Tasting Notes: Kingsgate Reserve Apera

Although you’ll often see me beer-in-hand at parties, or sipping rye-whisky out of antique cut-crystal glasses at home, those who know me, know that I also have a taste for wine. Most specifically white-wine, but for those times when I feel like something richer and more complex, I reach for a sherry;  well, I guess technically I reach for an apera, since this fortified wine does not come from the lands abutting Jerez in the Andalusian region of Spain, it can’t legally be called sherry(like Champagne v. Sparkling Wine). The name apera was first adopted by the Australians but has come into general use only very recently. I am not selling or exporting anything however, so for ease of use I’ll just call it sherry going forward…

Sherry is truly a wine like no other; made from white grapes; fortified with a distilled grape-spirit, and barrel aged and blended in a tradition dating back to late antiquity. It seems fitting that Christopher Columbus had sherry casks in the hold when he discovered the land of tobacco, I suspect he was probably the first person in history to smoke a cigar with a glass of sherry(I often enjoy this myself), but I’m getting off-topic…

The method of aging is called the Solera system, a series of barrels are set up and each new batch of wine is mixed with the older wines and this shuffling over time produces a continuity of the flavours, and some sherries claim to have soleras dating back a few centuries, though only mere molecules could be left of those original wines. There is also a wide range of varieties, from dry to sweet: Fino, Amontillado, Pale, Cream, and Jimenez, colours range from pale-straw to amber to ruddy-caramel…

So now on to the sherry in question, Kingsgate is branded under Kittling Ridge Estates, though it changed ownership once to Magnotta wines, the solera, dating back to the 70’s was maintained. This It is a medium-dry wine packing a 20% ABV kick so it’s consumed in small wine glasses(it’s a sipper, not a gulper). The colour is golden, with a slightly orange-red hue that only makes it appear more alike to actual gold, in an appropriate glass it looks like the nectar of the gods. The glass I chose however, is a scotch milk thistle tasting glass, mostly so I could get my rather large nose right in there…

The initial bouquet is quite dark, candied dates, dried apricots, with a hint of spice, cinnamon and cardamom. As my hand warmed the bulb of the glass I could start to smell white-grape juice(so yummy). As I swirled the glass in the hot summer sun, a most amazing thing happened, the wine opened-up from a hint of citrus, to green-apple and golden raisin and this all before I even took a sip…

The taste is white-grape, with the subtle vinegar tones of any old wine, the burning is sweet and comforting, citrus notes of grapefruit, and bitter-orange. It can alternate between fig and raisin to spice. Drinking sherry is an experience, and this stuff costs less than $10 a bottle, well worth it it my opinion.



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