Price is one of the reasons you have to sip sherry. Not wanting to be hospitalised is another, but we would all finish our bottles faster if we knew we could inexpensively pick up another good batch. It’s even worse with dark sherry, which are usually more expensive. But help is at hand, as our guide tells you what to look for, and where to look for a dark sherry at a reasonable price.
What Drives Up the Price of Dark Sherry?
There isn’t a secret tax on tastiness. Dark sherry is just given more time to mature. Amontillados and Olorosos can spend 10 years maturing in the barrel, but the really good stuff is sometimes matured for 25 years. The bodegas have to factor in the cost of all that warehousing. What’s more, grape production is at a premium in Jerez, the sherry producing region, and these days many of the grapes that make PX, the wine that sweetens sherry, are shipped in. They can come from Montilla or Málaga, but the haulage costs all add up. Of course, each country has its own taxes to apply. In Britain, wine that might cost pence abroad has so much tax added to it that it you wouldn’t get many pounds change from a twenty. Added to that, sherries are branded wines. Because each bodega blends to create its own particular taste, you’re paying for the perceived value of that particular sherry house too, and then there are all the other costs of making a sherry on top.
How to Tell Good Cheap Sherry from Bad Cheap Sherry
If you really wanted to, you could buy cheap dark sherry easily. The trick is to find cheap dark sherry that’s also delicious. To do that, you can look out for a few things on the side of the bottle:
- How long has it been aged for? If a wine doesn’t have the potential to age well, it’s unlikely to be kept in the barrel beyond the minimum time to create the sherry;
- Is the mark ‘Sherry DO’ on the side? That being so, it will have been made to the quality regulations that all wines need to abide by in order to officially become a sherry;
- Has it won any awards? Sherry makes enter their wines to compete in award shows, and panels of blind tasters select the best. It’s a good marker of quality.
Where Else to Look
INVINIC! We have a really good selection of dark sherry, and we often have reductions on our stock. It’s probably because we’re based in Spain, and can find the good stuff for less. The price works out even better if you buy in bulk as it makes the best of the postage and packaging charge.
What’s more, we include the ratings given to sherries by wine critics. Some critics develop a bit of cult following, and one of those is Robert Parker. Well, we’ve devoted a whole section of the site to wines that Robert Parker has rated highly, and that are still below €20.
Three of the Best
- Gran Barquero Oloroso. This sherry has been rated highly by both Robert Parker, at 92 points, and Guía Peñín gave it 90. Yet it’s only €13.95 – and for a full 75 cl bottle. Using Pedro Ximénez grapes, this is a sweeter style of Oloroso, and well worth the money.
- Juan Piñero Oloroso. Robert Parker gave this bottle 90 points, and at €13.50 for a full bottle, it’s a decent dark sherry on the cheap. As it uses Palomino grapes only, expect it to be more of a dry sherry with nutty, savoury flavours.
- Alvear Pedro Ximénez. This lovely sweet sherry picked up 93 Guía Peñín points, and 90 from the Wine Spectator. It has a lovely nose of coffee and toffee with a yummy chocolatey and coffeeish taste.
However if your tastes are more for the lighter kind of sherry, make sure to read ‘Palo Cortado Sherry: What You Need to Know’.