Friday, 1 August 2014

Interesting Interview with Jose Luis Jimenez on Sherry and Film

Domingo Diaz interviews Jose Luis Jimenez Garcia in Mas Jerez

Jose Luis Jimenez is a lover of the cinema and Sherry. He is president of the Cine Club Popular de Jerez, member of the Real Academia de San Dionisio de Ciencias Artes y Letras, member of the international network of Wine Historians, contributor to Mas Jerez, Gente de Jerez  and a whole lot more, but above all he is a Jerezano, and rightly proud of it. He studies the influence of Sherry on works of fiction and reality destined for the cinema and television. At the moment he is participating in a documentary called “The Mystery of Palo Cortado”.

Q – The appearance of Sherry in the cinema is a culture with a long history, isn’t it?

A – Yes. Not only in fictional cinema, of which I have studied more than 500 titles, but also in documentary cinema, television series, advertisements, etc. where Sherry appears often.

Q – Right now you are collaborating with the production of “El Misterio del Palo Cortado”?

A – Yes, the production company of Antonio Saura and Jose Luis Lopez Linares is working on a documentary which is going to have some interlinking elements which could be very interesting. At last somebody of the calibre of Jose Luis Lopez Linares, who has won a Goya as a director, and Antonio Saura, producer and son of Carlos Saura, are interested in the wine of Jerez. It is something really important.

Q – Have we known how to exploit the appearance of our wine in the cinema, here in Jerez?

A – I don’t think so. Publicity campaigns have done a lot of good for some of the biggest bodegas like Gonzalez Byass, Domecq or Williams & Humbert. And of course there were the campaigns only shown abroad, not in Spain, which we are now seeing occasionally on the internet. There were some strange campaigns in England, Holland or Germany, for example. But in exploiting the presence of Sherry in fiction, in movies, I feel we still haven’t known how to use that publicity they have given us for nothing.

Q – But the appearance of Sherry in the cinema shouldn’t be taken merely as an element of publicity?

A – You’re right, it should also be taken as an object of analysis and study. The study I am doing on Sherry in the cinema could reach some very interesting conclusions because nobody had thought to look into how Sherry has influenced the Spanish or Anglo-Saxon cultures, among others. It is the same in literature, where Sherry is often present, but again nobody has looked into it. The study should reveal how Sherry is perceived abroad. What we are seeing so far, especially from foreign films, of which we have looked at over 500, is who drinks it, where, what types and what they think of it. This combination of literature and film leads one to think that Sherry has enormous prestige, that it is one of the great wines of the world, and yet we don’t take it seriously enough.

Q – Do you think that will silence those who say that the appearance of Sherry is due to the influence of Sherry companies on the dubbing companies?

A – Exactly, this is an urban legend, it is not certain. Furthermore this can be refuted when the reference to Sherry is there in the original English. The dialogue can’t be manipulated when it is referred to in the original and especially when it is in the original literary source. It is possible there is some truth in it, in a Spanish film perhaps, but there is no record and I doubt it.

Q – To wind up, should we do more to protect the Denominacion de Origen?

A – Absolutely. We should all be doing that, not only the institutions: the Consejo, the bodegas… but everybody. We lost one great opportunity, and now we have another, a golden opportunity, and thanks to many people we are reclaiming the value of Sherry. If we don’t grab it we will lose this one too - and there might not be another. Now is the time to look after our wine and look to the markets with an exceptional product. Some bodegas are working to recuperate our wine, but this is work for everybody.

31.7.14 Great Sherry Tasting; Consejo Budget

The Great Sherry Tasting 2014 will take place in London at the 1st Floor Gallery, The Westbury Hotel, Bond Street London on Monday the 15th September. There will be two free tutored tastings, but this one is trade only. Time to get to know your wine merchant a little better!

The Consejo Regulador is expecting income of 285,000 Euros from a 5 centimo per kilo levy on grapes with the Denominacion de Origen from growers this season after an agreement was reached at a plenary meeting on Tuesday for the re-establishment of the so-called “grape tax”, on condition that it was only imposed on grapes destined for Sherry, and not on those destined for table wines. Fedejerez, (representing the bodegas), also agreed to a rise from 1 Euro to 1.25 Euros in the levy per litre of wine sold by the bodegas, which would amount to an estimated 500,000 Euros, assuming the crop is as estimated, 55 million kilos.

As a result, the Consejo’s budget for promotion in export markets has virtually doubled, to 785,000 Euros. Cesar SaldaƱa, director of the Consejo, hopes to double this latter figure with grants from the OCM which governs public institutions such as ICEX and Extenda. {It is worth pointing out that even if he achieved this, the budget would still be about one fifth of that of Rioja}.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Fino Pando En Rama 15%, Williams & Humbert

Yellowy gold, quite bright, light legs.
Lots of flor, very yeasty with waxy straw notes and gentle hints of autolysis, generous, quite full and very dry, with traces of dry scrubland in the background.
Tangy and yeasty, full and bitter, not particularly salty, very Jerez, delicious feel and depth of flavour with a long very dry finish, a lovely wine.
This is Pando without stabilisation at 5 years old, and shows just how good it is. Unfortunately it is not on the market. Pando itself it is not available on the British market. I just thought it would be interesting to mention it. W&H don't market any wines en rama, which is a pity, as this would be excellent. There is no picture of this wine, naturally.

30.7.14 Tio Pepe Roundabout; Sherry sales 1st Semester 2014

The new Tio Pepe roundabout is nearly ready. The work of sculptor Chiqui Diaz, selected from four candidates by 6,000 people online, is in place and work is almost complete. The roundabout is at the start of the Avenida Tio Pepe in Jerez leading out to the airport. The fact that the voting came in from all over the world shows how international the interest is in Tio Pepe and Sherry itself.

(foto + Jerez)

Sales of Sherry for the first 6 months of 2014 have not reflected the buzz of the European City of Wine status, at least not in volume. While there is stability in the Spanish market, exports are down 5.3%. Figures from the Consejo show that while volumes are down, average prices are up, which compensates in part for the drop in volume. 16.5 million litres were sold representing a fall of 1 million litres against last year.

Among the export markets the worst result was in Britain with a worrying fall of 9%, down 3.2 million litres in volume. European sales in general are a touch over 9.2 million litres, a drop of 6.6%. Holland imported 2.9 million litres, down 2.86%, and Germany 1.6 million, down 5.3%. The USA is down 18% on sales of 701,675 litres and Asia is down also, especially Japan with a drop of 35%, importing only 62,000 litres.

Public toast in C/ Lanceria (foto Diario Jerez)
The Consejo attributes the poor export results, particularly in the UK, to the increase in price and tha lack of the usual promotions by major brands of the sweeter styles of Sherry associated with the older generation. This mature market which represents some two thirds of UK Sherry drinkers has had it good for a long time, but now we are seeing the rise of new consumers, younger people with more disposable income and who are prepared to spend more on good wine.

The only good news is that the Spanish market only dropped 0.45%, and the 11 million litres sold in the last 12 months make Spain the principal market, ahead of the UK.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

PX 15%, Emilio Hidalgo

Almost black, deep burnt umber to brown-stained amber and a green-tinged rim, long slow legs.
Intense aromas of pasas and dried figs, very fruity and quite concentrated with the slightest savoury note and traces of American oak. You can smell the very pulp of the sunned grapes along with traces of toast, coffee, caramel and a bodega full of ageing Sherries.
Soft fruity and deliciously smooth at first, then the more serious notes appear: traces of tannin, coffee, toffee, creme caramel and a gentle grippy tanginess. It grows in complexity and texture on the palate into a wine with some body, and leaves a long-lasting memory of a good PX.
Containing around 430 g/l natural grape sugar, this wine sounds intensely sweet, and it is, but that level of sweetness is not unusual in PX. What is unusual is that this wine is aged in its solera outside, against the bodega wall under an extended roof. This way it matures more quickly and rapidly develops concentration. Obviously this process works, as the wine is excellent, but this is just the young PX; they also offer the PX Santa Ana from a solera dated 1861 with an average age of around 100 years! Needless to say that is very expensive and hard to obtain, but this "baby" is delicious and will keep us going nicely while we save up.
About £ 16.00 in the UK. Agents are Caves de Pyrene

29.7.14 I Tio Pepe Festival

Gonzalez Byass are launching the I Tio Pepe Festival. Subtitled “El Arte de las Musas”, it takes place at 20.30 on the 14th August at the bodegas and features music, dance and wine. Artists appearing will be the soprano Ruth Rosique, pianist Rosa Torres-Pardo, flamenco singer Rocio Marquez and dancer Leonor Leal. Dinner will also be served. For tickets contact

Sunday, 27 July 2014

27.7.14 Table Wine Harvest Under Way in Jerez

The harvest is under way already in parts of the Sherry zone. This is the earliest start for quite a long time and the yield will be considerably down on last year. White grapes for Vino de la Tierra de Cadiz table wines are being picked now with the reds to follow soon. First to start at the beginning of the week, and picking at night, were Garcia Angulo Brothers with their Gewurztraminer, and they will soon be picking the Sauvignon Blanc, both grapes being used in their wine “Cortijo de Jara”. Before long they will be picking Tempranillo, Syrah and Merlot for their red wine.

A few kilometres north, Barbadillo is picking Sauvignon Blanc in their Gibalbin vineyard, and before too long will be picking the red grapes Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Tempranillo and Syrah for their “Gibalbin” red table wine.

The Palomino grapes from which Sherry is made are approaching the 10.5 degrees Beaume required by the Consejo before picking, but Barbadillo will be picking them soon for their “Castillo de San Diego” white table wine, the biggest-selling in Spain. Many white table wines in the area are made from Palomino, but there is a new tendency for the inclusion of other grapes to provide a greater range of aromas.

Another white grape, Chardonnay, is grown by Bodega Entrechuelos for their two white wines, Entrechuelos and Alhocen. This chateau-style bodega, run by Miguel Domecq has vineyards close to the XI century Torrecera. The oenologist Joaquin Gomez reckons picking will start on Friday, a good week earlier than normal. Barbadillo also use Chardonnay for their sparkling Beta Brut.

The early harvest has been caused by a very mild winter followed by early flowering, but the lower than average rainfall will not adversely affect the Vinos de la Tierra, as irrigation is permitted. The red grapes, which are planted ever more widely, look like being one to two weeks ahead of the usual, depending on location. They are ripe but not ready as their Beaume (sugar content) is still on the low side. Some white grapes have suffered from Oidium, especially Palomino, but that has been dealt with and they are healthy.

As Jose Maria Mateos of the Estacion de Viticultura put it: “It is more difficult to produce a white than a red. With whites, you need balance between aroma, acidity and alcohol, while with reds there are many more factors, most of which can be adjusted. Red is like an orchestra with 20 musicians, and white has only three.”  The Garcia Angulo brothers believe you can make good wine with hard work and sustainability.

The Sherry harvest should begin in the next 2-3 weeks, but things are looking good for the Vino de la Tierra wines of Cadiz. If you can bear to drag yourself away from Sherry, these are often excellent.