Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Bear-muda Triangle

I have to share with you my very sad news: I'll be leaving Spain shortly to continue my travels abroad. The good news is that my blog will continue so at least that's bearable. (I love bear puns).

Because of this, I made it a priority last week to visit the last town in Spain's famous sherry triangl
e: Sanlúcar de Barrameda (not Bear-ameda). I've already visited Puerto de Santa María and Jerez so this completes my Bear-muda Triangle of sherry.

I've actually spoken at great length about sherry but, if you'll permit me, I'll repeat what I said about manzanilla:

"Manzanilla belongs to the fino sherry family and its name means "chamomile" - like the flower and the tea. In fact, it's called manzanilla because people think it tastes like the tea. I think it tastes like sherry but what do I know? Bears normally drink green tea - not chamomile - because it regulates our body temperature, which is very important during hibernation season."

Sanlúcar is best known for its manzanilla and it's the best in all of Spain. It has a salty flavour thanks to the sea breezes which cool the small riverside town. I took my bipedal and my god-bipedal attendants there last week for a tour of the Pedro Romero bodega. Because of my extensive knowledge of sherry production, we were able to skip the guided tour and I led the group myself (see above right) ... just another thing to add to my c.v.

I won't bore everyone with the ins and outs of making sherry but let me say that one of the most important components in the process is the flor, or yeast. Flor (which really means flower in Spanish) is indigenous to Andalucía. Because sherry barrels are only filled about 5/6th of the way, a layer of flor develops naturally from the fermented musts (the freshly squeezed fruit juice) which then provides a protective barrier between young wines and the air.

This "seal" not only keeps the sherry from tasting like vinegar but aficionados like myself can actually taste the residual flavour of fresh bread in the final product. Bears have a very refined nose and palate.

Interestingly, the climate and humidity of both Sanlúcar de Barrameda and Puerto de Santa María are different than that of neighbouring Jerez, so the layer of flor is thicker. Science can be so interesting when the final product is sherry! While in Sanlúcar I took the opportunity of initiating my bipedal and my god-bipedal attendants into the mysteries of Andalucían yeast. I think they were still a little confused: I swear their heads can be as thick as the flor sometimes.

Of course, when it was time to leave, the management begged me to sign a sherry barrel. This is an honour afforded to very few and I can now count myself among the crowned heads of Europe. I'm not sure if I was asked because of my former international fashion model days (although I didn't see Claudia Schiffer's signature) or because I'm now a freelance Good Will Ambassador (I didn't see Angelina Jolie's signature either) ... but maybe it's because I know so much about sherry and have "survived" the Bear-muda Triangle. Or maybe it's a bit of all three. I hope so anyway.


betty said...

The only bear in the world who got to sign a wine barrel.
What distinction.

Grey Bear said...

Do you think so? I hate to brag but I thought it was awfully neat.

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