What a way to spend a birthday!
November 12th saw little ol’ me mingling with the great Steve Olson at Hearth Restaurant in the East Village of Manhattan. That’s right folks, I drank. And drank all day long, for that matter. Now don’t you go home thinking that’s a problem. I tasted. We all tasted…and spat, for that matter. For the most part.
The Jerez Council of Spain presented to some 60 bartenders and industry professionals all that the most southern part of Europe had to offer. Well, the Sherry part of it anyways. Not only is sherry made from white grapes (palomino, pedro ximenez, and moscatel), but 75% of those grapes are hand-picked. Blood, sweat, and tears go into producing sherry.
The two main features that give sherry it’s distinctive characteristics are the flora (special yeast) and the solera aging process (barrels laying one on top of the other, transferring liquid down from one to the next until properly aged).
We sipped through nearly 20 different masterpieces of the fine region of Jerez. This began at 10am, mind you, with a lunch break at 1, and the remaining portion of the tasting right through 4pm. We began with Mosto 2009 from Tio Pepe. The mosto is step one in making sherry. It’s wild, unfiltered, earthy, and light.
We continued on, eventually arriving at a Lustau Puerto Fino which smelled of baby diapers. That’s right, baby diapers. The Williams & Humbert Dry Sack was shockingly tasty. As the afternoon progressed, the sherries became more dense and fruity. The Sanchez Romate Iberia Cream (a blend of Oloroso and Pedro Ximenez grapes) tasted of raisins, with a thick and rich texture.
The Williams & Humbert Don Guido Pedro Ximenez VOS was marvelous, with figs and dates being the predominate flavor. It was quite sweet, but for someone with a sweet tooth like me, perfectly delicious.
I learned a lot. I love sherry. I knew this before, but I have to say that my love has grown deeper for Jerez, as deep as the blue Mediterranean Sea. I love you Jerez. Please allow me to visit you. Steve Olson, if you’re reading this, please, pretty please take me on your next trip there. I’ll be forever grateful.
The day was so inspiring that I’ve decided to put a Sherry Cobbler on the list at the soon-to-be-opened Harmony Restaurant in Harlem. I call it the Central Park Cobbler, and you’ll find the recipe a bit further down.
Thank you to Steve Olson and the aka Wine Geek crew. And a special merci goes out to Matt Stinton (fellow USBG member and good pal) for executing an amazing luncheon event with his crew at Hearth.
Sherry, baby…until next we meet…
Central Park Cobbler
1 oz. Williams & Humbert Dry Sack Medium Dry Amontillado Sherry
1 oz. 10 Cane Rum
1/2 oz. Grand Marnier
1/2 oz. Agave nectar
Several blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries
4 basil leaves
Directions: In a mixing glass, muddle the berries, basil, and agave. Add remaining ingredients and shake very well with ice. Strain over crushed ice into wine glass.
Garnish: basil leaf and berries