The ultimate Fino? Richard reveals what's in his fridge door.
From $8.99, €9.90, £15.99, 318 Mexican pesos, 159 Swedish krona, HK$178, NZ$35.99, 229 Danish krone, AU$39.99, SG$85.60
Inspired by the (very slightly ungrammatical) forum thread entitled What wine has given you the most pleasure this year?, here's my nomination for one of my best bottles in 2018. Uncle Joe (Tio Pepe) is no stranger to these pages, and the en rama category of sherry is now well established among wine lovers (see Elucidating en rama for more about this). There's nothing especially original about my choice, therefore, but the 2018 bottling of this wine undoubtedly gave me maximum pleasure on more than one occasion.
My first tasting note on the wine from May was positively gushing with praise: 'rich umami yeastiness like hoppy beer and Marmite and oyster sauce plus baked green apples and spring blossom with the faintest milky character rounding things off – but it doesn't stop there, leaving a long, saline finish that moves into iodine and squid ink flavours and fades slowly on the finish like an echo in a canyon.'
Very florid! I subsequently bought a magnum to share with friends at a summer dinner party, accompanied by jamón Ibérico and almonds – a clichéd pairing for all the right reasons. Pretty much ever since, I have had a bottle in my fridge door, as pictured, to dip in to whenever I need a blast of pure dopamine.
Pro tip: it makes a great cocktail with milk and a shot of Ribena.
Kidding – that would be Jereztical, of course. In fact, my perfect match for this style of very dry, very flavoursome sherry is nothing at all. It is the perfect drink to sip contemplatively, with the sort of complexity that seems to encourage serene relaxation and inspire deep thoughts. Every time I have tried it, the clarity and intensity of flavour has impressed itself on me. As such, it probably won't convert sherry-phobes, but for sherry-philes it is absolute catnip.
It is to sherry what golden Almas is to caviar, or indeed what Ribena is to blackcurrants: the purist, most essential form of its type.
Available in halves, bottles and magnums, Tio Pepe En Rama Fino is widely distributed around the world, available in at least 14 countries and eight American states. The prices stated above are for a regular 750 ml bottle. It must be one of the best-value fine wines in the world – although not in Singapore, where it apparently costs nearly £50. Some retailers appear to be stocking previous bottlings, and while I don't subscribe to the view that en rama must be consumed within the year of purchase, I do think the 2018 release of the wine is particularly good.
I already feel confident that it is a wine which can give me the most pleasure not just in 2018, but in every year.