Saturday, 28 February 2015

28.2.15 Beltrán Domecq – “Sherry Vineyards Need More Focus”; ¡Feliz Día de Andalucía!

In a recent interview with Decanter Magazine Consejo President, Beltrán Domecq, said that producers need to explain more about the vineyards from which their wines come. Consumers know something of the bodegas and solera systems, but need to know more about the work in the vineyards. He believes that there is untapped interest in the vineyards and their specific geological characteristics which could be printed on more labels.

“50% of the quality of a wine comes from the vineyard, and distinctions are very important. We have the solera system, but why not say if the majority of this particular Fino is from Añina, Carrascal or Macharnudo vineyards? It would help a lot. Some bodegas are already doing this, particularly in Sanlúcar. The Consejo is seeking to help producers by creating a central vineyard map as a reference guide. We are writing to everyone who has a vineyard asking which area they think they belong to.

Over the past thirty years the land under vine in Jerez has declined from about 22,000 hectares to just 7,000, reflecting falling demand for Sherry, but at least supply and demand are now back in balance. According to Beltrán Domecq the growers who remain are better able to invest in vineyard management, and are now receiving three or four times what they were before.

He also spoke of his respect for the “en rama” wines as well as the Consejo plan to promote Sherry and food pairings – as long as the proper glasses are used. “No schooners, please, Sherry is a wine!” he declared.

Beltran Domecq at work in London (foto:+jerez)

Sr. Domecq is in London for the XXVI Wines of Spain Trade fair and he conducted a special tasting on Wednesday for wine journalists. The Spanish specialist Master of Wine, Sarah Jane Evans was there too. The ideas was to capitalise on media interest in Sherry and hopefully thereby to transmit that to younger consumers. A further special tasting took place at the wine fair in the form of a Sherry and Food Matching Seminar with Beltrán Domecq and famous chef José Pizarro.

Happy Andalucia Day!

The 28th February is Andalucía Day, so be sure to raise a glass of Sherry to toast the finest place in the world! The coat of arms on the flag represents the Pillars of Hercules, and on the arch appear the words “Dominator Hércules Fundator”. The colours represent the countryside, the villages, the purity and hope of Andalucía.

Thursday, 26 February 2015

26.2.15 Gonzalez Byass 2014 Results; Harold Lloyd in Jerez

2014 has been a good year for Gonzalez Byass with volume growth of 5% reaching a turnover of €246.9m, the net figure being €207.7m. Net profit has increased to €15.9m, 63% up on last year. Export sales were 66% of turnover against 53% a couple of years ago.

One of the company’s best achievements in recent years has been the consolidation of worldwide distribution – to no fewer than 105 countries. In fact the firm has its own sales networks in Spain, Britain, México and the US, and has organized sales support teams to assist local distributors in China, Germany, Brazil and Canada.

The World Association of Wine Writers and Journalists ranked the bodega in 6th position in the “100 Best Wineries 2014” and 1st in Spain. A strategic alliance with the Philippines-based company Emperador Distillers has seen the establishment of Finca Daramezas near Toledo with 250 hectares of vineyard specifically suited to state of the art brandy production. GB also launched a new blended whisky “Nomad” created by Whyte & McKay in Scotland and aged in sherry butts in Spain among many other projects. The firm will invest €2.5m in environmental protection measures.

Oliver Hardy was not the only early movie comedian to visit Jerez. José Luís Jiménez has found a few more. In 1929 the great Harold Lloyd visited Jerez and signed a butt, as did Buster Keaton. Apparently Charlie Chaplin had intended to come, but was unable to in the end.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

24.2.15 Another Award for Gonzalez Byass; Oliver Hardy in Jerez; Interesting Figures

González Byass Palo Cortado Añada 1982 has been chosen as the best Spanish Fortified Wine 2014 by Premios Verema. It was the readers of the Verema website, the most widely read Spanish site on wine matters, who chose this unique Palo Cortado for its quality. It comes from a much reduced number of butts and forms a part of the bodega’s Private Collection range.

Fifty years have now passed since the death of Oliver Hardy, Stan Laurel’s comedy partner.  Two years before they won an Oscar, Oliver Hardy paid a solo visit to Jerez where he signed a butt at González Byass, a butt still conserved to this day. Amazingly it seems that the press never found out, however Jerez’ own expert and cine sleuth, José Luís Jiménez did!

Here are some interesting figures: comparative total sales of the biggest-selling DO’s from January-November 2014. Let’s all work together to get Sherry a higher place in the table!
1. Cava: €672m
2. Rioja: €423m
3. Ribera del Duero: €262m
4. Rueda: €150m
5. La Mancha: €131m
6. Sherry: €115m (inc. €30.4m in Spain)
7. Valdepeñas: €107m
8. Rias Baixas: €91m

Monday, 23 February 2015

22.2.15 Amazing New Restaurant in Jerez

Jerez is to benefit from a fabulous new restaurant which will be run by the famous chef, Ángel Zapata, who learned his craft from the late and legendary Santi Santamaría. Latterly, Ángel had been working at the super-luxury Ossiano restaurant in Dubai.

Angel looking round the house (foto:diario jerez)
The new projest (by the Fundación Universo Accesible and sponsored by Seguros DKV)is to rehabilitate the beautiful old finca El Altillo which was built on an elevated site of 150,000 square metres at the Calle Ursulinas and Avenida Andalucía by Manuel María González Ángel, founder of González Byass in about 1860. He planted hundreds of trees and created beautiful gardens, and the house, known as El Recreo was a family home where many sisters lived (las niñas del Altillo) until Blanca, the last of them died a couple of years ago, and the finca became the property of the Jerez Town Council.

Part of the house now hemmed in by modern housing (foto:gentedejerez)
Ángel is examining the property in order to decide what work should be done, always with respect for the ambience of the building. Some ideas so far are a museum to house the Gonzalez family goods and chattles, an area for the enjoyment of cigars and brandy and an area for tapeo (eating tapas). The general idea is to create a top level centre of gastronomy with the accent on local produce and the cooking of Santi Santamaría. The project could be ready in as little as 5 months.

Friday, 20 February 2015

Consejo Enotourism Centre

Work on the ground floor of the Consejo’s office building in Avenida Alvaro Domecq to convert it into an enotourism centre is about to start, and it is hoped that it will be ready in time for Semana Santa. Innumerable activities are planned, including wine tasting and the arranging of visits to bodegas and vineyards. Outside, part of the street is known as the Paseo de la Fama, where some of the greatest motorcycle racers have stars in the form of a motorcycle wheel in the pavement. This alludes to Jerez being World capital of Motorcycling 2015. Anyway, the pictures below show what the new “Casa del Vino” (Consejo Office) will look like, the new enotourism centre on the left and the exterior on the right.

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Palo Cortado Antique 20%, Fernando de Castilla

Old-looking light burnished walnut through to a hint of green at the rim, legs.
Full, serious and attractive with a savoury hint, toasted nuts, toasted bread, old barrels, traces of pipe tobacco, old polished furniture, candied orange peel, cinnamon, walnut turrón, dried fruits such as raisin and apricot, clean with a glyceric feel. Not a desperately Amontillado nose - more Oloroso, but lightish and very complex.
Full and slightly drier-feeling than expected from the nose with a hint of tannic grip yet a certain glyceric note along with that cinnamon and some walnut. Quite tangy, very old and laden with character and with a terrifically long clean finish.
An excellent wine - as are all the Antique wines. This is around 30 years old and bottled unfiltered during the winter months (so filtration is not necessary) in lots of 3,000 50cl bottles. It is one of the old Bustamante wines bought by Jan Petterson. These wines can have a hint of sediment, but just ignore it - it is a natural part of a wine which has been treated totally naturally with minimal interference and in no way harms the aroma nor the flavour. Sherry as it should be! 93 Parker Points if you're interested in that sort of thing.
Around £25.00 - 26.00 UK agent Boutinot.

Aroma, Flavour and Colour of Finos Can Be Improved in the Laboratory

This is a “boring but important” Europa Press article published today in the Diario de Jerez and this research could have far-reaching implications.

“Vitenol”, the oenological and viticultural group of the University of Córdoba (UCO) has developed a method of identifying “for the first time” the proteins found in flor yeasts which have such a profound influence in the Finos of Jerez, Sanlúcar and Montilla.

In a press release the Fundación Descubre explains that this study gives scientists a tool to analyse and later modify the genes of the micro-organisms which are so closely involved in fermentation and ageing of Finos and improve their properties of aroma, flavour and colour.

Until now, studies of yeast proteins had been centred on those involved in fermentation, mainly in the world of bread and beer. Now, with the identification of the flor yeast proteins, their biochemical reactions can be unravelled, that is to say their metabolism, and thus how these fungi work their magic on Finos.

In the rivetingly titled article “Proteins involved in flor yeast carbon metabolism under biofilm formation conditions” published in the magazine “Food Microbiology” the researchers tackled the first analysis which will allow them to find out, for example, which proteins are associated with the process of developing alcohol or which are involved in the formation of metabolites – substances derived from fermentation which improve wine.

“When we discover a protein with a significant property or function in the maturation of wine, we will be able to alter the gene which produces this protein and improve it so that the final product can be enriched” says Juan Carlos García Mauricio, chief researcher of the Fundación Descubre.

While the study has closely-linked applications to the wine trade, the researchers believe that the results could be useful in other fields, such as medicine.  “Being able to analyse yeast proteins could be really helpful in the detection and treatment of disease. The important thing is to open avenues for the advancement of knowledge.”

This study forms a part of the equally rivetingly titled research project “Improvement in the formation of yeast biocapsules for the production of Cava involving yeast proteins and their metabolism” and is financed at government and European level.

(Yeast capsules for bottle-fermented sparkling wine have been on the research agenda for years and are beginning to come good).