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A Rare Sherry Tasting During International Sherry Week and a Gonzalez Byass Wine Dinner at Olea New Haven

A Rare Sherry Tasting During International Sherry Week and a Gonzalez Byass Wine Dinner at Olea New Haven

Until I received an email from my local wine shop, The Wine Thief, I didn’t know October 8-14, 2018 was International Sherry Week.

International Sherry Week

Photo Credit: International Sherry Week

But this came as welcome news because I absolutely ADORE sherry – especially dry fino, oloroso and amontillado sherries.

While sherry sales are on the decline internationally, they are finding some pockets of renewed interest and increased attention by sommeliers and enterprising bartenders particularly in urban hubs.

International Sherry Week events organized by The Wine Thief

Photo Credit: International Sherry Week events organized by The Wine Thief.

The Wine Thief put together a robust week of sherry-themed events including talks, tastings and a formal wine dinner (click image to right to enlarge).

I attended two events, that were both on Friday, October 12, 2018.

The first event was a dramatic and chilling reading of Edgar Alan Poe’s, “The Cask of Amontillado” at the Institute Library in New Haven, Connecticut.

Dramatic Reading of Edgar Alan Poe’s, “The Cask of Amontillado” at the Institute Library in New Haven, Connecticut.

Photo Credit: Wine Casual, Dramatic reading of Edgar Alan Poe’s, “The Cask of Amontillado” at the Institute Library in New Haven, Connecticut.

I really enjoyed this innovative pairing of literature and wine.

A Yale professor read Poe’s work in the historic Institute Library setting.

Twelve or so of us sat around looking at each other and at the ceiling skylight while Poe was read.

I sat in a creaky wood chair that added to the ambience.

An energetic library staff member added to the spirit of the evening sporting an awesome Edgar Alan Poe t-shirt.

The reading was followed by a tasting of several rare sherries by Valdespino, Tradicion, and Gonzalez Byass.

Wine Casual, Institute Library staff member clad in Edgar Alan Poe t-shirt.

Photo Credit: Wine Casual, Institute Library staff member clad in Edgar Alan Poe t-shirt.

One of the things that characterizes Gonzalez Byass’ style especially when you compare its oloroso sherry with that of other producers is that they shoot for a lighter sherry style using free-run grape juice rather than juice from the first pressing which results in a correspondingly lighter sherry style.

I sampled several of their dry sherries including a couple of finos, a palo cortado and an amontillado sherry.

I was most impressed with Gonzalez Byass’ 1987 Añada Palo Cortado Vintage sherry.

It’s not every day one gets to taste 30-year old sherry – especially for the $10 cost of admission to the literature-and-sherry event.

Seven course wine dinner at Olea New Haven paired with Gonzalez Byass sherries.

Photo Credit: Wine Casual, Seven course wine dinner at Olea New Haven paired with Gonzalez Byass sherries.

Following the tasting I joined a seven-course dinner at Olea Restaurant in New Haven where old and rare wines from Gonzalez Byass’ cellars were paired with delicious courses.

Olea always impresses, but tonight my focus was on the sherry.

The entire event was a steal at $125 a head.

Most of the sherries we tasted are so rare they likely never make it to the dinner tables of those who aren’t already familiar with the wines, so this was an especially fortuitous treat for me.

My biggest take away from the seven-course sherry-and-dinner pairing which was specially created by Olea and The Wine Thief is that sherry is not just an aperitif or post-meal wine, it’s a wine that can pair with each course of your entire meal.

Gonzalez Byass Wine Dinner Price List

Photo Credit: Wine Casual, Gonzalez Byass Wine Dinner Price List

This dinner was living proof.

But you don’t need a seven-course meal to prove it.

Pickup a Tito Pepe fino sherry and pair it with an entire meal.

Seafood and white meat pair very well with this dry, delicate sherry.

Pair red meat and meals with heavy sauces with an amontillado or an oloroso sherry.

And by all means, let me know what you think.

Below is the menu that was served along with links to reviews of each sherry that I tasted:

Gonzalez Byass Wine Dinner Price List

Photo Credit: Wine Casual, Gonzalez Byass Wine Dinner Price List

First Course: Beef Tartar
Black mission figs, hazelnut crumble, carrot-cardamom reduction, green apple, goat cheese ice cream.
Gonzalez Byass, Tio Pepe, En Rama Fino Sherry, 2018, Andalucia, Spain (94 Points, Wine Casual)

Second Course: Fresh Sardines
Light smoked baby potatoes, tonnato, romesco sauce
Gonzalez Byass, Tio Pepe, Una Palma Fino Sherry, Andalucia, Spain (94 Points, Wine Casual)

Third Course: Foie Gras
Green apple, quince, vanilla, lotus root, Pedro Ximenez reduction
Gonzalez Byass, Leonor 12 Años Palo Cortado Seco Sherry, Andalucia, Spain (93 Points, Wine Casual)

Fourth Course: Quail
Fingerling potatoes, piquillo pepper, quail egg, brussels sprouts, Dijon mustard, quail jus
Gonzalez Byass, Tio Pepe, Dos Palmas Fino Sherry, Andalucia, Spain (93 Points, Wine Casual)

Fifth Course: Oxtail Risotto
Organic mushrooms, fresh garbanzo beans, thyme, chives, truffle oil
Gonzalez Byass, Tio Pepe, Tres Palmas Fino Sherry, Andalucia, Spain (94 Points, Wine Casual)

Sixth Course: Venison Loin
Sunchokes, fennel, pears, rosemary, pomegranate balsamic, verjus red wine sauce
Gonzalez Byass, Tio Pepe, Cuatro Palmas Amontillado Sherry, Andalucia, Spain (96 Points, Wine Casual)

Seventh Course: Chocolate
Dark chocolate, milk chocolate, rice crispy, brownie, orange peel, crema Catalana ice cream
Gonzalez Byass, Matusalem VORS 30 Años Sherry, Andalucia, Spain (96 Points, Wine Casual)

Wine Casual, First course, Gonzalez Byass sherry dinner at Olea New Haven.

Photo Credit: Wine Casual, First course, Gonzalez Byass sherry dinner at Olea New Haven.

Second course, Gonzalez Byass sherry dinner at Olea New Haven.

Photo Credit: Wine Casual, Second course, Gonzalez Byass sherry dinner at Olea New Haven.

Third course, Gonzalez Byass sherry dinner at Olea New Haven.

Photo Credit: Wine Casual, Third course, Gonzalez Byass sherry dinner at Olea New Haven.

Fourth course, Gonzalez Byass sherry dinner at Olea New Haven.

Photo Credit: Wine Casual, Fourth course, Gonzalez Byass sherry dinner at Olea New Haven.

Fifth course, Gonzalez Byass sherry dinner at Olea New Haven.

Photo Credit: Wine Casual, Fifth course, Gonzalez Byass sherry dinner at Olea New Haven.

Sixth course, Gonzalez Byass sherry dinner at Olea New Haven.

Photo Credit: Wine Casual, Sixth course, Gonzalez Byass sherry dinner at Olea New Haven.