Rama Lama Ding Dong
Drinking dry sherry is much like smoking cigarettes: it takes a certain type of person to keep trying it until their initial revulsion transforms into revelation. Gonzalez Byass’ Tio Pepe Fino En Rama (15% ABV) is the perfect case in point.
Greenish tinged gold in colour, its nose was, to the uninitiated, an unholy alliance of faintly acetic/acetone notes, nutty/earthy oxidative aromas, whiffs of toasted almonds, sea air, green olives and yeasty, freshly baked bread. Bone dry with moderate acidity, the overall savouriness of the palate makes Fino such a perfect accompaniment to so many foods, from shellfish to charcouterie. Unfined, unfiltered and drawn from the middle of the solera, this saline, nutty, intense, rich and very long wine showed a lively blend of what a newcomer might have perceived to be unexpected flavours. Piercingly fresh, the pronounced nutty and yeasty character from the flor was balanced by a roundness from barrel ageing and by a soft, green apple and lemon citrus element to the finish.
As I kept sipping, the influence of the initially dominant oxidised character diminished. The toasty, nutty, fruity elements really started to shine through and the finish took on an almost Burgundian quality. I drank this bottle over several nights and it performed brilliantly in every task asked of it, from an appetite-stimulating aperitif to the ideal partner for a roast chicken. So far removed from granny’s Christmas schooner of Harvey’s Bristol Cream as to appear unrelated, it is much easier to ignore the fact that this is a sherry and instead regard it as one of the most complex and versatile wines you can buy for £15.