Monday, 29 June 2015

Bodegas: Juan Piñero SL

This is a comparatively new bodega in Sanlúcar, established as recently as 1992 by Juan Piñero who made his money in construction. He began by buying from Argueso a bodega of 3,000 square metres in the Calle Trasbolsa in the Barrio Bajo (lower district) of Sanlúcar which, after some repairs and refurbishment of the central patio with orange trees, was fit again for purpose. It was built in the 1920s to resemble the great bodega La Arboledilla, and is a classic Sanlúcar bodega orientated east-west to catch the maritime breezes and with a high roof, earth floor and enormous windows: perfect for creating Manzanilla. For the first few years he supplied wine to La Gitana, but that meant working to suit them. With the arrival in 2013 of Ramiro Ibáñez as oenologist Juan took the decision to sell his own  brands, and with great success.

Anyway, in 1993, he bought 1,800 well-seasoned American oak butts, each of 30 arrobas (or 500 litres) capacity. Then he bought a Manzanilla solera of 400 butts the same size as well as young wines from the Pago el Cuadrado vineyards. Eager to keep on improving, in 2000 he bought the old Pedro Domecq bodega in the Calle Alcoba, along with the Manzanilla Maruja soleras which once belonged to Fernando A de Terry. These were moved to the bodega in Calle Trasbolsa where conditions were now perfect for Manzanilla.

The Terry label for Maruja
In 2007, being keen to offer a bigger range of wines, he bought another old bodega in the historic centre of Jerez, in the Calle Francisco Javier. This bodega extends to 800 square metres, has an earth floor, high roof and thick walls to regulate the heat, and houses the solera Fino Camborio which once also belonged to Fernando A de Terry in El Puerto de Santa María. There are also 750 very old American oak butts of very old Oloroso which he bought. 

Juan Pinero's label for Maruja
The range consists of - from Sanlúcar:
Manzanilla Maruja: over 8 years old, El Hornillo must fermented at vineyard 8 criaderas and 8-10 sacas per year.
Manzanilla Jarona: as above but over 3 years old, 3 criaderas, 8-10 sacas (jarona is slang for "vague")
Amontillado at over 15 years old,
Palo Cortado at much the same age
From Jerez:
Fino Camborio
Oloroso at about 25 years old
And the sweet wines: Moscatel at about 7 years, Cream at about 12 years and PX at about 7 years.

The Manzanilla Maruja has an interesting history. In the early XX century tastes were changing from heavier Olorosos to a lighter style. Manzanilla took off and bodegueros wanted some. Fernando A de Terry wanted to register one as “Maria” but was prevented from doing so as there was already a biscuit of this name. He ended up with the most similar sounding name he could think of, Maruja, (which while a girl’s name, also translates roughly as “housewife” or “maid”). The Civil War ruined business in the domestic market, but it picked up again in the 1940s and Maruja was popular. The solera, in reality Fino, was at El Puerto but was refreshed until the mid- 1950s with large amounts of Manzanilla bought from Barbadillo. This worked well till Manzanilla started to go out of fashion again and as the soleras were no longer refreshed with it, the wine became almost Amontillado and then back to Fino again. In 1985 Terry was bought after the expropriation of Rumasa by Allied Domecq which was dismembered in 2005 by Beam and Pernod Ricard, and Terry along with the Maruja soleras went to Beam, and ultimately to Juan Piñero. So this wine has had many guises since it began.

Address: Calle Trasbolsa, 35,  11540 Sanlúcar de Barrameda, Cádiz
Telephone: 956 360 465
Visits: Yes, by appointment

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