Saturday, 26 May 2012

Bodegas: Antonio Barbadillo

Now run by the 6th generation of the family, Barbadillo was established in 1821 by Don Benigno and Don Manuel Barbadillo, cousins who had returned to Spain after 20 years in Mexico. They bought a bodega built in 1781, now known as Bodega del Toro, from one Joaquin Allier and the entrepreneurial Benigno set about exporting wines to Britain and the Americas. In 1827, the same year that the word "Manzanilla" first appeared on wines, Barbadillo launched the first bottled brand "Divina Pastora". Innovation did not end there, or after Benigno's death, as his children, and theirs, continued to build up the firm: brandy and vinegar followed.

With its offices in the beautiful La Cilla palace in Sanlucar, the firm now holds 500 hectares of vineyard in 2 parcels in Jerez Superior: Gibalbin and Santa Lucia. In the former is the ultra-modern vinification plant, and the 17 bodegas, which cover 75,000 square metres and contain some 400,000 butts, are in Sanlucar surrounding the medieval castle of Santiago and facing the Bajo de Guia beach. Barbadillo is thus the largest producer of Manzanilla, and one of the largest Sherry producers. The company owns the Sanlucar bodega of Infantes de Orleans Borbon.

More recent diversification has seen the purchase of bodegas in other regions: Somontano and Ribera del Duero, along with the Iberico business Sierra de Sevilla. Another innovation was the first white table wine from the Sherry zone: Castillo de San Diego, now the best selling white wine in Spain, and its sweeter companion Maestranza, followed by a red table wine Gibalbin. Business can't be too bad - Barbadillo reckon to sell about 500,000 half bottles of their signature Manzanilla Solear during the week long Feria de Sevilla (the annual Seville fair). Then they were the first to introduce Manzanilla "en Rama" - only 1,000 litres straight from 10 selected butts, bottled without excessive filtration and fining and much tastier than the usual Manzanilla. Interestingly, it is released seasonally, and each season's release tastes slightly different according to the thickness of the flor.

The Barbadillo range consists of:
Reliquia - Extremely old wines sold in decanters: Amontillado, Palo Cortado, Oloroso
VORS - Wines of 100-150 years of age
Manzanillas - Solear, Solear en Rama, Muy Fina, Pastora Manzanilla Pasada en rama
Eva Cream; San Rafael Oloroso Abocado; Cuco Oloroso seco; Amontillado Principe; Moscatel Laura;
PX La Cilla; Palo Cortado Obispo Gascon, all really fine wines.
Then there is the new (and first) sparkling wine from Cadiz: Beta Brut, and various table wines.
Yes, best to book by phone/e-mail
Address: C/ Luis de Eguilaz, 11, 11540 Sanlucar de Barrameda, Cadiz
Tel: (0034) 956 38 55 00

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