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Sherry Facts – Varieties of Sherry styles

Sherry is one of the most diverse varieties of wines and within this one category we find a large number of different styles of wine. First of all, Sherry is fortified wine which can be divided into dry wines (Fino, Manzanilla, Amontillado, Oloroso and Palo cortado) and sweeter wines (Medium, Cream, Moscatel and Pedro Ximénez).

In order to elaborate these wines, we can follow two different ageing systems; we can either age a wine biologically (to make a Fino or Manzanilla) or oxidatively (Medium, Cream, Oloroso and Palo Cortado). Finally, we have the very unique wine called Amontillado which combines both of these ageing styles.

Following this, we can describe each of the wines with specific definitions:

FINO: In our case Tío Pepe, a Sherry aged under the layer of yeast called Velo de Flor, aka. ‘flor’, which completely modifies the wine by providing it with an inimitably salinity, complex character and extremely dry expression. The creation of the ‘flor’ is achieved through careful fortification to 15.5% alcohol vol. and the specific microclimate in the cellars of the Jerez region.

MANZANILLA: Very similar to Fino, also ageing under Velo de Flor, but this wine has been ageing in the town of Sanlúcar de Barrameda.

AMONTILLADO: The only Sherry that combines the biological and the oxidative ageing, beginning its life as a Fino or Manzanilla ageing under ‘flor’ and later continues its ageing oxidatively once the yeast has died off.

OLOROSO: A Sherry which only ages oxidatively. In our case, the winemaker avoids the creation of the ‘flor’ by fortifying the wine to 18% alcohol vol., which it too high of level for the yeast to survive.

PALO CORTADO: Probably the most complex wine, due to its wide definition. Said to be a wine that has a similar, elegant nose as an Amontillado but shows the power and persistence on the palate of an Oloroso. Many different interpretations of how this is produced, but it is typically made from the finest and most elegant must and has a long oxidative ageing.

MEDIUM: A group of wines which sugar content is from 5 grams per litre and up to 115 gr/l. In González Byass we create a Medium by blending 90% Oloroso and 10% PX in our 8-year-old Cristina and 87% Palo Cortado and 13% PX in our 30-year-old Apóstoles. As you can imagine, there are many different styles of Medium as the sugar content varies significantly.

MOSCATEL: A very sweet Sherry made from the Moscatel grape. Has characteristically floral aromas and flavours. The grapes go through the sweet vinification process.

PEDRO XIMÉNEZ: The sweetest style of Sherry, made from Pedro Ximénez grapes that have gone through the sweet vinification process. Before pressing they are overmatured in the vine and later partially dried in the sun during 10-12 days where it will evaporate a significant amount of water and concentrate sugar.

González Byass scores high in wine advocate

The recent review of Sherry wines published at the end of December 2017 in the internationally acclaimed Wine Advocate has yielded some outstanding results for González Byass sherries, scoring +90 points across the board for its premium Sherries.

 The full range of González Byass premium Sherries has gained top scores in the latest edition of Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, gaining over 90 points for some of its best-known wines.

The Las Palmas selection, from the 2016 saca selected by Antonio Flores, Master Blender and Gerard Basset MW & MS, performed extremely well with Cuatro Palmas scoring 96 points and the Tres and Dos Palmas scoring 93 points. Una Palma was given 91+ points.

Additionally, Alfonso 1/6, a recent, rare release from the González Byass, did particularly well being awarded 95 points. This fine, aged Oloroso, was launched last year and is the first limited edition Sherry from the Finite Wines collection, of which only 1 cask of 6 has been bottled.  Lying undiscovered for more than 40 years in González Byass cellars in Jerez, Spain, this wine is irreplaceable.

The Tío Pepe Fino En Ramas from 2016 and 2017 also performed well in the rating gaining 90 and 91+ points, respectively. Commenting on the wines Luis Gutiérrez, the Wine Advocate’s Spanish wine specialist, said, “I had the chance to compare two bottlings of the briny NV Tío Pepe Fino en Rama. It starts with a nose that combines notes of albero sand (the one used for bullfighting rings and cellar floors), esparto grass and some nutty undertones. The palate is dry and intense with pungent flavors, good complexity and depth for a four-year-old Fino. There is a notch more concentration and nuance here plus a wide, long, velvety texture and a salty aftertaste. 16,990 bottles were filled in April 2017. This is very good value and an excellent introduction to the en rama category of Fino Sherry.”