Sherry is a diverse category of wine

November 11, 2013

I’m responding to a request about Sherry from longtimer Alicia.  Sherry is normally listed under arcane beverages consumed by our maiden aunts and grannies in the solitude of their Victorian or rococo-appointed boudoirs. Let’s start with a couple of mainstream recommendations first.

Marchesi de Frescobaldi is a venerable name in the Italian wine firmament, with more than 700 years in production. When Kara asked me to review their new release Castello di Pomino Chardonnay 2012, I was surprised since 2012 was a difficult weather pattern during harvest. This was a decent blend of Pinot Blanc and Chard. Opened to green-tinged, pale golden color and an apple-floral nose. On the palate, refreshing mineral notes. Decent QPR when priced under $17.

Mionetto DOC Prosecco Treviso Brut is a yummy way to solve the champagne toast problem. Wall Street Journal best of tasting, and Food and Wine top 100 bottles to drink right now were right on the money. Redolent bouquet of bread and citrus with apple notes. Fine bead mousse. Citrus, apple and a tad of vanilla on the palate. Clean finish, 89 points; if you buy a case under $130 add two price points.

Celler de Capcanes Montsant Mas Donis Barrica 2010, an old-vine Garnacha (Grenache) Syrah blend from the Montsant Region in Spain, reminded me of excellent French red Burgundy, to paraphrase Parker. Although I get his allusion due to the wine’s complexity, I find the blend more forward and aggressive in its profile. Nevertheless, it is a 94-point star and especially true when you consider the $12-15 price tag. One can’t even find lousy French Burgundy so cheaply.

It opens dark claret-colored with a vibrant bouquet of rose petals, loads of black cherry, raspberry preserves, cherry brandy and flowers. On the palate, fruit continues with oak notes and slightly elevated tannins.

However, the finish is not bitter, but clean and dry. I expect the balance to be just right by next spring. The wine is drinking well regardless and should cellar at least six years.

Big buck speculators: Quinta do Noval Nacional Vintage Port 2011 was touted at 100 points by nearly everyone. Jancis Robinson says 19/20. It’s on the market at $500/bottle. Recent comps are 2001 now selling for plus or minus $1,500. Even the 1994, which came on at $400 and was touted as “best in a few decades,” is buyable around  $1,300. JR said 18/20 window is now through 2050. Drinkers should look for the 2007 or ‘08 priced $100-120. There is absolutely no bad Nacional sold.

Niebaum-Coppola Rubicon Estate Inglenook Napa Cask Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 shows money can’t buy everything.

Mr. Coppola deserves creds for the 38-year effort of restoring Inglenook, culminating in reclaiming the Inglenook trademark in 2011 and hiring former Chateaux Margaux winemaker M. Phillippe Bascaules in the capacity of estate manager and winemaker. I’m hoping Bascaules returns this great name to its former glory. The terroir is perfect. Keep enough dry powder to buy his first fully in charge release, the 2012, probably next fall. You may need to join the Inglenook club to get this historic release.

Alicia, great question! Sherry is a diverse category of wine produced around Jerez de la Frontera in Andalusia that ranges from bone dry to almost cloying, depending on production methods. Sherry is produced from white grapes and is much more about winemaker’s art than terroir. Here are most of the categories: Very dry are Fino and Manzanilla; medium dry Amontillado; Palo Cortado is transitional dry to sweet; Oloroso is richer and less dry; Moscatel (not Muscatel) and Pedro Ximenez are sweet and, of course, the ubiquitous cream sherry, which is a cheap version of Ximenez.

Because the column space is limited and the discussion to understand Sherry is complex, I refer all to Wikipedia, which does a very thorough treatment of this topic.

For those who wish the Jack Friday treatment another site may be best since it just gives the facts. It is Hopefully none will take umbrage at the reference in the title. “I love you guys,” Jackie DiNorscio (Vin Diesel can actually act.)