I don’t get out much lately so when I do have an excuse I try to take advantage. I don’t think there can but much debate that last Monday night was a bit of a success on that front. Some friends and colleagues were in town and anxious to learn about the wines of Jerez so we tooled along to Taberna Verdejo where el vino did, as they say, flow.
While the first bottle of palomino had a quick ice bath we started with a chardonnay “El Beso” (the name of which couldn’t have been more appropriate to the location) but from there on it was Jerez all the way, starting with La Choza de Callejuela, the terrific unfortified palomino from La Choza on Macharnudo Alto by the guys at Callejuela, a great example of a full flavoured, savoury palomino and a fascinating comparison with the opening Chardonnay.
Then we headed under the flor, starting with a manzanilla, and not just any manzanilla: the Sacristia AB, second saca of 2015, full of characteristic haybales and chamomile aromas, the saline shape and finish, and allowing a nerdy excursus on filtering, marquismo and bottle ageing (which may or may not have been too much information). After a manzanilla of that quality I felt obliged to have a glass of La Panesa, which was absolutely epic: full in body and in palate, a big mouthful of sherry and nut butter, like a kind of dry liquid shortcake. A big boned fino in contrast to the slinky manzanilla.
Then (when you may have been expecting an amontillado) we had a medium that I had never tried, Las Señoras by Delgado Zuleta, which to me seemed finer and fresher than your average medium (but I would admit I don’t drink much average medium). It was certainly finer and fresher than the bottle that followed it: the Gobernador, the guvnor, Emilio Hidalgo’s classic oloroso and a perfect introduction to the style. Sharp start, acidity, caramel and burnt finish – perfect with a rich stew – and another exercise in compare and contrast – in this the (pretty obvious, I admit) difference between oloroso’s with and without a dose of PX.
But we weren’t finished, next up was the epic amontillado VORS by Tradición, one of the leaders in its class on any basis, as aromatic, elegant, dry, complex and potent as any wine around, from Jerez or otherwise. But provoked by a comment from my colleagues at the table, who couldn’t believe there could be wines as dry, saline and sharp, we completed our sherry bingo card with the legendary Sanlúcar palo cortado Quo Vadis. Not a lot left to say at this stage, just enjoy the saline intensity and rapier flavour.
It was a pretty good dinner alright. So much so that our neighbours on the next table, impressed by the continual arrival of bottles, declared us the Champions of Monday night. It was a huge honour and a title worth celebrating – with an absolutely cracking brandy from Bodegas Tradición.
But there was no doubt who are the real champions of Monday night: Taberna Verdejo themselves. One of Madrid’s best and certainly one of its friendliest restaurants, a sherry temple and a happy place. I cannot say too many good things about them and if you are ever looking for sustenance on a Monday (or any other day for that matter) you should get your head in there. Many many thanks once again and I look forward to coming back to defend my new title!