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Flashcards in Sherry Deck (60)
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What is the general climate of Jerez?

Hot Mediterranean


What are the 2 winds that affect Jerez?

  1. Levante - hot, dry wind that blows from the east (can be damaging).
  2. Poniente - cool, humid, westerly wind (encourages flor).


What training methods are commonly found in Jerez?


What soil type is the Jerez region known for?



What kind of soil is Albariza?

How does it help grapes grow in such a hot place like Jerez?

It is a deep, well-draining soil with high chalk content.

Albariza stores water extremely well – enough for the vines to tolerate the hot, dry summers.

It forms a hard crust that decreases water evaporation from the soil.


What condition are vines in Jerez susceptible to and why?

Vines in Jerez are susceptible to chlorosis because of the high limestone content in the soil.


Compared to other Spanish wine regions, what is the annual rainfall of Jerez?

When does it usually fall?

Jerez's average annual rainfall compared to other regions is high (~650mm per year, falling mostly between in autumn/winter).


How do Jerez viticulturists maximize water collection for their vines?

They dig water collection troughs, or channels, in the autumn and winter between rows to capture any rain that falls during the growing season.  These troughs are purposefully dug to direct the collected water towards the vines, reducing run-off and increasing potential water retention.

These troughs are smoothed out in the spring.


What are the 3 towns in which Sherry must be matured?



  1. Jerez de la Frontera
  2. Sanlúcar de Barrameda
  3. El Puerto de Santa Maria


What are the 2 DOs of Sherry?

  1. Jerez de la Frontera DO
  2. Sanlúcar de Barrameda DO


What are the 3 main grapes of Jerez?

  1. Palomino
  2. Pedro Ximenez (PX)
  3. Muscat of Alexandria (aka Moscatel)


What is the most planted grape in Jerez?


Palomino accounts for the vast majority (~90%) of all plantings in Jerez.

Palomino is a neutral grape that's uniformly low in acid.


Why is Palomino ideal for Sherry production?

Because the styles of wines in Sherry are largely defined by either biological or oxidative maturation, Palomino's low acidity and low aromatic profile make it ideal for this kind of production.


What usually happens to Palomino grapes after they are picked?

Palomino grapes are pressed immediately to prevent unwanted oxidation.


What style of wine is the first press of Palomino usually destined for?



What is the standard cask size in Sherry?

600 liters


Traditional Jerez producers will not ferment their Palomino juice in stainless steel, but rather in this vessel.

600 liter neutral oak butts


Barrels used in Sherry are typically French or American?


The use of American oak in Spain dates back to colonial times; American oak also has tight pores.

Only neutral barrels are used in Sherry production.


What is the typical fermentation temperature range for Palomino?

20º - 25ºC (68º - 77º F)

True or False:

Sherries made with Palomino grapes are always fermented dry. 

True - Palomino juice is always fermented dry (Fino, Oloroso, Amontillado).

Sherries such as Medium and Cream are based on Palomino juice but have sweeteners added to them after fermentation as an adjustment.


Which two grapes in Jerez are not fermented to dryness?

Pedro Ximenez and Muscat of Alexandria

Note: Muscat of Alexandria is labeled as Moscatel in Sherry.


In Jerez, what usually happens to Pedro Ximenez grapes after they are picked?

The grapes are laid on mats to dry in the sun for 1-3 weeks, known as the soleo or asoleo process.  This drying in the sun concentrates sugars.


What are the two overarching styles of Sherry?

  1. Biologically aged (e.g. Fino)
  2. Oxidatively aged (e.g. Oloroso)


What is the name of the cellarmaster in Jerez?



What is flor?

Flor is a layer of yeast that spontaneously develops on the surface of a must that has just completed primary fermentation.

It is after the flor develops that the capataz determines which category (Fino or Oloroso) the must is destined to become.


What does flor mainly metabolize?


  • flor also metabolizes other nutrients and glycerin, volatile acids, and acetic acids.


Since flor needs oxygen, how does one promote flor in cask?

By not filling up the barrels all the way, leaving headspace for flor to develop.

600 liter neutral oak casks are typically filled with 500 liters of liquid, leaving plenty of headspace for flor to cultivate.


Flor helps to reduce what in wine?

Flor helps reduce overall acidity in Sherry as it metabolizes volatile and acetic acids.


Flor increases the levels of what in Sherry?

Flor increases acetaldehyde, which smells like almonds and cut apples.


The blanket of flor helps prevent what in wine?



In what alcohol range does flor thrive?

14.5 - 15.5% abv

Flor dies when alcohol is above 15.5%.


What inhibits flor activity?

  • Too much sugar
  • Too much sulfur
  • Too much alcohol
  • Temperature extremes
  • Not enough oxygen/if the butt is filled too high
  • Wood tannins - this is why used butts are preferred over new ones


During which seasons is flor most active?

Spring and autumn as flor thrives best between 15º - 20º C (59º - 68º F).


What is 'En Rama' Sherry?

En Rama is a label for Fino Sherries that have had minimal fining and filtering.  They are released only once per year and should be consumed in their infancy.

En Rama is bottled in late winter or early spring when flor is its most active.  The capataz is trying to capture the rawness of fresh Sherry, as if it were being tasted from cask in the bodega.


What are Sherries fortified with?

Neutral grape spirit that is 96% abv.


Olorosos are fortified to what abv% ?


Flor dies when the abv reaches this high.


Sherries go through several classifications over its aging period in the cellar.  When does the first classification happen?

The first classification for Sherry occurs shortly after the first fermentation has finished.

The capataz tastes tank samples and determines then and there which style it will become (Fino or Oloroso).


What is sobretablas?

Sobretablas is the term used for Sherries that have been fortified and are in an in-between phase.  It is at this phase (6 months - 1 year after harvest) that the wine is either classified for a second time or its original classification is confirmed by the capataz.


What does it mean when a wine is biologically aged?

It means the wine was aged under flor.

Fino and Manzanilla are examples of biologically aged wines.


What does it mean when a wine is oxidatively aged?

It means the wine never developed flor and it was exposed to oxygen during the aging process.*

Olorosos are aged oxidatively.

*As always, there is an exception: Palo Cortado.  Palo Cortado is a wine that "occurs by accident" in that it develops flor for a little while, the flor disappears by itself, and then the wine ages oxidatively.


What is a solera system?

A fractional blending system which has levels, or groups, of barrels called Criaderas, or 'scales', that hold wines at varying stages of development.


What is the name of the first stage of the solera system?



What is the name of the final stage of the solera system?



What is the name of the levels between sobretabla and solera?

Criadera (1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc.)


How many scales, or Criaderas, are typical for soleras?

Typically 3-7 scales, but a bodega can use as many as 12 or 14.

Biologically aged Sherries require more scales than oxidatively aged Sherries because they tend to have greater barrel variation due to the behavior of flor.


What is 'running the scales'?

When Sherry is removed for bottling (no more than a third may be withdrawn 3x in one year) from the solera (bottom) scale, the solera scale is refilled with an equal amount of wine that has been pulled from the 1st Criadera.  To refill the 1st Criadera, another equal amount is removed from the 2nd Criadera to top up the barrels in the 1st Criadera, and so on until the youngest Criadera is topped up with wine from the añada.  

This gradual yet consistent replenishment of wine from younger barrels provides nutrients for the flor to keep it alive and active.

Fractional blending is done both horizontally and vertically to maintain continuity.


What is a venencia?

The instrument used by the capataz to take samples of Sherry from casks.


Why do bodegas in Sherry have cathedral-like ceilings?

For the heat to rise in order to keep the area where the Sherry is aging as cool as possible.


Why isn't Sherry vintage dated?

Sherry is rarely vintaged dated because of its fractional blending system.  

However, many Sherries have their soleras' inception dates printed on their labels.


At what point is Sherry allowed to be sweetened for styles such as Medium and Cream?

Sherry may be sweetened right before bottling, usually with Pedro Ximenez or concentrated grape must. 



Describe Fino Sherry.  When should they be consumed?

Fino Sherry is dry, pale in color, briny and clean; it is the style that is lowest in alcohol.  Its aromas include Marcona almonds and just-cut crunchy apples.

Finos should be drunk as young as possible to enjoy their youthful freshness, and the bottle should be finished within a week of opening as it doesn't last long after being opened.


What is Manzanilla and how is it different from Fino?

Manzanilla is a Fino sherry, but Manzanillas can only come from the seaside village of Sanlúcar de Barrameda.

Manzanillas are lighter, brighter, more saline, and more delicate than Finos due to the cooler climate of Sanlúcar.


Describe Amontillado Sherry.

An Amontillado Sherry started off as either a Fino or Manzanilla, but the flor died off leaving the wine exposed to oxygen.  Therefore, an Amontillado undergoes both biological and oxidative aging.

Amontillado Sherries are pale amber-slightly yellowish in color, dry, and intensely nutty with a deep dried fruit character.


Describe Oloroso Sherry.

Oloroso Sherry is clear, brownish in color, oxidized, toffee/nutty, meaty/leathery, and savory; it is full bodied thanks to their being fortified to 17-18%.



What is Cream Sherry?

Cream Sherry is an Oloroso that has been sweetened with Pedro Ximenez.  

Cream Sherries are sweet, darkly colored, and rich.


Describe Pedro Ximenez Sherry.

Pedro Ximenex Sherry is opaque brown (almost black), dense with both sugar and alcohol, and intensely sweet with notes of dried fig, sweet espresso, prunes and raisins.

PX usually has around 500g/L of residual sugar, making it one of the most luscious dessert wines in the world.


What are the age categories of Sherry?

VOS (Very Old Sherry/Vinum Optimum Signatum)

VORS (Very Old Rare Sherry/Vinum Optimum Rare Signatum)


What is the average age of a VOS?

A Sherry labeled VOS must have a minimum average age of 20 years.


What is the average age of a VORS?

A Sherry labeled VORS must have a minimum average age of 30 years.


What styles of Sherry may be age dated, e.g. 12- or 15-year old?

  • Amontillado
  • Palo Cortado
  • Oloroso
  • Pedro Ximenez