The Best Sherries From Jerez

By: James lawrence / Last updated: June 5, 2024

Estimated reading time: 8 minutes

Few wine connoisseurs are immune to the Sherry region’s considerable charms—a unique wine style that has been produced for centuries. Indeed, it remains one of the best-value fine wines available today—a superlative bottle of Fino will often cost less than a hum-drum Chardonnay from Burgundy, for example.

Sherry’s (‘Jerez’ in Spanish) birthplace is the dramatic vineyards of Andalucia, southern Spain. Today, the Sherry industry is centered around Jerez and Sanlucar de Barrameda’s towns north of Cadiz. It is produced from two principal grape varieties: Palomino, which makes a dry, more delicate Sherry, and Pedro Ximenez, which is rarer and made into a fuller, sweeter style. After the wines are fermented, the base wine is fortified with grape spirit to increase the alcohol content. Unlike Port, most Sherries are initially dry, with any sweetness being added later. The solera aging system is critical to maintaining Sherry’s quality and consistency, whereby wines from the youngest solera (barrel) are mixed with older wines in the barrels below and, as a result, take on its character.

The styles range from the light, dry Fino and Manzanilla, perfect as an aperitif, to the richer yet mostly dry Oloroso and Amontillado styles (although some sweet examples exist). Manzanilla Pasada is nutty, aged wine, exposed to flor – a yeasty covering – influence, as is Amontillado. Yet, Oloroso will have no flor character, having been immediately fortified above 18 degrees alcohol. Finally, Palo Cortado is halfway in style between Fino and Amontillado.

Sherry’s incredible versatility has ensured its rightful place in the hearts and minds of wine lovers in Spain, the US, and beyond. Indeed, the hipsters have taken to Sherry with relish, impressed by its fantastic value and astounding food-pairing versatility, particularly when tapas are concerned. Sherry is the only wine style that can truly cope with the wide range of flavors on offer in a tapas bar, and for that, it should be celebrated.

A Comprehensive Guide to Sherry Wine: Read more


Barbadillo website: Read more

Situated in the picturesque village of Sanlucar de Barrameda, Barbadillo is celebrated for its exceptional Manzanilla Sherries, although the entire range at this splendid Bodega is highly recommended. The lighter styles- En Rama and Solear – are ideal as an aperitif; the En Rama, in particular, is superb, with its intense, salty, and yeasty depth of flavor. Also, Barbadillo makes an excellent, nutty, aged style of Amontillado de Sanlucar and a rich, glorious Oloroso. But most impressive of all are the remarkable old wines from venerable soleras, including an Oloroso, Palo Cortado, and Pedro Ximenez. They represent the pinnacle of great Sherries, with prices to match.


Pedro Domecq website: Read more

Pedro Domecq is a legend in the Sherry industry, both in terms of its size and the quality of its output. Today, the company owns over 1100 ha of vineyards and produces a formidable range of Sherries. Most recognized is the Fino La Ina, a consistently excellent example of the Fino style: light, fresh, and salty. The rich but dry Amontillados, the Palo Cortados, and the Oloroso styles are even better. The venerable Pedro Ximenez is one of the region’s best – rich and powerful without being too cloying. A Sherry that could take on any chocolate dessert!


Gonzalez Byass Website: Read more

One of the most famous names in Sherry is celebrated worldwide for its instantly recognizable Tio Pepe brand. It remains one of the region’s best Fino styles today – salty and intense with piercing citrus notes. However, the superlative Amontillados and Olorosos are in a different league; the Gonzalez Byass Oloroso, for example, is possibly the finest made in Sherry today. Good-value brands are made, including the always-reliable Oloroso Anada, Alfonso Apostoles, and Matusalem. Among our favorites are the Amontillado Del Duque and the Noe Pedro Ximenez, which is amazingly sweet, very rich, and heady but refined. But what else would you expect from this exceptional Sherry Bodegas?


Hidalgo website: Read more

This impressive Sanlucar-based operation is most readily associated with the much-loved La Gitana Manzanilla, one of the best-value Manzanillas on the market today. It is gorgeously aromatic and seduces all who taste it with its fresh, tangy, salty fruit profile. However, Hidalgo is no one-trick pony: the entire range impresses. Indeed, they make a versatile collection of Sherries, including the Jerez Cortado from a very old solera and two excellent single-vineyard wines: Amontillado and Manzanilla Pastrana. The Manzanilla offers an evolved nutty character underpinned by fig and citrus fruit notes. But best of all is the rare collection of Viejo (old) wines – Sherries to be savored and treasured for their unique complexity, finesse, and depth of flavor.


Emilio Lustau website: Read more

One of the region’s largest Bodegas, Emilio Lustau nonetheless produces a reliably consistent range of Sherries, everything from affordable brands to exceptional old wines, made in the company’s oldest soleras. The Reserva Solera range offers excellent value, while the Manzanilla Pasada is simply superb – a very salty, tangy Sherry that cries out to be served with seafood tapas. Yet, our favorite offering remains the remarkable Sherry The Old East India Solera. Inspired by sherry barrels on ocean voyages, East India Solera is a slow-cooked blend with an eccentric rancio undertone. Aged in the warmest part of the Lustau cellar, it offers complexity with a tangy, refreshing finish. Experience the exquisite flavors today. Outstanding!


Bodegas Tradicion website: Read more

Bodegas Tradicion was established relatively recently, in 1998, yet it is now regarded as one of the region’s finest producers. Founded by three members of old Sherry families, the winery boasts an enviable holding of old Sherry soleras, which ensures that all of its wines take the VORS classification (Very Old Rare Sherry). And so, as you’d expect, all of the Sherries made at Bodegas Tradicion have a depth and intensity of fruit that is remarkable even by the region’s high standards. Among our favorites are the nutty, tobacco-scented Amontillado and the gloriously concentrated Oloroso. Best of all, though, is the amazingly rich Pedro Ximenez, which offers a potent mix of cocoa, mocha, nutmeg, and an excellent balance and structure. It is undoubtedly the finest Pedro Ximenez made in the region today.


Valdespino website: Read more

Valdespino is a marvelous, old-fashioned (and proud of it) Sherry Bodega with an impressive holding of old soleras that provide some of the best examples in the region. Their Fino is undoubtedly a standout Sherry, boasting a very salty and intense citrus character underpinned by an obvious flor yeast influence. The Palo Cortado is similarly excellent and one of the best examples of this rarer style. However, Valdespino’s greatest offering is fragrant, complex, and evolved Coliseo Amontillado, one of the greatest Sherries produced today.


Fernando de Castilla website: Read more

A top-notch producer based in Jerez’s historic town, Fernando de Castilla today produces an exceptional Classic and Antique Sherry collection from very old soleras. The Bodega is one of the region’s oldest, named after King Fernando III of Castile. Their classic range offers excellent quality and value for money, particularly the salt-licked Manzanilla and the salty, utterly delicious Fino. However, the Antique Sherries are in an altogether superior league – complex, aged wines from some of the most prized soleras in Jerez. The Antique Palo Cortado is simply astonishing.


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James lawrence

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