Are you a fan of Sherry? I didn’t know a thing about it until I dove into Jerez at Florida Wine Academy’s Vinosummit back in March. During my WSET Level 2 course last week, Sherry made another appearance as we tasted Bodegas Lustau Fino Jarana as part of the chapter on fortified wines.
Fortified wines are still wines that have additional alcohol added to them. Traditionally, way back when, fortification was used to strengthen wine to protect it from spoiling. Sherry is a type of fortified wine produced around the town Jerez de la Frontera in southern Spain. Even though some may think of Sherry as a dessert wine, it can be made in a variety of styles—from dry to sweet—and it’s even versatile to pair with food.
This wine is made with 100% Palomino, a local white grape variety and is made in the Fino style. It is aged under a veil of yeast, called “flor,” in Bodega Las Cruces in Jerez de la Frontera. The base wine is fortified to about 15% abv before it enters the solera for aging.
The origins of Emilio Lustau S.A. date back to 1896, when José Ruiz-Berdejo, a secretary to the Court of Justice, started cultivating the vines of the family’s estate, named Nuestra Señora de la Esperanza, in his spare time. He made wines which were sold to larger Sherry producers. In 1931, his daughter María Ruiz-Berdejo Alberti acquired a small winery closer to the center of Jerez de la Frontera and they all moved there and started this estate—the rest is history. Today, Bodegas Lustau is considered a world-class benchmark for top-quality wines with awards, medals, and trophies to add to their flex.
Since I had most of the bottle left over from class, I decided to take advantage of the beautiful weather and sip it outside, wishing I had some tapas on hand. It was pale yellow in color with some green tinge. It was fresh and dry with notes of baked apple, almonds, salt, and bread. One of my classmates noted that it was like a salty pretzel—a much better descriptor than the salty nuts I was internally joking about (that’s what she said). Eventually, Sean made some lemon and butter herb steamed clams as an appetizer and I poured another glass to enjoy it with my tapas, as the Spaniards do. I got the wine at 305 Wines for under $17.