Marques de Alarcon Castilla Blanco

SHERRY seems to be having a small revival at the moment after many years in the doldrums and my strong advice is that this is one bandwagon you need to join.

There used to be large stocks of delicious aged sherries languishing in Jerez but these are gradually appearing on the market in increasing numbers — often at very low prices given the quality. London has also seen a number of sherry bars opening in recent years.

The latest sherry innovation is the creation of “En Rama” or “raw” wines which are Fino sherries that are released unfiltered and unclarified. The wines need to be drunk within three months and have a rich creamy flavour, significantly more floral and aromatic than standard fino.

Just 60 bottles of Tio Pepe En Rama were shipped to Ireland with Colm McCan in Ballymaloe House snapping up most of them and Mannings Emporium in Bantry the remainder so I advise heading for either East or West Cork as soon as you can.

My wines this week are a mix of sherries to try (preferably with food), and some bargains I found at a recent Marks & Spencer tasting.

* Diary: The Dublin Bay Wine Experience next weekend includes a consumer wine show, tasting masterclasses and a “value my wine” service. Sat/Sun, May 18/19, Royal Marine Hotel, Dun Laoghaire from 1pm-6pm, cost: €15 per person or €25 per couple and includes a free Riedel wine glass.

* Today is the final day of the Cork French Food & Wine Festival at St Patrick’s Woollen Mills in Douglas organised by On The Pigs Back.

* Return of the Wine Geese Banquet, Saturday, May 18, Flemings Restaurant, Tivoli. Cork. As part of The Gathering, O’Donovans Off Licence Group are organising a multi-course feast to celebrate the wines made by Irish emigrants around the world. Cost: €100. Contact: Deirdre or Rose on 021-4296060.

Best value under €10

Marques de Alarcon Castilla Blanco — €7

Stockist: Marks & Spencer

A Vino de la Tierra de Castilla made from Verdejo (the Rueda grape), plus some others. Fresh, crisp, citrus aromas with lemony tang and touches of green apple. Perfect for warm weather or with some lemon sole, and great value.

Froglet Sauvignon Blanc Vin de France — €7

Stockist: Marks & Spencer

Another example from the newly formed Vin de France appellation. With apples and herbal touches on the nose, this is a light, fresh sauvignon blanc with galia melon and more apple flavours on the palate. One for summer-drinking and low in alcohol, at 11.5%.

Reggiano Rosso 2012 — €9.79

Stockist: Marks & Spencer

From the often-neglected wine region of Reggio Emilia, more famous for Lambrusco (a wine you should revisit — try Bubble Bros). Made from Lambrusco grapes, this is full of bright cherries and plums, with a lovely juiciness to match any pizza.

Best value under €20

Tio Pepe Fino — €14.95

Stockists: Widely available.

Tio Pepe is easily the world’s biggest-selling Fino Sherry, and was first sold in 1844. Aromas of fresh, baked bread and almonds, with a hint of old furniture and a tangy, slightly salty flavour that is both warming and refreshing. Try serving with charcuterie (e.g. Serrano ham) or with fish and chips.

Hidalgo Fino — €13.99

Stockists: Vintry, Wines on the Green, Corkscrew,

A family-owned sherry founded in 1874, whose wines I find have a lighter touch than many others from the region. The Fino has bright, fresh, preserved lemon aromas mixed with aromas of nuts and bakeries. Fresh crisp and very clean, with a lingering finish.

Dry Old Amontillado, 375ml — €11.99

Stockist: Marks & Spencer

Made for M&S by Emilio Lustao and bottled on Jan 17, this year (if I read the code on the back correctly). Remarkably nutty aroma, with touches of orange peel, bone dry with lingering, almond biscuit flavours mixed with toasted hazelnuts. Serve with smoked fish and root vegetables.


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