Tuesday, 28 March 2017

28.3.17 Ruta del Vino y Brandy de Jerez to Incorporate Vineyards

Ruta del Vino y Brandy de Jerez is one of the most visited in Spain with over 400,000 visits last year, but it is too focused on city centre bodegas with visitor centres, and very few visitors have the opportunity to visit the vineyards. To put this right, a new vineyard route project has been launched, with the hope of funding from European ITI (Integrated Territorial Investment) grants.

César Saldaña, director of the Consejo Regulador, was unanimously re-elected yesterday as president of the Ruta del Vino y Brandy association at an extraordinary general meeting and accepted the challenge saying “we have spectacular countryside and vineyards only a stone’s throw away and the boost offered by the ITI funds is fundamental, but we must do things properly, step by step.”

The project promises employment and involvement in the project, but a few already identified problems must be solved first. The main one is that to receive the funds, the case needs to be justified and the total cost predicted. Of the 4.2 million euros available for wine tourism, there will be some half a million for the design of the route and its definition which will be the association’s responsibility. Later some 2 million will be available for infrastructures, mostly repair of country roads, and the rest for individual projects.

Members of the association at the Consejo's bodega San Gines (foto:diariodejerez)

But there is another problem. While European funding for public administrations is 100%, private ones only receive 90% meaning that the association will need to find 50,000 to bridge the gap while its members only pay an annual subscription of 200.  It was details like this which occupied a large part of yesterday’s meeting, and the directors will need to tackle at a further meeting the possibilities there are to face a challenge in which “we have accepted that the design needs to be different from the Ruta del Vino y Brandy yet it should in some way amalgamate all the knowledge and experience from the wine tourism point of view, and for that we will need to be creative to get the maximum benefit from the grant”. They are not ruling out some sort of agreement with public administration which would allow them the full grant.

“We are fully prepared to work and to devote as much time as the project needs”. Meanwhile there will be an external audit as a step towards the renewal of the Ruta del Vino de España certification. If this admirable project works out it will be a significant boost to the quality and variety of wine tourism in Jerez.

Monday, 27 March 2017

Bodegas: Juan P Marks

John Pickett Marks was born in England in 1834 and worked as a wine merchant in London. He was the son in law of Alexander Webber, also a London wine merchant, who had established Alexander Webber & Co, an almacenista and exporting business in Jerez in 1830. Webber had constructed the bodegas at Calle Pizarro, 10 and 12. John went to work with Webber and took over the business in 1888 on Webber’s death, renaming it Juan P Marks. He then dedicated himself to exporting on a large scale, not only in Sherry, but also in Port, having a network of agents in numerous countries.

(foto:la imagen del vino de jerez)

Juan formed a trading partnership with neighbouring Sherry and Port shippers Robertson Brothers who had bodegas at Calle Pizarro, 13, and who no doubt supplied his Port requirements. Robertsons pulled out of the partnership in 1893, and Juan carried on trading successfully. He acted as honorary American Vice-Consul in Jerez between 1909 and 1911, the year in which he died. The business ceased trading at about the same time and was possibly taken over by Sandeman, who had already bought the bodega we see today in around 1906. Interestingly, Robertsons themselves were eventually owned by Sandeman.

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Manzanilla Fina 15%, Despacho Mar 7

Fairly pale strawy gold with bright golden glints, legs.
Pronounced maritime aromas; salt seaweed and beach are followed by a whiff of cidery fruit and plenty yeasty briny slightly bitter flor. There is an attractive fresh rawness about this wine, even a trace of cabezuela, but it is restrained giving it a delicate complexity.
Very dry with well balanced acidity and bitterness, giving a lively wine with a saline note yet there are still the slightest traces of fruit to round it off with a long clean finish. Good.
This attractive Manzanilla comes from a comparatively new company, Despacho de Vinos Mar 7 which occupies a small bodega, opposite Argüeso at no. 7 Calle Mar, Sanlúcar, which was where Pedro Romero started out. Interestingly, María José Romero who runs this great little bodega, is related to both the Romero and the Delgado Zuleta families, so Manzanilla is in her blood. She selects and buys in wines from the bodegas. and sells them in bottle or on draught. I have to say she has very good taste. The Manzanilla Fina, bottled like all her wines with minimal stabilisation, is at least three and a half years old and is delightfully fresh, as is the clean, clear presentation.
9.50 euros from Despacho Mar 7

Saturday, 25 March 2017

25.3.17 González Byass Launch Fino La Cala

This new limited edition Fino is the result of a joint Project between Antonio Flores, oenologist at González Byass, and the team from the restaurant La Cala de Albert Adriá in Barcelona. Chef Albert Adriá and his brother Ferran Adriá established the world famous restaurant El Bulli. They closed it some time ago but Albert has various restaurants in Barcelona, where the new Fino was presented yesterday.

Antonio Flores with one of the Adria team (foto:diariode jerez)

It all began three years ago when the team visited the bodega and fell in love with Sherry. After many tasting sessions selections were made and the new Fino came about. The first saca is only 3,500 bottles whose design is completely new being a Burgundy style bottle with a driven cork and minimal labelling. It will be available in Albert Adriá’s restaurants and the Corte Inglés Club del Gourmet departments. According to the bodega the wine has “a clean, brilliant and intense gold colour with traces of green, a fine crisp nose with clear yeast notes and hints of almond, sea and dried seaweed , it is light and fresh on the palate with a rich bitter saline finish”. Apparently the bodega is also working with other gastronomic names…

Friday, 24 March 2017

Margarito y Amapolo 2014 13.5%, Santiago Jordi

Deep, opaque blacky red with pinky purple at the rim, legs.
Quite intense and very slightly closed but with fresh, young but ripe black fruits of the forest, bramble jam and a slight balsamic note, a hint of oak and a mineral edge. It is quite complex but yet to put all its cards on the table, but it is likely to be impressive.
Full bodied and textured with good structure, the tannins are plentiful but ripe and there is plenty of fruit. All the hallmarks of a wine which needs two or more years in bottle to reach its peak. There is an attractive freshness and leanness about it, surely from the Tintilla, and it has great length, delicious now, especially with food, but ideally drunk in two or three years.
Like Santiago's other wines, this is a limited edition "vino de autor" or signature wine, different, innovative and well made despite its humble appellation of Vino de la Tierra de Cádiz, but there is currently no other appellation it could have. His vineyard extends to only 3,000 square metres and is situated some 500 metres from the famous Monastery of La Cartuja, just outside Jerez, where he planted it to 80% Petit Verdot and the rest Tintilla de Rota. He named the wine after two wild flowers which he allows to grow among the vines (Marguerite and Poppy, though why he made them masculine I don't know). Born in Jerez, he also acts as a consultant to other small bodegas and is president of the Spanish federation of oenologists. Anyway this wine is made from 50/50 Petit Verdot and Tintilla which are hand picked and de-stemmed before fermentation in wooden vats. The wine is aged in 75% French oak for 6 months. Quantities are limited; 2014 yielded just 2,763 bottles.
13.50 Licores Corredera

Thursday, 23 March 2017

23.3.17 Osborne to Digitalise Archives; Growth in Premium Sherry Sales Predicted

The bodega has already begun to digitalise 20,000 documents, some dating back over 200 years, and some bearing famous XIX century signatures. One was Washington Irving, the American writer and diplomat famous for “Tales of the Alhambra” which he finished while staying with the Osbornes.  On his return to the United States he offered to act as an ambassador for the family’s Sherries. Another was Fernán Caballero, the pen name of writer Cecilia Böhl de Faber, whose father was capataz at Osborne, and Isaac Peral of the Spanish Navy who invented the first submarine to fire torpedoes. The archive also includes letters from European royal households, the Vatican and one from an English army captain in Jamaica ordering some Solera India.

The first step of the digitalisation project has been carried out using Telefónica’s Talentum programme by which a group of ten young students, carefully selected from various disciplines such as engineering, history and information technology have three months to delve into the archive, which also includes account books. So far 300 of these fascinating records have been digitalised, and can be seen on the Fundación Osborne website www.fundacionosborne.org

Forecast volumes of Premium Sherry (source IWSR)

According to the International Wine and Spirits Record (IWSR) volumes of premium Sherry could grow 18% by 2021. Speaking at Prowein, Germany’s major wine fair, González Byass president Mauricio González declared that “volume is dead” and that producers should focus on selling the more profitable, quality wines. He went on to say that consumer attitudes are slowly changing and there is more activity among younger people, especially in the drier and more upmarket styles, helped by the press and sommeliers. He noted that education is of prime importance, but rather than getting too technical it would be better to let people try the wines and how well they match food. The rise of Spanish restaurants, tapas bars and Sherry bars is helping a great deal.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

22.3.17 Fundador Goes Organic

All 200 hectares of Bodegas Fundador’s El Majuelo vineyard will be controlled by “sexual confusion” in an attempt to control Lobesia Botrana or vine moth, starting now. This moth is one of the major vineyard pests especially in southern Europe, and was first detected in Jerez in the early 1960s. Lobesia is capable of four generation in a year, but usually three in Andalucía. Eggs are laid in spring among the fine flower leaves of the vine, and the larvae damage the nascent grapes, then as the surviving grapes ripen, caterpillars feed on them, which is bad enough but these lesions leave the grapes open to the fungus Botrytis Cinerea which rots them, rendering the bunch useless.

Lobesia Botrana moth (foto:vitivinicultura.net)

The sexual confusion technique works by using nature. At breeding time, the female moths emit pheromones to attract males, so the vine growers put little female pheromone diffusers all over the vineyard (350-500 per hectare) saturating the air and confusing the males. Some vineyards even have traps which consist of little glue lined boxes charged with pheromones. This process only attacks the Lobesia and dramatically reduces fertilisation without the use of insecticides, which attack all insects good and bad, and is permitted in organic vineyards. It has been in use in Jerez since 1993 but not particularly widely due to the cost.

Lobesia caterpillar (foto:vitivinicultura.net)

Since 2004 Fundador has held the ISO 14001 environmental certification which insists on constant environmental control and improvement, and the company has already ceased the burning of vine prunings, reduced herbicide use and introduced sexual confusion techniques to reduce environmental impact and manage the vineyards organically.

Pheromone dispenser (foto:rawwine.com)