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Osborne’s worldwide reputation for fine Sherries, brandies prompted the company to expand by acquiring a property in Rioja and starting a winery in Tierra de Castilla. Osborne, a venerable and old sherry producer has been shipping wine for centuries and is astutely managed. When the sherry markets started to decline a decade ago, Osborne’s management decided to diversify and bought Monticello in Rioja (founded 1874), and in 1999 created a modern winery in Malpica (Tierra de Castilla). It is surrounded by 1000 hectares of vineyards planted to Tempranillo, arguably the best Spanish red grape and Cabernet Sauvignon for structure.
The wine, Solaz has been popular from its first day on the market, and continues to gain market share everywhere because of its fruity aromas, pleasant mouth-feel, and mild balanced flavours.
Recently, the winemaker and principal of Grupo Osborne were in Toronto for a dinner at Splendido Bar and grill on Harbord Street in Toronto.
The evening started with exquisitely prepared and presented hors d’oeuvre, and Amontillado Solera AOS 35 year old cherry, Fino Quinto Pale Dry Sherry and dry white Montecillo consisting of Viura from Rioja.
All were fine matches to the food served but the Amontillado and Fino sherry stood out. The sit-down five-course dinner displayed the genius of chef David Lee, and his ability to present fine food imaginatively.
We started with white truffle-scented tartar of New Zealand venison matched by Solaz 2001 and Montecillo Crianza 2000.
Followed by rosemary-infused roasted “Ferme du Perigord” quail, bresaola of wild mushrooms, Puy lentil foam accompanied by Montecillo Reserva 1998 and Montecillo Gran Reserva 1995.
The Reserva 1995 was an excellent match to this sophisticated dish. The brilliance and depth of the wine showed the genius of the winemaker.
Double-smoked, bacon-wrapped rabbit loin, rabbit leg confit, papardelle pasta and sage jus served with 1982 Montecillo Gran Reserva Special was a culinary experience. The wine was bottled after five years of aging in 1987, and bottle aged for another 17 months before shipping.
A selection of Manchego, Majorero and Montenebro cheeses served with quince jelly, toasted, whole wheat raising bread and Montecillo Gran Reserva Special 1975 represented an apt finale to a fine meal.
“Lennox Farm” pink rhubarb tart with almonds crumble, strawberry ice cream and Pedro Ximenez 30 year old sweet sherry was a genial pairing of fine pastry with an excellent wine.
Finally, two Jerez de la Fronetera brandies were served. Conde de Osborne, Solera Gran Reserva and Duff Gordon were served to conclude this sumptuous dinner.
Sherry brandies with their distinct mellow taste and amber colour are becoming increasingly popular with brandy connoisseurs. Who appreciate their smoothness and creamy texture.
Osborne sherries ought to be on the table of all who value fine wines.
Article contributed by Hrayr Berberoglu, a Professor Emeritus of Hospitality and Tourism Management specializing in Food and Beverage. Books by H. Berberoglu
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