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Wine Blogging Wednesday #47: “S” Stands for “Spanish Sherry”

Gabriella fondly remembers when she was a child, sitting in front of the TV listening to Cookie Monster teach the alphabet, and on this particular day, words that started with the letter “S”. This episode is firmly ingrained in her head, because unfortunately, she couldn’t pronounce the letter “s” as a child, handicapped with a severe lissssp. Therefore, words like snake became th-nake and summer became th-ummer. Clearly, this doesn’t bode well when you’re watching your brother happily sipping on his vanilla shake and all you can come out with “Mom, I want a thake too!”

Well, today, we’d like to thank Grape Juice for hosting Wine Blog Wednesday, by celebrating anything directly related to a bottle of wine that begins with the letter “S”. Considering that we are in Spain, we thought there would be no better opportunity than to feature our favorite “S” word, Sherry! Eric Asimov recently published an article on this much under appreciated style of Spanish wine, claiming that, “… certain wines require more of an effort to appreciate than most people are willing to give and therefore are consigned to a form of marginal status.” We wholeheartedly agree with him, and are hoping that today, we can motivate you to get off your keester and enjoy a delicious and thirst quenching glass of sherry.

Osborne’s Coquinero is a wine that we both immediately fell in love with. Incredibly delicate, with a honeyed nose, while the palate packs more of a punch. We seriously want to drink this on the beach in Cadiz with a plate of fried marine creatures! The salty air on the body are so big and creamy, you would imagine that you’re drinking a red wine, rather than the pale and elegant sherry.

However, after Ryan spent a considerable amount of time hunting for information on the wine, he came up empty-handed, well, at least on the Osborne site. True to our previous vow, we HIGHLY recommend not visiting this website, if you are interested in gathering information. It’s not only full of flash, it’s slow to load and is missing information in various sections. However, we did eventually learn that Coquina is a small shell fish that I assume are gobbled up by people lounging on those very same beaches that I am am currently dreaming of…. Ok, we’re back! Thus, we assume that the Coquinero is the individual who harvests coquinas. Ryan voiced how proud he would be to be a Coquinero and have this specific sherry named after him. Now, if only Osborne would release the Blogguero Fino, a wine for the sedentary lifestyle! :)

Back to the wine. Even though we are Certified Sherry Educators, you really need at least one lifetime to fully understand the myriad styles and techniques for producing this style of wine. That said, we do know sherry pretty well, and have even taught a class or two (if you need one, please let us know!). But this wine befuddled us a bit. It’s classified as Fino Amontillado! What’s that? Are you a Fino or an Amontillado? Well, this one wants to be both, and we can tell you from a taste perspective, if handed to us blind, the color would scream Fino, while the palate, Amontillado. Yet strangely, Osborne fails to explain why they classified this wine as a Fino Amontillado, while other sites seem to choose a style based on whatever is convenient for them. That said, if you take a peek at the label, the wine is fortified more than a Fino (approx. 15%), listed at 17.5% – a percentage much closer to Amontillado or Oloroso. The wine has also been aged under flor for 4 years (biological aging) and then undergoes a short oxidative aging, though this must be minimal seeing how the color is so light.

So can you get you’re hands on this? Well you Spanish and UK readers may have some luck, and there are even some small stocks in the US it appears, but I don’t know how easy your hunt will be. Coquinero is a wine that we both recommend and wonder what Wine Speculator was smoking the day they gave it an 87? I mean really, we drink a lot of sherry, and this wines only fault is an identity crisis. Uniqueness never wins as many awards as correctness.

Our hats are off to this amazing wine, and now to take the rest of the day off to both study the bottom of the bottle and the culture of a siesta here in Spain!

For more information on Spanish Sherry, check out some of our past articles:

Cheers!

Gabriella and Ryan Opaz

*Thanks to Lulucat and Debris for the use of their photos.

  • Dale Cruse

    Gabrielle, I free admit I don't know as much about Sherry as I should. School me. I wrote about a California cult wine that assaulted my mouth with fruit and salt called the Scholium Project. Looking forward to seeing you on the live Twitter event with BinEnds.

  • Dave

    Your ideas on why its called a fino Amontillado is correct, its just a term for an Amontillado that has not aged that long in the barrell after becoming an Amontillado. More often than not this style comes about because the flor was not that great (but doesn't die) and it lets a bit of air in while it is still a fino. Basically the wine comes into a tiny bit of oxygen when it shouldn't. Quite a few bodegas have small soleras of this stuff, mostly a couple of barrels for the bodega's staff and families. Sanchez Romate have one for instance.

  • ryan

    Thanks for the confirmation Dave, though I have had more than one person tell me similar though slightly different versions. After having the Sherry DO themselves try to explain Palo Cortado to us, I have found that these less common styles are part standard and part improvised.

  • Kevin

    Here on the west coast of the USA, Osborne is largely MIA. Other than the basic stuff, most of Osborne's better wines are not to be found. "Too much trouble" was the reason given by the importer for not bringing these wines to the western USA. Oh well. (as concerns the article in the NYT, I totally agree with Eric Asimov about the Bodegas Argueso San León Manzanilla. More time in the solera (avg. 8 yrs.) gives this wine a deeper flavor than most. Also, Maestro Sierra has some fantastic older Jerez wines (does that make it a 'J' wine?) that should not be missed if you can find them.

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