A big leagues Fino and it’s little wild brother
Yesterday I visited the fantastic Drinkmonger wine shop in Edinburgh, where I discovered an awesome selection of sherries and a very knowledgeable lady to chat sherry with.
I came away with three bottles, all from Bodegas Lustau – a favourite bodega of ours, not least because they’ve made us so welcome over the years when we have visited.
Unable to decide which to open, we’ve cracked open La Ina and Tres En Rama. Both are finos, but so very very different. La Ina is one of the two Fino ‘big guns’ along with Gonzalez Byass’s Tio Pepe; it’s an iconic brand that we can readily find in supermarkets and independent wine stores here in the UK. Originally made by Domecq, Lustau bought La Ina in 2008 and are working hard to make sure it gets the air-time it deserves.
Tres En Rama is one of three ‘en rama’ or raw sherries that Lustau produces – one from each of the sherry towns. The one we’re tasting tonight is from Jerez de la Frontera. En Rama sherries are raw, with only very light filtration. This makes them a little wilder, more unstable and much fuller flavoured. They should be drunk within about 6 months of bottling to be at their best. They’re quite hard to come by in Scotland, but good old Drinkmonger came up with the goods 🙂
So how do they compare? The picture shows the difference in colour between them – La Ina is very very pale straw coloured, whilst Tres En Rama is more golden in colour.
At first sniff, La Ina is almonds, flor (the yeast behind the Fino maturation process) and a little bit of the seaside. On tasting, it’s fresh, bright and like a big ray of sunshine on your face. Lots of lemon peel, a bit of green olive and a long lemony finish with a hint of salt. Stuart loves this fino and it takes us both straight back to the terrace at El Gallo Azul bar in Jerez on a lazy, sunny afternoon.
So what about Tres En Rama – is it really a wild thing? Stuart’s not a huge fan, but then he is devoted to La Ina! I, on the other hand, like it a lot. There’s a lot more going on on the nose – far more complex and lots of yeasty flor (a result of less of it being filtered out). There’s also a slight perfuminess, like the vaguest waft of a scented garden on the breeze – but concentrate too hard and it’s gone. Take a slurp and there’s plenty to get your taste buds dancing. Where La Ina is all about citrussy freshness, Tres En Rama is rounded, fuller in flavour and has muscle. There’s still citrus in there, but lots more flor and nuttiness. The finish is savoury – almost like buttered toast or a buttered cheese-biscuit.
Would I drink Tres En Rama as an everyday sherry? No I wouldn’t – but then it’s not made for that purpose. It’s released in small batches and doesn’t last long. It’s a treat – and what a treat?! Really excellent indeed. And for everyday, there’s the wonderful La Ina – grab it when you see it, and enjoy the sun on your face!
Thanks to Paula MacLean at Drinkmonger, who has a brilliant sherry blog at http://jerez-xeres-sherry.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/welcome-to-paulas-sherry-blog.html