TIO PEPE ‘En Rama’ – 2011 release

by Patrick Sandeman

Having been born into a sherry family it was entirely normal that the fridge was always filled with bottles and half bottles of Fino and Manzanilla, and that we drank chilled sherry from large ‘copas’ from an early age. (In fact the first time that I recall getting roaringly drunk was on sherry, and while I would never recommend drinking to excess, it was perhaps the happiest form of drunk I have experienced, in spite of the subsequent hangover in the prickly heat of the Andalucía sun).

At least once in every decade the much underrated wines of Jerez de la Frontera and Sanlucar de Barrameda face a renewed revival, but sadly mostly short-lived. It does seem, however, that Sherry is at last enjoying some success in London with a number of openings of hugely popular Sherry bars.

Today these small, independent bars, such as Bar Pepito in North London, and Capote y Toros in Old Brompton Road, modelled on the bars of Puerto de Santa Maria and Jerez de la Frontera, concentrate on a fabulous range of sherries that most of us have never experienced before in this country, let alone in Spain itself. Accompanied by simple, but high quality ‘tapas’, such as ‘jamon iberico’ and ‘manchego’ cheese, these embrace the true spirit of the way Jerzanos drink sherry, always accompanied by small dishes of food.

Gonzalez  Byass are in part responsible for this revival, with the release last year of a rather unique and wonderful Fino, called ‘En Rama’, which captured the imagination of wine drinkers and sold out within a week, and next week sees only the second release and again in limited quantities.

Tio Pepe ‘En Rama’ is Fino in its purest form – unfiltered, unclarified and drawn from the middle of the cask during the Spring, when the ‘flor’ growth on the wine is at its thickest. A strictly limited release, and for only the second time (the first being last year to celebrate 175 years of Gonzalez Byass), this is a sherry in its most natural and delicate state, harking back to the days when sherry was drawn straight from the butt for consumption, and must be drunk before the end of the summer. Pale yellow with olive green and golden reflections. Powerfully aromatic with a distinctive ‘flor’ (yeasty) character, intensified by the unrefined nature of the Fino. Savoury and long flavours, with a clean, citrusy finish. Drink this chilled from a wine glass or large ‘catavino’ with salted almonds, shellfish, grilled fish or for a fantastic treat a plate of ‘pata negra’ ham.

TIO PEPE ‘En Rama’ Gonzalez Byass £11.95 single bottle. £10.95 bottle when you buy SIX bottles.

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