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How are the different types of sherry wine made

I will start by explaining the production of the most common Spanish sherry wine, dry sherry produced with the Palomino grape base wine. To make it simple, the differences between the types of sherry wine is in the ageing, “biological” or “oxidative”, and the grape juice. If it is the juice of the first press or if it comes from the second press and which grape type. All sherry wines must be aged a minimum of two years in cask before it can be sold within the sherry triangle. The sherry triangle consists of the only three towns where sherry can be aged in the whole world. These 3 cities are Jerez de la Frontera, Sanlucar de Barrameda and Puerto de Santa Maria.

Fundador flor amontillado palo cortado fino oloroso jerez sherry Jerez de la frontera solera village Cadiz Explore la Tierra

DRY TYPES OF SHERRY WINE: PALOMINO BASE WINE WITH BIOLOGICAL AGEING 

First press is commonly used for Sherry wines that undergoes biological ageing. Biological ageing originates because the wine ages under a layer of “flor”, which means flower in Spanish. “Flor” is a layer of yeast that feeds on the glycerin, proteins, alcohol of the base wine and stays at the top, to prevent the wine coming into contact with the oxygen. To create this layer it has to be fortified with Brandy to around 15%, as the yeast dies above this. The layer of yeast feeds on alcohol (so alcohol content is reduced a bit since the ageing process starts), glycerin, proteins, sugar, and more. That is why these sherries that only undergo biological ageing are bone dry.

Within this ageing process different types of sherry can be produced such as:

Fino sherry:

The base wine of the first press is fortified to 15-17% and is always under the “flor” during the ageing process for minimum 2 years. It can’t be made in Sanlucar de Barrameda only in Puerto de Santa María and Jerez de la Frontera.

Manzanilla wine:

Same style as the Fino, but aged in Sanlúcar de Barrameda instead, where it ages under marine conditions, with high hummidy and lower temperature variations throughout the year. Salty winds, affecting the tasting notes of the wine. As the layer of yeast lives this climate it grows thicker thus usually also has a lighter colour than a Fino. This sherry has its own D.O. manzanilla, it is not within the Jerez-Sherry-Xeres D.O.

flor fino vino jerez sherry Jerez de la frontera solera village Cadiz Explore la Tierra

Palo cortado Sherry:

One of the rarest and best wines of the world. It is the pride and joy of the winemaker as years ago it had to “appear” instead of being “made”. It starts in the same way as the Fino sherry and Manzanilla. Suddenly, the layer of flor starts to die and it starts to suffer oxidative ageing, or this layer never grows.

Nowadays some winemaker in the wine cellar creates it however it will never be better than the one that just “appears”. Winemakers can make palo cortado sherry by: Breaking the “flor”; Joining two “criaderas” a fino/manzanilla and an oloroso; Or by adding fino/manzanilla to a “criadera” that has palo cortado. Then add  more brandy increasing the alcohol to >17%, killing the flor completely.

We know that the process is similar to the amontillado sherry, but it undergoes almost all oxidation ageing, so the ageing is similar to oloroso sherry. Therefore, Palo cortado is closer to the Oloroso than to the Amontilllado in texture but it has partly, the nose of an amontillado.

Amontillado sherry:

It starts in the same way as the Fino and Manzanilla. After several years, when it reaches the line of barrels, solera. The winemaker will move it to the next solera system for amontillado sherry and add more brandy increasing the alcohol to >17%, killing the flor completely. After it undergoes oxidative ageing.

The best amontillados are those when the flor dies naturally after 8-10 years. The rest of the ageing time, it undergoes oxidative ageing. For me, amontillado is one of the most complexed wines as you will enjoy the best of both ageing systems, and each amontillado sherry is different from bodegato bodega.

DRY TYPES OF SHERRY WINE: PALOMINO BASE WINES AGED WITH OXIDATIVE AGEING

By adding brandy over >17% to the base wine of second press juice. The flor never grows because of the high alcohol content. The oxidative ageing process changes the sherry wine colour to a dark Brown by “oxidizing” the wine.

Oloroso sherry:

As they oxidize there is more evaporation, therefore concentrating more alcohol, this is why you will find bottles of Oloroso sherry higher in alcohol. This is called the Angel’s share, and it happens in all those old sherries that undergo oxidative ageing.

SWEET TYPES OF SHERRY WINE

Pedro Ximénez sherry (PX):

PX grapes sun-dried to increase the density of sugar and this is then partially fermented and then fortified with Brandy to ≥15% and aged by oxidation. Pedro Ximénez is considered the sweetest wine in the world together with the Australian Rutherglen Muscat with over 300g/l of residual sugar. Reaching up to 500g/l!

Moscatel sherry:

Moscatel Sherry made in a similar way to PX but used Moscatel de alejandria grapes instead. Moreover, sometimes Moscatel blends together with the other sherries, but is not common as with PX.

Gutierrez colosia Sherry tasting Puerto de Santa María

ADDING SWEET WINE TO DRY SHERRY WINES

Medium sherry:

Mix Amontillado or Oloroso with a sweet sherry or wine and then they can age longer together or not. The residual sugar is 5-115g/l.

Pale Cream sherry:

Fino or Manzanilla sherry mixed with a sweet wine if it is an expensive bottle, if not it can also be mixed with just grape juice made with the sweet grapes. It should really be within Medium sherry as it has less than 115g/l of residual sugar.

Cream sherry: 

Mix Oloroso with a sweet sherry or wine and then age it for a bit longer together or not. The residual sugar is >115g/l.

Bristol cream sherry :

Mix of different dry sherries like Fino sherry, Amontillado sherry, Oloroso sherry with sweet PX sherry. It should really be a type of cream sherry as it has over 115g/l of residual sugar. E.G. Harveys Bristol Cream

Bristol cream pedro ximenez oloroso amontillado cream vino jerez sherry Jerez de la frontera solera village Cadiz Explore la Tierra

The longer the sherry stays in the barrels, the more complexity and density there will be. This is due to evaporation (angel’s share) through the pores of the barrels. This is why the price increases so much, however it is the best value wine in the world. These old sherries will have Very Old Rare Sherries (VORS) in the bottles to see that they have been aged for over 30 years!!

Medium amontillado oloroso PX 30 years VORS Very rare old sherry vino jerez sherry Jerez de la frontera solera village Cadiz Explore la Tierra

 

Full day tours in Vejer de la Frontera and Cadiz province

If you are looking for Sherry wine experiences to taste and understand even better the types sherry wine contact us. We do cultural and culinary eperiences throughout Cadiz province. I will now take advantage to show off to you the great food tours in Cadiz province that we do. Officially, Vejer de la Frontera is one of the most beautiful villages of Spain, you should come and meet us!

Sherry wine tours

If you have your own transport we can accompany you while learning about Jerez-Sherry-Xeres D.O. and Manzanilla, from the vineyard to your glass. Enjoy the best Sherry bodega tours, local culture and traditions and the local gastronomy. In case you do not have a car we can arrange transport, restaurant and the rest of your trip for you on our Ultimate Sherry wine Tasting tour. We can design a private tour just for you and your family.

If you are staying in Vejer de la Frontera or within Cadiz province we can organize a private Sherry wine tasting with local gourmet tapas for your group. We will go to your place and do a Sherry wine or Andalusian wine tasting for you privately. Each sherry wine will be paired with with a local food tapas. We can focus on premium Sherries; VORS and premium Sherries; or Andalusian wines in case you do not like Sherry wine.

If you want to learn more about Jerez de la Frontera while tasting 5 different sherries with 5 local tapas in traditional tabancos bars and enjoying a little bit of flamenco join our tabancos tour in Jerez. However our sherry & tapas tour in Cadiz or Vejer de la Frontera! Learn about 5 different sherry wines (from dry to sweet), wine tastings, and how to pair it with gourmet traditional food from the area. The tour includes 5 tapas and 5 wine/Sherries.

Sherry wine love is very contagious, surely you will also become one!

Cultural and culinary food tours

If you want to learn the whole process of the Almadraba and Bluefin tuna in Cadiz province check our Bluefin tuna tour. You will learn the history of Bluefin tuna in the area since Phoenician times. You will go in a private boat ride to visit the Almadraba (if you are lucky it may be active); visit a local food market; and taste different parts of bluefin tuna in all ways, salt-dried, grilled, raw.

If you would like to visit other beautiful white villages like Vejer, we can do a tour of the white villages in Cadiz province. On the other hand we can mix a visit to a beautiful white village with a visit to an olive oil mill. Or you can choose to do a private tour that we can design especially for you based on your interests. Come and join Explore la Tierra in Vejer de la Frontera, Cadiz, Spain!

Our latest addition is our become an artisan for one day tour. Make your own cheese and your own leather souvenir in Ubrique and enjoy its great history and panoramic views. This white village is famous worldwide for its importance for the international leather companies.

Contact us

To learn more about sherry, culture and travel guides, please hit the big blue button to read other blog posts. If you have any ideas and suggestions, please do not hesitate to write us an email at info@explorelatierra.com. Please read our privacy policy before you get in touch with us. We will take your new recommendations into consideration.

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