Introducing our Real Sherry Tapas Walks!

The Real Wine Fair has been taking to the streets and the countryside. Thus far our Australian growers foraged and fished, cooked over campfires and partied with trade folk in a variety of bosky rural locations. In the spirit of adhockery they also invaded restaurants, hosted walkabout tastings and opened bottles on a whim.  Demystifying wine is about putting a human face to what’s in the glass/bottle, making it fun and irreverent (interpretative dance, anyone?) and sharing space and time with the people who are drinking it.


With this in mind we have decided to introduce trade and customers to the wonderfully versatile world of sherry by means of our so-called “Real Sherry Tapas Walks”. The portentous title houses a simple idea: take a plate or two at five or six different bars and pair each dish with a sherry or two. A living, breathing, drinking and eating sherry masterclass on the hoof. The Real Sherry moniker refers to wines that have not been depersonalised by strip-filtering, that have a distinctive personality and a strong gastronomic bent. We focused, hence, on the intense Manzanillas from Bodegas Sanchez Ayala, never previously imported into the UK, classic aged sherries from Emilio Hidalgo sherries and a couple of wines from Cesar Florido, one of the few bodegas based in Chipiona, a region specialising in quality Moscatel. 

Sanchez Ayala, Sanlucar 

Sanchez Ayala are based in the coastal town of Sanlúcar de Barrameda, sitting at the mouth of the Guadalquivir River in South-West Spain. Sanlúcar forms one of the points of the Sherry triangle. The finos aged in this town are known as Manzanillas, which has its own Denomination of Origin. Sanchez Ayala itself was founded in 1789 which makes it one of the oldest bodegas in the region.

The bodega hit hard times in the 1980s and was purchased by a Seville businessman, José Luis Barrera, to ensure its survival. José has invested in the vineyards and winery in order to produce top quality wines. Historically the bodega sold their wines in bulk to other producers and to local restaurants. Only recently have they started bottling the wines for restaurants in Seville and we are proud to say that Les Caves de Pyrène is their first customer outside of Spain.

They have one main bodega, built at the end of the 19th century, located in the Barrio de la Balsa in the heart of the old town of Sanlucar. The moist and mild atmosphere of the bodega due to its proximity to the sea gives delicate fresh wines derived from its consistent ageing under flor. The high ceilings and excellent ventilation provide perfect conditions for the long, slow ageing of the wines. They also own two smaller bodegas where they age their amontillados and olorosos.

The family own 120 hectares of vineyards, including the 50 hectare Las Cañas vineyard located in the Bilbaina district, one of the best vineyard areas in all of Jerez. It is rare in Jerez for a producer to control all areas of production from the vineyards to making the base wine, to ageing and then bottling the wines. Many of the larger sherry “houses” buy already-aged wine from “almacenistas” and blend them into their branded wine. Gabriela thus is a “growers’ sherry” in every sense of the word.

Wines are aged for longer than your typical Manzanillas, always under the flor yeast. The entry level wine undergoes a very light filtration in order to preserve their authenticity. (Most commercial Manzanillas are charcoal filtered, fined and cold stabilised in order to give the impression of being “fresh” but this just strips the wine of its character.) 

Gabriela is named after a famous local singer and dancer Gabriela Ortega Feria, born in Cadiz in 1862. She married a well-known bullfighter and they sired many more famous bull fighters, including one of the most famous of them all, Joselito. 


 The Gabriela has an average age of this wine is around six years. The wine is lightly fined and filtered. Pale colour, lovely yeasty/freshly baked bread aromas, soft and fruity but equally with lots of saline complexity and power. It is a wonderful aperitif on its own or as a partner to anchovies, olives, almonds and cured meats. It will seamlessly match all manner of seafood, Asian and Mediterranean dishes.

 Untitled2The average age of the Oro (gold) wine is between 9- 10 years. A family selection of their best and oldest barrels and bottled directly with no fining of filtration. Bright golden colour, less pungent and fresh than the younger Manzanilla but deeper, richer, rounder and more complex. Stunning wine. As above but will cope with big, full flavoured dishes and fatty meats

Emilio Hidalgo, Jerez


The bodega was founded in the mid nineteenth century by Emilio Hidalgo and the company is owned and operated by the fifth generation of his descendants.  The winery has been located, since its inception, in the old part of the city of Jerez de la Frontera; the buildings being of classical Andalucian construction with thick walls, enormous windows, and high, open beamed ceilings are ideal for the ageing and blending of wine. Currently the winery houses casks of the original wine used to found the company in 1871.

A system of horizontal soleras is used – instead of the usual vertical or pyramidal system – ensuring the barrels are as close to the floor as possible and stored in the coolest, most humid parts of the cellars. This provides the best possible conditions for extended ageing particularly under the flor yeasts. The Hidalgo family think of their sherries more as table wines than fortified wines. The wines are elegant and complex and match a wider variety of foods than many typical sherries.

La Panesa Especial Fino (Palomino 100%, ABV: 15%) is fino ++. The name Panesa derives from the name of the vineyard from which the grapes are sourced. Over 40 years ago, the family carried out a selection of the best fino soleras started in 1961. They decided to add younger wine to the solera less frequently in order to allow a greater degree of ageing. As a result the flor exists as a finer film of yeast, allowing for a very light oxidation of the wine. La Panesa is named “Special” due to its unique qualities as a Fino. Because of its high average age – over 15 years – the wine is slightly darker in colour and boasts a richer, more complex palate than almost any other Fino made.

Nose of roasted almond and churned butter then the spice notes of fenugreek, dried coriander and ginger. The palate is intense and very long; this is such a vinous sherry. Limited release of only 5,000 bottles every year

El Tresillo Amontillado Fino starts with +/- 8 years of biological ageing as a Fino before undergoing an extra 4-5 years of oxidative maturation. It is bottled from the third criadera of the Amontillado solera. Complex array of aromas starting with oxidised Fino, rich and full, half way between Fino and Amontillado – some dried fruits such as sultana and a trace of old oak, something slightly humid and autumnal, the beginnings of that delightful Amontillado smell of toasted hazelnuts with a hint of honeyed sweetness and membrillo. The palate starts with an impression of sweetness but is actually dry, revealing some glycerol and resinous notes. There’s a salty tang in the background and excellent length.

El Tresillo Amontillado Viejo 1874 V.O.R.S., from the same solera founded in 1874, but this time bottled from the oldest casks. Average age of around 50 years. Only 3000 bottles are available each year. The wine is so named because it comes from an 1874 solera blended and refreshed with younger amontillados. The wine undergoes a very long oxidative development in the family bodega in American oak barrels after a period of ageing under flor. This extremely old amontillado – average age of over 50 years – is viscous but clean and fresh. Imagine notes of cooked walnuts, of orange peel, dried figs, toffee, cream, warm wood and spices (cinnamon, all spice, nutmeg and clove amongst others). Totally dry, super-complex with and extraordinarily long finish.

Oloroso Viejo Villapanés is characterised by nearly 20 years average ageing. Villapanés is the name of the historic family estate that is situated in the heart of Jerez. As is traditional, this sherry is made entirely from noble Palomino grapes grown pure white albariza soil. The elegance of this wine is due in part to a brief ageing under flor before its oxidative aging period, which lasts an average of 15 to 20 years. It is considered by many to be the Oloroso par excellence. Villapanés is a rich mahogany colour and boasts seductive, toasty aromas of almonds, caramel, fig and a hint of floral perfume. On the palate it is dry, generous and full-bodied, with persistent and lasting flavours.

César Florido, Chipiona


Bodegas César Florido was founded in 1887 and is currently maintained by César Florido, a descendant of the founder. The winery is the oldest bodega in the town of Chipiona, located near Sanlúcar within the Jerez denomination of origin. Bodegas César Florido is one of only two bodegas in Chipiona that are still operating outside of the cooperative.

A fifth generation descendant of his bodegas’ founder, César Florido is one of the world’s few remaining Almacenistas who happens to reside oceanside in Chipiona, a village that was once considered outside of the ‘official’ Sherry triangle.  And though Bodegas César Florido is located directly on the Atlantic, and therefore within the D.O. Jerez-Xérès-Sherry, it is not within the zona de crianza or “zone of maturation”, which was established by the Consejo Regulador.  Limited to Manzanilla de Sanlucar, Jerez de la Frontera and El Puerto de Santa Maria, the wines of the zona de crianza bear the official stamp of “Sherry-Jerez-Xeres Manzanilla” on their back labels, a privilege that is extended to César’s three Moscatel wines but not to his Fino, Cruz del Mar Oloroso and Peña del Aguila Palo Cortado.

As one of the oldest bodegas in Chipiona, a town that was once home to 83 wineries, César Florido is one of two bodegas that is producing and bottling its own sherries.  With three wineries in Chipiona, one of which is just 40m from the Atlantic Ocean, César Florido also buys grapes directly from vineyards, as opposed to buying must, like a majority of the region’s other bodegas.

Chipiona is an area dedicated to growing Moscatel but most of the wine produced here is sold in bulk to the sherry houses of Jerez, El Puerto de Santa Maria and Sanlúcar. Bodegas César Florido is one of the few bodegas that is estate bottling.

Flor grows year-round in Chipiona making the finos here very unique. Even more unique is the fact that this Fino is made from estate-grown Palomino from the Balbaína and Miraflores vineyards. The Fino is from 20 year old vines on albariza soils with solera ageing of three years. The wine itself is light and soft with a pleasing saline quality that is due to the winery’s proximity to the Atlantic Ocean.

And while the Moscatel grapes for his sweet wines come directly from Chipiona–because Moscatel thrives in sandy soils–the vineyards that are planted to Pedro Ximenez (Sherry’s other sweet sister) are located in Montilla-Moriles, which is one of the six D.O.s in Andalusia that is approximately 225km from Jerez.  And though Chipiona is dedicated to growing Moscatel, most of its wines are sold in bulk to the region’s sherry houses.  As one of the only producers of Moscatel to bottle his own wines, César lobbied the Consejo Regulador to no avail, to allow all six of his wines to be labelled “sherry”.

With three Moscatel cuvées that include Moscatel Dorado, Especial and Pasas, César Florido has single-handedly rescued the grape from extinction. Fermented with indigenous yeasts, the Moscatel Dorado is made from grapes that are not air-dried, but crushed and fermented to approximately 15% abv, before spending one year in the solera. Moscatel Pasas is made from grapes that are hand-selected on the vine and then dried on fields of sand for two to three weeks to better concentrate the effects of the sun.  Once the fermentation is halted by the addition of neutral grape spirits, the wine is then aged in the solera for five to nine years before bottling

Cream Cruz del Mar is a traditional style wine made by blending 75% dry Oloroso with 25% sweet Moscatel (Muscat) from Chipiona followed by oxidative ageing in oak barrels using the traditional solera system of the region. The resultant wine is full bodied, dark and slightly sweet with notes of dried fruits and toffee. Great with blue cheese, foie gras and most desserts.


The bars participating in the tapas walk were:

1. The Remedy, 124 Cleveland Street, W1T 6PG

Manzanilla Gabriela, Sanchez Ayala with Don Bocarte anchovies served with grilled chicory and radish and chargrilled sardines with thyme on toast.

2. Newman St Tavern, 48 Newman Street, W1T 1QQ

Manzanilla Gabriela Oro, Sanchez Ayala & Fino La Panesa, Hidalgo with traditional shrimp fritters and two tapas featuring Don Bocarte bonito, one on toast with liver, the second on crushed potatoes with spring onion and vinegar.

3. Drakes Tabanco, 3 Windmill Street, W1T 2HY

El Tresillo Amontillado Fino with leeks, romesco and quail’s egg yolk

4. Salt Yard, 54 Goodge Street, W1T 4NA

Villapanes Oloroso with grilled quail, jamon, grapes and almonds & 1874 Tresillo Amontillado Viejo with manchego

5. Terroirs, 5 William IV Street, WC2N 4DW

Cesar Florido Moscatel Dorado and Cream Cruz del Mar with pear and almond tart. Cream sherry also makes an excellent campari-style long drink with orange and a splash of soda!





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