What's New in August

Naturalmente Naturales

When I first met Doña Pilar, the matriarch of Maestro Sierra, she stopped me right in my tracks, looked into my eyes and said, “we make natural wines, nothing is added”. Maestro Sierra had always told me their motto is "natural wine made naturally" but I had no idea how seriously they took that idea until I looked at a recent analysis of their fino sherry. The analysis showed that there are no sulfites perceptible in the finished product. Such a timely discovery made me realize how these great wines are overlooked given the interest today in natural wines.

What is truly amazing is that this is only one of the many compelling features of these incredible wines.

The winery has a long history as an almacenistas (since 1830) and has a reputation for having some of the oldest stocks. For many years they refused to sell out their old stocks to make room for younger wines and higher profits because they knew they had incredible wines that are worth the wait. Today their stocks of VORS wines are some of the oldest available.

Three Women
Maestro Sierra is currently run by Doña Pilar and her daughter with the assistance Ana Cabastrero as the hard charging, fearless director. These three women have fought adversity in a male dominated world that has been shrinking since the height of the sherry boom decades ago. Doña Pilar’s vision to maintain the mission statement and take no shortcuts is inspiring.

They are, as they always have been, a small family domaine producing artisanal wines. They are one of the only wineries that hand racks their wines in the traditional manner by using canastas and not pumps.

Food and Sherry
Sherry is the umami of wine. Why else has this wine been such a key ingredient in so many recipes throughout the ages?

My wife has an incredible gazpacho recipe handed down to her by an old Extremeño family who took great care of us when we lived in Spain. This year the tomatoes in North Carolina were spectacular and so the gazpacho has been too. I have always known how great finos and manzanillas are with gazpacho but this pairing proved to be an epiphany. Below is the recipe for this incredible gazpacho and other great foods to have with these great wines. With all these reasons to have sherry there are no excuses for not paying attention to this unique wine.


Gazpacho Extremadura

3-4 lbs fresh tomatoes
1 large cucumber, peeled
1 small yellow or red onion, peeled
1 red bell pepper, seeded
1 mild green chili (poblano or banana pepper), seeded
4-6 cloves of garlic, peeled
3 tablespoons sherry vinegar
2/3-3/4 cup good Spanish extra virgin olive oil
2-3 teaspoons salt

Recommended Garnishes (optional): croutons, chopped vegetables, chopped hardboiled egg

Cut vegetables into large chunks and set aside in a large bowl. Puree vegetables in a food processor (separate into small batches if necessary) until smooth, add a little water if mixture is too thick. Strain mixture through a medium sieve, (leaving peels and seeds behind). Poor half of the strained mixture back into the food processor and add the vinegar and salt, puree. While the food processor is running, slowly add olive oil until the gazpacho turns a bright red-orange. Mix with the other half of mixture and adjust seasoning, adding more salt if necessary. Chill for at least several hours, preferably overnight.

Stir before serving and top with desired garnishes. Serve with a glass of ice cold El Maestro Sierra Fino!

Almejas en Salsa Verde

24 small clams
1/4 cup good Spanish extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
1/2 cup El Maestro Sierra Fino
2/3 cup chopped parsley
Freshly ground black pepper or red pepper flakes

Rinse clams well to remove any sand or dirt. In a large saucepan, heat olive oil and sauté garlic just until light brown (do not burn). Add El Maestro Sierra Fino and clams and cover tightly. Simmer until clams open, about 5 minutes. Add parsley and toss to coat. Season with pepper and serve immediately. Serves 2-4.

Flan de Jerez

Caramelized Sugar
10 tablespoons sugar
5 teaspoons water
4 eggs
2 egg yolks
2 cups whole milk
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons El Maestro Sierra Pedro Ximénez
1/2 cup thinly sliced almonds, lightly toasted

Lay out 6 ovenproof custard cups and preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Caramelize the sugar by heating the 10 tablespoons sugar and 5 teaspoons of water in a small pan over medium heat. Stir until the sugar has melted and turned a golden color, remove it immediately so it does not burn. Pour evenly into the cups and set aside.

In a medium bowl whisk the whole eggs, egg yolks and sugar until smooth but not foamy. Blend in the El Maestro Sierra Pedro Ximénez and milk. Pour into the prepared cups and place them in a large baking pan. Fill the pan 2/3 of the way with water. Bake until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean, approximately an hour to and hour and a half. Remove the cups, cool and refrigerate. When ready to serve, loosen the edges with a knife and invert onto individual serving plates. Garnish with toasted almonds. Serves 6.

Also New...

2010 Concoction Contest: Cider

Our 2010 Concoction Contest is underway. We want your original Cider Concoction recipes and cocktails, please email them to us. The winner will receive a hand painted porron from this year's guest artist: Beatrice Agullo.

Isastegi Gelée
by Anthony C. of Tabla Mediterranean Bistro in Portland, OR

3 cups Isastegi Sagardo
6 grams Agar Agar
106 grams Sugar
Combine all 3 ingredients in a sauce pan and bring it to a low simmer. Cook for 5 minutes, allowing the agar agar to dissolve. Pour into a 9.5 inch baking pan sprayed with a little oil and then allow it to set for 30 minutes.