Pulse Check: Sherry

Posted on | November 30, 2013   Bookmark and Share
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A criadera of barrels at González-Byass in Jerez

The Sherry Triangle—an area in southwestern Spain between Jerez de la Frontera, Sanlúcar de Barrameda and El Puerto de Santa María— sits on the Atlantic Ocean just west of the Straights of Gibraltar. This arid Iberian Peninsula outpost is known for its vinos generosos, or fortified wines. Unsurprising for a region producing since Chaucer’s time (and perhaps before), Jerez has seen peaks and valleys. Today, Sherry is experiencing not only a resuscitation, but also a full-on, geek-fest in major wine-consuming cities.

Stocking and selling Sherry today can be a delicate balancing act: balancing traditional consumer tastes with emerging attitudes; balancing various styles; and balancing the apparent simplicity of the term “Sherry” with the fact that the category a broad spectrum of liquids.


U.S. imports from Jerez, not unlike German wines, have typically been off-dry to sweet. Conversely, consumers in Spain and Germany mostly drink dry wines. Yes, this country has that Coca-Cola palate. The contrast of consumption merits a closer look. Worldwide, Fino is the most important style. In fact, Fino and Manzanilla comprise just under half of the world’s Sherry consumption and just over three-quarters of Spain’s consumption. Conversely, in the U.S., 75% of Sherry consumption is sweet.

Key today is the rise of wine consumers favoring savory wines. Though sweet versions have long settled into decanters in aunties’ living rooms, wine lovers are now embracing Sherry’s full spectrum of versatility.


More or less, two styles of Sherry exist, defined by how they are aged: either “biologically” or oxidatively. Biologically aged Sherries see the effects of flor yeasts, which form a layer on top of the wines in barrel, protecting them from oxygen, keeping them clear in color and rendering them bitingly dry on the palate. Oxidatively aged wines, intentionally exposed to oxygen, become brown-colored and rounder. Sometimes, when back-blended, they are even a bit sweet. Some wines actually began their lives under flor, but go into bottle after a period of oxidative aging.

Generally speaking, Jerez offers remarkable consistency thanks to its soleras. A solera is a pyramid of barrels where the lower, older tiers that have experienced evaporation are topped up with younger wine from the upper barrels. Nonetheless, boutique bodegas and almacenistas, who age special cuvées of wines, are changing the landscape and offering more individual wines.  

A surprise to some, Sherry is highly versatile with foods. Tapas are an obvious starting point, but Peter Liem, co-author of Sherry, Manzanilla & Montilla, suggests trying these umami-driven wines with Japanese and Chinese cuisines, which emphasize this portion of the flavor spectrum.

Liem categorizes Fino and Manzanilla as white wines, best suited to lighter dishes. Both he and Talia Baiocchi, author of Sherry, a wine and cocktail book due out in 2014, liken dry Oloroso to red wine. While Olorosos don’t possess the tannins of most reds, they do have a similar body and alcoholic cut.


Finos’ and Manzanillas’ bright, fresh styles favor early—and rapid—consumption. These wines don’t store as well or as long as their counterparts once opened; opt for half bottles to ensure freshness. Amontillados last marginally longer. Palo Cortados and Olorosos have more staying power. Sipping them over a few weeks is fine, and some last a month or more when properly stored with oxygen-elimination techniques and proper temperature control. Some of these wines may even improve after opening, but if you are experimenting, monitor their evolution carefully.

In contrast, the sweet, even syrupy, Pedro Ximénez-based wines often favor development with oxygen. They can keep years after opening when properly stoppered and temperature-controlled, presuming they can be resisted so long.

Like white wines, Finos and Manzanillas—as well as sweet, blended wines—are best enjoyed lightly chilled. Amontillados, Palo Cortados and Olorosos work best at “cellar temperature.” Once the temperature is properly dialed-up, most Sherries show best in a medium-sized, white wine glass rather than the classic copita.


In juxtaposition to many other historic and heralded European regions, vineyards and grapes in Jerez are cheap—too cheap, in fact. Sadly, many bodegas have folded, leading to the marriage of singular solera systems with others, reducing the possibilities of eventual complexities in expression. At the very least, these barrels are kept alive in criaderas (criadera meaning “nursery,” referring to the wines being “raised” for years in these systems), even if today’s forced melting pot consumed their original features. Conversely, from a purchasing perspective, Sherry prices, especially high quality Sherry, remain ludicrously low.

In sum, the horizon is bright—with a rising versus setting sun—on higher quality Sherry. Though likely to remain a niche market, engaged consumers’ interests are clearly growing. As Antonio Flores, Master Blender for González-Byass, notes, “An important part of the Sherry revolution is young people’s interest in an ancient wine. And, this is something happening outside of the wineries’ influence. The consumers are asking for it.”

New Products & Promotions: December 2013

Posted on | November 30, 2013   Bookmark and Share
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McCormick Distilling has released Triple Crown Whiskey and Hook’s Rum. Triple Crown Whiskey is a small grain bourbon and the liquid is delicate with signature toffee notes. Hook’s Rum is available in Spiced, 80 proof with a velvety texture and island flavors; and Black Spiced, 92 proof with notes of clove, vanilla and cinnamon.

SRP: Triple Crown/750ml/$19.99
SRP: Hook’s Spiced and Black Spiced/750ml/$14.99

triplecrownwhiskey.com | hooksrum.com





Talisker, the only distillery on Scotland’s Isle of Skye, has a new addition to its core range, Talisker Storm. Without an aging statement, Master Blender Jim Beveridge has used both rejuvenated and refill casks to create Talisker Storm. The result is more intense and smoky, with an accentuated briny, maritime finish. Best enjoyed neat or with drops of water to release aromas. 92 proof.

SRP: $66





The acclaimed wines of Viña Mayor, produced in the Ribera del Duero region of Spain for more than 20 years, are now widely available in the U.S. The DO Ribera del Duero offerings include Barrel Aged Tempranillo, Crianza, Reserva, Gran Reserva and Tinto Roble. Also in the portfolio: DO Rueda (100% Verdejo) and DO Toro (100% Tinto de Toro). Viña Mayor wines are known for their quality, as well as regional typicity, and are marketed nationally by Bronco Wine Company.





Mionetto USA has introduced a new ready-todrink cocktail to its “IL” range: “IL” Ugo. Inspired by the “Hugo” sparkling elderflower cocktail from Northern Italy’s Alto Adige region, “IL” Ugo is ready to drink and makes a refreshing apertif. The cocktail offers notes of elderflower, peach and citrus mixed with Mionetto’s frizzante lightly sparkling wine.

SRP: $12



The newest addition to the John DeKuyper & Sons Crave Chocolate Liqueurs cordial family is Chocolate Truffle Liqueur. This liqueur has the rich taste of chocolate truffles with hints of vanilla and caramel. Crave Chocolate Truffle is 95 calories per 1.5 oz. serving and adds a welcome dimension to holiday cocktails. The portfolio also includes Chocolate Mint, Chocolate Cherry and Chocolate Chili. 30 proof.

SRP: $17.99



Plantation Rum has introduced Plantation Original Dark, a blend of rums from Trinidad and Tobago. Crafted by Master Blender Alexandre Gabriel, Original Dark is an aged dark rum first matured in charred American oak, and notably benefits from Plantation Rum’s double aging technique. The result is a rich, aromatic rum, perfect in classic rum cocktails. 80 proof.

SRP: $17.99







Smirnoff Vodka has launched Smirnoff Wild Honey Flavored Vodka and Cinna-Sugar Twist Flavored Vodka. Wild Honey blends the taste of golden honey with fruitiness and a creamy finish for easy pairing with mixers like tea or other spirits. Cinna-Sugar Twist is reminiscent of a flaky cinnamon treat, mixing well with ginger beer and grapefruit juice and ideal for holiday cocktails.

SRP: $15.99

smirnoff.com | facebook.com/Smirnoff







Old Pulteney Single Malt Scotch Whisky has released The Navigator. This limited-edition expression pays homage to the brand’s maritime heritage with special packaging featuring a traditional herring drifter. (Old Pulteney is distilled in Wick, once an important herring port.) The Navigator offers notes of cocoa, honey and oranges, with a spicy finish and hints of the salty seas. 92 proof.

SRP: $49.99





Kahlúa invites consumers to taste the spirit of the holidays with their limited-edition Peppermint Mocha, available through December 31st. For fans hungry for holiday inspiration, Kahlúa offers holiday entertaining tips and recipe ideas via the brand’s Facebook and Pinterest pages. 40 proof.

SRP 750ml: $16.99

facebook.com/kahlua | pinterest.com/kahlua




A signature wine from Robert Hall Winery in Paso Robles, the Cuvée de Robles is inspired by a trip the winery’s founder took with his family to France’s Rhône Valley in the late 1970s. The wine is a full-bodied Rhône-style blend that delivers intense cherry/berry flavors and a spicy finish. The current blend includes Grenache, Syrah, Petite Sirah, Cinsault and Counoise. The winery is SIP certified.



Rave Review! Original Culinary Spirits is the first portfolio of spirits designed specifically for cooking. A panel of chefs, food scientists and culinary experts helped develop the line-up, which includes Culinary Hops, Culinary Brandy, Culinary Blended Bourbon and Culinary Rum. The line also has about 25% fewer calories, thanks to keeping sugar content low. 60 proof.

SRP: 200ml/$9.99; SRP: 1L/$17.99 (trade only)



M.S. Walker has entered the high proof rum category with the expansion of its Ron Virgin portfolio. Ron Virgin Black 94° Spiced Rum is a 94 proof dark rum blended with exotic spices for a rich flavor profile. Ron Virgin Bold is a 70 proof coconut rum offering pure coconut essence in an island-style rum made for tropical cocktails or sipping on the rocks.

SRP: Black Spiced/$19.99
SRP: Bold Coconut/$17.99





Bulldog Gin Signs Distribution Agreement with Gruppo Campari

Posted on | November 26, 2013   Bookmark and Share
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Bulldog London Dry Gin, deemed ‘the world’s most mixable gin,’ has signed on with Gruppo Campari for distribution throughout the United States and certain other international markets effective January 1, 2014. Gruppo Campari is a major global spirits company and the owner of iconic brands, including Campari, Aperol, Skyy Vodka, Wild Turkey Bourbon, Appleton Estate Jamaican Rum.

“We are absolutely delighted to announce our partnership with the Bulldog Gin Company. With Bulldog Gin we
will become a key player in the attractive super premium gin category in key markets and, last but not least, offer our
customers and consumers all, as well as the best, ingredients for the Ultimate Negroni”, stated Bob Kunze-
Concewitz, Gruppo Campari CEO.

“Bulldog is super-premium, authentic, of extremely high quality, and emotionally appealing to discerning
consumers around the world.” says Anshuman Vohra, Bulldog’s Founder and CEO. “It is a high honour to partner
with a first class organization steeped in such a rich history. This partnership fits well within our global expansion
strategy and will help ensure that Bulldog continues to cement its rightful place in the global premium gin scene.”

Moelis & Co. served as exclusive financial advisor to Bulldog Gin.

Smirnoff No. 21 Vodka Celebration Edition

Posted on | November 26, 2013   Bookmark and Share
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Smirnoff has released the Smirnoff No. 21 Celebration Edition bottle to spread some holiday cheer. This limited time offering features triple distilled Smirnoff No. 21 in a festive winter-themed bottle.
80 proof and available in 50ml, 200ml, 375ml, 750ml, 1L and 1.75L sizes.

Centerview Liquor Mart Collects for Crown Royal Heroes Project

Posted on | November 25, 2013   Bookmark and Share
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Crown Royal has partnered with Packages From Home to allow consumers to be a part of the Heroes Project by dropping off the iconic purple bag to participating retailers. One retailer, Centerview Liquor Mart in West Seneca, NY, has collected 1,100 bags to date! Crown Royal donates $1 to Packages from Home for every bag, and packs the bags with items for active duty troops.

Global Spirits Celebrates Launch of Leaf Vodka

Posted on | November 25, 2013   Bookmark and Share
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On November 7th, Global Spirits unveiled Leaf Vodka at the Trump Soho in NYC. More than 100 media and industry guests sampled specialty Leaf Vodka, noting the differences in varieties. One variation is made using Alaskan glacial water and the other is made with Rocky Mountain mineral water.

NJLSA Hosts Sold-Out Tasting

Posted on | November 25, 2013   Bookmark and Share
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On October 30th, the New Jersey Liquor Store Alliance held their 8th annual Holiday Package Trade Show at the New Jersey Convention and Expo at Raritan Center in Edison. This sold-out event showcased thousands of products at over 100 booths. Attendees were able to sample old and new products, view holiday packaging and interact with supplier and distributor representatives.

R&R Marketing and Trinchero Family Estates Host Fall Tasting

Posted on | November 25, 2013   Bookmark and Share
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On October 24th, Trinchero Family Estates and R&R Marketing hosted a special fall portfolio tasting for trade customers at the Foundation Room in Showboat Atlantic City. Guests sampled Trinchero’s diverse portfolio of wines from California and South America as well as their new spirits brands, Sugar Island Rum, Tres Agaves Tequila and Cruz Tequila.

R&R Marketing Wins Constellation Franchise Cup

Posted on | November 25, 2013   Bookmark and Share
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On October 14th, R&R Marketing was awarded the “Franchise Cup” by Constellation Brands as Best Distributor, Franchise Business Unit. Jon Maslin, President & CEO of R&R Marketing, accepted the award on behalf of the company.

Eagles’ Vince Papale Promotes Cameron Hughes Edition Wine

Posted on | November 25, 2013   Bookmark and Share
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This fall, Cameron Hughes launched a limited edition bottle that is very near and dear to the hearts of many South Jersey football fans: The Cameron Hughes Rollout Cabernet Sauvignon, a wine created to celebrate the 80th anniversary of the Philadelphia Eagles football team. In conjunction with the launch, Eagles legend Vince Papale visited Joe Canal’s in Lawrenceville for a special bottle signing event.

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