Winner Details

Sherry

2018  GOLD: 9             SILVER: 3         BRONZE: 1       COMMENDED: 2
2017  GOLD: 6             SILVER: 4         BRONZE: 3       COMMENDED: 5

Finally, we got a half-decent range of sherries entered into this competition (it’s only taken us 10 years) and the result, to nobody’s surprise at all, was a slew of top medals. Nine places on the Gold List was a record by some distance – something that was both totally predictable and thoroughly deserved.

Sommeliers, we know, love sherry, and they found listings for a wide range of styles. The only one to miss out was (surprisingly) fino, which ‘lost’ 4-0 to its pale cousin manzanilla. But that aside this was a strong section of our Gold List, with choice, diversity, great stories and superb value for money. Same again next year, please!

FROM THE TASTING TEAMS

‘It’s nice to see the En Rama, it’s got more structure. They are a bit more creamy and appley, which can please the younger generation. We had twice as many of these as we did a few years ago, it’s nice to see.’ Lionel Periner, team leader

‘You get great value here. Pedro Ximénez is really stable, and is good to be paired with desserts. There’s not much that can take its place.’ Euan McColm, Beaverbrook

‘Unusual, unique, one of a kind. Lots of value going on until the most expensive one, though even that could work in a specialist sherry bar. En Rama is a nice emerging style. Popularity is going up, but it takes time. The youth coming through are going for lighter, drier, fresher styles.’ Robert Mason, Cheese at Leadenhall

‘These were delicious. Especially the drier styles. I’d use these as an aperitif, and with cheese.’ Rita Kardos, Gauthier Soho

Award winners

Found 15 wines

Sherry

Bodegas Yuste, Aurora, Manzanilla NV, Sanlúcar de Barrameda, Spain

Gold medal winner

This Gold medallist was made in a ‘fresh and vibrant’ style, according to Timothy Connor of Core by Clare Smyth, with Cheese at Leadenhall’s Robert Mason adding praise for its abundance of ‘Bramley apple, citrus, bready yeast and pine flor notes’, and finding it was ultimately ‘long and easy’. An impressed Joseph Lunn of Suave Wine described it as ‘light and refreshing, with passion fruit notes and oxidation, and plenty of personality’.

£10.08 Size: 50cl Top Selection Ltd

Bodegas Yuste, La Kika, Manzanilla NV, Sanlúcar de Barrameda, Spain

Gold medal winner Critics Choice

When it came to describing this top-class manzanilla as it won a well-deserved Gold, Timothy Connor of Core by Clare Smyth highlighted an ‘oily texture and smoky intensity, but freshness on the palate and great balance overall’, while Joseph Lunn of Suave Wine was very much taken with its ‘vibrant and fresh character, revealing subtle notes of banana, nuts and wood’, adding that ‘the oxidative characteristics take a back seat, yet it’s brilliant!’ £16.11/37.5cl

£16.11 Size: 37.5cl Top Selection Ltd

B Rodriguez La-Cave, Barbiana, Manzanilla NV, Jerez, Spain

Gold medal winner

‘Crystalline and pure,’ began Hakkasan’s Olivier Gasselin in his praise of this Gold-winning manzanilla, further describing ‘dried walnuts and bitter almond notes with some zesty, fresh lime, too, leading to a fresh, dry and salty finish’. Team leader Lionel Periner, meanwhile, was intrigued by the combination of ‘baked apple, nut and frangipane aromas, yet a dry palate with medium oxidation notes and a lightness on the finish’.

£10.12 Size: 37.5cl Berkmann Wine Cellars

Fernando de Castilla, Antique, Amontillado NV, Jerez, Spain

Gold medal winner

There was no shortage of praise from our judges to accompany this amontillado’s Gold medal. James Fryer of Woodhead 17 enjoyed ‘some raisin in the nose, coffee and toasted almond on the palate, earthy character with green flecks and touches of lemon balm, and super-salty, too’, while Andre Luis Martins of Cavalry & Guards Club described ‘smoked tea aromas with complex lees and caramel, and sour peach, too’. ‘Punchy, tarry and powerful,’ concluded team leader Sarah Jane Evans MW.

£32.64 Size: 50cl Boutinot

Fernando de Castilla, Antique, Palo Cortado NV, Jerez, Spain

Gold medal winner Critics Choice

Judges heaped praise on this Gold medal winner, with Andre Luis Martins of Cavalry & Guards Club describing a ‘balsamic and perfumed nose, with roasted pine and herbal notes and some sour apricot, all underlined by more gentle herb and spice notes’. Team leader Sarah Jane Evans MW, meanwhile, was keen on its ‘elegant, silky, ripe, polished style’, finding it ‘alight with flavour but elegant, with bitter chocolate on the finish’, while Euan McColm of Beaverbrook picked up ‘chocolate, smoke and macadamia on the nose, with marshmallow coming in on the palate with a warm and giving finish’.

£36.99 Size: 50cl Boutinot

Fernando de Castilla, Classic, Pedro Ximénez NV, Jerez, Spain

Gold medal winner

This was ‘smoooth’ with three Os, emphasised team leader Sarah Jane Evans MW, finding it easily worth Gold, and ‘superbly raisined with glacé cherry notes, gloriously succulent with just a bit of acidity’, while Beaverbrook’s Euan McColm highlighted ‘milk chocolate and figs, fruitcake, coffee and toffee, in a modern, impressive style’. Team leader Laura Rhys MS was impressed, too, finding it ‘intense, sweet and unctuous, with a creamy texture, and juicy, bold notes of prune, raisin and sweet vanilla spice’.

£14.82 Size: 75cl Boutinot

Hijos de Rainera Pérez Marín, La Guita, Manzanilla, En Rama, Limited Batch, Bottled In October 2017 NV, Sanlúcar de Barrameda, Spain

Gold medal winner

To go by the comments of our judges, this was never anything but Gold, with Hakkasan’s Olivier Gasselin, for example, finding it ‘fragrant, zesty and mineral, with some marzipan notes’. ‘Savoury and full, earthy and rich, with soft, gentle fruit and subtle flor,’ said Robert Mason of Cheese at Leadenhall, while Joseph Lunn of Suave Wine felt it was ‘well made, with notes of prickly pear and mahogany’. ‘Ideal with salty cheese or sardines,’ concluded team leader Annette Scarfe MW.

£16.80 Size: 37.5cl Bibendum , Matthew Clark

Luis Caballero, Tabanaco, Amontillado NV, Jerez, Spain

Gold medal winner

Unequivocal in his praise, Beaverbrook’s Euan McColm loved this Gold medallist’s ‘caramel, orange peel and coffee aromas, leading to orange and walnut with toasted almonds on the palate, and a 10-minute finish’, while James Fryer of Woodhead 17 highlighted a ‘yeasty and salty fresh nose, and a nutty character with sweet almond on the finish’. Three Chimneys Restaurant’s Petri Pentikainen added appreciation for its ‘saltiness and flor character, with green apple, walnuts and dried fruit’.

£12.31 Size: 75cl Bibendum

Valdespino, Solera 1842, VOS, Medium Sweet, Very Old Oloroso Blend NV, Jerez, Spain

Gold medal winner

‘Superbly balanced,’ began impressed team leader Sarah Jane Evans MW in her praise of this Gold medallist, describing it as ‘mouthwatering, with notes of roasted lime skins, toasted nuts and punchy freshness’, while senior James Fryer of Woodhead 17 enjoyed its ‘orange peel, wood varnish and chocolate walnut elements with superb bright acids’. ‘Beautiful elegance, spice and weight,’ concluded team leader Laura Rhys MS, but not before recommending a smoked duck croquette match.

£26.81 Size: 75cl Liberty Wines

Fernando de Castilla, Classic, Fino NV, Jerez, Spain

Silver medal winner

‘Good value and a fruitier style for sherry,’ felt Joseph Lunn of Suave Wine, while Cheese at Leadenhall’s Robert Mason liked its ‘savoury, bready, mushroom aromas, clean and complex palate with lots of yeasty ripeness, and zingy, zesty profile’.

£9.02 Size: 75cl Boutinot

Luis Caballero, La Ina, Fino NV, Jerez, Spain

Silver medal winner

‘Plenty of spice and oak influence here, but it’s balanced and a very approachable style,’ began Timothy Connor of Core by Clare Smyth, with Cheese at Leadenhall’s Robert Mason highlighting ‘savoury and sweet spice characters, gentle almond notes, subtle yet with complexity’.

£11.00 Size: 75cl Bibendum

Valdespino, Deliciosa, En Rama, 2017 Bottling NV, Sanlúcar de Barrameda, Spain

Silver medal winner

‘Prevalent nutty aromas, good body and subtle palate with a long finish, light citrus and spice notes,’ said Joseph Lunn of Suave Wine, while Cheese at Leadenhall’s Robert Mason picked up on this manzanilla’s ‘depth and complexity, lifted green notes mixing with ripe apple, citrus and apricot with lots of almonds and hazelnut character’.

£16.70 Size: 37.5cl Liberty Wines

Xeco, Amontillado NV, Jerez, Spain

Bronze medal winner

Team leader Sarah Jane Evans MW felt this amontillado had ‘a more delicate aroma, but the palate has fine cocoa notes, good complexity and a dry finish’, while Beaverbrook’s Euan McColm found ‘coffee and orange, fruitcake and pithy characters on the palate’.

£17.40 Size: 75cl Enotria&Coe

Bodegas Yuste, Pico-Plata, Moscatel NV, Sanlúcar de Barrameda, Spain

Commended medal winner

£21.23 Size: 75cl Top Selection Ltd

Xeco, Fino NV, Jerez, Spain

Commended medal winner

£15.25 Size: 75cl Enotria&Coe

 

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