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Fantastic Sherry tasting at Araboka: A small “Refresher Course”

Monday, July 1, the Málaga Wine Guide took part in a fantastic sherry tasting at vinoteca Araboka (the new name of formerly Eboka).

The big secret of the sherry region is the production method of the various dry sherries that are there; fino, manzanilla, amontillado, oloroso and palo cortado. First, there is the choice for a biological or oxidative maturation after the must of the Palomino grapes has had its fermentation. The cellar master determines which part of the basic wine is for which sherry.

The Fino’s get a biological maturation whereby by strengthening the base wine to about 15.5 degrees, a yeast layer grows on top of the wine in the barrels, the so-called Flor. This Flor prevents the wine from oxidizing (too quickly) and there is also an exchange between the Flor and the wine that produces certain aromas. The Flor lives off the wine. This proces adds to the very special taste of Fino (and Manzanilla). The wine matures in wooden barrels in the unique solera & criadera system, the second secret of sherry wines.  Barrels are stacked in rows. A certain amount of wine is extracted from the bottom layer (the ‘solera’) to be bottled. The same amount is added to the ‘solera’ of the layer on top (the first ‘criadera’). The same thing happens between the other various layers. The young wine is added to the upper ‘criadera’. The various vintages mingle with their way down.

The older the solara / criadera is, the better and more complex the wines.

Fino is a fresh wine with a subtle bouquet of floral aromas, chamomile, almond, yeast and dough. Delicate acids and a slightly bitter aftertaste.

Manzanilla is a wine made in the same way but from Sanlucar de Barrameda. According to the experts, the micro climate of Sanlucar, located at the mouth of the Gualdalquivier, gives Manzanilla an unmistakably different salty character than the Fino’s.

For an Oloroso, the basic wine is strengthened to 17 degrees of alcohol, so that the Flor cannot form. This wine is fully exposed to oxygen during maturation (oxidative ripening). Hence the deep, intense brown color. Oloroso has warm round aromas of nuts, vegetation, tobacco, autumn leaves, animal tones, truffle and leather. The wine is complex and powerful.

An Amontillado undergoes double maturation, both oxidative and biological. They are beautiful elegant, subtle and complex wines that, depending on which maturation has prevailed, are characterized by the fresh aromas of Fino or that the wine goes more in the direction of Oloroso.

With a Palo Cortado, on the other hand, the best qualities of Amontillado and Oloroso are combined: the subtle nature of the Amontillado and the full, round structure of Oloroso. Aromas of citrus, orange peel and butter.

In addition to these dry wines, the syrupy intense sweet wines are made from Pedro Ximenez grapes in Jerez.

For the semi-sweet variant Cream the dry wines (especially Oloroso) and sweet wines are mixed.

Special mention of the many wines that we tasted at Araboka:

Manzanilla La Kika (´en rama´, unfiltered), from bodega Yuste.

Manzanilla (´en rama´ ) Caravajal

Oloroso, bodega Barbadillo

Oloroso, El Maestro Sierra

The star of the tasting; the phenomenal Palo Cortado, 2002, bodega Williams (Colleción Añadas)

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