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IN THE CELLAR: Lustau, Pedro Ximenez, Murillo

Lustau’s Pedro Ximenez Murillo
Lustau’s Pedro Ximenez Murillo

Tasting Notes: dried fruit/caramel/walnut

With any luck, that archaic notion of a glass of sickly Cream Sherry wrenched from the back of your grandmother’s dusty liquor cabinet once a year at Christmas has been swiftly put to bed.

Sherry is in fact incredibly versatile and a joy to pair with food, whether it be a bone-dry Fino, a nutty Oloroso, or in this case a luscious Pedro Ximenez.

Pedro Ximenez, or PX, is the name of a white grape native to the South of Spain, and is used in making what might be the very sweetest wine in the world.

The berries are picked and dried in the sun, in a process known as ‘asoleo’, which concentrates their flavour, and turns them into raisins, before they are pressed.

The wine then enters a ‘Solera’ system, which allows winemakers to blend lighter and youthful wine with aged veteran PX that offers rich tertiary characters.

As for Bodegas Lustau, they can boast the honour of having been named the Best Sherry Producer in the world in 2016, and regularly sweep up awards for their winemaking.

The nose is warm and expressive, with an unmistakeable perfume of dates, raisins and prunes, soaked in caramel.

The palate is lusciously sweet, rounded and rich, with notes of dried fruit, coffee, chocolate, walnuts and brown sugar that coat the palate like a thick syrupy blanket.

Finally, a long luxurious finish that evolves into nutty burnt toffee and molasses.

This sherry is best served chilled, or the alcohol and the viscosity feel out of whack.

So brilliant and complex is Lustau’s Pedro Ximenez Murillo that it could stand alone as a dessert within itself, but I think it cries out for a salty blue cheese to mitigate its sweetness.

For something really indulgent and world-class, try it with proper homemade sticky toffee pudding, or poured straight over good quality vanilla ice cream, for a pairing that you ought to have in the locker for your next dinner party.

This wine is available at Waitrose and online, £16.99 at time of purchase.

James D O’Leary is a sommelier at L’Ortolan, Shinfield

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