The Jerez Spanish Wine DO Region is based around the three Spanish towns of Jerez de la Frontera, Puerto de Santa María and Sanlúcar de Barrameda. All sherry producers source their grapes from the bright, chalky ‘albariza’ soils of Jerez. The main sherry grape in the Jerez Region, Palomino, thrives in the vineyards here alongside the other two key grapes - Pedro Ximénez, which makes a rich, black, raisiny wine for blending and treacle-like dessert wines and Moscatel which makes a lighter dessert wine.
Sherry is aged for five years and is done with a solera method of blending. In this, the first sherry is "laid down" in a large 500 l oak cask. The next year, a similar tasting sherry is put above it. Some sherry is taken from the bottom cask, and it is "replenished" with liquid from the cask over it, which is replenished from the cask over it, and so on. The "series" of casks is called a criadera, and the cascade method is called "running the scales". Only 33% of the solera is removed per year. In this manner, the sherry maintains a consistant taste. Often Sherries are labelled with the date that the solera was first started - often quite a while ago!
The Sherry wines fall into three broad categories: first, Manzanillas and Finos - a very dry, pale and delicate sherry, second Amotillado which is an older, richer version of the Fino variety, amber and mahogany coloured, then Oloroso - a rich, dark mahogany colored wine and the rare Palo Cortado style.
Sweeter sherries include pale cream, medium and cream. Cream sherry is a blend of Oloroso and the Pedro Jimenez grape and has a sweet finish to compliment its rich flavour.
Finally there are natural sweet sherries which are made from the Pedro Ximénez and Moscatel grapes.
The alcoholic strength of sherries ranges from 15.5˚ for the lightest styles (Manzanilla and Fino) to 22˚ for sweeter wines.
Jerez Wine region is also known for the famous Brandy de Jerez. There are three different types: Solera, Solera Reserva and Solera Gran Reserva.Each category defines the time of ageing and the content of volatile substances:
Brandy de Jerez Solera: Aged for more than six months (on average for one year) and containing volatile substances of at least 200gr/Hl of pure alcohol
Brandy de Jerez Reserva: aged for at least a year, although they are generally aged for two. Their volatile substance content must be a minimum of 250gr/hl of pure alcohol
Brandy de Jerez Solera Gran Reserva: Aged for more than three years (on average eight years of ageing) and containing volatile substances of at least 300gr/Hl of pure alcohol
There are many brandies which are aged for longer periods of time (currently marketed as Solera Gran Reserva) for which the Consejo Regulador is considering the possibility of establishing a superior category known as “Super Premium”.
Jerez Spanish Wine DO Region principal White Grape Varieties: Palomino, Pedro Ximenez, Moscatel.
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