Sherry: The Pearl of Andalusia
by Ben O’Donnell
“In 1846, an American novelist and poet writing a short novel on wine geeks, people who love wine, and who discuss it, and who have a very important cellar, chooses amontillado.” Jesús Barquin, a founder of the Equipo Navazos outfit that finds and bottles small quantities of sherries it deems exceptional, is talking about Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Cask of Amontillado.” “That means that by 1846, if you needed to think of outstanding wine, one of the candidates would be a sherry. When you say ‘the hype of sherry,’ well, what hype?” Barquin laughs. Of the grand old aristocratic pours—claret, Burgundy, German Riesling, Champagne, port—only sherry tumbled unceremoniously from the graces of fine wine in recent decades, sales falling apace with quality. But in the past few years, dedicated winemakers in the Jerez region of Andalusia, Spain’s Old South of bullfights and Gypsies, have united with drinks aficionados and professional tastemakers to resurrect the venerable stuff that enticed Poe’s Fortunato to trudge deep into a drafty catacomb for what would be a last taste.
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