Organic Wine Tasting
Friday 7th April
£20 in advance only
(places must be booked two days in advance)
contact us through the website if you’d like us to run this event again
Facebook: Organic Wine Norwich
There’s three we’d like you to know about sherry. First, it’s a (fortified) wine. Like other wines, it doesn’t like being put under the stairs after opening, and left there till the next Christmas. Second, the production and maturation is an intricate and skilled affair. Thirdly, its plummet in popularity makes it great value wine.
The UK has a long standing relationship with the wines of Jerez de la Frontera, Spain, and has imported them, traditionally in casks, for hundreds of years. Fortification (the addition of brandy) was a good way of keeping the wines fresh and in condition for a long and slow journey. But this doesn’t mean they last forever; in fact, as sherries have been aged before bottling, few will improve in bottle. And certainly, once opened, even the most oxidative styles are best drank within a month. So don’t judge sherry on the bottle Gran retrieves from the cupboard every year at Christmas. Come along and taste the remarkable flavours of this unique wine afresh.
In the UK, a lot of our experiences of sherry are of blended sherries – “cream” or “pale cream”. These blends were British creations. Merchants would buy different types of sherry, and mix them (and often sweeten them) to their own recipes to create their own house style. But the embryonic resurgence in interest in sherry is around the traditional Spanish styles, a rediscovering of the building blocks of these blends.
So our tasting will feature the four key styles, plus one blend. Key to two of these styles is a particular strain of yeast, known locally as ‘flor’ (Spanish for ‘flower’) that blooms on top of the barrels in which the wine is fermenting. The wine beneath this layer of yeast, kept from oxygen, produces acetaldehydes, substances which imbue the wine with a distinctive savoury character, a little like soy sauce. This character is the hallmark of fino sherries, and is also key to an amontillado style of sherry, except that for this style, the wine is fortified to a strength that will kill the flor, allowing the wine to age oxidatively as well, developing nutty flavours, and notes of toffee and coffee. For oloroso sherries, the flor yeast is killed at the outset, meaning these sherries are all about oxidative flavours. But even richer and weightier are PX, or Pedro Ximénez sherries. The outrageous sweetness of these wines comes from drying the grapes in the sun before pressing, concentrating the sugars, as our cover image shows. The resulting nectar is as rich, sweet, weighty and viscous as wine gets – the perfect match for dark chocolate.
Sherry’s versatility with food is key to repositioning the drink for a new audience. It is the perfect tapas partner, wiping the palate clean between dishes. If you get a bit apprehensive around pairing wine with food, sherry is very rarely an unfaithful partner.
We will talk more of soleras, the unique ageing method of sherry, on the night; but suffice to say sherry isn’t a single vintage; rather, it is a blend of wines from over many years, sometimes going back decades, making the wines complex and distinctive.
Our tasting evenings are unpretentious, sociable and informal, and suitable for beginners or experts. If you can’t make the evening, we will also run a potted version of this tasting between noon and 1pm on the same day. In this ‘Lunchtime Tippling with Tom’, you can taste the Fino, Amontillado and Oloroso for £6, with lunch available to buy in the cafe afterwards. Email or pop into the shop to reserve your place.
The Evening’s Wines:
All wines are from Bodegas Robles; all bottle sizes 50cl:
Fino (15%abv.) £10.50
(served with dukka – a blend of spices & seeds)
Amontillado (15%) £14.50
(served with baked celeriac & hazelnut crumb)
Oloroso (16%) £14.50
(served with Calon Wen Extra Mature Cheddar)
Cream (16%) £14.25
(served with Palestinean Medjoul dates & almonds)
Pedro Ximénez (15%) £13.60
(served with chocolate tofu cheesecake)
All food organic
sourced from Folland Organics, row A Norwich Market,
& the Greenhouse shop. Vegan alternative to cheddar available on request. Please advise when booking.
Bread from the Timberhill Bakery
Feedback from our recent organic wine tasting:
‘the food was very good & went well with the wine’
‘it was an interesting & educational evening – very enjoyable’
‘As usual, fascinating info & a unique social occasion – great’
‘good to see & taste less popular wines’