Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Sherry Brands Named After Vineyards

People are rightly impressed when you tell them that a wine comes from a single vineyard, a single plot of land with unique terroir characteristics which imbue the wine with its own definitive flavour and aromatic profile. Local yeast populations, microclimate, orientation, depth of soil, vine age and pruning method are just some of the components of terroir. The Sherry zone has many single vineyards, and in the past, when the vineyards still mattered, many brands were named after that place which provided such special grapes. It may only rarely have been stated on the label that the wine came from a single vineyard, but it did nonetheless, and much of its character and quality was a direct result.

Viña Botaina (foto:entornoajerez.blogspot)
Times moved on, and the priorities of Sherry production changed from quality to quantity during the boom years which led to the inevitable current slump. From the 1960s lots of small firms, many of whom owned vineyard, were swallowed up by the likes of Rumasa, whose main priority was quantity. Many bodegas and their brand names disappeared and vineyards simply became sources of grapes to supply the soleras, while the caseríos (vineyard press houses) were mostly abandoned for the convenience of modern vinification plants in Jerez itself.

Vina El Majuelo with its medieval tower in Macharnudo (foto:entornoajerez.blogspot)
The recent grubbing-up of vineyards due to the re-balancing of supply and demand has meant that the best ones were kept, so the average standard is better than before, but many vineyard names have disappeared, and the surviving vineyards have often changed hands and now supply grapes for the new owners’ brands. Many bodegas now no longer own any vineyards and prefer to buy in mosto (newly made wine) from growers and cooperatives.

The caserio at Torrebreva (foto:Infantes deOrleans Borbon)
In Jerez an individual site is known as a “viña” and the general vineyard area in which it is located is known as a “pago” (but confusingly the two are sometimes mixed up). Nobody would contest that the vineyard is of critical importance to the quality and style of the wine, but many would say that in Jerez the years of crianza (ageing) of the wine and the place that it happens obscure the particular mark of the vineyard. Many disagree however, saying that crianza only concentrates it, and there is a move to focus once more on the vineyard. In fact the Consejo Regulador is working on a project to identify all the delimited vineyards.

The caserio at Viña AB (foto:jerezdecine.wordpress.com)
Here is a list of some notable Sherries once named after single vineyards, but it is almost certain that most of those brands still with us now contain grapes from other vineyards:

Manzanilla Atalaya: Pago Miraflores, Bodegas Barón

Amontillado Botaina: Pago Macharnudo, once Andrés Botaina then Domecq, now Lustau

Manzanilla Las Cañas: Pago Balbaina, Sánchez Ayala – Equipo Navazos (No. 8)

Rich old Oloroso Royal Corregidor: Pago Carrascal, Sandeman (Sogrape)

Fino Inocente: Pago Macharnudo (alto), Valdespino (Estévez)

Fino Macharnudo: Pago Macharnudo, Sánchez Romate

Oloroso Ochavico: Pago Los Tercios, Garvey

Fino Olivar: Pago Los Tercios, Matthiesen Furlong & Co. then Wisdom & Warter, then GB

Fino La Panesa: Pago Macharnudo, Emilio Hidalgo

Manzanilla Pasada Pastrana: Pago Miraflores, Hidalgo la Gitana

Amontillado Príncipe: Pago Balbaina Alta, Barbadillo

Manzanilla El Rocío: Pago Miraflores, Viuda Manjón, later González Byass

Palo Cortado Tizón: Pago Tizón, Wisdom & Warter, now González Byass

Moscatel Pico Plata:Pago Pico Plata, Chipiona, now Yuste

Manzanilla Torre Breba (Torrebreva): Pago Miraflores, Infantes de Orléans Borbón, once owned by the Duc de Monpensier and rented to Richard Davies

PX Viña 25: This vineyard owned by Domecq was known as Viña 25 because it extended to 25 aranzadas (@10 ha). The vineyard is gone, victim to a motorway, but Lustau still produce the brand.

Amontillado Viña AB: Pago Macharnudo (AB=Andrés Boatina). GB bought this vineyard from him 
in the 1840s

Finisimo Viña El Cuadrado: Pago Balbaina, O'Neale, now Hidalgo La Gitana

Jerez Viña Sabel: Pago Macharnudo, M.A. de la Riva, latterly Domecq, now Estévez. Style of Sherry not given on label, possibly Oloroso

Vina Sabel (foto:JCCazalla Montijano)

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