Sherry as known in England is a blended wine in the sense that it is rarely shipped as a single vintage wine, and perhaps in no other wine has the science of blending been carried to a higher state of perfection.
Shipments arc prepared according to the particular requirements of customers by blending wines from different “Soleras.”
“Soleras” are standardised wines of different types, but kept absolutely uniform in their various styles from year to year. They are kept in the Bodegas at Jerez, in the south of Spain, and form the foundation on which the shipper makes his blends for export. As he draws on them, so he replenishes them year by year, and in doing so it is vital to his business to preserve continuity of style and quality in his various ” Soleras.”
It will thus be seen that “Soleras” are themselves the result of highly scientific and judicious blending year by year from carefully selected wines of various vintages reserved by the shippers for that purpose.
At vintage time, which is generally in September, the grapes are picked and crushed. Fermentation sets in, and when completed the young wine is drawn off into fresh casks. Some few months after the vintage the young wine will fall bright, when expert tasters diagnose the characteristics of the different casks and apportion the necessary amount of Brandy to each cask. The wine is then left to mature in the Bodegas. The several casks will produce marked differences in their characteristics, and it is upon the scientific blending of the various styles of wines thus produced that the shippers depend for the upkeep of their “Soleras.”
The three principal classes of fine Sherry are the Fino, a pale, delicate wine, the Amontillado’, and the Oloroso, a full, dark wine.
Brown Sherry is the result of adding a wine called ” Pedro Ximenez,” which is made from grapes dried in the sun until they become raisins, thereby producing a dark, luscious wine.
Manzanilla is a type of light dry wine produced some short distance from Jerez, and more suitable for hot climates than the northern latitudes in which England lies.
From the Book “Harry” of Ciro’s ABC of Mixing Cocktails by Harry MacElhone, London, 1921.