Monday, April 4, 2011

Sherry: Some useful symbols and definitions

Here are just a handful of useful definitions. If you're more of a pictures type of person, then scroll down to get to some very cool, artfully drawn symbols which were used in a sherry seminar I participated in.
Capataz - the cellar manager, and most importantly the person who determines a base wine's initial categorization (fino or oloroso)

Crianza biológica - ageing under flor as is practiced for fino and for amontillado

Crianza oxidativa - oxidative ageing as is practiced for amontillado, oloroso, palo cortado and pedro ximenez

Criadera - The "escalas" or stages of a solera system. 1era, 2nda, 3era, etc. The more the number goes up, the further away you are from the actual solera level, or the source of the finished sherry.

Sobretabla - a young, recently fortified wine which is ready to enter into a solera system.

Solera - 1.) the system in which a sherry is made; 2.) the entire group of criaderas that produces a particular wine, usually given a name that appears on what is commercially bottled (e.g. Valdespino Fino Inocente); 3.) the last barrel(s) of a group of criaderas, which will be bottled and released to market.

Almacenista - Someone who makes sherry, stores/ages it, and sells it on to sherry shippers (whose name is the one that appears on the bottle). Lustau has trademarked the term "almacenista."

Rocio - Transferring of wine to refresh a criadera or the solera itself.

Palo cortado - classically defined as a potential fino whose flor dies off prematurely, enabling it to possibly be categorized as "palo cortado" after some oxidative ageing. Many different definitions exist for this style; the explanation you receive really depends upon whom you ask.

Amoroso, generoso, abocado, pata de gallina - all terms referring to a lightly sweetened (through the addition of PX) sherry. Pata de gallina is the least sweet of these (Lustau's Almacenista Pata de Gallina is a good example)

Next up: the venerable Valdespino....