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Wednesday, 10 November 2010

East India Sherry - Bodegas Emilio Lustau



A while ago, I presented a couple of sherries to some colleague at a wine tasting - the dry oloroso was wonderful but bombed with an audience for whom oaked whites are seriously out-of-fashion; however, the sweet one proved very popular.

Sweet sherry is stereo-typically the preserve of old maids or your auntie who likes a nip of something sweetened and made for the UK market alone (think certain "cream" sherries).

However, true sweet sherry is an absolute delight and, when well made, like this one from Lustau, is almost a dessert in itself. Oily and dark in the glass, with a rich, heady nose of toffee, nuts, dried fruit and caramelised sugar, it is like drinking Christmas pudding.

Several things mark this out as particularly good; the depth and complexity of the flavours themselves - the richness of figs, toast, nuts and dried fruit - but also the balance and smoothness from aging in the solera system which mixes younger wines with ever older ones to maintain balance. It has a long rich finish and is cut through with just the right amount of acidity to keep things in check.

The name "East India" refers to the journey the wine used to make to the colonies where it gradually acquired a rather wonderful cooked flavour - like Madeira. In both cases, sadly, the process no longer involves sailing ships and the oceans, but the recreation of conditions in a humid cellar or garret somewhere.

Bodegas Emilio Lustau was founded in 1896 and owns two Vineyards in the area of Jerez. The Viña Montegilillo, located on the north of the “Jerez Superior” zone in an area called Carrascal whose albariza soil is ideal for growing the Palomino grape to produce dry wines, such as Manzanilla, Fino, Amontillado and Oloroso.

Near the coast, between Sanlúcar and Chipiona, the sandy soils of the Las Cruces vineyard provide the Pedro Ximénez and Moscatel for the production of sweet wines.

This is a blend of 60% dry oloroso (which originally started life as a Manzanilla) and 40% Pedro Ximénez and has an IWC Silver medal.

When matching dessert wines to puddings, the trick is to keep the wine sweeter than the pudding itself or else it will taste overly acidic. Typical matches for something as rich as this are fruit cake and sticky toffee pudding.

Below, however, is a very simple recipe for roasted nectarines which goes perfectly with a glass or two of this.

Roasted nectarines with clotted cream ice-cream

Allow 1/2 nectarine per person for a small portion or a whole nectarine for a more indulgent serving.

Halve the nectarines and remove the stones

Put enough butter in the bottom of a roasting dish to make a thin layer and place in a pre-heated oven until it melts (a few minutes).

Add the nectarines to the roasting dish, sprinkle on some vanilla sugar and add a squeeze of lemon juice and a little of the sweet oloroso sherry

Roast at around 150C for 45 mins, turning once or twice and adding more vanilla sugar at each turning - the nectarines should be gently roasted and the liquid should have caramelised,

Place the cooked nectarines on a plate, top with the clotted cream ice-cream, drizzle over some of the caramelised pan juices and finally pour on a drop more sherry.

Serve with a glass of the sherry.

Links

Lustau - http://www.lustau.es/index_en.html#bodegas_lustau

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