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WINE OF THE WEEK: Gonzalez Byass Leonor Palo Cortado Seco 12 Años, Jerez, Spain

£18–£19.95, The Drinks Emporium, Rise & Vine, Ocado, Flagship Wines, Laithwaites, Averys, Master of Malt, The Whisky Exchange

Sherry isn’t only for Christmas and it isn't only for Sherry Week, but next week is International Sherry Week, so I’m putting this amber beauty on your radar now.

Palo Cortado is one of a kind: it starts life as a fino, takes a different course and ends up combining elements of dry amontillado and oloroso – the best of all three worlds.

Leonor spends an average of 12 years in a traditional solera of American oak casks and emerges dark amber in colour, complex, powerful, creamy smooth and bone dry with a salty, spicy, tang and flavours of walnuts, baking spices, woodsmoke, Christmas cake, Seville orange and burnt toffee apple.

Just as it isn’t only for Christmas or sherry week, sherry isn’t only an aperitif. It’s certainly a very good one, especially the pale, bone-dry fino and manzanilla styles, but it’s also a wine for the table – an all-year round food wine.

Serve this Palo Cortado chilled, but not overchilled (around 12ºC if you've got a wine thermometer handy), and drink it with plates of charcuterie, including air-dried hams, salchichon, chorizo and bressaola; sautéed wild mushrooms, roast cauliflower with caraway seeds, and Jerusalem artichokes; bean stews; aged firm and semi-firm cheeses such as Comté, Cornish Gouda, Parmesan, Manchego and other sheep’s cheeses; walnuts and salted almonds.

If you want to be a bit more adventurous (recommended), try it with black pudding or Morcilla, game birds, or beef and black olive stew (boeuf à la gardiane). Gonzalez Byass suggests red meats and game. They should know.

Another useful thing about Palo Cortado is that once opened, as long as you stopper it, it will keep in the fridge in good shape for a month or more. But I doubt you'll have any left after a week or so. 20% abv.

Gonzalez Byass Leonor Palo Cortado Seco 12 Years, Jerez, Spain


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