Mosto in its grape juice form is a popular soft drink, but in the Marco de Jerez it is usually an alcoholic drink: the new must ferments to around 11ᴼ-11.5ᴼ and is not made into Sherry but simply left as a table wine and usually sold with minimal filtration.
El Día de San Andrés or Saint Andrew’s Day on November 30 was traditionally the time when the fermentations were ending and the exciting period in which the new wine could be drunk was starting. It gave an idea of the quality of the vintage in the form of a refreshing glass of wine. Climate change has caused harvests to be earlier however, and the new must is now available as early as the start of November, the “season” now being the month of November approximately.
If you are passing a bar and you spot a notice saying “hay mosto”, enter speedily and give it a try. You will probably see it in a jug on the counter and the staff will tell you proudly where it came from. If you are offered their special dish with it do try it, you won’t regret it. It will probably be a simple stew traditionally eaten by the vineyard workers such as Berza Gaditana (chard, chickpeas and chorizo) or Ajo Caliente (tomato, garlic, bread green pepper), both dishes being more exotic than they sound and perfect for cool November weather.
Since so many bars have different mostos, Rutas del Mosto have been set up in the Sherry towns and one can go from bar to bar and try various examples (and various dishes) and vote for the best. There are variations in acidity, flavour and body, not to mention regional styles and occasionally they are organic or even fermented in oak. Some mostos are bottled by the producer or can be bought on draught, but since the wines are young, fresh, vibrant and delicate, as well as being minimally stabilised, they will generally not keep for long – anyway they will all be drunk soon, but you can always drink Sherry till next season!
The Consejo Regulador has organised a second official mosto competition in which the tasting committee will conduct a blind tasting on the 4th of December in two different categories: for bodega wines and those of growers. Winners will receive trophies or diplomas at the zambomba benefit for the Reyes Magos (Three Kings) at the Atalaya the following evening, an event where the public can try the wines and vote also. The votes will enter a draw and the winner will receive a prize from the Consejo Managing Director, César Saldaña, who has been chosen to be one of the Reyes Magos this year in Jerez.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of El Consejo Regulador.
23 November 2015