52 THE ADVOCATE
VOL. 79 PART 1 JANUARY 2021
found shortcuts, particularly for the “bargain brands”, this centuries-old system
generally continues. Once bottled, sherry does not benefit from further
aging and should be consumed, especially the lighter Fino sherries.
There are seven types of sherry, of which I will mention four. The most
delicate is the bone-dry Fino, which should be consumed cold and has aromas
and flavours of almond and other raw nuts (and obviously pairs well
with nuts). Next are Manzanilla and Amontillado, which are fuller and
richer and can be made dry or slightly sweetened. They too should be
served cool. Next on the scale is Oloroso, which is more oxidized and thus
darker, generally with higher alcohol additions to protect it. The sweetened
version is known as a cream sherry. The last is the sweet sherry (Jerez
Dulce), which could be considered Spain’s answer to port.
Spanish wines for much of the 20th century had a poor reputation as
overly aged, oxidized and flat, especially the whites, many of which tasted
like poorly made sherry. Beginning largely in the 1980s, however, producers
moved to change that image by devoting themselves to quality and
uniqueness of style. A large part of that transformation was through the
expansion of their wine quality designations. As with the most of the rest of
Europe, Spain regulates wine production regionally, restricting which types
and styles of wine can be produced from which grapes in each region.
These regions are situated inside each of Spain’s autonomías (similar to
states or provinces). The first was D.O. (Denominación de Origen, meaning
designation of origin, the equivalent of France’s Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée).
It was enhanced by an upper level, D.O.Ca. (Denominación de Origen
Calificada) in 1991, reserved for the best of wines. Rioja was the first D.O.Ca.
region, soon followed by Priorat. The rest of the named specific regions all
fall into the D.O. category.
Also important to know is the way the Spanish label their wine based on
its age. When you browse the Spanish selections of red table wine, it is common
to see wines that are up to a decade old for sale. The Spanish put a premium
on aged wines, especially for export. Fortunately, due to more careful
winemaking, those aged wines now hold up much better.
The main categories are:
• Joven: literally “young” wine (not aged).
• Crianza: whether red or white, at least one year old and aged six
months in oak; in Rioja, Navarra and Ribera del Duero, two years
old with 12 months in oak.
• Reserva: for white and rosado (rosé), two years old with six months
in oak; for red, three years old with at least 12 months in oak.