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.

 Gonzalez Byass, Tio Pepe Fino En Rama

Gonzalez Byass, Tio Pepe Fino En Rama

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.