Wine Tasting: Gonzalez Byass Sherries with Brian Calder (1st Jun 1999)

This tasting was hosted by Brian Calder, the Scottish MD of Gonzalez Byass who alternated between slugs of Tio Pepe and insults as he led us through the wines. An excellent, informative tasting that was also good fun. The venue was Peckham's in Glasgow.

1. Gonzalez Byass Fino 'Tio Pepe'

1st Jun 1999 GBP6 Sherry Fortified White

Bright, pale yellow. Fresh nose with brine and yeast. Slightly dirty on the palate with some oily, salty flavours and a good, tangy, warm finish. Complex, long and intense

2. Gonzalez Byass Fino 'Elegante'

1st Jun 1999 GBP5 Sherry Fortified White

Slightly deeper yellow than the Tio Pepe, with a delicate nose - almost neutral with a touch of flor. Fresher and cleaner on the palate with lovely tangy orange and salt flavours and a touch of mineral oil on the finish

3. Gonzalez Byass Amontillado 'Caballero'

1st Jun 1999 GBP5 Sherry Fortified Other

Bright ochre/gold. Appealing nose (not unlike Pineau de Charentes) of fruits and nuts. Sweet, attractive grape/raisin flavours with lots of alcohol and a bone dry but spicy finish. Light, fresh and attractive - drink it slightly chilled.

4. Gonzalez Byass Amontillado 'La Concha'

1st Jun 1999 GBP5 Sherry Fortified Other

Bright mahogany/gold. Lurking, alcoholic nose with nutty depths. Much thicker than the Caballero, with sweet, spicy raisin fruit, crisp balancing acidity and a long, intense, dry finish. Chill lightly.

5. Gonzalez Byass Oloroso 'Alfonso'

1st Jun 1999 GBP8 Sherry Fortified Other

Bright, deep ochre/gold. Intense marmalade nose with a touch of oak. Fresh and sharp, with flavours of varnished oak, nuts and orange pith. Long, concentrated and dry. This was a bit austere at room temperature, but would be delicious with a light chill.

6. Gonzalez Byass Pale Cream 'San Domingo'

1st Jun 1999 GBP5 Sherry Fortified Other

Very pale gold, bright. Quite neutral on the nose with traces of yeast - could easily be fino! Sweet and full bodied with slightly dank, yeasty flavours and good acidity. Nutty with a finish that dries out. This is a fino/moscatel concoction apparently - you can keep it.

7. Gonzalez Byass Superior Cream

1st Jun 1999 GBP5 Sherry Fortified Other

Deep mahogany gradually fading to ochre, bright. Appealing, with raisings and oak on the nose and a mouthful of raisins, oranges, nuts and oak. Luscious and full bodied, layered and balanced with fresh acids, this is gorgeous stuff - excellent value.

8. Gonzalez Byass Amontillado 'del Duque'

1st Jun 1999 GBP21 Sherry Fortified Other

The tasting got more serious at this point - wines that have spent some 30 years maturing deserve a bit of attention… Deep ochre/mahogany at core to ochre with a touch of green at the rim. Nutty with intense fruit on the nose and amazingly fresh. Full bodied with intense oaky, nutty, varnish flavours and some fruit and tobacco. Bone dry with a long pungent finish. Complex but not me - a bit too austere for my palate

9. Gonzalez Byass Apostoles

1st Jun 1999 GBP21 Sherry Fortified Other

Deep mahogany with greenish tinge, bright. Concentrated nose with raisins, honey and lots of oak. Very full, rich and oily, with intense oak, raisins and tobacco. Lovely thick texture and a long, bitter finish. Outstanding but dry enough on the finish to need food.

10. Gonzalez Byass Oloroso 'Matusalem'

1st Jun 1999 GBP21 Sherry Fortified Other

Very deep burnt umber to ochre at a green tinged rim. Honey and intense burnt toffee with a touch of molasses (22% Pedro Ximinez would explain that). Very full bodied and very sweet with gorgeous raisin, honey, fruitcake, black bun flavours, rich orange acidity and a long, long, long finish. Complex and utterly gorgeous.

11. 1970 Gonzalez Byass Vintage

1st Jun 1999 Sherry Fortified Other

[Vintage sherry is almost unheard of. This wine has not been through a solera system and is unfined and has reached about 24% abv. Apparently fetching between UKP60 and 150 per bottle] Bright orange gold paling/greening at rim. Gorgeous apricot and honey nose with floral, perfumed notes - similar to sherried malt whiskies! Medium bodied, intense, tangy and alcoholic with lots of oak and a herby, orangy flavour. The finish is long, dry and spicy with hints of tobacco. Elegant and delicate yet concentrated, this is an incredible wine.

12. Gonzalez Byass Pedro Ximinez 'Noe'

1st Jun 1999 GBP21 Sherry Fortified Other

Black and opaque at core, fading to a very deep umber, very viscous. Rich and pungent with aromas of molasses, toffee, fruit and flowers - very attractive. Incredibly thick and sweet, this is a mouthful of raisin flavoured velvet with nutty, oak influences, fruit acids and a very long, gloopy finish. Hard work, but wow! What work! Toothache in a glass.