Will the snow ever end? It’s all the East Coast is talking about. Personally I love a good winter storm and how the whiteness (while it lasts) brightens the skeletal trees and the city becomes a little less frenetic. Cold, snowy nights like these call for an extra dose of something to take the chill out, like an oloroso sherry. Sherries have made a comeback in the last few years, but while finos and manzanillas have drawn most of the attention olorosos remain mostly out of the spotlight. In fact when I went searching for a bottle in my local shops there were few to choose from.
Made from the courser base wines, olorosos are often more textured and fuller bodied than finos and amontillados. While they still make for a fine apperitif, the style lends itself to pairing cold-weather fare such as stews or game dishes. Oloroso means “fragrant” in Spanish and these are potent, hearty wines, usually a dark amber color with nutty, dried fruit flavors. This comes from aging entirely oxidatively in barrels with no time spent under a layer of flor (yeast), which is how finos, manzanillas and amontillados are aged. Over the years some of the wine evaporates, concentrating the flavors and increasing the level of alcohol, which can range from 18 to 24%. This may leave an impression of sweetness although most oloroso wines are dry. A truly sweet oloroso will have had some Pedro Ximenez added and labeled a cream sherry.
This oloroso comes from a former almacenista, who used to sell his wines to big producers such as Gonzalez Byass, but now bottles them under his own name. The bodegas of Gutiérrez Colosía are found in the coastal town of El Puerto de Santa María and therefore feel the influence from the Atlantic winds. The saline quality of this oloroso is prominent, but is accompanied by notes of toasted walnuts, raisins, and a touch of iron. And, since it has already been exposed to oxygen, once it’s open it’ll keep in the refrigerator for a couple of months.
Gutiérrez Colosía Oloroso dry sherry, 750 ml, 18% abv, $34.99.