Soleras, Jamón and heartburn

The pitfalls of visiting sherry country on a busman’s holiday become ever more clear the first time you hear the phrase ‘...well if you haven’t had one by eleven, then you have to have eleven by one!’


Our host was of course referring to that (in normal circumstances) irresistible, flavoursome, chilled glass of fino. However, feeling somewhat delicate after a convivial welcome to the delightful city of Jerez the night before, we'd hoped for a strictly professional format to our first Almacenista visit. Sadly for our health, that was an elusive notion, so despite being some way from a full recovery we did indeed have one by eleven.

We also had eleven by one.

For those who have not experienced it, Andalusia, and in particular the Sherry Triangle, is a unique and culturally brilliant weekend away. The three wine cities are all different but equally worth a visit.

Jerez de la Frontera (or simply Jerez) is the largest of the three; a stunning sun-kissed city of character and wealth, and a relic of a contented Spanish lifestyle. In the relatively cool Autumn heat, generations of locals adorn the Moorish streets, smiles all around whilst the eldest recount memoirs. Sadly my limited Spanish is so pitiful that I was rightly teased for at best managing pidgin Italian, so the fables passed me. Thankfully though, the international language of food did not…

A jaunt out West took us to our lunch spot and a casual tasting of a few excellent Manzanillas: the famed saline-rich fortified palominos, intensified by the thick flor effected by Sanlúcar de Barrameda’s proximity to the sea. Unsurprisingly, the delectable combination of prawns, eel and tuna carpaccio was a real coup for our sherry-lined palates.

The beach-hugging paradise of elPuerto de Santa Maria meanwhile, boasts an abundance of sporting and social activity, so naturally we dived headfirst into the local culture by enjoying a G&T at the local golf course. Not before, of course, an invigorating but very sobering sunset swim. It seemed the residential serenity of Puerto, was a welcome respite from the fortified madness, in spite of its similarly deep-rooted sherry heritage. To mark the night, we sauntered down the road for what was to be the culinary highlight of the weekend: El Faro (not to be missed).

So there – in an almond-shell is the sheer joy to be found in the far reaches of Spain, and for that matter, in its vinous history. Naturally, we had to say Hola to Seville on the way back: overrun by tourists in the summer, it all cools down - quite literally - by November. Not so much, however, to quell the clear blue, 30 degrees skies and the Puerto De Santa So there – in an almond-shell is thesheer joy to be found in the far reaches of Spain, and for that matter, in its vinous history. Naturally, we had to say Hola to Seville on the way back: overrun by tourists in the summer, it all coolsdown - quite literally - by November. Not so much, however, to quell the clear blue, 30 degrees skies and the festival of locals decanting from one lively tapas bar to the next. Jerez may be the sherry Mecca, but the colourful, picturesque and slightly touristy streets of Seville become a haven of bustling nightlife come dusk. As far as small cities go, it’s up there.

Oh, and the Alcázar wasn’t bad either.

Published on 29/01/2016 / By Micah Dougall / Tags: Spanish, wines