Harveys Bristol Cream Sherry is perhaps the world’s best known Sherry brand. There are good reasons for this: It is widely available in supermarkets and convenience stores, it is relatively affordable and it has a pleasant, sweet taste that is agreeable to many. That’s all well and good, but let’s not forget just how versatile Sherry wine truly is. There is a lot more to Jerez wines than Harveys Bristol Cream Sherry. Furthermore, Sherry itself is not the only Spanish region producing excellent fortified wines.
There are great fortified wines coming from other Spanish regions. To illustrate the quality to be had elsewhere, we’re going to put Harveys Sherry head-to-head with one of our favourite brands from outside of the Sherry region, Marqués de Poley Cream PX, and see how they compare!
Not surprisingly, Harveys Bristol Cream Sherry comes from the Jerez region, whose wines are commonly referred to as “Sherry”. It is one of the region’s best known brands, if not the best known. Marqués de Poley comes from another region, Montilla-Moriles. The wines of Montilla-Moriles are often confused with Sherry wines, as they are often made in a similar style and from similar grapes.
Both Marqués de Poley and Harveys Bristol Cream are sweet fortified wines, made in the “cream” style. Harveys is a blended Sherry comprising Fino, Amontillado, Oloroso and Pedro Ximénez Sherries. The blending gives it balance and smoothness, and a mellow sweetness level that has a broad commercial appeal. Marqués de Poley is a cream-style fortified wine from Montilla Moriles produced from Oloroso and Pedro Ximénez wines.
Both are sweet fortified wines, the sort that would traditionally be enjoyed with dessert. One key difference between Sherry and Montilla-Moriles generally is on the nose – the former tends to have a very clear saline aroma (think something like sea salt) as well as nutty characteristics and other nuances, depending on the style. Montilla-Moriles wines usually show more herbaceous aromas including rosemary and thyme.
Harveys Bristol Cream Sherry
A nice amber colour is what strikes you first. On the nose, this Sherry is sweet and nutty. The salinity you would expect from Sherry generally is not as apparent as the toffee, caramel and slight oak flavours. On the palate, Harveys Bristol Cream Sherry has a lot of sweetness, but is balanced enough not to be totally cloying or overpowering. It is relatively light in the mouth, and has pleasant flavours of raisins, prunes and caramel.
Marqués de Poley Cream PX
This Montilla-Moriles wine has a slightly less dark amber colour than Harveys Bristol Cream Sherry, though it is still eye-catching. It has a much more interesting nose, with aromas ranging from salted caramel, vanilla and hazelnut to dried apricot and orange peel. There really is a lot happening on the nose. The palate is rich, its subtle sweetness balanced with a moderate saline character. The salted caramel of the nose is also present in the mouth.