Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

A Merry Tale of Sherry Picking; WINES OF THE WEEK

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

A Merry Tale of Sherry Picking; WINES OF THE WEEK

Article excerpt

Byline: ANDREW NEATHER

SHERRY is finally escaping a reputation of near-terminal fustiness to become cool - but does it go beyond the undeniable appeal of a chilled fino?

Certainly they think so in Jerez, the main town of Andalucca's sherry country and host of this month's Copa Jerez, which pits teams of international chefs and sommeliers against each other to cook with sherry and to match their dishes with sherry to drink.

I went down there with Heston Blumenthal, chef at the Fat Duck in Bray, and one of the judges of this year's contest.

While Heston began more than five hours of judging eight teams cooking three courses each, the stamina of some of the British press contingent was already flagging following the professional rigours of the night before.

Bluntly, I wasn't sure I could face another glass of sherry at 9am.

But first up was the American team from New York's Casa Mono restaurant, who had chosen a starter of duck egg with chips, mojama (Spanish wind-dried tuna) and truffle vinaigrette, paired with fino. It was an inspired breakfast combination and a hangover cure of genius. I haven't tried fino at breakfast since; at any other time of day, Hidalgo Fino (Majestic, [pounds sterling]4.99) is a particularly good choice, nutty and complex.

For a slightly saltier manzanilla, Hidalgo Manzanilla Pastrana (Majestic, [pounds sterling]8.49) is very good - paired by the winning Scottish team with scallops in a creamy chestnut, apple and bacon sauce.

More substantial as a wine with food is decent quality amontillado, rich yet dry. It certainly worked a treat with the Belgians' Anjou pigeon in amontillado. Sainsbury's Lustau Dry Amontillado, aged 12 years ([pounds sterling]6.99/ 50cl), dry with deep notes of fruitcake and spice, offers excellent value. …

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