Something of a tribute to the fortified wines that were traditionally produced in Rueda – and dominated the region’s production until the 1980s – this is a Sherry-style, solera-aged cuvée of Palomino and Verdejo. Pale, nutty and dry, it’s like a lighter version of a Palo Cortado, with yeasty complexity and a salty, refreshingly tangy finish. Unusual and complex.
White Varietal: Palomino Fino
Let’s hear it for Sherryby Tim Atkin
Misunderstood Winesby Chris Wilson
Braver New Worldby Matt Walls
Supergrapes vs. Evil Greegeoby Matt Walls
Dry Old Palo Cortado, Jerez( £7.49, 19%, Marks & Spencer )
Great Sherry remains one of the wine world’s great bargains, even in half bottles like this one from the high quality Emilion Lustau operation. This is a classic Palo – with slightly more weight than an Amontillado, but similalry nutty, savoury flavours. Bone dry on the palate, with lovely, old barrel-aged notes of toast and grilled almonds and a salty note from five years spent in a Fino solera system. Great as an aperitif, but also amazing with tapas.
NV Tio Pepe, Fino En Rama, Jerez( £13, 15% )
If you love Fino Sherry – and who doesn’t? – this is about as good as it gets: an unfined, unfiltered fortified that was bottled in April when the flor yeast is at its thickest on the surface of the wine, giving it that bready, savoury complexity. More deeply coloured than the regular Tio Pepe, this is a salty, tangy delight that’s absolutely brilliant with a plate of anchovies or almonds. Essence of Andalusia.
NV Hidalgo Manzanilla Pasada Pastrana, Jerez( £12.99 down to £9.74, 15%, Sainsbury's )
A bottle of my favourite Manzanilla for less than a tenner? Sign me up. This aged style from coastal Sanlúcar de Barrameda is an Andalucian classic. Rich and savoury, with yeasty, baking dough aromas, intense, salty, tangy flavours and a finish that goes on for so long it could outsell Viagra. An incredible wine at a bargain price.
2010 Marti Fabra Masia Carreras Blanc, Empordà( E13, 14.5%, El Celler Petit )
There’s clearly something special about the village of San Clement Sescebes (and not just as the place where lots of Spaniards did their military service) as it’s home to two of the region’s best producers (Terra Remota being the other one). This highly unusual blend of Garnatxa Blanca, Picapoll and Samsó (aka Carignan) is a big, umami-rich white with a dry finish, some tannin on the palate and masses of grip, density and flavour. A very serious bottle of white.
Sainsbury's 12-Year-Old Taste The Difference Amontillado, Jerez( £7.99, 19%, Sainsbury's )
The almacenista (merchant) house of Emilio Lustau sources and blends some of the best Sherries in the world. This perennial award winner from Sainsbury’s is a classic Amontillado style: pale(ish), dry and very complex with flavours of hazelnuts, dried fruits and a savoury, umami-like tang. The wine needs food, preferably tapas or a hunk of Manchego cheese, to show at its best, but is a comtemplative, after dinner drink too.