Day 138: Spain, Jerez de la Frontera

The sun’s out again but it’s really chilly so we’ve wrapped up like Michelin Men and set off to town on our bikes for a bit of sightseeing to the cathedral and alcazar (the local fort).  The cathedral is built in a gothic style – it’s pretty striking with vaulted ceilings and heavily carved architecture. Although it’s striking, it isn’t breathtaking but it is worth a visit.

Trying to find our way to the alcazar, we happened to bump into the Bodega Fundador. Now I should explain that we had be talking about a visit here for a brandy tasting.

1) Brandy is our thing
2) They are the only Bodega in Jerez that does brandy tasting

We had sent an email enquiry to them but having heard nothing, decided that we’d leave a visit to the next time we are in Jerez. But here, ta-dah, like a present from heaven, the Bodega has just appeared in front of us .

Ok, we’ll just pop in and see if there’s a tour happening, probably not, but we’ll check anyway. Turns out that the next tour and brandy & sherry tasting is in 1 hour and the restaurant is open for tapas to while away the time (and put a lining in our tummies for some tastings). Well, quite frankly , it would have been rude to turn down this opportunity, so off to the restaurant we went.

Tapas and sherry – this could become a new thing for us!

The tour around the Bodega was interesting with a demonstration on the differences between the sherries. These are the new varieties (in italics) that we’ve learned about today. I loved learning about the sherries and we’ve become huge fans of the drink in place of wine. It is no longer the drink of our grannies at Christmas but a wonderful accompaniment to Spanish food. It is a marriage made in heaven….or at least in Spain – we think it’s heaven!!!!!

Some more fun facts:

FINO – a dry sherry of 15% ABV served chilled at 7degC not allowed to oxidise so lovely and crisp and clear
MANZANILLA – a FINO sherry that can only be made in Sanlucar the 3rd point in the sherry triangle – at Sanlucar, the sea air creates a different variety of yeast
PALO CORTADO – this is at 15% ABV like a FINO but like an OLOROSO in flavour and colour. It is an accidental sherry because for some reason that is unknown to the makers, the FINO yeast dies and the sherry accidentally oxidises for a short period. This is a very rare sherry because of the nature of how it comes about
AMONTILLADO – exactly the same sherry as the fino but with additional alcohol added to 20% ABV that kills the yeast layer allowing the sherry to oxidise so although dry now a tan brown colour with more body. Also served chilled at 7degC
OLOROSO – exactly the same sherry as the FINO but with additional alcohol added to 20% ABV that kills the yeast layer allowing the sherry to oxidise so although dry now a deeper brown colour with much more body. Also served chilled at 7degC
CREAM – a semi-sweet sherry made by mixing FINO with 20-30% PEDRO XIMENES, deep brown with a higher sugar content, still slightly dry and served at cellar temperature, so around 12-14degC
PEDRO XIMENES – we learned is not a brand (!!!) but a type of sherry, sweet like dessert wine or moscatel, also served 12-14degC and neither of our favourites. The grapes are picked and allowed to dry in the sun till they are raisins then the sherry is made hence the real taste of raisins in the sherry. The gorgeous Mr T has surprised me beyond all measure, his legendary sweet tooth took an alcohol break and has really taken to the Oloroso.

Then, as luck would have it, Fundador branched into brandy because, wait for it, brandy is aged in sherry barrels. Yup, ain’t that the way. In fact, some sherry producers now only produce a very young fino because they make more money selling sherry barrels for aging whiskey and brandy than they do making money on the sherry. Pray that not all the sherry producers go this way *SHOCKED FACE*

Then it was to the tasting. As we had already done a sherry tasting and pairing with the tapas, we opted for a sherry cocktail (cream sherry over ice with a slice of orange – totally sublime) and 3 brandies with our chocolates all of different degrees of purity. OH MY GAWD!!!!!

The ride back to Kaya was a little perilous! Again!

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