Dublin Flamenco Festival 2013 – Flamenco & Sherry by Tío Pepe

As sherry week on The Vine Inspiration draws to a close, it’s fitting that we finish with a party, and the party in question was one of the opening events of the 2013 Dublin Flamenco Festival held in November.

Tío Pepe Fino, Del Duque Amontillado, Matusalem Oloroso Dulce

Tío Pepe Fino, Del Duque Amontillado, Matusalem Oloroso Dulce

I must admit that I never knew Dublin had an annual flamenco festival, and I only happened upon this event when reading a wine events calendar. A week long event, based out of Smock Alley Theatre, there was something for everyone from art, to singing, to dancing, to….SHERRY!

The link between flamenco and sherry is enshrined by geography and history, and the festival organisers had flown flamenco expert and sherry educator José María Castaño from Spain to deliver a seminar on these two Andalusian treasures. The sherries for the evening were provided by González Byass.

The seminar started with an introduction to sherry delivered by José María, who not only described how sherry was produced, but also explained some of the history and culture of Jerez. Jerez is a melting pot, a by-product of the variety of civilisations who have resided in the region through the years. It’s is also a hotbed of flamenco – an expression of dance and song that is rooted in the gypsy culture of Andalucía and is passed down from generation to generation in much the same way that secrets of sherry are handed down through the generations in family run bodegas. In the flamenco & sherry seminar, José María has married these two pillars of Jerez by pairing different sherries with different styles of flamenco.

The first sherry tasted was Tío Pepe fino, one of the most famous sherries in the world. Tío Pepe is a benchmark fino; its vibrancy and verve were matched by the flamenco explosion of the Buleria. The lively Buleria chosen by José María was perfect to accompany Tío Pepe but with the sparkle of the flamenco, my mind also drifted to thinking that this would also be a super musical match for Champagne – yet another similarity I’ve discovered between Champagne and Sherry. I’ve searched high and low for the YouTube clip of the Buleria that José María used during the seminar but to no avail. The clip below is the next best thing – no dancing, but if you skip to the music, which starts about a minute into the clip, you can really appreciate the peaks and troughs that mark the explosive intensity of the song (providing the YouTube gods allow you to view it).

The second sherry tasted was Amontillado del Duque VORS (Vinum Optimum Rare Signatum or Very Old Rare Sherry) with an average age in excess of 30 years – a sherry that I had blogged about only a few weeks earlier. A deep amber in the glass, the aromas of nuts, sweet spices, and dried fruit drew you into a sherry that finished long and dry on the palate. Amontillado undergoes a combination of both biological and oxidative ageing (see my post on dry sherry from earlier this week) and is an intermediate style of sherry lying somewhere between fino and oloroso. It was fitting therefore that the flamenco chosen to match this sherry was a mix of a Buleria and a more sombre lament –  a song that José María felt developed its own rhythm alongside the sherry. In non-flamenco terms, think Chicago blues music and you’re heading along the right track.

Amontillado Del Duque

The final sherry of the evening was Matusalem Oloroso, an oloroso dulce with 25% Pedro Ximenez added to produce a final sherry with much of the complexity of an old oloroso but also an unctuous richness. This was the crowd pleaser of the evening – a nod to the fact that cream, medium and sweet sherries still rule the roost amongst the masses in Ireland.  A crowd pleasing flamenco was selected to match – a candado naturale, whose roots traced back to folklore but perhaps was somewhat lost on me as a non-spanish speaker.

This evening was an interesting sensory experiment – I was cynical coming into it and was really just looking to learn a bit more about flamenco over a glass or two of sherry. That mission was certainly accomplished but I must admit that, for the Buleria and fino match in particular, I found that the music made me look at the sherry in a slightly different light. Maybe it was the influence of the powerful flamenco, but the Tío Pepe felt even more lively and intense than usual – the desired effect no doubt.

José María summed up the experience as  –

“The wines you listen to, the singing you taste”.

You’ll note that I’ve only included one flamenco video – and with good reason! Without a grounding in flamenco, it’s nigh on impossible to identify the different music types to match the sherry and, to get the most out of the experience, you really need to be there in person – that’s where José María comes in, and it’s all the more reason to go along to one of his flamenco and sherry seminars. Given the success of this visit, I suspect he’ll be back again to the Dublin Flamenco Festival in 2014. If you can’t wait that long, I believe that he has a weekly flamenco radio show, so open a bottle of sherry and tune in. Check him out on twitter  – @caminosdelcante

In anticipation that your Spanish is better than mine, there is a neat YouTube clip of a similar event run in Spain.


Sherry Week Schedule on The Vine Inspiration

MondayDry Sherry – An Introduction

TuesdayThe Great Sherry Tasting 2013 – Aged Fino and Amontillado

WednesdayThe Great Sherry Tasting 2013 – Palo Cortado and Oloroso

Thursday: A Visit To Drakes Tabanco

Friday: Dublin Flamenco Festival 2013 – Flamenco & Sherry by Tío Pepe

YouTube credits – shahin0ne87 and José María Castaño