Thursday, 16 July 2015

Bodegas: Matthiesen Furlong & Co.

This was once an important firm, consisting of a partnership between Henry Matthiesen, and Charles Harman Furlong established in 1834. They had offices at 36 Great Tower Street in London and they acquired an old Jesuit Monastery, abandoned after the order’s expulsion by the state in 1835, which served as their rather unusual bodega.

According to Vizetelly in 1876 the nave, aisles, choir and cloisters were all crowded with butts of Sherry 3 tiers high. In the former refectory were large vats used for maturing and fining, and the largest was used for blending. There were all sorts of modern appliances such as an apparatus for steaming new butts. The firm also owned vineyard in the Pago Cuartillos NE of Jerez which produced about 200 butts. A relative, Peter Furlong owned a finca with olives and vines between Jerez and Rota near El Puerto which today is known as the Finca El Olivar de Forlón (the Spanish spelling of Furlong). A young couple is now producing creditable table wines here under the name Bodegas Forlong.

CH Furlong (foto:jerezdecine)
Charles Furlong was the British Vice Consul in Jerez between 1861 and 1868, succeeding Charles Peter Gordon who was sacked for allowing his almost fanatical Catholicism to interfere with his work and who took every opportunity to attack his successor, who was a Protestant.

By 1870 the London office had become aware that Furlong was using illegal winemaking practices and that the quality of the wines had slipped. Walter John Buck was sent out ostensibly to learn the business, but was soon able to confirm that indeed that was the case. Before long, Furlong was “retired” back to England and Buck duly replaced him at the bodega.

Walter J Buck (foto:entornoajerez)
Buck was a keen naturalist, writing “Wild Spain” and “Unexplored Spain” along with Abel Chapman, and was an accomplished musician and popular man. The Matthiesen Furlong partnership dissolved 1876 and Buck joined Sandeman, the firm changing its title to Sandeman, Buck y Cia In 1879. In the same year Sandeman took over the bankrupt firm of Pemartin.

Buck’s place was taken at Matthiesen Furlong by the Catalán Enrique Coll, who before very long decided to join the Church. In 1884 the Jesuits returned and the bodega had to be disbanded. The stocks and equipment went to José María Fernández y González, who had started a bodega business in Jerez established in 1888 and owned the Viña San Agustín.  It later passed to his successors, Fernández Gao Hermanos. It duly went to their successors, Hijos de Fernando Fernández Gao y González, before being bought out by McKenzie (established 1852), who in turn were bought out by Harveys.

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