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 area called the Sherry Triangle in southern Spain. Lucky for my husband and I, we live just outside this triangle, and we got our first taste through a sherry tasting and tour at Bodega Osborne.
Founded in 1772, Osborne is an internationally recognized bodega with a rich history of wine, sherry, and spirit making. Their location in the Cádiz province is unsuspecting on the outside 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, offered in English at 10 a.m., began in the dark, humid cellars where the sherry is aged. Ancient walls crept 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’m assuming it was pretty old. Here, 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 1950s, 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 and also has 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 premium sherries, their vermouth, 3 V.O.R.S (Very Old Rare Sherry), and two types of Iberian ham (jamón Iberico). 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 were salty and buttery.
Our tour group agreed that the best sherry was the Santa María Cream, which was sweet and had a caramel undertone. We ended up buying a bottle we’re saving for a special night. I think this was a rich experience that helped introduce me to Spanish culture. I would recommend this experience to anyone who enjoys wine tours or wants to try something new. My only word of advice? Eat beforehand because this sherry might make you feel too good afterward!