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28th April 2020

Time to drink the good stuff like there’s no tomorrow* #17

Bodegas Tradición Amontillado VORS
Jerez, Spain, 19.5%

Sherry is without doubt the finest wine on the planet. Well apart from Madeira. And old Tawny Port. And of those, it sort-of-depends. But for now, currently, right here, right now, there is no doubt, Sherry IS the finest wine in the world.

And it is wines like these that are the reason for this assertion. If you wish to argue with that, then feel free. But I never want to hear from you again as long as I live. Which won’t be as long as this noble and exquisite example of just exactly what care, age, nurture, oxygen and selection can accomplish with a base of humble (and not especially distinguished) grape juice.

Bodegas Tradición can trace its history back to 1650, hence the name, but in some ways it is a new player, having been - I guess the correct word would be ‘reaffirmed’ in 1998 by Joaquin Rivero. They have almost literally rescued stocks of fine aged wines and nurtured them, creating masterful blends and bottlings of the finest otherwise impossible-to-find gems that lie scattered around the cellars of Jerez.

The only upside of the achingly unfashionable image of “Sherry” is that this is possible. For those of us ‘in the know’ it means we can enjoy world-record-smashingly perfect examples of a great wine style in that way that only millionaires could with, say, Burgundy. Or most other places. It’s only because there will be just a handful of people reading this that I am even prepared to share the secret of this incredible beauty-booty.

Sherry is a blended wine. The young wines take on the character of the older wines, in the way that the children of Trump voters are also likely to be arseholes. The qualities of age are more easily and beautifully assimilated into the whole the greater the diversity of the base. And finding the right bases is what Bodegas Tradición are so good at. This Amontillado is “VORS” (Vinum Optimum Rare Signatum). Personally I am not sure that Latin acronyms are the best way to help shatter an image of fustiness, but these wines are so old and rare that it doesn’t really matter). Everything in this bottle is more than 30 years old, and probably on a molecular level, some possibly comes from a century beginning with 18.

It’s relatively expensive as a bottle of plonk (about €60). As a piece of history and a work of art - both of which it definitely is - however, it is almost offensively cheap.

Golden amber with aromas of hazelnut, chamomile, caramel, saffron, sweet spices, tea, walnut whip and sultana. Beguiling and smoky. Complex and inviting. The kind of wine you smell again before committing to your mouth, just to be sure something can actually be that lovely. And then the bitter-sweet flavours wrap around your palate with orange rind, grapefruit pith, nuts, salinity, cinnamon and a saliva-sapping freshness and concentration that just defies belief. And it you don’t like it, that’s too bad, doubly-so, because a) it means you’re a very weird and ghastly person and b) these flavours are going to linger on your palate for a very long time to come.


*There might be no tomorrow.


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