Eating & Drinking: Not to be trifled with

I don't know about the briny infiltrations, but I do know that a good Manzanilla is a thing of beauty

STOCK MARKET investors sometimes look for "value" shares - those that are out of favour and therefore cheaper than they ought to be. As far as I'm aware, there is no comparable breed of wine drinker. Hell, if you're not going to drink what you want to drink, there isn't much point in drinking. But there certainly are "value" buys. And if you asked 10 aficionados to name their top three, I bet all of them would include sherry. Sherry is a perennial "value" wine because we don't drink as much as we should and therefore prices are too low.

How else to explain what they're doing over at Majestic, where there's a new line of sherries from Hidalgo in Sanlcar de Barrameda? The full prices, which apply from 3 August, range from pounds 4.99 (for their Fino) to pounds 8.99 for an old Pedro Ximenez Viejo Napoleon. Until then, there's 50p or pounds 1 off each one.

For wines of this quality, the reduced prices are a steal; and none is more larcenous than the tangy Manzanilla La Gitana, a wine that usually sells for more than pounds 6. At Majestic, for now, it's just pounds 4.99. That's

cheaper than many a dull, over-oaked Australian Chardonnay with one tenth the character and one fiftieth the quality.

And the offer is particularly tasty at the moment because fino and Manzanilla are the bee's knees of summery aperitifs. The difference between the two is geographical: Manzanilla is a fino produced in Sanlcar rather than Jerez. Since Sanlcar perches right on the ocean (with seafood restaurants you'd kill to have lunch at), ocean breezes make the climate cooler and more even in temperature than the Jerez bodegas. They also, it is often claimed, impart to the ageing sherries a salty tang.

I don't know about the briny infiltrations, but I do know that a good Manzanilla is a thing of beauty. And that there are huge differences between wines from the various Sanlcar bodegas, even when they're separated in space by no more than a sardine's throw.

This latter point was borne home by one of the few methodical tastings I forced myself to do at the recent London Wine Trade Fair. The LWTF fills Olympia for a few days every May - tens of thousands of wines and spirits under a single roof, a sight that makes me want to turn around immediately I walk in the door.

I did manage to stick with the 20 Manzanillas on show at the Sherry Institute of Spain, however. And boy, was I glad I did. The wines ranged from the best-known style, young wines of pale colour, to the older Manzanillas Pasadas and Amontilladas, which take on a more sombre hue and a greater weight of nuts-and-dried-fruit flavours.

There were a few bummers but many more happy surprises, and none happier than the gorgeous Manzanilla Aurora from Pedro Romero. This producer rarely climbs on to anyone's list of major Manzanillas, which makes me realise that oversights still happen. Aurora is sublime, with a full range of flavours which easily justify its price tag (about pounds 9.50). Almonds and sultanas, creamy mouth-feel, tongue-warming alcohol - if you want a taste, ring the Exclusive Brandy Club (0169 773744).

Close contenders for first place in my tasting notes are the Solear Manzanilla Barbadillo (pounds 7.65, Safeway and independents), with a sharp cutting edge of acidity, and Valdespino Manzanilla Deliciosa (Lea & Sandeman, 0171 376 4767), with abundant tang and an exceptionally long finish. The name ain't hype. Price, about pounds 6.95. Incidentally, these prices, fair though they are, should make you realise what a bargain La Gitana represents at Majestic.

There were a few interesting appearances in the spirits section of the LWTF, on some of which I'll be reporting after making further enquiries. One that I'll probably not investigate is a curious spirit called Manx. This colourless fluid is made in the Isle of Man by removing the colour and the "impurities" from whisky, thus (supposedly) turning it into a drink you can chug all evening without suffering the next day. It's a clear attempt (no pun intended) to capitalise on the turn from whisky to vodka, but I fail to see the point. Why not drink vodka instead? Or, better still, one of those glorious Manzanillas.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

    Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

    Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
    Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

    Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

    When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
    5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

    In grandfather's footsteps

    5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
    Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

    Martha Stewart has flying robot

    The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
    Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

    Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

    Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
    A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

    A tale of two presidents

    George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
    Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

    The dining car makes a comeback

    Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
    Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

    Gallery rage

    How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
    Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

    Eye on the prize

    Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
    Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

    Women's rugby

    Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
    Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
    Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

    How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

    As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
    We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

    We will remember them

    Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
    Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

    Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

    Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
    Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

    Acting in video games gets a makeover

    David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices