New kid on the sherry block – Pedro’s Almacenista Selection
We sherry lovers know that sherry is for life, not just for Christmas. But – in the UK at least – Christmas is a time when many people buy a bottle of sherry, even if they don’t drink it the rest of the year. So, late October 2013 was the obvious time for Majestic to launch their new range of sherries – the Pedro’s Almacenista Selection.
All produced by high quality Almacenistas (small producers who don’t sell direct to the market), and sourced by a man who knows his stuff (Pedro also goes by the name of Peter Dauthieu, who also sources Spanish wines for Ehrmanns), these sherries have serious pedigree. They also look great – with colourful labels that replicate Fiesta de la Vendimia posters from the ‘50s and ‘60s.
Now that Christmas is over for another year, will these new sherries stand the test of time?
This is a blend of Finos from Almacenista Garcia Jarana and the much bigger bodega Sanchez Romate (who also bottle the whole Pedro’s range from their facility in the heart of Jerez). It’s bright, pale and very clear, despite minimal filtration. On the nose there’s a strong aroma of flor with some olive brine too. It really smells like you’re in a Fino bodega! Take a mouthful, and this is one of the strongest flor flavours we’ve tasted in a Fino, even an En Rama. After a very flor-y start, it opens up with lovely flavours of toast, almonds and a little saltiness. I probably drank a little more of this than I should, as I kept going back for more of that flavour combination.
The Amontillado comes exclusively from Garcia Jarana – Juan Garcia Jarana is a man with the twin Jerezano passions of sherry and motorcycles (he also runs the local dealership El Motorista). This was the first of the Pedro’s range that we tasted, and led to us buying the rest of the range. Enough said? Well let me tell you a little more…..
It’s a clear deep gold, that seems to be lit from within, which just makes me want to drink take a slurp! The nose is a nice combination of flor and oxidation, as you might expect from an Amontillado: aromas of buttery white bread and golden syrup make this the aroma equivalent of comfort food. In the mouth is starts with quite pronounced flavours of flor and brine, which give way to a crescendo of roasted almonds and hazelnuts. I don’t use words like crescendo lightly – you really need to try this one, as I’m struggling to find the words to describe how the flavours open up and grow on the palate.
Always the ace in the pack for me – Palo Cortado is my favourite type of sherry, and I’ve tried some real stars over the years. So how does Pedro’s offering stand up? This is produced by Cayetano del Pino, an Almacenista that specialises in Palo Cortado, so I had high hopes. Again, this sherry is bright and clear despite the minimal fitration applied to the whole Pedro’s range. It’s an inviting deep golden, like the Amontillado.
They may look the same, but don’t be fooled – on the nose and palate they are very different. On the nose, this has classic Palo Cortado aromas of caramel (Werther’s Originals to be precise) and resin. It’s reminiscent of modelling glue, but in a good way. Whilst it’s bone dry to the taste, it has this momentary, fleeting impression of sweetness that disappears almost before you have chance to register it (take another mouthful to check; I did!). It’s fresh and zesty to start with, opening up into crushed hazelnuts with burnt caramel and a little orange peel. Oh yes, this will definitely do.
So finally we got to the Oloroso. We tasted this on a cold miserable Scottish night – the kind of weather that Oloroso was made for.
Again made by Garcia Jarana, this Oloroso comes from the same stable as Lustau’s Almacenista range Pata de Gallina Oloroso – a famously glyceric Oloroso. It’s a clear medium amber with aromas in keeping with its oxidative ageing: varnish, wood sap and burnt caramel. In the mouth it’s complex, resiny and savoury, with a long, long hazelnut and burnt caramel finish. Like the Amontillado, it’s really big in the mouth which takes you by surprise after a relatively quiet start. It goes on forever on the finish – a little goes a very long way.
This is a really excellent range of elegant, complex sherries, appealingly packaged and accessibly priced. (from £8.99 for the Fino to £14.99 for the Palo Cortado, in 75cl bottles). I really wouldn’t be surprised if people who bought a bottle as part of their Christmas case decided to come back for more. They’re just the kind of sherries to win people over to the sherry revolution.