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Brian Elliott: try some surprising sherry

WoodWinters alters perceptions of under-appreciated wine, writes Scotland on Sunday wine columnist Brian Elliott

Published: June 2, 2016
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Like wines from Alsace or the riesling grape, the public seldom share the wine trade’s massive enthusiasm for sherry. However, the sustained rise in tapas bars – and the sheer common sense of matching local wine to local food – ought to be altering that. After all, sherry is even versatile enough to partner desserts; try one with a glass of dense, almost black, pedro ximenez for instance.

More especially, though, seafood works brilliantly with bone-dry versions like fino and manzanilla. These emanate from the palomino grape grown on the distinctive, chalk-based vineyards around Jerez (pictured) – and made into extraordinary wine under flor, that uniquely local yeast layer.

Although sherry insiders speak highly of several Scottish retailers – Luvians, St Andrews Wine Co and Drinkmonger are all admired – it was WoodWinters (in Edinburgh and Bridge of Allan ) that was a top three UK retailer in the 2015 Sherry Festival.

I asked WoodWinters, therefore, to nominate three of its sherries to summarise what this seriously under-appreciated wine is all about.
Behind the classic sherry, bruised apple characteristics, there is a lot going on in El Maestro Sierra Fino (£9.50 for a half bottle). Its supplementary flavours include fudge, brazil nuts and savoury spice – with a mandarin orange tang – but a certain roundedness to its attractively light texture.

Top marks though go to Single Vineyard Pastrana Manzanilla Pasada (£15), which has been aged for the seven or so years needed to acquire pasada status. It starts with the clean, crisp saline edge associated with manzanilla but also develops walnut and caramel depth with suggestions of olives – and orange peel acidity.

Finally, switching to sweeter styles, I am hugely impressed by Fernando de Castilla Pedro Ximenez (£17). It combines influences of treacle, figs, dates and mocha with bold marmalade-centred fruitiness and, above all, a much less viscous and syrupy texture than lesser versions of PX.

BEST BUYS: BEERS

2012 Opta Dao
Portugal,13 per cent

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This full but soft red from the warm and dry, granite dominated Dao region typifies the value and quality Portugal currently offers.
Its cherry and sour plum fruit is supplemented by floral, cinnamon, mint and herbal touches, mineral based depth and firm acidity but – unlike days of yore – only limited tannin.
£8.75 at Great Grog

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Three Hop Craft Lager
Caledonian Brewery, 4.5 per cent

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This popular part of Caledonian’s draught range is now available in bottles. Using three types of hops (from Alsace, Bavaria and the Czech Republic) it gives you fruity aromas, an attractive golden colour, a dry but gently bitter finish, neat citrus touches and substantial but proportionate depth.
£2 for 355ml at Asda

• For regular recommendations on good value wines go to www.midweekwines.co.uk

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