A new type of sherry has just arrived. Tio Pepe En Rama (unfiltered, straight from the cask) will only be on our shelves for a maximum of three months. Why? Firstly, because it’s a ‘live’ product, designed to be drunk as early as possible and secondly, it’s a limited edition wine (we have bought a twelfth of the entire production). En Rama is an ultra-fresh Fino Sherry.
It is as close as you can get to tasting sherry straight from the barrel without actually traveling to the Bodega in Jerez. Try it for yourself, buy Tio Pepe En Rama online here.
I tasted En Rama when it first arrived in the UK:
- Light gold in colour
- Nose dominated by ‘flor’ character – yeasty, oxidative, with hints of almonds
- Palate is powerful with a lovely round, silky mouthfeel and good acidity.
- Serve chilled with almonds, manchego cheese and jamón or other air-cured meats.
To put it very simply, En Rama is a yeasty, super-fresh Tio Pepe. It is Tio Pepe sherry but at its most raw and lively state. Tio Pepe is produced from Palomino Fino grapes, and spends time going through the ‘solera system’ (in which wines of different years are fractionally blended in barrel) and is aged under a covering of ‘flor’ yeast. Unlike conventional table wine where oak barrels are topped right up to allow minimum contact with air, Fino sherry barrels are only filled to about four fifths capacity. This allows enough surface area and air contact for the flor yeast to grow on the surface, thereby protecting the maturing wine underneath from overt oxidation. This is how Fino retains its lovely pale lemon colour – if it was left without a covering of flor it would soon turn coppery-brown.
The winemakers at Gonzalez Byass selected various portions of the Tio Pepe solera to be racked off for En Rama. It was drawn off from the heart of the barrels this Spring, when the flor yeast cover was at its thickest. (Like most natural organisms, the flor yeast has its seasons of growth and decay, and Spring is when its population grows significantly). Wine from each barrel was transferred and combined into a stainless steel tank, where it was left to settle naturally over the Easter break. Unlike Tio Pepe, however, it did not undergo any further clarification, you get exactly what has come out of the settling tank – pure, fresh Fino sherry.
Gonzalez Byass first bottled En Rama last year to celebrate 175 years of sherry production – it was such a success it sold out almost immediately. This first incarnation was bottled with a different label to this year, and each subsequent release is planned to wear a different livery based on designs from the winery archive. The date of bottling is on the back label, so you’ll know when your three months are up! Serve chilled and once your bottle is open, keep it in the fridge and treat it like a white wine.
Gonzalez Byass Tio Pepe Fino En Rama is available online and in all Adnams Cellar & Kitchen Stores while stocks last.
Wine Critic: Anthony Rose on En Rama: ‘The explosion of tapas bars in London makes them the perfect place to enjoy fino sherry‘