Today’s Wine Wednesday is dedicated to this wonderful Amontillado from Bodega Lustau. The winery’s history begins in 1896 with the planting of grapes on the family’s estate – Nuestra Señora de la Esperanza by Emilio Lustau. Fast forward a few decades and Emilio’s daughter María Ruiz-Berdejo Alberti bought a small winery closer to the center of Jerez de la Frontera in 1931 and by 1945, Emilio Lustau began selling wine it’s own wines and by 1950 under the family name. Jump back into our time machine and we get to 1990 when the family house became part of the Luis Caballero group, a well-known Spanish company in the business. In 2000, the House of Lustau then bought six historic 19th century Sherry buildings and restored them. I just bought three bottles of different styles of Sherry this week following a discussion of Sherry’s current and future trends on Monday. The discussion reminded me of how much I love Sherry and I longed for a few bottles at home. It reminded me of how important education and promotion is to keep products top of mind. Something I know very well through my own work but also as a wine consumer.
I like many styles of Sherry but I can’t always find them on a wine list or in a store. Why is that? During the discussion Monday we spoke about how Sherry is often placed with dessert wines even when it is dry Sherry. This can be very misleading to customers and is a hurdle that Sherry has to overcome. We also discussed how Sherry is often though of only at the beginning of a meal or maybe at the end for the Sweeter ones. We all know Sweet wines are a hard sell. Personally I love sweet wines but I too generally don’t order them in a restaurant.
I decided to pair my Amontillado as an Aperitif, during my main course and with dessert. I have no nuts at home which I craved while tasting the Sherry, it then was marvelous with Shrimp and with Breaded Flounder and ok with a piece of Chocolate. I would say with nuts or the Shrimp was the perfect part of this meal but it did prove what I know to be true, Sherry should be considered during all parts of a meal not just at the beginning of the end.
I became a Certified Sherry Educator last year at the 2019 Society of Wine Educators Conference in Washington, D.C.
We were lucky enough to try different versions of Sherry, Fino, Manzanilla, Amontillado, Palo Cortado, Oloroso and Pedro Ximénez. During the class we were given a great Sherry pairing wheel with suggestions what to eat with which style. I always eat almonds, preferably Marcona Almonds if available with Sherry but there are so many more distinct options from Olives with Amontillado to Grilled Vegetables with Fino, New York Strip Steak paired with an Oloroso or Pedro Ximenez with Chocolate, among others. We were also given a list of Sherry Cocktails.
Another hurdle we discussed was people calling it Grandma’s wine. Yes my Great Aunts drank Sherry but they were the most well educated, cultivated women of their time so that isn’t a negative to me.
Next hurdle, hard to explain the Solera system and many people don’t associated Sherry with a specific place, Jerez and Southern Spain. I don’t know, I think more work could be done in the States on this aspect. When we can travel again, I am sure it could be a great destination. Perhaps there needs to be more emphasis on what else tourists/consumers can do when visiting the region. As a wino/wine geek/etc, I love to see as many wineries or bodegas in this case as possible but I also like to know what tourist attractions, art cities, museums, beaches and landmarks are near beautiful wineries. I see only a bright future for this gorgeous part of Spain.
Back to this specific wine, Amontillado Los Arcos ages for equal periods of time under flor and in contact with oxygen in Jerez de la Fronera.
Amber with brown highlight, this wonderful Amontillado was nutty with apricot, cardamon, baking spice aromas on the nose. On the palate it was enveloping and rich with a long finish.
Apparently the name comes from the two arches that can be found at the entrance to the winery where this Amontillado ages. Although the alcohol is 18.5%, the wine is not heavy or overly powerful. It is made with 100% Palomino grapes. For $17 a bottle, this is a great wine for Sherry lovers and neophytes alike.
I haven’t had the opportunity to try an Amontillado style Sherry (from any producer) but I do have a bottle of Lustau’s Olorosso. My Sherry experiences until now have all been with PX and I’m having a difficult time wrapping my tongue around the dry Olorosso. It’s truly amazing how this one region produces such varied wines under one umbrella in contrast with the majority of the wine world where we associate one particular flavor profile with a specific regional name.
I love the dry sherry styles and the sweet ones too but I find it easier to pair the dry ones. Cheers Andrea.