fino sherry with olives on the table
Handpicked by IWSC
Wine Handpicked by IWSC 1 November 2021

16 award-winning sherries to try

From fancy Fino to syrupy Pedro Ximenez, here are the best sherry bottlings from the IWSC 2021, all showcasing the versatility of Spain's fortified wine
Introduction and recommendations by
IWSC Judges

Is there a more versatile drink than sherry? This fantastic-value fortified wine can be lean, briney and bone dry; savoury and nutty with a haunting aroma; or it can be as rich as can be, sticky-sweet and full bodied. We’ve gone through this year’s IWSC results and hand-picked the best sherries to try if you’re a novice to this Spanish star.

Sherry fans have been shouting from the rooftops about its taste, quality and versatility for years, but sherry still remains something of a secret to the general public. Fino has gained a little ground in recent years, thanks to the spread of tapas bars in the UK and elsewhere, but sherry is still not the wine of choice for many. It’s time that changed.

Inside a sherry bodega with its solera butt system

Sherry hails from Jerez in south-west Spain. Made primarily with the Palomino grape which is grown on chalky soils, it’s important to know the key styles. Fino and manzanillas are dry – sometimes racingly so – with a maritime, coastal vibe, and they generally make great matches with seafood and jamón.

Williams & Humbert Alegria Manzanilla Superior NV, an IWSC Gold medal winner, is an excellent example. It scored 95/100pts and impressed with its layered palate of almond, orange peel and spice, balanced by its mineral, saline finish.

Amontillado is the next key style, but in the winery the protective layer of flor (yeast) that keeps finos and manzanillas fresh is allowed to ‘die’, which gives amontillados a nuttier, more oxidative character. Emilio Lustau’s Amontillado VORS NV wowed the IWSC judges, scoring 96/100pts, and displaying classic notes of dried fruits, fig and candied peel on a fresh, invigorating palate. Lustau’s Oloroso VORS NV also took top honours, showing this style’s typical aromas of walnut, marmalade and leather.

Finally, Harveys Pedro Ximénez VORS NV showed all the hallmarks of the richest, sweetest sherry style, offering notes of prunes, tar and complex nuttiness, complemented by a brilliant thread of acidity.

Each sherry in this year’s IWSC was judged blind by an expert panel, led by Master of Wine Dirceu Vianna Junior MW, assisted by former Waitrose buyer Nick Room, C&C Group’s Harriet Kininmonth, Matthew Horsley of The Wine Society, and JetVine director Kelly Stevenson.

Once you discover Sherry’s charms, you’ll wonder why you didn’t do it sooner. Here is the pick of Sherries from the IWSC’s 2021 Northern Hemisphere tasting.

HOW DO WE JUDGE THESE WINES?

We run a tightly structured, rigorous wine tasting process. That means that each wine sample is pre-poured into numbered glasses and assessed blindly by the judges. Most importantly, our IWSC wine judges are experts in their field, who work across all sectors of the wine industry. For evidence, see our full list of judges.

HOW DO WE SCORE THESE WINES?

Only the best wines sampled receive a Gold or Silver award. For example, to win Gold, wines have to score between 95 and 100 points. Meanwhile, Silver wines range from 90 to 94 points. Click here to read more on our scoring system.

MORE FROM CLUB OENOLOGIQUE

Club O is an exclusive community and the go-to platform for wine and spirit lovers. Our flagship Club Oenologique magazine offers even more insights for enthusiasts and collectors. Based in London, our editorial team tells informative, inspirational stories from the world of wine and spirits, gastronomy and travel, as well as covering recommendations and the latest trends in drink. You can take a look at our Explained series, for instance, where we’re tackling grape varieties, regions and styles of wine and spirits. Alternatively, visit our Ask the Sommelier section, where experts answer your wine-related questions.

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