Regular readers of these pages will know of my predilection for sherry. However, I have failed to discover a sherry made by certified organic methods from the Jerez DO region. If anybody is familiar with one I would be grateful to know and investigate.
Fortunately for those looking for organic credentials there are one or two producers elsewhere in Spain that make wines in styles that are very similar to those sherries of Jerez, including a “fino style” and an “amontillado style.”
One such estate is the family run Bodegas Gómez Nevado. They are based at a small inland town called Villaviciosa, northwest of Córdoba, in the rugged mountains of the Sierra Morena. That’s over 200 km from Jerez and at least 50 km from Montilla-Morilles. Hence these wines cannot benefit from either the title or reputation of “sherry” and are classified merely as humble “wines of the land” (Vino de la Tierra). Although largely unknown, they do have quality aspirations and are made in a similar way to their more illustrious counterparts.
There’s neither Jerez’ onshore damp breezes or white crusted chalk soils in the Sierra Morena. Instead, a harsher continental climate with blistering summers and cold snowy winters is the norm. With true sherry, it is the Palomino grape that takes precedence. This region grows some Palomino but also the hardy Airén and Pedro Ximenez are common – hence the wines tare a combination of all three grapes and to me substitute elegance with brawn.
The wine featured here is their Pálido Seco, the dry “fino sherry” style white wine that derives its principal flavour from the biological action of yeast on the maturing wine. The wine is aged for between three and five years in old American oak casks forming a solera system. The yeast (Flor) feeds on the wine, so imparting those classic briny phenolic flavours.
Rather than worry overmuch about classifications, it’s best to see what the bottle has to offer, which thankfully is rather a lot. The wine is a deep and clear yellow colour, attractively so, but deeper than a true fino would be. Then the nose is powerful and is not confined to the glass. First off is the familiar salty seaside smell of the acetaldehyde imparted by the yeast. Underneath that appears caramel, dried apples and almonds. This really is all very appealing and draws you further in. The palate is explosive, very dry and big boned. In every way a big mouthful, the salt and almonds reprise with the apple really coming through in broad brushstrokes.
If you like fino sherry you really do owe it to yourself to try this. Of course it is perfect as a chilled aperitivo with anchovies and olives. Best of all, there are few dry white wines that have the body and flavour to stand their corner against the heat of Wasabi Peas! Perfect!
This an individualistic and traditional Spanish country wine with the added bonus of organic credentials made available at a value price. Being a strapping example I’d say you could open it, restopper it and it would keep in the fridge for a week. No need to worry about opening immediately after buying either, it’ll keep unopened for 2-3 years yet but won’t improve if you do so. No need to wait.
Meanwhile, I can also heartily recommend Gómez Nevado’s dry amontillado style wine, called Dorado Seco.