As beverage director, one of the best perks of my job is the opportunity to travel to regions around the world to learn more about my favorite libations. There is nothing like meeting the producers, touring the facilities and observing the environment to understand what it’s all about. On a recent trip to Spain, I was lucky enough to visit Andalucía to experience the land of sherry.
First stop, Sanlúcar de Barrameda to learn all about Manzanilla sherry. This region is very special due to its unique micro-climate that is a result of the region’s proximity to the ocean. The humidity and salty air allows a thick layer of yeast, flor, to form over the top fino sherry, biologically aging the wine, and protecting it from oxygen. As a result, Manzanilla sherry is bone dry, high in acidity, and full of salty and chalky flavors. Manzanilla’s unique flavor profile makes it an amazing compliment to raw seafood, olives, and other regional tapas.
Our next stop was Jerez de la Frontera for a visit to Lustau to learn more about their production. As a fairly large producer, their facility is beautiful and very intentionally organized, with all their different sherry expressions being aged in areas of the Bodegas that have the best micro-climate suited for the style. Lustau specialized in all types of sherry but prides themselves in the Amontillado styles. Amontillado is special because it is biologically aged under flor and oxidatively aged, creating both freshness and complexity. The Amontillado V.O.R.S. was a personal favorite; aged for 30 years, it was simultaneously rich and dry, with salinity, nuttiness and a long lasting finish.
At Heartwood, we serve a pour of Lustau Los Arcos Amontillado Sherry alongside fresh-cut slices of jamón, a classic pairing in Spain. Amontillado and jamón are perfect together; this combination is the inspiration for one of our most intriguing cocktails, For the Love of Jamón. This drink was created by Andrew Larson, who was a finalist in last year’s Lastau cocktail competition, and crafted with jamón fat-washed amontillado sherry, Armagnac, amaro, and bitters. The drink is savory, smoky, and delicious, a true modern classic!