Two of the most recent tours that I have done outside of Seville with my com pany A Question of Taste have been a wine tour to Jerez and Sanlucar de Barrameda and an Iberian ham tour to the Sierra de Aracena. On the wine tour we started with a visit to Lustau where I do the tour myself. We were able to taste a wide range of sherries including manzanilla, fino, amontillado, oloroso, palo cortado, East India Solera and Pedro Ximenez. There was also a vermouth and some sherry vinegar! There is no other winery in the area that gives you the opportunity to taste such a wide range of sherries. Below is a photo of a very old oloroso which we tasted; a wine of amazing complexity and concentration.
The second winery that we visited was in Sanlucar de Barrameda and is called Bodegas Alonso. Founded just a few years ago, it is part of what used to be Bodegas Romero. Along with a wonderful manzanilla all the other wines that are marketed by the winery are old sherries being amontillados, olorosos, palo cortados and Pedro Ximenez wines. Fernando, an old friend of mine, showed us around with every wine that we tasted being taken directly from the cask. In the photo below he is using a venencia to pour out a remarkable amontillado which leaves you lost for words when you taste it. In fact, all the wines we tasted were superlative and made me wonder why more people do not drink authentic sherry
The other recent tour that I led was to the ham area that is located in the Sierra of Aracena. For most people, especially in Spain, the town of Jabugo which is located in this area is the most well-known place for curing Iberian ham in the whole country. This time of the year is one of the best to visit the area as the pigs are now roaming around looking for acorns which will be their principal diet for around 3 months before they are sent on their final journey! During this period it is quite normal for an iberian pig to almost double in weight. Below you can see some pigs as well as a photo of acorns on a holm oak tree. This tree along with the cork oak provide nearly all the oaks that help to fatten up the pigs. Remember as well that acorns are rich in oleic acid meaning that the principal fat they contain is mono-unsaturated just like olive oil. So, as well as tasting wonderful acorn-fed Iberian ham is good for you. This is ot always the case with other foodstuffs!!