Wine and Walnuts

A blog about eating, drinking, cooking and reading in the not so Deep South

Not Your Grandmother’s Sherry: Noé Pedro Ximénez Muy Viejo (Gonzalez Byass)

Noe Pedro Ximénez Muy Viejo 30 Year Old Sherry
Noe Pedro Ximénez Muy Viejo 30 Year Old Sherry

I drank sherry last night for the second time in my life, so I won’t lie:  I don’t know squat about sherry.

(You know, I’ve kind of always thought of sherry as something my grandmother might sip from a teensy thimble-sized glass from time to time, on special occasions only.)

I want to know more about sherry, though.  Both times I had it, I was intrigued by its deep, rich flavor, and the fact that a little bit goes a loooong way. 

So when given the opportunity at a party on Saturday night to try a 30 year old example of the stuff, I said yes.  (More like, YES!)

It was Noé Pedro Ximénez Muy Viejo 30 Year Old Sherry, and it was rich, delicious, and just the thing for a cool Fall night.  The Noé Pedro Ximénez is a super sweet, syrupy dessert Sherry made from sundried grapes. It tasted of figs, raisins, and caramel, with a toffee-like character.

González Byass is the producer, and one of the “classic bodegas” of the sherry triangle (Jerez de la Frontera, Sanlucar de Barrameda and El Puerto de Santa Maria). Pedro Ximénez (often referred to as simply PX) is the grape. 

(Now see, this is embarrassing to admit, and thank goodness I didn’t own up to my daftness at last night’s party, but I thought Pedro Ximénez was the producer – I thought Pedro was a person. Sheesh!)

While researching this particular sherry online, I found one tasting note that said, “Caramel, molasses, Christmas pudding on the nose.”  Which made me think of how nice this drink would be at Holiday parties after the big meal. Ooooh, yeah, must try that. It would also be seriously good over vanilla ice cream, and would pair well with soft, mature cheeses, especially blue cheeses, and fresh fruit and other desserts. Though with this wine, you don’t really need dessert – the wine stands on its own in that department.

There are several styles of Sherry, ranging from dry to very sweet, so it’s not a one-size-fits-all drink, which makes it all the more intriguing.

What’s crazy interesting is the way sherry is made, through something called the “solera system.”

From “Sherry 101: Basics of This Noble Wine!” by Ryan Opaz on the site

“The solera system is a technique that employs fractional blending. Basically this means that each harvest new wine is blended with old wine. This is accomplished by building a pyramid like stack of barrels, one on top of the other, where the oldest wine is at the bottom and the newest wine is at the top. In this way, the wine at the bottom of the stack is drawn off to be bottled, and in theory, contains wine from the very first time the solera was filled up. The goal is to add complexity to the wine over time, while mitigating the harmful effects of bad vintages.”

Call me a geek, but I find that flat out fascinating.

For an excellent, easy to understand intro to the basics of Sherry, check out the piece by Ryan Opaz here.


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About The Author

Kimberly Houston


10 Responses to “Not Your Grandmother’s Sherry: Noé Pedro Ximénez Muy Viejo (Gonzalez Byass)”

  1. Benito says:

    Some advice for warming up to sherry: it is awesome for cooking. Splash some in a bowl of tomato soup. It’s great with homemade, but it will even improve a bowl of Campbell’s. It’s an absolutely necessary ingredient in snapping turtle soup, but I don’t know if that’s your kind of thing.

    It’s also good in beef stews, and even a splash in a homemade vinaigrette is incredible. I really didn’t like sherry when I first had it (cheap bottles of Amontialldo for the Edgar Allen Poe mystique), and I found that using it in cooking and trying some better bottles made me a solid fan.

  2. Hey Benito, thanks for the suggestions!

    Hmm, snapping turtle soup . . . I might pass on that, but I could totally see me adding sherry to tomato soup — I bet it would enhance and deepen the flavor of the soup, and as much as I love tomato soup, that could be a real treat. . .

    I’ve never thought to have a bottle of sherry around the house for sipping (and for cooking!), but I think I could probably embrace that habit, actually. The sherry I had last night was really, really good, but a teensy amount was all I could manage!

  3. Benito says:

    Weird thing with turtle soup is that it used to be a really high class thing 100 years ago–any fine dining establishment was expected to have it, and lesser restaurants (and middle class people) had to have mock turtle soup, made from chicken. Now if you eat turtle soup you’re either a secret fan of Cajun food or someone that lives in the swamps and hunts his own turtles. ;)

  4. You know, now that you mention it, I remember reading about the upper class and their predilection for turtle soup in novels I read way back when I was an English major as an undergrad. In fact, I am quite certain I read about the turtle-soup-eating-class in more than one Henry James novel!

  5. ryan says:

    Drink it!!! Thanks for the shout out, though I do want to say, sherry is great first for drinking and if there is anything left, throw it in the soup! :)

  6. Hey Ryan,

    Thanks for commenting!

    Really enjoyed your article on Sherry, by the way; it got me more interested in drinking it, and in trying others too!

    Yeah, I’m with you, drink it, then add what’s left to the soup. ; )

  7. Tim McDonald says:

    Nice post on Sherry – keep it up! Cheers!

  8. Hey Tim,

    Thanks a bunch for your comment!

  9. Eliana says:

    I have never had sherry but this is totally making me want to try it.

  10. Hi Eliana,

    Well, I think you definitely should try some sherry! I didn’t think I was going to like it, but I did. And I bet a dessert sherry like this one might pair well with some of the awesome desserts you make. : )

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