My choice from our tea towel collection

Collection isn’t the appropriate word to be honest. Most are plain, some are even threadbare, but are retained for being good at polishing glasses. We do have some that might fit into the Virtual Tea Towel Museum, my choice is the one pictured below.

It was a gift from friends with whom we’ve holidayed in France, and with who we’ve enjoyed drinking some great French wines. For a while it was blu-tacked to the wall in my office. Now it’s doing it’s proper job as a tea towel. Later, I’ll follow up with my wife’s favourite tea towel.

Just goes to show that gifting a tea towel is a nice thing to do.

Chateau Tooting wine – hardly believable, a wine from London grapes

As we were leaving the wine tasting and open day at Greyfriars Vineyard, we encountered a man carrying two bottles of wine to the tasting area.

Naturally, having become wine connoisseurs in the short time we spent tasting wine [no], we felt emboldened to ask the nature of the wine being carried. What we learned then was a real surprise.

There’s a co-operative that processes grapes – of any variety – grown in the gardens and allotments of London into a passable wine. The name of the wine, well Chateau Tooting of course. The owner felt that the colour of the 2014 Chateau Tooting vintage he was holding reflected the good weather in London in 2014. Victor Keegan has written about the booming English and Welsh vineyards, and Chateau Tooting ‘The joy of Chateau Tooting 2013 vintage’ and HERE too. Here are a couple of photos of the wine [click on image to expand],

Chateau Tooting_1 Chateau Tooting_2

Seems I’m with the zeitgeist on Sherry

Wow, how prescient to have written about Sherry to find an article in today’s Daily TelegraphTapas bars fuelling revival of sherry. I also noticed in this article a reference to an earlier one – Sherry is for life, not just for Christmas, which describes trends in Fino and Manzanilla wines ‘breaking out of the tapas bars’.

Time for a sherry methinks, another Pedro Ximénez, or should I open an Amontillado?

Discovering things about Sherry

I’ve drunk Sherry for years. I guess you have to be of a certain vintage to have regularly done so.

For years we holidayed at Christmas in Southern Spain – visiting relatives wintering away from the British climate. While there we tasted many different Sherries, learning to appreciate the different types. Through visiting bodegas and bars we learned that Fino [dry] Sherry is best drunk chilled and doesn’t keep. As we’re more wine drinkers now, our Sherry knowledge is rusty, being to stick to the drier varieties.

Sherry labelReceiving a bottle of sherry as a present. Not recognising the label [see image], we thought, what the hell, it’s Christmas, let’s see what it’s like. It was unctuous, treacly, sweet, caramel flavoured and deep rich crimson in colour. A great after dinner drink with cheese. Before I tell you what it was, I need to tell you about some of the basic types of sherry, which is more for my re-education than anything else.

  • Fino: Is the driest and palest Sherry. It’s made from Palomino grapes and is fermented under a covering of yeast called flor, which protects contact with air. Tio Pepe falls into this category.
  • Manzanilla: Is an especially light variety of Fino Sherry made around the port of Sanlúcar de Barrameda.
  • Amontillado: Is a medium dry variety of Sherry with a nutty flavour, which is first aged under flor but is then exposed to oxygen, producing a sherry darker than a Fino but lighter than an Oloroso.
  • Oloroso:  Is a variety of Sherry aged oxidatively for a longer time than an Amontillado, producing a darker, richer and more alcoholic wine. Olorosos may be sweet or dry, depending on the grape used, with Moscatel (sweet), or Palomino grapes (dry)
  • Palo Cortado: Is a variety of Sherry that’s still on the dry side, which is initially aged like an Amontillado, typically for three or four years, but which subsequently develops a character closer to an Oloroso.
  • Jerez Dulce: Is a sweet Sherry variety made either by fermenting dried Pedro Ximénez or Moscatel grapes to produce an intensely sweet dark brown or black wine, or by blending sweeter wines or grape must with a drier variety.
  • Cream/Pedro Ximénez: These are the sweetest Sherry varieties. They use sweet grapes like Pedro Ximénez or Moscatel in varying blends. The freshly picked grapes are sun-dried to concentrate sugars and flavours. These can be dark, unctuous wines with viscosity akin to motor oil. Harvey’s Bristol Cream falls into this category

So, this Pedro Ximénez sweet sherry is now decanted, and enjoyed.

Hattip to Wikipedia for background information.