Let’s face it. If you were raised in South Africa, your understanding of Sherry probably won’t extend much further than the Old Brown your nana used to store in her antique dining room cabinet, along with over-stuffed family albums and a biscuit tin dating back to pre-FW de Klerk days. Locally, we know Sherry as that dark brown, syrupy sweet liquid that warms you up on cold nights. And that’s about it. But the fact is that Sherry wine isn’t always sweet. In fact, most are dry. And now there’s a new Sherry trend abound, completely shifting our understanding of what it can be. Enter Spice Route’s Amos Block Perpetual Reserve (a mouthful in both name and flavour). The brainchild of Charl du Plessis, chief winemaker at Spice Route Wines, this Sherry is the REAL deal. The launch was held at the teeny tiny bar No Reservations in Bree street, and featured a tasting of this new elixir. Made from South Africa’s oldest Sauvignon Blanc bush vines, the Amos Block is fermented without additives, gently fortified and aged in the Swartland heat under flor yeast. Does any of that make sense to you? No? We don’t blame you. The subject of Sherry is HUGE and complicated. With our country’s cultural lack of Sherry education, let’s backtrack a little and keep it as simple as possible.
Just know these 3 things:
1) All Sherry is made from white grapes
2) To make it a Sherry and not a wine, it is a fortified. This means that once a base white wine has been made, grape spirit is added to the wine to increase the alcohol content (hence higher alcohol = smaller glasses)
3) Sherry is a blended product, made using the Solera system. Put simply, Solera is a group of barrels used to age a single wine; and the wine in these barrels will develop more complexity each year as fresh wine is added.
4) Like Champagne is only allowed to be called so if it is made in Champagne, so Sherry is only allowed to be called Sherry if it is from Andalucía in Southern Spain. But for simplicity’s sake, we’ll just refer to it as Sherry for now.
So why now? Well, unless you’ve been living on the dark end of Klapmuts, there’s been a sharp rise in tapas-style dishes, and what better to accompany a Spanish meal than Spanish wine? Seeing as sherry is a super versatile wine, it matches salty bites perfectly by being tangy and refreshing. Spice Route’s Amos Block Reserve is no doubt an early adopter of this quirky trend, and extra brownie points must be given to the striking label – spaghetti western inspired and designed by the talents at Jane Says Designs. Slap it on a postcard and send it back in time to a cowboy.
One thing’s for certain. We have no reservations about sherry being the next big thing for South African’s palates. Watch this spice (erm, we mean space).
Spice Route Amos Block Perpetual Reserve is available exclusively through the Spice Route Tasting Room, Paarl. Only 300 bottles made at R450 a bottle. Email [email protected] for orders.