I am just over a very busy three months period of my life....Christmas time, some very important tastings at work and finally the second exam of my diploma course: fortified wines.
I struggled from the beginning. I missed a couple of classes and was feeling really not confident at all as I am not (oh well, I should now say I was not) a big fortified wines drinker. Especially I (used to) hate sherry.
So I tried hard, went to a couple of Spanish places (charming little places that I would definitely suggest if you like Spanish food - Jose' and Pizarro), attended a Decanter Great Spanish Fine Wine Encounter...and did my best to taste as many sherries as I could.
Finally I spent a couple of days of full immersion into the geography, soil, viticulture, vinification and maturation of Port, Sherry and Madeira and then went for my exam.
The exam actually covered a much wider program including fortified wines from all over the world, such as Vin doux naturels, Muscat Rutherglen, Commandaria and much more, but my lack of preparation was pardoned by Lady Luck and the questions I had to reply were easy and quite generic and (even though I am still not sure I passed) I managed to write down something!
All this luck deserved a celebration so I bought a bottle of lovely...Manzanilla sherry for £8.99.
I really couldn't wait to properly enjoy a glass of this bone dry sherry coming from Sanlucar de Barrameda where the sea breeze gives it those particular savoury notes and a light saltiness.
The particular location on the coast and microclimate (cooler and with higher humidity than in the area where Fino is produced - Jerez and Puerto Santa Maria) makes the Flor living longer and this creates a lighter wine with more delicate flavours. The wine has a pale colour, aromas of almonds and subtle notes of chamomile flowers and a soft bitter finish.
It literally takes your mind away making you feel like being in a bar on the beach, your skin slightly burning from the sun and the salt. Everything going slowly. Just there waiting for dinner time and enjoying the sunset and the fresh air of the late afternoon.
Easy saying that it is just perfect with salted almonds and olives.
So this is what happens when you study too much....you can suddenly fall in love for a something you would have never thought!