The minute I heard that the American wine writer Peter Liem was writing a sherry book, I made sure to get a copy as soon as it was published. Liem, who lives in Champagne, has teamed up with Jesús Barquín, a professor of criminallaw and Spanish wine writer, to write “Sherry, Manzanilla and Montilla,” which has to be the definitive guide to sherry as it was and as it is now.
Because Barquín is a founder of Equipo Navazos, which collects and releases limited edition sherries, the two have divided up the writing work. Both worked on the general chapters on sherry’s history and vinification and contributed to the section on favorite restaurants and hotels in sherry country. But only Liem wrote the assessments of the bodegas.
In the preface Liem writes that “ever since my first visit to Jerez nearly fifteen years ago, I have been enamored with the region and its wines. I am deeply passionate about sherry -- and in this I am not alone in either my age group (he’s under 40) or demographic.” Sherry “is increasingly being acknowledged by wine connoisseurs around the world as a serious and noteworthy wine.” Among hip and plugged-in sommeliers and bartenders, sherry is becoming, he says, “downright fashionable.”
And here, you can learn about its origins, why it is sometimes called “sack,” the history of the important bodegas, how the solera system works and what flor has to do with the qualities in the wine.
I’m reading through the book bit by bit, dipping into the bodega descriptions to cipher which labels I might like to explore next. It helps that good wine shops around L.A. are beginning to stock more sherries, too.
A gift that will nudge your favorite wine lover into exploring a region that hasn’t gotten the attention it deserves for the fascinating wine called sherry.
“Sherry, Manzanilla & Montilla: a Guide to the Traditional Wines of Andalucía” by Peter Liem and Jesús Barquín; Manutius. Available from www.sherryguide.net.