Have Some Sherry, M’Dear!


“But Niklas, tell me. What shall I do to sell my wines here?”

I have just praised Miguel Montero for the fabulous Amontillado del Príncipe, a wine of contrasts and such precision. Considering it’s retailing at around twenty Euros in most European countries, where it can be found, makes del Príncipe a hard to beat-find.

As a Madeira passionate I can relate to Miguel’s frustration and disappointment. He travels, promotes and presents the wines of Bodegas Real Tesoro, including Valdespino and La Guita, and yet it seems prejudice always wins. Despite the almost Sisyphean labor, he doesn’t give up; Miguel knows the product he represents is one of the world’s greatest wines. He just needs to convince you to buy a bottle of the Amontillado del Príncipe; no more. You see, when tasting the wine you will realize Sherry is not all about being cloyingly sweet; it can be bone dry, filled with character, refreshing and match almost any food where your normal choice of wine wouldn’t stand a chance.

“Have you considered half-bottles? To reduce the worry the consumer obviously feels for buying Sherry.”

Miguel listens with great interest. Yes, half-bottles has been discussed and it’s something they’re looking further into.  But is this the only reason for not buying Sherry?

Back to the Amontillado del Príncipe. This is a great starter! On the nose it’s ethereal with lots of hazelnuts, roasted almonds, sugar cane and fudge. It smells sweet and refreshingly oxidized. Then the contrast when you taste the wine; it is bone dry with razor sharp precision and fine acidity backing up. So pure in its taste. Elegance and insane intensity at once. How is it possible? I find myself longing for a mushroom toast, a creamy soup, some tapas, preferably clams in olive oil and garlic, I want some air-dried ham, an aged hard cheese, I….well, you get it. And people say they don’t know how to handle Sherry and when to serve it!

A wine aged for a minimum of 17 years in American oak casks, first as a Fino under a veil of flor for more than eight years, then under oxidative ageing for more than nine years, costs around twenty Euros. That is impossible to beat!

The self-appointed Madeira ambassador in me suddenly realizes I should add Sherry in my educational activities agenda. Better taste yet a wine…

Miguel offers me the Oloroso Almirante. Seven years, at least, on casks. The Oloroso is one step up in concentration with more oxidized notes. Again a glorious glass which tricks you on the nose. You like fudge? Figs, dates, coffee and caramel? Then this is your sniff wine! But only dry wines? You don’t like sweet? Ok, taste the Almirante then. It is drier than a lot of white wines many consider dry. Long, nutty and refreshing taste. Have some. Fall in love.

The difference in style is remarkable amongst the seven wines I taste. The Fino, Tio Mateo, has aged five years under the flor in oak casks.

“There’s almost no histamine in this one” Miguel tells me. “We want to offer a Sherry which also can be drunk by those sensible to this biological amine.”

The wine’s a classic Fino; yeasty on the nose, almonds and green apples. Delicious and easy-going taste, smooth and yet lots of character. Fino rocks but I can understand this is more controversial for many, not yet experienced palates. But hey, try some with your tapas a hot summer day!

I’m also tasting the medium dry Amontillado from Real Tesoro, the sweet Cream version and an insanely sweet but also velvety Pedro Ximenez. Think my wife would have loved that one. Before leaving, Miguel offers me heaven in a glass; Covadonga Vors – an Oloroso  with at least 30 years in casks.

I don’t know what to say. The Covadonga is one of those you just want to sniff because you fear the taste will never reach the complexity and subtlety of the bouquet. Walnuts, dried leather, ground coffee, vanilla fudge, humus, sugar cane and smoke in a tremendous mix. I feel stupid for picking out the different scents.

I taste. Insane wine. Time stops for a few seconds. I want more. Subtle notes of dried fruits, dark chocolate, wet earth, leather, nutmeg and sweet-root. Full of life, acidity and oh my gods. Close to perfection. Anyone can make concentrated wines; elegance, ethereal wines takes a master.

Sherry wines like these shouldn’t be an aficionado secret; what’s the fun in that?

Wines tasted:

Fino Tio Mateo (89-90 p)
Amontillado del Príncipe (92-93 p)
Oloroso Almirante (91-92 p)
Amontillado Real Tesoro (87-88 p)
Real Tesoro Royal Cream (87-88 p)
Real Tesoro Pedro Ximenez (90-91 p)
Oloroso Covadonga VORS (96-97 p)

Invited by the Swedish importer to meet Miguel Montero.

PS. Title borrowed from these guys.