Bodegas Tradición at Stanley’s
I’ve been at the sherry again!
What’s new, I hear you cry!?!?
Well this time was slightly different. While it’s true that I can often be found propping up the bar in Stanley’s of a Thursday evening, Palo Cortado or Oloroso in hand, I hadn’t had the pleasure of the full restaurant experience until Ally Alpine of Celtic Whiskey Shop & Wines On The Green very kindly invited me to a lunch with Eduardo Davis, Export Manager of Bodegas Tradición.
Bodegas Tradición release some of my favourite sherries. I’ve waxed lyrical about the Amontillado and Palo Cortado a fair bit lately. You know the deal – in my opinion these are two of the finest expressions of their style available on the market today. On this occasion the Palo Cortado shone brightest, with almost all around the table agreeing that it was the pick of the entire tasting.
The amontillado revealed an interesting texture – an almost tannic astringency that I haven’t noted in this sherry before. Not at all un-pleasurable I should add, but an interesting characteristic none the less, and one that Eduardo thought might be due to a slight increase in the average age of recent releases.
Stanley’s is still a relative newcomer on the Dublin dining scene, but has rocketed to the top of the sherry stakes with a varied by-the-glass menu. The food justifiably draws plaudits too, with each plate at this lunch more ‘picture perfect’ than the one before. In fact my photos scarcely do the food justice, but until Tim Cook releases an app that captures smells and tastes, you’ll just have to make do with my David Bailey impersonation.
Mackerel, apple, sea lettuce, horseradish – Fino
A stunning combination to kick things off. The fino was fresh and pungent with some woody notes and a hint of bread. Intense and broad, but still light on its feet and glides across your palate – I just love the texture of this sherry. Saline and very long. This fino offers a glimpse into the immensely elegant Tradición house style.
Sweetbreads, spring onion, buttermilk, coffee – Oloroso VORS
Tradición’s Oloroso must be a sommelier’s dream. Whereas many old sherries can overwhelm food, this Oloroso, with its 45 years of average age, seems so versatile on the table despite its considerable intensity. There’s loads of orange peel on the nose. Dense, viscous and ever so slightly cloudy on this tasting due to the pouring temperature, there’s a real impression of sweetness here (although the sherry is dry) that suggests a high content of glycerol. Nutty and intense on the palate, it feels broad but is still quite lively. Dangerously moreish and drinkable. Delicious and very long.
Foie gras mousse, coconibs, rhubarb, toast – Cream VOS
The cream sherry was the revelation of the tasting. Having attended a seminar in London last year titled “Cream Dream” where this sherry proudly stood out from the crowd, this shouldn’t have come as a surprise to me. Foie gras works brilliantly with sweet wines and the complexity of this cream, which is a blend from the 1st criadera of an Oloroso solera (70%) and three to four year old PX (30%), lent a funky, almost animal, edge to proceedings. There is a red fruit character here too. It’s quite obviously sweet* (127g/l RS) but also seems to have an underlying dryness due to its oloroso backbone. With an average age of about 25 years, this certainly isn’t cream sherry as you’ve come to know it.
Pork loin, fennel, nettle, strawberry – Amontillado VORS and Palo Cortado VORS
Although intuitively you might think that oloroso would be the better accompaniment to pork, the palo cortado paired really well here. I dare say that the combination was Copa Jerez worthy. The strawberries really lifted the dish and contrasted beautifully with the slightly smokey and vegetal nuances of the elegant palo cortado.
Blood oranges, sour cream, ice cream – Pedro Ximénez VOS
I’ve often remarked that drinking PX can seem like a free trip to the dentist, the sweet viscous nectar somehow managing to work its way into every cavity. This one tips the scales at about 420g/l of residual sugar, but like many other top PXs it manages to retains a nice freshness.
Bodegas Tradición sherries are imported in Ireland by Celtic Whiskey Shop & Wines On The Green.
*I’m talking here in flavour terms as opposed to classification. Cream sherries range from 115-140 g/l RS whereas sweet sherries are officially more than 160 g/l RS.