As we enter the weekend of International Sherry Week, I continued the festivities last night by taking a step outside the city of Jerez to enjoy a Manzanilla from the town of Sanlúcar de Barrameda. Sherry can only be made in the the so-called ‘sherry triangle’, comprising the towns of Jerez de la Frontera, Sanlúcar de Barrameda and El Puerto de Santa María, in the southwestern tip of Spain. A legal designation is given to these wines and it is protected in the same way as Champagne.
However, within the sherry triangle, Manzanilla has its own designation and can only be produced in the town of Sanlúcar. In every way Manzanilla is the seperated-at-birth twin of the Finos I discussed earlier in the week. The same palomino grapes, from the same vineyard areas, are vinified and fortified in the same manner as those destined to be Fino.
The key difference is the location of the ageing cellars and bodegas. The sherry houses of Jerez, 25km inland, experience extreme summers which can see the flor thin or even die off in the heat. The town of Sanlúcar, located on the Atlantic coast catches more moderating oceanic breezes. In this cooler environment a thicker, more stable layer of flor develops on the surface of the wine, protecting it from oxidative effects, producing the lightest, freshest style of sherry. The name ‘manzanilla’ means little apple, which is a local name for a fresh fragrant chamomile tea; these are two of the more common flavours found in these wines.
The La Goya Manzanilla above comes from one of the oldest bodegas in Sanlúcar; Delgado Zuleta. It’s a light straw colour in the glass, with typical green apple and chamomile notes on the nose, supported by a mild yeasty and almond character. It is light, fresh and bone-dry on the palate. Lemons, green apples and chamomile are married with a lovely light touch of bread dough before a long finish that brings forward a touch of pleasant salinity.
Availability: Imported by the Spanish wine specialists, Vinos Tito, and is available in most good independent wine shops at about €11/37.5cl bottle.
The Irish Wino’s Verdict: This wine is aged slightly longer than the minimum required, so gets lovely complex notes. Offers terrific value for money and is the perfect accompaniment to fish and chips or sushi.