One of everything please – a guided tour of some of Lustau’s finest
My favourite Fiesta de la Vendimia events are the Catas Magistrales: tasting a range of sherries from a single bodega, led by the person who makes them, and served with tiny morsels of matched food. If that isn’t good enough, it all happens in the glorious surroundings of the Alcazar’s Patio des Armas after dark, accompanied by a flamenco guitarist.
Last night was the turn of Bodegas Lustau, led by Manuel Lozano – Enólogo de la Bodega.
Less well-known than Lustau’s big hitter fino La Ina, Puerto Fino is matured in El Puerto de Santa Maria by the sea and consequently has a little salt both on the nose and to taste. But the overriding smells are of the yeast that the wine matures underneath, and in the mouth there’s bread – lots of crusty bread! Some finos are very citrussy to taste but not this one. It’s almost warm in the mouth and really savoury in taste.
The caterers – Altacazuela (part of the same company as Bar Juanito) – matched it with a trio of light tapas including an awesome artichoke pie. Who knew artichokes had pie potential?!
Amontillado Cuevas Jurado
Next came the indisputable star of the show – the fabulous amontillado Cuevas Jurado. I hadn’t tasted this before but it’s now on my shopping list!! Bright bright amber to look at, and the most fantastic smell of tocino de cielo or creme caramel, followed by hazelnuts and almonds. In the mouth it was bone dry and bright, with a citrussy start and a long nutty finish.
The food pairing here was not an obvious one: sea bream stuffed with truffle cream. The fish alone didn’t work for me, but the grilled peppers and onion marmalade in the dressing really held their own with the amontillado.
Oloroso Río Viejo
Next up was a wine I enjoyed a couple of nights ago with a spiced carillada de cerdo. This time it was matched with a spiced chicken dish with mojo picón sauce, and again the Oloroso made the spices dance on the tongue. I’m seriously thinking of trying this with chili con carne when I get home.
Another bright amber wine, but a little darker than the amontillado, this smelled of oak, pecan pie and dried fruits. Once in the mouth it had tons of body, and tasted of roasted nuts. Its slightly syrupy texture contrasted with the bright, fresh dryness. This really came to life when paired with the food.
Number four on the list was Cream – the sherry we associate with Christmas, vicarages and grandma. I’m not a huge fan of these blends of oloroso and pedro ximenez as they’re neither dry nor seriously sweet. However, it was on the list so I gave it a whirl.
It had a sweet smell and slightly burnt, spicy taste. It would work well with a really strong hard cheese like very mature cheddar, or perhaps a chunk of dark fruit cake. It was matched with a delicious tapa of gnocchi in mushroom sauce with Parmesan shavings. The sauce was really rich and Chelsea and Salvador beside me discovered it worked better with the dryness of the Oloroso.
Last but not least we had a sweet wine to finish the line-up. Ordinarily at a Cata Magistral, a Pedro Ximenez is served, but tonight we had something different: a Moscatel made from 100% muscat grapes and matured in Chipiona on the Costa De La Luz. This was paired with a heavenly chocolate brownie!
The wine smelled of grapes and black treacle, and in the mouth had flavours of treacle toffee, raisins and a curious floral hint. It was lighter and fresher than Pedro Ximenez but still a good sticky dessert wine. The combination of brownie AND dessert wine was a bit tooth-achingly sweet for me but each was fabulous on its own.
So Lustau reminded me last night why they’re one of my all time favourite bodegas, and I’m definitely adding Cuevas Jurado to my shopping list. The night was also special as I had the chance to meet a fellow sherry lover and crusader to share her passion for sherry with the rest of the world. Check out Chelsea @SherryCountry on Twitter and at www.sherrycountry.com