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36. Gerry Dawes's Spain: An Insider's Guide to Spanish Food, Wine, Culture and Travel

"My good friend Gerry Dawes, the unbridled Spanish food and wine enthusiast cum expert whose writing, photography, and countless crisscrossings of the peninsula have done the most to introduce Americans—and especially American food professionals—to my country's culinary life. . .” - - Chef-restaurateur-humanitarian José Andrés, Nobel Peace Prize Nominee and Oscar Presenter 2019; Chef-partner of Mercado Little Spain at Hudson Yards, New York 2019


Vinoble: "Noble" Dessert & Fortified Wines Fair in Jerez de la Frontera, the Sherry Capital

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Jerez de la Frontera, Andalucía, Spain
Capital of Sherry Country
May 28-31, 2006.

All photographs by GerryDawes ©2006.

The Vinoble International Noble Wines Exhibition, held every two years at the end of May in Jerez de la Frontera, is the only wine fair dedicated exclusively to fortified, dessert, and naturally produced sweet wines.

Jardines (gardens) of the Alcazar de Jerez.

The setting for Vinoble is Jerez’s beautifully renovated 12th-century Arabic Alcazar fortress, which dates from the Almohade epoch during the Moorish occupation of Spain. The site is spectacular with wine tasting stands occupying the gardens of the Alcazar, wines tastings such as a Château D'Yquem retrospective and a palo cortado Sherries presentation were held in the complex's former mezquita (mosque) and tasting pavilions in the Renaissance Palace of Villavicencio, which was built within the walls of the fortress in the 17th and 18th centuries.

Wine tasting stands occupying the gardens of the Alcazar during Vinoble.

 Tasting wines in a formerly Muslim fortress and mosque is not as ironic and iconoclastic as it seems, since the Arabs introduced al-quol (alcohol), during many periods wine growing in Moorish Al-Andaluz was tolerated and Andalucian Moorish poets wrote verse celebrating the virtues of wine.

Tasting Wines in the Mezquita (Mosque)

More than 100 noble wine producing areas for from fortified and sweet wines from around the world show their best labels at Vinoble. Represented were late harvest, botrytisized, natural sweet wines, muscatels, and so on from Argentina, noble rot wines from Australia, Austrian "fine" rot sweet wines from Kremstal, Neusiedlersee and Neusiedlersee-Hügelland, Canadian ice wines from Ontario, Chilean muscatels and late vintage semillon-sauvignons and riesling-gewürztraminers and a plethora of French wines from Sauternes, Barsac, Alsace, Languedoc-Roussillon, Loire, Mombazillac, Pacherenc, Gaillac, Jurançon, Sainte Croix du Mont, Loupiac and Bergerac.

Germany was represented by late harvest sweet wines--Ausleses, Beerenausleses, Trockenbeerenausleses and Eisweins from the Rhine and Mosel. Greece showed wines from Samos, Santorini, Patras, Macedonia and Crete; Hungary, their legendary Tokays; Italy by vin santo, passito and moscato; and Portugal by Ports, muscatels from Setúbal and wines from Madeira.

Even Japan with noble rot, sweet and fortified wines and sake; New Zealand with late harvests Rieslings and Gewürztraminers; and Slovenia with sweet wines made from Riesling, Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Moscato were represented along with South African muscatels, late harvest and botrytisized wines; Swiss late harvest wines from Valais; Urugayan late harvest Rieslings and Gewürztraminers and dessert wines from California.

Tasting Sherries with Javier Hidalgo at the Bodegas Hidalgo stand at Vinoble.

But, as might be expected it was the host country, Spain, which showed the most extensive variety of high quality sweet and fortified wines. Local Sherry bodegas showed a broad range of high quality fortified wines--finos, manzanillas, olorosos, amontillados, creams, pale creams, moscatels and Pedro Ximénez sweet wines, as did bodegas from nearby Andalucian wine regions such as Montilla-Moriles (Cordoba)with a range of finos, amontillados, olorosos and Pedro Ximénez; the Condado de Huelva with fortified Sherry-like wines, including delicious orange essence-flavored ones; and Málaga, which showed some exceptional moscatels.

Javier Hidalgo, Bodegas Hidalgo, Sanlúcar de Barrameda, directing a tasting of Manzanilla Sherries.

Cataluña was represented by sweet wines from Penedès and Priorat; Valencia by sweet mistela moscatels; Navarra by late harvest moscatels and vinos rancios; Alicante by moscatels and fondillones; Jumilla by late harvest Monastrell-based wines; and Rueda, Rías Baixas and Yecla by late harvest entries.

Felipe Gútierrez de la Vega, owner of Casta Diva (Alicante), producer of fine moscatels and fondillóns.

Only in Jerez at Vinoble can wine professionals and aficionados alike find such a broad range of high quality "Noble" wines. Even one day at Vinoble is an education into this relatively little-known, magical world of late harvest, fortified, botrytisized, dessert and dry wines such as manzanilla, fino and amontillado Sherries. Touring the Spanish stands, I was able to taste an amazing array of wines that underscored the importance of this emerging genre of exceptional wines from all around Spain.

John Salvi, Master of Wine, tasting palo cortado at Palacio de Domecq.

Julian Jeffs, author of "Sherry," tasting palo cortado at Palacio de Domecq.

Also see:

Sherry’s Image Gets a Makeover

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