there are also sweet Palo Cortado variants.
In addition, there are many sub-variants that are produced according to the manufacturer with a variety of methods and recipes. Some of them are:
Cream: Designed specifically for the North European tastes created in Spain, he is not very popular. This sweet and dark-developed variant matures without pile layer with oxidative effect. It is a blend of oloroso with sweet wine (Dulce) from Pedro XimĂ©nez or Moscatel increasing. In simple creams to a sugar solution or must be used for better Creams Arrope (thickened grape must) from Pedro XimĂ©nez and at the best creams (Amoroso then) matured in the long Solera Pedro XimĂ©nez-method sherry. The alcohol content is 15.5 to 22% vol.
Golden: A very similar cream, mild and slightly sweet sherry type. The alcohol content is around 15%.
Medium Dry: A semi-dry, spicy wine with a mahogany-colored flavor. It is a blend of Amontillado young and sweet wines. The alcohol content is between 15 to 22% vol.
Pale Cream: A sweet Fino version with pale color (pale = light) and spicy aroma. The alcohol content is between 15.5 to 22% vol.
Pedro Ximenez PX =: Sweet-developed variant of the same grape variety, the "dry berry selection" among the sherry. The grapes are exposed to the sun and lose moisture. An old and well-developed in the solera system PX sherry is almost syrupy and black-brown color with aromas of dried prunes and raisins. The alcohol content is 15 to 22% vol.
Especially old sherries get on the back label a retirement certificate (see below PRES = 30 years and VOS = 20 years). In Spain is made of special glasses of sherry drunk. The tulip-shaped Catavino tapers upward and catches the bouquet. Traditionally, the sherry with the Venencia (Silver cup on a long rod) from the barrel and brought in a high arc cast accurately into the glass. The Fino and Manzanilla varieties are well cooled, the other sherries are served slightly chilled. Sherry bottles should in principle be maintained (without contact with the cork) and stored dry and dark. Opened bottles should be re-corked.
Sherry-known producers and trading houses are Tomas Abad de Herederos Argueso, Antonio Barbadillo, Agustin Blazquez, Bobadilla, Bodegas Internacionales, Gonzalez Byass Luis Caballero, Croft , Domecq , El Maestro Sierra, JosĂ© Estevez, JesĂşs Ferris, Garvey, Hidalgo La Gitana, La Guita, Harvey's , Emilio Hidalgo M. Gil Luque, Lustau , Marques del Real Tesoro, Hijos de Rainera PĂ©rez MarĂn, Jose Medina, Los Infantes de Orleans-Borbon, Osborne , Paternina , Cesar Romero, Florido, Pedro Romero, SĂˇnchez Romate , Sandeman Terry, Valdespino , Williams & Humbert Delgado Zuleta and Don Zoilo. Most producers also produce a Brandy de Jerez . Small, private companies are sherry with the proprietary name Almacenista known.