A blog and review on all things Sherry. It is about tasting, enjoyment and learning more about the World’s Finest Wine. "Sherry is a thoroughbred" as Javier Hidalgo rightly puts it. Included are the amazing local Brandies and the remarkably good table wines also produced in the province of Cádiz.
The first we hear of the Romeros is in XVIII century Ronda (Malaga),
where they had a great reputation and influence on bullfighting. We next hear
of them in Huelva, now distillers making spirit to fortify wines. Around 1820,
one Florencio Romero moved to Sanlucar and married a local girl called Angela
Forty years later, in 1860, this great Sherry firm was
established by their son, Vicente Romero Carranza. The firm started out, as
most did then, by buying mature wines and establishing soleras in bought bodegas,
in this case in the Calle Trasbolsa. With their distilling history, they
started out with brandies destined for the Spanish Caribbean colonies, and with
some success. Brandy was always important to the firm, and their brand Punto Azul was their best seller.
When Vicente died in 1890, his three sons, Vicente,
Baldomero and Pedro Romero Villarreal continued with the business which they called
Hijos de Vicente Romero Carranza, and started doing more with wine. They owned a vineyard called Viña El Alamo, which
was later sold, though the name continued as a brand. The company then bought in musts
from local cooperatives.
In 1904 Pedro took over the entire business from his
brothers, and gave his wife’s name, Aurora Ambrosse Lacave, to his finest Manzanilla
pasada – Aurora. When he died in 1911, Aurora, of French descent, took over the
business herself as her children, Aurora, Pedro and Fernando Romero Ambrosse,
were still very young. It was not easy for a woman in such a traditional world,
but she earned the respect of her peers simply for quality. Following her
death, her children took over, naming the business Hijos de Pedro Romero
Villarreal – Pedro Romero, which became simply Pedro Romero in 1953, and remained its name as an entirely family-owned business, in the hands of
the sixth generation until the end.
The last Romero was Pedro Romero-Candau, a brilliant lawyer in Sevilla. He took control of the bodega in the early 2000s and set about expansion. In 2006 turnover was 7 million euros - double the previous year, and in 2007 it reached 9 million. That year he bought the local firm Gaspar Florido which is more of an almacenista, but which had important brands and stocks which would undoubtedly help with the expansion. He paid 6.5 million. However while all seemed well, it was not, and facing huge costs for finance the firm ended up in receivership owing 22 million, despite increased sales. Pedro himself owed even more and committed suicide in 2014.
The historic old bodegas, which covered 12,500 square metres, were
situated in the Barrio Bajo (lower part) of Sanlucar, in the Banda Playa, very close
to the estuary of the Guadalquivir and west-facing, opposite the protected
marshland of the Coto Doñana. This allows access to the westerly winds which
provide the essential fresh, moisture-laden air which allows ideal conditions
for the flor. The firm also had a modern vinification plant on the road to El
Puerto, which had all the stabilisation and bottling equipment as well as
offices. The old bodegas were strictly for ageing.
Pedro Romero prided itself on being the most traditional
bodega in Sanlucar. They still used egg white to fine (some) wines, and their
capataz (cellar master) had been there over 50 years. After the collapse it took a long time to find a buyer for the bodegas, which are currently closed and mostly empty and desolate. Francisco Yuste bought Manzanilla Aurora and the brandies while Bodegas Alonso bought the Gaspar Florido wines.
Pedro Romero offered a complete Sherry range, which included brandy
and vinegar. The Manzanilla Pasada Aurora went through no less than 25
criaderas before arriving at the solera, and even the vinegar went through 15!!
The Wines were:
Maria Cristina (@ 3years old); Manz. Fina Pedro Romero (@ 5years old); Aurora
(@ 9years old)
Viña El Alamo range:
Oloroso Cream, Dry, Medium, Amontillado, Moscatel, Pedro
The VORS Gama
Amontillado Don Pedro Romero, Palo Cortado Hijo de Pedro
Romero Villarreal; Oloroso Don Pedro Romero. These wines have an average age of
over 50 years.
There were also four brandies and a rum. Oh yes, and an Oloroso flavoured with orange…