In 2012 I learned one of the great secrets in the world of wine: that the wines made in Jerez (and Sanlucar, and Chiclana, and Montilla Moriles), from finos and manzanillas to manzanillas pasadas, amontillados and olorosos (not to mention palos cortados, moscatels and PX), are among the most extraordinary, delicious wines being made anywhere.
I had lived in Spain for over a decade and I had been enjoying wines of every kind for longer than that. I had also cottoned to the quality of the wines I had come across: I always had room in my fridge for a bottle of fino. But I discovered, in a bottle of Palo Cortado (bottled by Equipo Navazos and bought at Enoteca Barolo), what seemed like a new world. It was one of those Cortes gazing out on the Pacific, watcher–of–the–skies type moments. I discovered a whole new dimension to wine, a bass clef to go with the treble, jazz music after a lifetime of military marches.
Since then my journey has taken me even further and I feel like I have happened upon one of the most exciting regions in the world at one of the most exciting moments possible. A region that has long worshipped the cellar, the solera, and tiny yeasts is learning to celebrate terroir, vintages and vines, and is rediscovering a history unmatched by other regions and wines, long buried under the recent industrial past, that once ruled the world.
It is going to be difficult to communicate or explain everything that is going on but I feel I must do my best. For the good of the wine drinking world, much of which is criminally oblivious to the wondrous potential of the South of Spain, and in gratitude to the hard working geniuses down in Jerez who have so enriched my cellar and lunchtimes.
Undertheflor. The name of the blog is inspired by an inspired description of the symptoms suffered on the second morning of an enthusiastic trip to Jerez: all sugar, glycerine removed from bloodstream, replaced with alcohol and acetaldehide. It also refers to the biological ageing almost unique to these wines, and although I have since discovered that the flor is only the start of what makes Jerez unique, it is as good a place to start as anywhere.
Sharquillo. The writer is a Madrid based mancunian who has become a keen drinker of the traditional wines of Southern Spain in all their guises. I have no commercial interest whatever, although I have a growing number of friends in the business and have become a keen follower, in particular, of the young guys that are really tearing it up. (Fortunately, my over the top consumption means that on average everyone gets a turn.)
Pages. You will see some pages across the top with general stuff that I try to keep updated – “Authorities” are the people you should be reading, “Drink it” lists restaurants, bars and taverns that have a good list of sherries (all suggestions welcome), “Enjoy it” has some basics on stemware, decanting etc, “Get it” lists the people and places I buy my sherry from, “Pairings” is, erm, about pairings (and could use a little work), “Scores” can be controversial (you have been warned) and “Tunes” will probably give you a more accurate idea of my age than carbon dating.
Tags. There is also a growing cloud of topics to choose from on the right. Most are pretty explanatory but “Articles” is the tag for third party pieces whereas “Opinion” is my own opining. My own particular obsessions are “Terroir” and “Vintage” (by which I mean wines that are made from fruit of a given year, rather than old wines in general). “Blancos de albariza” refers to the unfortified white wines made from said terroir whereas “PX” refers to all the wines from the latter. I recently added “Bubbles” and “Tintilla” but there are still a few things that end up in “Other Wine”.