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Apr 6, 2010 05:43 PM

Bodegas Barbadillo La Pastora - fino sherry at Trader Joe's

Anyone familiar with this fino sherry? I picked up a bottle today at the local Trader Joe's at the same price point as their usual Real Tesoro finos ($4.99). 17% ABV, imported by Latitude Wines, slicker-looking label than the rest of Barbadillo's sherries. Couldn't find much info at all about it on Barbadillo's website or other sources, so I'm mainly wondering if I have myself:

a) a really good wine that Barbadillo had a surplus of in Spain, so they're selling off a lot of it cheap (and possibly relabeled) in TJs;

b) part of a batch that turned out to be of worse quality than Barbadillo intended, so they're dumping it (possibly relabeled) on the silly Americans who don't know any better;

c) something in between a) and b), like a new wine that Barbadillo just started making but nobody knows about yet.

Also, the bottle is labeled as a fino sherry but Barbadillo is headquartered in Sanlucar de Barrameda - does that mean what I bought is actually a manzanilla?

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  1. at 5$ I'd buy it, and if it's good, I'd go back and buy some more, if it,s bad, I'd go back and tell the staff that it's a bad sherry and buy something else.

    I would think Fino (and Manzanilla) are both AOC (or whatever the spanish equivalent) and that if a Fino is a fino and the Manzanilla is a Mananilla; even if the producer is in Sanlucar.


    2 Replies
    1. re: Maximilien

      Cracked it open last night. It's not bad but you have to drink it cold. I think I'm just unused to this style (went to Jerez last year for a few days, but didn't try all that many wines outside of the tour at the Sandeman bodega). The alcohol is a little more obvious in this sherry than I'd like and I didn't get much subtlety, but I guess I'll try a few more finos before passing judgment on this one.

      1. re: bigwheel042

        Fino Sherry is traditionally fortified to 15% ABV. US label law require such fino to be labeled "Light Sherry Wine." Many producers prefer to drop the "Light" designation in the US market by fortifying it higher. This practice invariably alters the balance for such delicate Sherries as fino and manzanilla.

    2. I bought the Pastora sweet sherry along with the Real Tesoro amontillado and found the Pastora to be better, surprisingly full bodied raisiny for a bottle at that price with a nice mild burn in the finish. It was like a mild Pedro Ximenez. I thought it was better than Harveys, to be honest, and like it enough that I am gonna go stock up on it tomorrow and buy a case..

      1. It is very common for Sherry Bodegas to bottle for private companies under private labels. This is done more in the European markets than here in the US, but it's done. When they do that the price for the same quality product is much less because there is no money going to marketing. I've tried these wines and they are quite good, especially for the price. As to the Alcohol, fino's can range from 15% (the lowest permitted by the Consejo Regulador) to 17 or 18%. Very often the extra alcohol is to ensure that the delicate wines travel well. As to Sanlucar vs. Jerez, the folks from Sanlucar can make both Fino and Manzanilla but they can only make Fino in Jerez.

        1. I've actually been to San Lucar de Barrameda in Spain (Andalucia region), and this brand is not new... they've been around for over 200 years as a regional producer and have seemed to enjoy a bit of an upsurge with the interest in Spanish wines in the last decade. The larger town in the area, Jerez de la Frontera is the actual home/originator of "sherry" - wikipedia actually has a great page on this:

          Wish I had a Trader Joe's closer... I drank a lot of this wine in my time living in Spain, and have missed it!

          1. Bought this because my regular sherry was unavailable. Figured, hey, real sherry from Spain! This will be great! Ha! Dry, astringent, harsh. Tastes like paint thinner or nail polish remover, downright painful to drink. I don't dare even use it to cook with. Revolting stuff. Avoid it!

            10 Replies
            1. re: Lassie1

              What is your favorite sherry?
              I am looking for a decent sherry that can be used for cooking, yet is good enough to drive on the rocks, or up!

                1. re: zin1953

                  Not bone dry because I do want the sherry flavor to come through, or at least somewhat.
                  However, sickly sweet need not apply.

                  1. re: carter

                    Now I'm curious -- what is it about a Fino or Manzanilla that makes you think the sherry flavor doesn't "come through"?

                    Well, be that as it may, if the primary use for the sherry is cooking, I'd look to get something like a Dry Amontillado -- it will be the most versatile. Also, something like TJ's would be a perfect place to find it . . .

                    Now if you're asking what my favorite sherry is, that's a different question entirely, because I don't cook with my favorite sherry -- I drink it.

                    1. re: zin1953

                      Offer a good sherry for drinking, and an equally good one for cooking, yet none over about $25 or so.
                      Hopefully the cooking version will not rise above $10.

                      1. re: carter

                        There are literally dozens if not hundreds of specialty, limited bottlings, many under $25. I have not included any, but stuck with more mainstream, widely available, "introductory" bottlings.

                        Drinking (approx. $15-$25):

                        Fino -- Lustau "Puerto Fino," or Gonzales Byass "Tio Pepe"
                        Manzanilla -- Hidalgo "La Gitana," or La Cigarrera
                        Amontillado -- Lustau "Los Arcos," or Hidalgo "Napoleon"
                        Palo Cortado -- Lustau "Peninsula"
                        Oloroso -- Lustau "Emperatriz Eugenia," or Hidalgo "Gobernador"
                        Sweetened Oloroso -- Lustau "East India" Solera, or Hidalgo "Morenita"

                        Cooking (under $15, in some cases under $10):

                        From Spain, look for Harley & Gibson or Osborne.

                        Even cheaper, and perfectly fine for cooking, try Christian Brothers or Fairbanks. Honest.

                        1. re: zin1953

                          Thanks so much for the time and effort.
                          Actually, the last bottle I used was Fairbanks, and, while never anything wonderful to write home about, it sufficed for the cooking requirement.
                          Now if stepping up a notch, maybe two, for drinking and cooking, who knows, maybe even concurrent events(!), any personal choices from this list?
                          Living in LA allows for nearly all these to be available all the time.

                          1. re: carter

                            re: cooking . . . there are three axioms that one should bear in mind, despite the latter two being somewhat contradictory.

                            1) NEVER use anything bottled and labeled as "Cooking ______" (Wine, Sherry, Madeira, etc.); it's just crappy ________ with salt added to make it undrinkable.

                            2) Never cook with something you wouldn't drink.

                            3) Never waste great wine by cooking with it.

                            So, my take on 2+3 is that you should never use bad wine to cook with -- it will just ruin your dish -- but you never use the $$$ stuff to cook with, either. In other words, the wine(s) you cook with should be sound, quality wine (drinking it is possible, even if you choose not to), but you don't have to cook with Château Lafite Rothschild . . . .


                            My three favorite Sherries of those I cited above are the Hidalgo La Gitana Manzanilla, the Lustau Emperatriz Eugenia Dry Oloroso, and their East India Solera. I buy the La Gitana, or ANY Fino or Manzanilla, in small bottles -- 375 ml; 500ml, if that's the only size it comes in; 750mls, only if I have to -- in order to make sure it stays fresh and lively.

                            I am a huge fan of the "Alamcenista" line of Sherries offered by Lustau -- limited bottlings from single growers that then sell their wine to Lustau -- especially their Palo Cortados and older bottlings of (dry) Oloroso. And an old sentimental favorite is the Sandeman Royal Corregidor.

                            Find a retailer who carries more than the "usual suspects" of Sherries -- a store that's seriously into it (like The Spanish Table in Berkeley, CA) -- and ask what they recommend . . .

                            1. re: zin1953

                              Bought a bottle of the Lustau Palo Cortado Peninsula, and must say that it is a bit drier than I prefer, and thus a point of reference for my taste-buds.
                              Did find a good retailer in the Glendale area called Topline, which had a fairly wide selection of those you mentioned.
                              Thanks again for your knowledge.

                              1. re: carter

                                Keep in mind that ALL sherry is produced from Palomino grapes and is made bone dry EXCEPT for a) Pedro Ximénez, or "PX" for short; and b) Muscat.

                                A cream sherry is a sweetened Oloroso -- made by the addition of PX. Some of the more commercial Amontillado sherries (think Dry Sack, for example) are sweetened with a little PX as well. Occasionally you'll find a PX bottled by itself. Muscat is *always* bottled by itself.

                                The ***only*** wines I recommended above that were sweet(er) were under the category "Sweetened Oloroso."

                                FWIW, Palo Cortado is the rarest of all sherries; less than Two Percent of all sherry qualifies as a Palo Cortado.