Drake captures heart of the queen, aficionados everywhere
By Stephen Quinn,Special to The China PostLegend has it that Sir Francis Drake, the great English seafarer, introduced sherry to England in the late sixteenth century when he transported 3,200 cases of the wine from Spain.
February 28, 2013, 12:01 am TWN
To the English Drake is a hero, the man who captured Spanish ships to provide revenues for the Crown. The story goes that he also captured the heart of Queen Elizabeth I by placing his cape over a puddle so she would not get her shoes wet, though that is also attributed to Sir Walter Raleigh.
To the Spanish Drake was a pirate who pillaged their ships.
Regardless of whose interpretation one takes, we must respect Drake's introduction of sherry to the English and later the rest of the world. It is a magnificent wine with many variations of flavor and aroma, though sadly not appreciated enough in the Asian region.
The Lustau company, based in Jerez in Spain, organized a matching of sherry with Cantonese food at the Langham hotel in Hong Kong. The Anglicization of the Spanish word “jerez” gives us the word sherry. Lustau was founded in 1896 and has large resources of the “solera” system of wines from which sherry is made.
Solera is a blending system involving casks with wines of different ages. The oldest casks produce the sherries bottled in a given year. The next casks are arranged in such a way that the youngest sherries are blended into a series of casks holding progressively older wines.
This blending of younger and older sherries results in consistent and high-quality wines.
The two main types of sherry are fino, which is very dry with a light body, and oloroso. The latter is also dry but much richer in flavor, and sometimes darker.
Most sherries are made from the palomino grape, though for dessert wines palomino is blended with pedro ximinez (abbreviated as PX). Very rich and dark sherries are also made solely from PX grapes and these are extra rich and sweet.
While the wines are in cask they are permitted contact with air in the top part of the cask, and different amounts of alcohol are added. A layer of yeast known as “flor” forms a coating on the surface, stopping the wine from over oxidising.
These wines become finos because their lower level of alcohol allows the yeast to grow. Olorosos do not permit the growth of flor because of their higher alcohol content. Olorosos are allowed to oxidize, producing a darker and richer wine.
Photo credit: www.lustau.es