As regular readers will know, my mother sadly passed away in June this year. So, as you will imagine, I have devoted much time since putting her affairs in order and clearing her house for sale.

My mother did not drink, and it’s 38 years since the death of my father, who definitely did drink – spirits mainly. But she kept a cupboard of bottles for visitors, and anyway she was not the type to throw anything away. So when I went through this cupboard I found – amid the bottles, opened and unopened spirits, opened cream sherry (jettisoned) – this unopened bottle of sherry>>>


It had been stored upright, yet a thick sticky residue had exuded under the foil and the driven cork was wet. Presumably the high storage temperature had caused evaporation inside the bottle, condensation in and above the cork and the setting of this sticky goo had resealed the bottle. All this had resulted in the level being just above the shoulder.

My father must have bought – or more likely been given – this bottle, I would guess in the early 1970s, and mother kept it through two house moves…

I searched the web and could find no details of this particular bottle, although I did find that W. Coates & Co. were a London Wine Merchants with two wine bars who were taken over by Corney and Barrow in 1959, who didn’t develop the wine bar side of their business until the late 1970s. You can read a bit about this here .

My guess is this bottle originates from Coates Broad Street premises in the early 1970s. But I could find nothing of the particular wine. So I opened it…

The bottle had some sediment, and the most careful attempt to remove the driven cork resulted in its disintegration, partly into the wine. I filtered the wine into a jug, cleaned the bottle and filtered it back again. Then I tried it….

As you can see an extremely dark tawny, but quite bright after the filtering. The nose was Xmas pudding, quite spirity, with candied peel and dried fruit notes. The palate was definitely sherry, of Oloroso general character – it certainly was fully oxidised now if it wasn’t at the outset. The palate had strong orange peel hints with warm notes recalling brandy-soaked dried fruit. Not dry but only slightly sweet – nothing like cream sherry, in fact the sweetness level and the flavours recalled very old Verdelho Madeira  – not all that surprising given is evolution in my mother’s cupboard.

Anyway a surprising and wonderful treat – cheers mum!!

However I still do not know of this wine’s time-of-sale character. Was it a medium Oloroso sold in the wine bars of W. Coates & Co.? Was it one of their proprietary styles, quite different to how it turned out 40 years later?

Any idea?

Until soon… cheers!