Just like champagne can only be classified as such if it comes from the Champagne region of France, sherry can only come from a small region called the Sherry Triangle in southern Spain. Lucky for my husband and I, we live just outside of this triangle and we were able to get our first taste through a sherry tasting and tour at Bodega Osborne.
Founded in 1772, Osborne is an internationally recognized bodega that has a rich history of wine, sherry, and spirit making. Their location in the Cádiz province is unsuspecting and blends into the surrounding neighborhood well. However, as soon as you step through their fortified white walls and into the lush complex, you are transported to a savvy world filled with delectable culture.
The tour and tasting, which was only offered in English at 10 a.m., began in the dark, humid cellars where the sherry is aged. Ancient walls creeped up to high, vaulted ceilings that encased never-ending rows of 500-liter barrels. The barrels were stacked 3-levels high and towered above our heads. I’m not sure how old this cellar was, but considering the company is over 250 years old, I have to guess it was pretty old. It was here where we learned about the sherry-making process, which was fascinating because it was a lot more complex than I thought it would be.
After the cellar, we were taken into the Toro Gallery where we were educated about the famous Toro de Osborne. Back in the 1950’s the owners hired a designer to create a billboard shaped like a bull for advertising. Over the years, the bull silhouette has become a cultural icon that has been incorporated into 92 landscapes in Spain as well as locations in Mexico, Denmark, and Japan. Additionally, they have collaborated with famous artists and brands like Keith Haring, Herb Ritz, and Swarovski.
After our tour we got to the fun part – the tasting! Since we opted for a premium tasting, we got to try four of their premium sherries, their vermouth, 3 V.O.R.S (Very Old Rare Sherry), and two types of Iberian ham (Jamón) . Because this was my first time trying sherry, I found the taste a bit surprising. The range of flavors went from dry to sweet, and overall the texture was thick and somewhat like syrup. In fact, one of the rare sherries was so thick, that after you took a swing you could watch the residue slowly slide back to the bottom of the glass. All of the sherry paired nicely with the two types of Jamón, which was salty and buttery.
Our tour group agreed that the best sherry was the Santa María Cream, which was sweet and had a caramel undertone to it. We ended up buying a bottle of it that we’re saving for a special night. I think that this was a rich experience that I would recommend to anyone who enjoys wine vineyards or just wants to try something new. My only word of advice? Eat before hand because this sherry might have you feeling a little too good afterwards!