Wednesday, April 22, 2015


{ planet grape }


by Catherine Fallis, MS

Ace, Goose, Cris—
Can Sherry Get Fancy?
Sherry is a sad one. Producers struggle to keep this staid, hand-crafted, under-loved and under-
priced product alive. Marketing campaigns fall flat. Label descriptions get more complicated and
selections multiply, making data entry and warehouse picking a nightmare. No matter how you sell
it, Sherry is not sexy.
Australian rapper Iggy Azalea calls for Ace, Goose and Cris in “Fancy.” Why not add Tío Pepe? After
all, it’s the best-selling dry sherry nobody’s heard of. “Who that? Who that? That do that, do that?”

With no reputation, it can’t be uncool. Uncool, non-conformist, like the original ball-capped,

bearded, skinny-jeaned hipster, who is being edged out by today’s Ubered, Tindered, manbunned

lumbersexual. Rappers went mainstream. Hipsters went mainstream. Why not Sherry? After all, for

mixologists especially, Sherry is a blank space, baby, and I’ll write your name.
Here are a few recommendations from “GB,” or González Byass. Sommeliers, take note. These are
amazing for coursing out in tasting menus and with the $ you save you can pop for the big reds.
Mixologists—whatever tickles your fancy, go for it! They are in order from dry to sweet.
González Byass “Tío Pepe” Fino,
Jerez-Xérès-Sherry D.O. ($17.99)
Rich, briney, fruity and piercing, this taste
of salty sea breeze and lemon drops is
unique, refreshing, dry, and lingering. Fino
is the lightest, driest, and least nutty of
them all. Fino is the finest, I like to say.
González Byass “Viña AB”
Amontillado Seco Palomino, Jerez-
Xérès-Sherry D.O. ($23.99) This is a
step up from Tío Pepe Fino Sherry, and a
good way to explore the next level. Here
there are brisk salty along with caramel
oak and yeasty oxidative notes. Serve
with Spanish cured meats and cheeses.
González Byass “Del Duque” 30 Year
VORS Amontillado, Jerez-Xérès-
Sherry D.O. ($49.99, 375 ml.) Aged for
30 years, this rich, dry 100% Palomino
Sherry offers pungent, intense notes of
fruitcake, caramel, honey, rising bread
and toasted nuts. Serve with earthy
cheeses or with paté de foie on pistachio
crackers or crusty bread.
González Byass “Cristina” Oloroso
Abocado Palomino–Pedro Ximénez,
Jerez-Xérès-Sherry D.O. ($23.99)
This Fig Newton–like and intensely
nutty medium-sweet Sherry packs a
punch. Enjoy with soft cheeses or delicate
González Byass “Solera 1847” Cream,
Jerez-Xérès-Sherry D.O. ($23.99)
This rich sweet cream Sherry (technically
an oloroso dulce) is a blend of
75% Palomino and 25% Pedro Ximénez.
It is round and velvety with notes of
rum raisin ice cream, vanilla bean and
chocolate-covered almonds. Enjoy with
desserts or a nice cigar.
González Byass “Nectar” PX Dulce,
Jerez-Xérès-Sherry D.O. Andalucia
($23.99) This dessert Sherry, a young
PX, is ideal for any holiday table with its
crowd pleasing notes of dark bitter and
sweet milk chocolate, hazelnut chocolate
spread and vanilla.
González Byass Sherries are imported by Vin Divino
Read our reviews of these wines here:




Thursday, April 2, 2015


Do you ever wonder what it might be like to step into a room chock full of your favorite wines, pick up a few bottles that are in their prime drinking range, and step back into your dining room? For many of us this is no more than a fantasy. Unlike the classic homes of Europe, typical American versions do not come complete with a wine cellar. In fact, many typical American homes don’t even have those wine-friendly dark, cool, and humid basements! And then there are the condominiums and apartments. Now how many of those have you seen that come with a wine cellar?

So that leaves most of us starting from scratch, which is not such a bad place to begin. After all, your needs and desires are unique. Starting from ground zero gives you a chance to answer a few basic questions before plunking down the big bucks. It could be worse. You could move into a home that has a built in cellar that is way too elaborate for your lifestyle. When this happens, the desire is to fill up every corner with bottles. But all too often, those bottles get forgotten, and the quest for even more wine becomes the Holy Grail, the ultimate pursuit. The convenience of having your favorite wines at hand at home is forgotten. Or worse, you feel that once the cellar is filled, its contents cannot be disturbed. It goes something like this: “I mean really, after all that work acquiring those bottles, do you really think I am going to open them? To consume them? No way. But I will take you on a tour and show off all of my cult Cabs and superstar Chardonnays. Look at this one. I paid too much, but I just had to have it. Go ahead, you can touch it.” Anyway, if your idea of a wine cellar is something more grandiose than one of those cute wine racks which make the bottles looks so pretty as they bake in the sun or heat, you might begin by considering the following:

1)       What are your reasons for setting up a cellar?
2)       How much wine do you consume now?
3)       How much wine do you use for entertaining?
4)       How much wine will you give away as gifts?

Once you have plotted out your consumption needs, decide on a location. A very basic “cellar” is as simple as a laying down a few boxes in an existing dark cool place in your home such as in the back of a closet or under a staircase. Ideal spots are also free from vibration and extreme temperature fluctuations. 52-56° is ideal for serving whites and storing reds. Noted wine expert and gardener Hugh Johnson says “When humans need air conditioning, so does wine.”
Another inexpensive option is to convert an existing piece of furniture. If you are thinking bigger, your options are either to convert or build a room, or to purchase a freestanding wine closet. Either way, a little homework will save you money on the initial investment. And plotting out your realistic wine consumption will save your investment from turning into vinegar. The Wine Appreciation Guild (1-800-231-9463, www., and International Wine Accessories (1-800-527-4072, both offer a full selection of freestanding and custom cellar equipment along with helpful advice, though I prefer Wine Appreciation Guild as it is a local company (their facility is in South San Francisco). Also talk to your favorite local wine merchant who may offer a better deal than standard catalogue list prices in the hopes of getting some of your business when you are ready to stock the cellar. For beautiful custom cellars, many featured in the Wine Spectator, visit

When you are ready to stock the cellar, keep in mind that 98% of the wines sold are ready for consumption now. Choose from the other 2% of the world’s offerings if you are planning to lie wines down for the long term (more than three or four years). Wines need acidity for longevity. In whites, look for European Rieslings, white Burgundy, white Bordeaux, and dessert wines. Californian whites become softer and more mellow after a year or two but the majority will not benefit from long term aging. Tannins (components from grape skins or oak barrels that give the wine an astringent, drying quality) and pigments are preservatives as well. The best reds for long-term aging have had extended skin and/or barrel contact so that their tannins levels are initially high. Look again to European wines from regions such as Bordeaux, Burgundy, Rhone Valley, Piedmont (Barolo and Barbaresco), Tuscany (Brunello di Montalcino), Rioja and the Ribera del Duero in Spain, and to top Australian and Californian Syrahs, Cabernet Sauvignons and Cab-based blends.

planet grape®   home of grape goddess®

bringing wine down to earth

Catherine Fallis, aka grape goddess®

America's premiere female Master Sommelier.