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Sherry wine types

Blended Sherries

Olga Nikandrova and Denis Shumakov.

Blended sherries or Vinos Generoso de Licor are the result of blending together dry and natural sweet sherries or some special and regulated additives. Of course, the term blended sherries is rather conventional in fact almost all sherries are blends. But we find this conventionality acceptable and quite understandable.

The Regulatory Council strictly specifies the list of components which can be added into wine when producing sherry. There are only three of them.

First of them is grape distillate, used to fortify the wines. We assume that everything is clear about it. Besides, it has to do not only with blended sherries.

Second is Vino de Color, made on the basis of Arrope a syrup made from Palomino grape must. To produce arrope, grape must is concentrated (being reduced to 1/5 of its volume and 38 Baume) and caramelized, the syrup comes out very sweet and dark. It can be used to preserve fruits or to produce color wines, which are the main blended sherry agents so to say.

To produce color wine, arrope is mixed with Palomino grape must (one part of syrup, two parts of must). The resulting sweet mixture (about 20 Baume) is fermented (up to 8 alcohol and 12 Baume sugar), racked off the lees, fortified up to 15-17 and aged in American oak barrels in any of sherry schemes. Sometimes young wine may be used instead of must. Color wines are applied to correct the color of some sherries and (very rarely) as a standalone drink.

Third is concentrated must. It differs from color wine by its light color and is used in making those blended sherries which do not need extra coloring.

The classic sherry range normally includes four blended sherry types: Dry, Pale Cream, Medium, and Cream. This list is unstable sometimes Dry is excluded, sometimes other drinks are added.

Dry is a slightly sweet wine, pale yellow or golden in color, 15-22 alcohol, and 5-45-g/l sugar content. In fact, Dry is a slightly sweetened (with concentrated must, for example) Fino. In some markets Dry is released under such names as Pale or Pale Dry.

Pale Cream is a pale yellow wine, with alcoholic strength of 15,5-22and sugar content from 45 to 150 grams per liter. Pale Cream is also made by way of sweetening Fino (or much more seldom Manzanila) and has some similarities with these wines, but it is thicker and sweeter. It is assumed that Pale Cream lacks characteristic bitterness attributed to biologically aged dry sherries. Most often to produce Pale Cream sweet wines (Pedro Ximénez and Moscatel) are used.

Medium is a wine with alcoholic strength of 15-22 and sugar content of 5-115 g/l, its color varies from amber to mahogany. Liqueur-like aroma with notes of baked fruits, sweet and vibrant taste, light and smooth finish and notes of the dry sherry which lies in Mediums basis. It is made from Amontillado or Oloroso (Amontillado being a more wide-spread option) and natural sweet wine (Pedro Ximénez or Moscatel). Commercial names for Mediums may use such words as Avocado, Golden, Amoroso (when it is based on Oloroso), Brown, Milk, Rich. The name Medium Dry may be applied for Medium sherries with a sugar content less than 45 g/l. Medium Sweet for Medium sherries which have more than 45 g/l sugar.

Cream is a full-bodied wine, amber to mahogany in color, with 15,5-22 alcohol and 115-140 g/l sugar. Most often Cream is a mixture of Oloroso and natural sweet wine (Pedro Ximénez or Moscatel). This is why Oloroso notes are so notable in the Cream aroma, they are aggravated by notes of dried fruit, toasts, nougat and caramel. The taste is sweet (but not excessively), rich, and elegant. The finish is long, mild, with subtle hints on freshness. Sometimes the term Amoroso is used referring to Cream.

A few remarks to complete the picture. The Regulatory Council clearly sets only the content of sugar and alcohol in sherries (for all of them, not only blended ones) and describes their taste, aroma and color. However, In its documents it does not give any precise instructions on the composition of the blends. So, a specific recipe of a specific blended sherry is always up to its producer. Besides, producers may prepare and release their own blends with unique characteristics, going beyond the framework set by the Council.

The fact that blended sherries bear English names clearly indicates the market for which they were created and where they are mostly sold nowadays. Blended sherries is mostly exclusively an export product designed mostly for the mass market. And this is exactly why their role in the sherry culture should not be underestimated.

Blended sherries make money. And we review them on the website too (in Russian only):
Don Pablo Dry Sherry
Cruz Conde Pale Cream
Lustau Añada 1997 Rich Oloroso
Oloroso Solera 1842
Sandeman Sherry Medium Dry
Osborne 10RF Medium
González Byass Cristina Medium
Contrabandista Medium Dry Amontillado Blend
Bodegas San Sebastián Mariana Cream
Williams & Humbert Canasta Cream
Fortnum &Mason Cream Sherry VOS
Lustau Deluxe Cream Capataz San Andrés
Lustau East India Solera

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