Friday, April 1, 2011

Next Week: Sherry, in depth

"Sherry is a hell of a drug."

- Adapted from Dave Chapelle, adapted from Rick James

My last visit in Spain was up high in the rugged area ascending the mountains from Guardiola de Font Rubi, approximately 30 km southwest of Barcelona. Oriol Illa, one third of the team at Els Jelpins, was describing the wine list at his buddy's restaurant in Sant Feliu de Guixols, a seaside town in northern Catalunya, closer to Girona. The list consists of roughly 85% Burgundy, 10% Andalucía (sherry), and 5% everything else. "Don't you think your list is a bit unbalanced?" Oriol asked on one occasion (Oriol himself used to own a restaurant and has built up a wine program of his own).

"No,not really," replied the restaurant owner. "These are the wines I like."

Sherry, in its myriad styles, is a wine that I too like, perhaps enough to entertain opening a spot with a similarly out of balance wine list like Oriol's friend. My relationship to sherry has lasted about 12 years. And it has taken much of that time to even begin to scratch the surface and start to understand these wines. Visiting the region last month was obviously extremely helpful. The great appeal of sherry, to me, is its endless complexity, as well as its uncanny, sneaky, slow burning appeal. I was never bitten by the sherry bug, instead, I remained loyal and curious. For anyone who regularly drinks wine, carefully considers it, and merely appreciates sherry, you might want to be careful about exposing yourself more regularly to it. You will likely get hooked (not that it's a bad thing). After some years of enjoying a fresh fino or manzanilla before a meal, and more recently an amontillado, oloroso or palo cortado anytime, after having read (and re-read) Julian Jeffs' "Sherry," after visiting some cellars both large and small, tasting sobretablas, criaderas, even flor, I can safely say that I'm hooked.

The next batch of blog posts are about sherry. I hope that you enjoy them.