Today I tasted…. Don Jose Oloroso
Don Jose is part of Sanchez Romate’s Special Reserve collection of sherries. The Sanchez Romate bodegas are based in the heart of Jerez city centre, and have some of the most modern equipment around. They also provide bottling services for a number of other smaller bodegas.
Don Jose is a very mature Oloroso, aged for an average of over 18 years. It has a little more residual sugar than an Amontillado and also compared with some other Olorosos, so should be slightly less extreme in its dryness.
In the glass the wine is a rich, bright and inviting brown. Its aromas are an intense and complex mixture of walnuts, caramel, wood polish, vanilla and fresh orange peel. Take a mouthful and the residual sugar shows itself in an implication of sweetness. There’s no way it tastes or feels properly sweet, it’s still a very dry sherry – but it’s like the promise of sweet caramel is always hiding just out of reach but tantalisingly close. Imagine a Werther’s Original hard caramel but without it actually tasting sweet. I don’t know if I’m doing a good job of communicating it, but it’s the best way I can think of to describe it!
Almost immediately, this implied sweetness gives way to a savoury, almost meaty set of flavours combined with roasted walnuts and hazelnuts, vanilla, cinnamon and a hint of cumin. It has a long, long finish of salted caramel, walnuts and marmalade.
This is a serious bottle of sherry – elegant, complex and extremely well-integrated. It’s 18% ABV but doesn’t have any alcoholic burn or kick. Whilst it’s wonderful with food – we paired it with steak and I imagine it would also be fantastic with slow-cooked casseroles – it would be equally at home as a sipping wine, whilst you curl up with a good book on your favourite chair. What’s most striking is how persistent and commanding its flavours are, without being in the least bit explosive. This is a wine that draws you in, rather than smacking you in the face. Just lovely.