The harvest is under way already in parts of the Sherry zone. This is the earliest start for quite a long time and the yield will be considerably down on last year. White grapes for Vino de la Tierra de Cadiz table wines are being picked now with the reds to follow soon. First to start at the beginning of the week, and picking at night, were Garcia Angulo Brothers with their Gewurztraminer, and they will soon be picking the Sauvignon Blanc, both grapes being used in their wine “Cortijo de Jara”. Before long they will be picking Tempranillo, Syrah and Merlot for their red wine.
A few kilometres north, Barbadillo is picking Sauvignon Blanc in their Gibalbin vineyard, and before too long will be picking the red grapes Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Tempranillo and Syrah for their “Gibalbin” red table wine.
The Palomino grapes from which Sherry is made are approaching the 10.5 degrees Beaume required by the Consejo before picking, but Barbadillo will be picking them soon for their “Castillo de San Diego” white table wine, the biggest-selling in Spain. Many white table wines in the area are made from Palomino, but there is a new tendency for the inclusion of other grapes to provide a greater range of aromas.
Another white grape, Chardonnay, is grown by Bodega Entrechuelos for their two white wines, Entrechuelos and Alhocen. This chateau-style bodega, run by Miguel Domecq has vineyards close to the XI century Torrecera. The oenologist Joaquin Gomez reckons picking will start on Friday, a good week earlier than normal. Barbadillo also use Chardonnay for their sparkling Beta Brut.
The early harvest has been caused by a very mild winter followed by early flowering, but the lower than average rainfall will not adversely affect the Vinos de la Tierra, as irrigation is permitted. The red grapes, which are planted ever more widely, look like being one to two weeks ahead of the usual, depending on location. They are ripe but not ready as their Beaume (sugar content) is still on the low side. Some white grapes have suffered from Oidium, especially Palomino, but that has been dealt with and they are healthy.
As Jose Maria Mateos of the Estacion de Viticultura put it: “It is more difficult to produce a white than a red. With whites, you need balance between aroma, acidity and alcohol, while with reds there are many more factors, most of which can be adjusted. Red is like an orchestra with 20 musicians, and white has only three.” The Garcia Angulo brothers believe you can make good wine with hard work and sustainability.
The Sherry harvest should begin in the next 2-3 weeks, but things are looking good for the Vino de la Tierra wines of Cadiz. If you can bear to drag yourself away from Sherry, these are often excellent.