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Our Unique Wine Stories: Amontillado Antique from Fernando de Castilla

We’re championing a selection of hand-picked wines that have unique stories; a fascinating founding, an extraordinary wine making process or a bottle design like no other. THE DISH caught up with the founders of Amontillado Antique from Fernando de Castilla to find out what makes their wines unique.

Firstly, we’d love to know a bit of history about the producer.

Bodegas Rey Fernando de Castilla is located in the historic centre of Jerez. Its story began with the aristocratic Andrada-Vanderwilde family, who for two centuries provided grapes and wine for the production of sherry in the area. In 1972 Fernando Andrada-Vanderwilde took over some old sherry cellars and brandy soleras from a couple of local bodegas, and changed the name of the company from Fernando III to Fernando de Castilla.

In 1999 Jan Pettersen, a Norwegian with 15 years experience at Osborne, bought the company and also acquired a neighbouring almacenista, José Bustamente. He also formed a partnership with a local grape grower – to ensure consistent supply of high quality grapes – unusual for the smaller bodegas, who usually have to rely on co-operatives. He decided to focus entirely on high-end, complex sherries – in the process upgrading the bodega to one of the most interesting and highly regarded of the small independent sherry houses in Jerez.

Why is this the best time of year to drink Sherry?

You can drink Sherry all year long. There are so many different styles that each suits a season. They can be drunk by themselves or be paired with food as well, so it very much depends on what you are eating. In general, we could say Fino and Manzanilla, are lighter and paler styles so are more of a Spring/Summer wines; and Oloroso, Amontillado, Palo Cortado are rounder, fuller and more complex wines so more of an Autumn/Winter. And PX is a dessert wine. So as you can see there is a Sherry for each season and occasion.

Can you tell us a bit about the production of this sherry?

Grapes are sourced from Fernando de Castilla’s partners vineyards in the Jerez district. The soil type is Albariza. Picking takes place in early September. Fernando de Castilla deals only in prestigious, premium wines. The sherries are all from individual soleras. They are bottled without blending, cold stabilization or filtration of any kind in order to preserve the subtlety, purity and distinctive aromas of these premium wines. The products are all bottled in clear glass to show off the wonderful colour of the wines. Fernando de Castilla Antique Amontillado comes from a very old Fino (8 yrs old) which is refortified from 15.5% to 18.0% ABV and introduced into a solera of Amontillado where it spends a further 12 years. Making this wine an average of 20 year old.

What kind of foods go best with it?

Consomé, white meats, foie, mushrooms, rice dishes, charcuterie, spicy food and cured cheeses all go well with it.

What kind of notes can you taste in it?

Floral and pure; butterscotch, brazil nut and salted almonds. Very dry, intense, deep and sumptuous layers, so long and harmonious!

Has it won any awards?

Yes – SWA 2018 – Gold medal, IWC 2018 – Gold medal.

If people haven’t tried sherry before, what can you suggest to help them?

The best introduction to Sherry is to pair it with food, as Sherry truly enhances the food it’s paired with. This is the way it’s enjoyed in Spain, as part of a meal. There is no better (and more simple) pairing than a Fino Sherry with Iberico Ham, or toasted almonds for a vegan choice. Or Manzanilla Sherry with king prawns, or olives.

And of course, Amontillado is incredibly versatile as we can see from the food recommendations in this article. In Jerez they have this rule of thumb when pairing Sherry with food: if it swims drink Fino, if it flies drink Amontillado and if it runs drink Oloroso.

Available at Butlers Wharf Chop House, New Street Wine Shop, Launceston Place and Skylon.