Thursday, November 1, 2007

Williams And Humbert, Dry Sack Solera Especial 15 Years Old (Oct. 27, 2007)

Sherries can be broadly divided into 2 categories, sweet and dry, and so far I prefer Williams and Humbert's sweet sherries over their dry ones. This is one of the best, similar in style and quality to the more famous Old East India from the Lustau house. Though the Dry Sack Especial is labelled an Olorso and the Old East India a Cream Sherry (probably a catch-all phrase as the Old East India is supposedly made in a technique designed to simulate the aging effect of a long sea voyage), they both reek of an old wodden Pirate chest full of dry raisins and dark chocolate. Oh yes, these wines always bring out the romantic side of my notes writing.

The label indicates a non-vintage sherry whose solera components' average age is fifteen years. Olorosos are made from sherry barrels where flor did not thrive so it's an oxiditive style because flor based sherries are protected by the flor layer from the effects of oxygen. Despite the lack of flor in the Oloroso soleras, I usually find the telltale iodine signature in them anyway. Must be something in air in the bodeags. Naturally dry, Olorosos may be sweetened by the addition of Pedro Ximinez, as is the case here. Olorosos - and sweet sherries in general - are exceptional in the sherry world because they can be cellared, or so I've read. I'm guessing aging would reduce the sweetness while endowing them with a welcome, brine-y, meaty overlay, because that's the effect I get the same effect after a few days of airing. If you do cellar them, it's best to store the bottle upright so the glue used in the sherry cork won't affect the wine.

Having said all that, this Oloroso struck out this time.

On the first evening, the wine seemed lackluster and a bit dillute. The nose was was as pungently aromatic as I'd expected but like the palate, lacked focus and vitality. I've had this wine twice in the past and it always showed better a couple of days after opening so I remained hopeful. Second day, the cured meat and olive brine aromas are in full throttle. Really, every thing I love about sherry is in that nose, but the palate is in a middle age crisis. It was the same thing all over on the third and fourth days. Shit happens.

As always, Wikipedia is a good place to look up the terms I didn't bother to explain and even the ones I did.

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