Thursday, 31 October 2013

31.10.13 Sherry Events in Seville, Sanlucar and Jerez

In Seville, 62 bars are participating in a tapas competition, in which they serve their star tapa along with a free glass of the most suitable Sherry. The competition begins tomorrow, and the 20 bars with the most votes will be certified by the Consejo Regulador and be protagonists in a gastronomic guide soon to be published. Votes can be cast at

In Sanlucar, events have been planned to celebrate the V European Wine Tourism Day. There will be the VI Ruta del Mosto, where one can try the fresh new wine, free visits to various bodegas including La Cigarrera, Barbadillo and Argueso, Hidalgo, vineyard visits with tasting, and just tastings. Information can be obtained from the council:

In Jerez, at Gonzalez Byass’ bodega Los Reyes, the official presentation of the Reyes Magos (the Three Kings) took place last night. They will be accompanied by the Grand Vizier when they make their procession through the streets of Jerez on the 6th of January, dishing out sweets to the children who line the streets. Each year, people are chosen to represent the Kings, usually well-known faces, as it is an honour to be chosen.

Jerez’ first “Gymcata”, or Sherry tasting competition has been organised by Cadiz University, the Consejo Regulador, the Jerez Council, Gonzalez Byass, the Andaluz Association of oenologists and the Association of Tabancos. Teams of six people will have to demonstrate their knowledge of Sherry, its history and how it is made in a series of tests in a range of tabancos and bodegas where they can try various wines and dishes to see how they match. The three best teams will win prizes. The competition is aligned to Science Week and coincides with the European Day of Wine Tourism on the 7th, and allows the locals to know more about Sherry and supports the tabancos.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Tapas: Queso Frito

Queso frito (fried cheese) is simple but delicious as a tapa or as an accompaniment to a larger dish, it is a useful recipe which is pretty quick to prepare, and one can always use up dog-ends of cheese if necessary.

Ingredients for 4 people: 
1/2 kilo (@1lb) fairly young hard cheese, most kinds would do
2 eggs
Wheat flour
Virgin olive oil for frying

First, cut the cheese into pieces roughly 3cm long by 1 cm diameter (or whatever shape you fancy). Put milk, flour, beaten egg and breadcrumbs into four bowls. Dip the pieces of cheese into first milk, then flour, then the beaten egg and lastly the breadcrumbs, leaving them on a plate. Then once again dip the cheese into egg then breadcrumbs to ensure a leak-proof batter. Once prepared, put the cheese on the plate again and chill for half an hour.

Heat up a frying pan or deep fryer with olive oil, and when good and hot fry the cheese until golden all over. Once cooked, remove carefully from fryer/pan and let cool a little on absorbent paper so it absorbs any excess oil. It should be served hot either by itself or in a tomato or ali oli sauce, perhaps with a little salad.

All you need to do now is enjoy the queso frito with a glass of Fino or a light amontillado Sherry!

Manzanilla en Rama Solear 15% Saca Invierno 2012, Barbadillo

Bright, quite yellowy, darker than normal Solear, because it is not filtered, legs.
Intense, aromatic, deep and full of flor bitterness, dry, yet has a certain trace of dampness. Vinous and almondy with a hint of olive brine, and, yes, yeast. A quite lovely nose, exactly as it smells straight from the butt.
Dry, with fairly low acid, but the bitterness from the flor compensates perfectly. There is a little body here and a round softness and (extreme) drinkability which tempts you to drink it too quickly, but what the heck - it's in a half bottle! Really lingers on the palate too.
After a long drought-ridden summer 2012, the autumn saw plentiful - and very welcome - rainfall. Temperatures were pleasant if very slightly lower than average. The flor, having thinned a bit during summer, welcomed the arrival of some humidity, and this is reflected in the wine. Only 1,000 litres were drawn from 10 selected casks, given a gentle clean-up with the traditional egg-white, and then filled into half-bottles.

The company uses this brand to promote and assist the conservation organisation the Donana 21 Foundation. It recognises the effect the Donana marshes have on the production of Manzanilla, and that conservation is therefore vital. Every seasonal release shows on its label one member of the wildlife to be found in the marshes, this one is the Pato Buceador (diving duck)
£ 10-12   (per half bottle) I think UK importers are Ehrmanns, or possibly John Fells.

Monday, 28 October 2013

Drone Strike in Jerez!

Viticulture from on high!
We have heard a lot about “drones” recently, not all of it favourable, but they do have many peaceful uses, and one which has been modified for viticulture has recently been shown in Jerez.

A few days ago, Grupo Estevez held a technical day in their Viña Bristol vineyard, at which the main attraction was, yes, a drone, in a demonstration of the opportunities it can offer to viticulture in Jerez. The drone is called a “Fieldcopter”, and the project has been developed by a consortium of six European members from Spain, Belgium and Holland specifically for crop management, especially vines, fruits and potatoes. Things are still at the trial stage, but if the wine world is convinced, it would make the project viable and a specific company would be formed to commercialise the product.

Drone and guidance equipment (Imagen DiarioJerez)
The device is equipped with thermal cameras which can detect hydric stress (lack of water) and disease in the plants, and once the pictures have been processed, the grower can make informed decisions to reduce risks and improve crop quality. One great advantage of the drone is the speed of the process, reduced from five weeks before to only twenty-four hours. It is not yet clear how much the use of a drone would cost, but it would probably be charged by the hectare.

Some time ago, the Spanish astronaut Pedro Duque presented in Jerez a project directed at vine management with the help of a satellite, but nothing more has been heard of it, despite some growers investing in it. According to the drone expert, a satellite cannot capture such accurate pictures, and now that a drone’s pictures can be processed so quickly, the drone is the obvious choice, and it is already proving its worth.

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Buster Keaton Visited Jerez

Buster Keaton visited Jerez in 1930! He toured Spain with his wife Natalie Talmadge and another movie star couple, Gilbert Roland and Norma Talmadge. Their visit to Jerez was organised byLuis Parada, owner of the Teatro Villamarta in Jerez. They went on to visit bodegas Domecq, where they signed the visitors’ book. They drove around in a Rolls Royce, attracting great crowds. In Spain, Buster Keaton was known as “Pamplinas”.

27.10.13 El Puerto's 1st Ruta del Mosto

El Puerto de Santa Maria will be busy on the Sherry front next month with the 1st Ruta del Mosto (New Wine Trail) from the 4th till the 30th. Over ten bars and restaurants have joined the scheme, and are offering a glass of mosto and an aperitif for only 1.50 euros.

It is also the V European Wine Tourism Day, which falls on the 10th, but activities will begin from the 7th. As usual there will be the town Wine, Brandy and Vinegar Trail, along with a full programme of visits, other trails, tutored tastings and other activities in collaboration with hotels, bodegas and other businesses related to the hospitality trade.

(Imagen Andaluciainfo)

Finally, in the middle of November the Atheneum of Wine has organised the XVIII Days of Wine from the 15th till the 17th, which consist of conferences, talks, round tables and tastings. The central theme will be Fino wine.

Saturday, 26 October 2013

25.10.13 Tio Pepe Sculpture; European City Of Wine 2014

The public are being offered the chance to vote for their preferred Tio Pepe statue to be placed in the roundabout on Jerez' Avenida Tio Pepe. There are four candidates, whose creators are not yet being named by Gonzalez Byass. Here are the models:

From left to right, a copita with an illuminated figure of Tio Pepe inside; a modernised Tio Pepe bottle but not too far from the original; a Tio Pepe at a slight angle which turns with the wind; a modernist re-interpretation of the illuminated sign in Madrid's Puerta del sol.

This is the link if you would like to paticipate:  All voters will be entered into a prize draw. There are 15 VIP visits with tastings to the bodegas and a pack of Tio Pepe products like a selection of wines, a box of tasting glasses, a book about GB, and a Tio Pepe T shirt.

A promotional video for the candidacy of Jerez as European City of Wine 2014 will be made public on Saturday during the presentation of Vinoble 2014. Jerez has achieved over 200 supporters from the trade and beyond, even abroad.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

24.10.13 Two New Publications: Beltran Domecq, Hot Rum Cow

President of the Consejo and oenologist Beltran Domecq has published a new book about Sherry. Titled "Sherry Uncovered: Tasting and Enjoyment", it is available from Amazon at £22.53. I haven't seen a copy yet, but I think it is a translation of his "El Jerez y sus Misterios" published a couple of years ago. If so, then it is worth buying. The primary focus is on tasting, but there is useful information on soleras, an excellent glossary and some very stylish recipes for dishes to accompany fine Sherry.

Hot Rum Cow is a quarterly magazine about the world of alcoholic drinks published by White Light Media in Edinburgh, and the latest edition has a very well written and very well illustrated special feature on Sherry. They went to some trouble - I know - I was involved. A visit to Jerez cast its inevitable spell as to the wonders of Sherry and they have published clear and accurate information on history, bodegas, food and wine matching etc. I think they have done a splendid job, and recommend it especially for those who are still a little wary of Sherry. Hot Rum Cow can be contacted at It costs £5.00 and is well worth subscribing to.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Bodegas: Pedro Romero

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 Carranza.

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:
Three Manzanillas:
Maria Cristina (@ 3years old);  Manz. Fina Pedro Romero (@ 5years old); Aurora (@ 9years old)
Viña El Alamo range:
Oloroso Cream, Dry, Medium, Amontillado, Moscatel, Pedro Ximenez
The VORS Gama Prestige range:
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…

Friday, 18 October 2013

Dry Sack Fino 15%, Williams & Humbert

Pale bright golden straw, legs.
An attractive bitter flor edge to the nose, slightly saline with traces of dried flowers and bitter almond, very dry but with a background hint of palomino fruit. Perfect aperitif wine.
Good and dry, bitter even, with plenty of flor influence yet still that teasing hint of fruit to balance. Light clean and tight with real powers to give one an appetite, decent acidity and good length. A younger version of Don Zoilo.
Made from Palomino Fino grapes from the Pago Balbaina in Jerez Superior, the wine goes through 6 criaderas before reaching the solera, and is bottled at a little over 5 years old. One wonders if this is the wine they used to call Pando. It is certainly very good.
Around £10.00    UK importer is Ehrmanns, who can advise on availability

Thursday, 17 October 2013

17.10.13 V Copa Jerez Has a Winner!

The V Copa Jerez has been won by the Danish Restaurant Clou. After 6 hours of tasting and munching, the judges decided that their Chef and sommelier showed exceptional mastery of the art of matching food and Sherry.

Two savoury dishes and a dessert with matching Sherries were served by the seven participating countries, and the winning menu was:

Scallops with salted rye bread crusts served with Fino Valdivia, stewed octopus in duck fat and roasted in almond oil with Amontillado Barbadillo, and for dessert, milk ice cream with coffee and hazelnut praline accompanied by PX VOS Tradicion.

The judges were Josep Roca (Restaurante Can Roca),  Doug Frost (one of only 3 people to achieve Master Sommelier and Master of Wine), Critic and journalist Jose Carlos Capel, Angel Leon (Restaurante Aponiente), Master Sommelier Ronan Sayburn and Juli Soler (El Bulli).

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Oloroso Alburejo 18.5%, Bodegas Alvaro Domecq

Mahogany through amber to green-tinged yellow rim, legs.
Quite serious Oloroso; clean, tight and generous, caramelised walnuts and toasted hazelnuts, a trace of wood from the butts and a hint of sweetness, quite full yet has a certain elegance, opening out gradually to include a traces of fudge and orange.
Medium to full, again tight and clean, tangy acidity brings out the flavour; well done toast, nuts, traces of wood and polished furniture, nicely textured and lively with considerable length.
This wine is named after the family Finca los Alburejos near Medina Sidonia. Here there are many horses, a passion in Jerez, and of course, Alvaro himself was a famous "rejoneador " horseback bullfighter. Some time ago he bought the famous almacenista bodegas of Pilar Aranda, and has been putting the wines on the open market. The range is fairly small but very good, and includes brandy and vinegar.
10.90 Euros in Spain, but I don't know of any UK importers. Sorry.

Saturday, 12 October 2013

12.10.13 Equipo Navazos to Receive Award

Jesus Barquin (L) and Eduardo Ojeda

On Monday, Eduardo Ojeda and Jesus Barquin will be presented with the Victor de la Serna Memorial Prize of the Royal Academy of Gastronomy and the Brotherhood of the Fine Table for their success in promoting fine Spanish wine.

Eduardo (oenologist at Valdespino) and Jesus, a professor of Criminology at Granada University, are Equipo Navazos, and find small and exquisite parcels of Sherry (and Montilla, brandy) and market them themselves with no publicity or marketing. Together they have done a great deal to revive interest in fortified wines from Andalucia, which have been declining into oblivion for years.

Jesus co-authored with american writer Peter Liem a really good book "Sherry, Manzanilla and Montilla" which, along with Peter's promotion of "Sherryfest" in New York (and now Toronto) has
re-awakened interest in these wines accross the Atlantic.

Thursday, 10 October 2013

10.10.13 First Organic Sherry Launching Soon

The first organic Sherry will hit the market in time for Christmas. It is the first of a range of organic wines produced by the cooperative AECOVI, who have only comparatively recently been marketing their own wines (since 2008).  The cooperative has been working on this project for some years, and they see it as a good marketing strategy. The wine is made from 100,000 litres of Palomino must certified as organic and vinified and aged separately from other musts. The wine is likely to be sold in export markets rather than in Spain. AECOVI is a group of four cooperatives, with 1200 growers, and has a young and dynamic outlook, especially with their research and development work.

Carmen Romero, boss of AECOVI with some products (lavozdigital)

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

9.10.13 Sherry Cheese; 5th Copa Jerez; Scotch Malt Whisky Society

An award-winning cheese producer in the Parque Natural de los Alcornocales near Jerez is working on a new cheese which contains Sherry. The Queseria El Gazul is working with Gonzalez Byass, and the plan is to infuse the new cheese with the bodega’s Solera 1847 Oloroso Dulce. Wow!

 The final of the 5th Copa Jerez competition will take place in the Jerez Hospitality and Catering School on the 15th October. Seven chef-sommelier teams from around the world will produce dishes accompanied by Sherry, and the best combination will be declared the winner of the prestigious Jerez Cup. The seven “teams”, who have already won the regional competitions, come from Germany, Belgium, Denmark, the USA, Spain, Holland and Britain. The judges come from the highest level of the catering world, chefs, food critics and sommeliers. The event is the centrepiece of the Great Sherry Festival, so Sherry will get plenty of promotion this month.

 The October edition of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society magazine, Unfiltered, features a lengthy article on Sherry, recognising its importance to the whisky trade. To give an idea of that importance, the magazine says that the Macallan Distillery alone has no less than 20,000 butts filled with Oloroso at Gonzalez Byass. GB works with quite a few distillers; Whyte and MacKay and Edrington, for example, who produce single malts such as Fettercairn, Jura, Dalmore and Macallan, Highland Park, Glenturret respectively. The butts are seasoned with whichever type of Sherry is required for some 12-24 months before their journey to Scotland. It is fantastic to see the whisky community giving due recognition to the Sherry which can provide a huge boost to the flavour of whisky. The Society is a fantastic institution with a beautiful range of independently bottled single cask single malts, many aged in ex Sherry butts. 

Sunday, 6 October 2013

La Bota de Fino No. 27 15%, Equipo Navazos

Autmnal ambery gold through pale yellow to slightest posible hint of green at very pale rim, legs.
Huge and complex; lots of flor, sandy beach, touch salinity, sour dough, olive brine, almond oil, traces cedar, dried scrub, even caramel and fino Sherry. Very dry and quite full, considerable age under flor, some autolysis yet only a little oxidation. Magnificent.
Full and assertive, beautifully balanced and showing some wood extractives, even a slight trace of tannin. There remains a strong flor influence, but there is also a whiff of oxidation from the thinner veil of flor. Autolytic flavours from dead yeast cells at the bottom of the butt are gaining prominence with slightly nutty, toasy, almost meaty notes. A fascinating, quite racy wine, with considerable length.
This wine comes from Valdespino's Inocente solera (69 butts) and was bottled en rama in March 2011 at just over 11 years of average age. The grapes were grown in Valdespino's Inocente vineyard in the Macharnudo Alto and fermented in wood, as is the norm at Valdespino, one of very few if any still practising this art. This provides some of the woody and oxidative notes - indeed some of the complexity - in the wine. The normal Inocente tastes quite like this direct from the solera, but for reasons of stability and shelf life, it is filtered before bottling, like most of its peers. This is even more exciting than an "Inocente en rama", though, as it is a careful selection of only 5,000 bottles made by Jesus Barquin and Eduardo Ojeda who are Equipo Navazos, the latter being winemaker at Valdespino as well.
UK around £25-30 an absolute bargain! UK agent Rhone to Rioja, or try Berry Bros, Gauntleys.

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Oloroso Bailen 20%, Osborne

Fairly pale amber mahogany to slightly yelow at rim, legs.
Forthcoming and quite aromatic, more so than one might expect from the lightish colour, toasted nuts - almond and walnut, a hint of old barrel staves and a touch of savouriness and autumn leaves yet fresh and walnutty. Quite young.
Light but with quite a full follow through, a great balance between grace and power. Dry with traces of dried fruits, oak barrels, walnuts, all the classic oloroso character and finesse, yet not a hint of astringency, due to its comparative youth. Long clean finish.
From Osborne's Premium range, this oloroso has an average age of around 10 years. It was fermented in unique horizontal epoxy-lined steel tanks. Most steel tanks are horizontal to save space, but these were designed to provide more air space above the wine to replicate fermentation in butts.
8,85 Euros in Spain. Try in the UK

4.10.13 Vinoble Dates Changed; Rains Have Arrived; Consejo Budget

The dates for Vinoble have changed. The great fortified and sweet wine tasting event at the Alcazar in Jerez has changed the dates to 25, 26 and 27th May to avoid clashing with the relocated London Wine Fair.

Autumn rain has arrived. For the last week rain has been falling and causing problems. In Sanlucar, 21 litres per square meter fell in only 15 minutes yesterday, more than the drains could cope with in so little time, and there were scattered floods of a minor nature. 

The Consejo Regulador hopes to triple its budget for the supervision and promotion of Sherry, after its drastic reduction over the crisis years. At yesterday’s plenary meeting, the Consejo discussed the final figures for the 2013 harvest, but the budget took pride of place. It is not really sufficient to take advantage of the recent revival of interest in Sherry, and more money needs to be found, especially from public bodies and increased levies on the trade.

Meanwhile the growers are content with the proposal of a 1 centimo per kilo levy as long as they can get a decent price for their grapes, agreed between them and the bodegas, who would have to double their current contribution of I centime per litre of wine sold. Cesar Saldaña, director of the Consejo, thinks this formula, along with increased public funding, could raise about 2 million euros, especially for generic promotion and education.

Thursday, 3 October 2013

3.10.13 Unique GB Anada; Wines from Spain Awards; Tio Pepe Sherrymaster

Gonzalez Byass have produced a bottle of very special Añada wine to commemorate the centenary of Cambridge University’s English Language Assessment Department. It will be presented during a ceremony at the bodega tomorrow.

The Oloroso, presented in a replica of the bottles used in the mid XIX century, is actually a blend of 11 of the most outstanding vintages from each decade of the century 1913-2013. The bottle has a driven cork and a vintage label and is sealed with red wax, numbered and signed on the back label by the president of GB, Mauricio Gonzalez Gordon.

Tasting notes are: Intense, complex and forthcoming on the nose with pronounced notes of hazelnuts and almonds in caramel and hints of polished furniture, cedar wood, slightly saline hints and a trace of the austerity that only age can confer. On the palate it is full, powerful, dry, dense and concentrated with tremendous balance between acidity and bitterness. It bursts onto the palate and lingers forever, the cleanest and purest definition of this kind of wine.

 Wines From Spain (ICEX), the Spanish Government body for promotion of Spanish wines in the UK, has announced its Awards for 2013, and needless to say Sherry has won a few. 700 wines were tasted and 107 selected for honourable mention. 
The Award winners were:
Fernando de castilla Antique Oloroso: Best Dry Fortified
Fernando de Castilla Antique PX: Best Sweet Fortified

Waitrose Solera Jerezana Palo Cortado (Lustau): Best Value Dry Fortified

Antonio Flores

Gonzalez Byass have recently concluded the first “Tio Pepe Sherrymaster” symposium. They plan to run the event every year, and it consists of two days of total immersion in the world of Sherry. Led by GB chief blender Antonio Flores, the event was assisted by internationally recognised speakers such as Josep (Pitu) Roca (sommelier at Can Roca Restaunt) and Sarah Jane Evans MW. It was attended by specialist journalists, sommeliers, gourmets and the like.

The first day focused on “History, the Vineyard and Biological Ageing”, with vineyard visits, a study of the climate and a look through GB archives followed by a tasting led by Antonio Flores.

The second day was entitled “The Selection and the Winery”. Much emphasis was put on selection and classification of the wines, and Sarah Jane Evans gave a talk on “Yeast versus Oxygen”. The closing tasting was “Sweet Farewell”, a look at Palomino, Moscatel and PX wines.

A splendid time was had by all! For more info:

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

The Great Sherry Festival

It is great to see some active promotion of Sherry taking place, and of course the Great Sherry Tasting on the 21st. Heaven knows, it is much needed. What gets me though, is that as usual in Britain, everything is centred on London. Any remotely interesting tasting - and there are plenty of them - takes place in London.

Perhaps promoters don't understand how long it takes to get there, or how much it costs, so here's my experience of the Great Sherry Tasting last year, going from Edinburgh:

Rise at 4.00 am and catch a plane to Gatwick at 6.00 am. Catch Gatwick Express in to Victoria, and change underground trains twice to get to Tottenham Court Road for about 9.30 am. Attend the tasting for two or three hours, have some lunch, and then head back to the underground, hopefully before the horrific rush-hour crush, then change trains to Victoria, Gatwick Express etc. I got home at about 8.30 pm. And I had spent well over £120.00. It is a horrific journey, and only a Sherry nut like me would have contemplated making the effort.

Perhaps promoters might give the rest of the country some consideration, and  hold tastings somewhere else occasionally, or even more than one. Sherry is so in need of promotion, that more than one would be of huge benefit. Yes, people anywhere in the UK can participate, but not many though - there are only 50 POS kits available! I fully understand the budget restrictions, but most of the hard work and costs will be wasted if Sherry is only promoted in London. We are not heathens  north of the M25 - and we vastly outnumber Londoners.

1.10.13 Great Sherry Festival

The Great Sherry Festival will take place from the 14th – 27th October, organised by the Sherry Institute of Spain. This is the inaugural consumer campaign for the UK on and off trades which will take place in participating restaurants, bars and wine merchants. It will be centred on London, and the many Sherry bars there will issue Sherry Loyalty Cards which will receive a stamp for every glass of Sherry purchased. When the card is full, consumers will be able to redeem the card for a special Sherry gift via the Great Sherry Festival facebook page, and gain entry into a prize draw.

Wine and Sherry bars involved are: Fino, Camino, Pepito, Barrica, Copita, Capote y Toro and Drakes. The wine merchants involved are Fortnum and Mason, Selfridges, Majestic Wine, Theatre of Wine, Prohibition Wines, Last Drop Wines among others. There will be a big consumer campaign as well as Facebook and Twitter activity. So if you live in London, have a great time.