Wednesday, 23 September 2015

A Royal Visit to Jerez and its Bodegas

From an interesting article by Antonio Mariscal Trujillo in Diario de Jerez

Queen Isabel  II with her husband Francisco de Asis de Borbón and their children, Isabel, María de la Paz,  Eulalia and Alfonso undertook a state visit to the provinces of Andalucía in the autumn of 1862. At midday on the 3rd of October the royal train from Cádiz pulled into the station at Jerez greeted by the bell of the Madre de Dios convent which was soon followed by all the others. Amid cheers and marching bands their majesties were received by civil, military and ecclesiastical dignitaries as well as the most prominent citizens who awaited them at the end of the platform. After a few brief words of welcome from the mayor, José María Izquierdo, the tightly scheduled programme began.

Isabel II (
Before a huge cheering crowd which surrounded the station the royal party boarded a coach drawn by six handsome horses in richly adorned harness and set off for the Collegiate Church. They were followed by a cortège of no fewer than sixty coaches all beautifully adorned, and it was said that the scene of streets, public buildings and church towers bedecked with coats of arms, flags and other decorations was almost too impressive to describe.

The Queen entered the city by way of the Calle Porvenir, at the start of which had been erected an arabesque archway. Hundreds of flowers and sheets of paper bearing poetic compositions rained down on the royal coach, while thousands of doves with coloured bows flew above the procession. On arrival at the Collegiate Church the royals could hardly get through the crowd and the noise of all the bells, bands and cheers of “¡Viva la Reina!” was deafening. They were greeted by the abbot and the collegiate chapter who ushered them to the main altar where they gave prayers of thanks.

Next the royal party headed for the Alcázar and after greeting the multitude from a window of the Ponce de León tower, they proceeded to the dining room luxuriously appointed with fine paintings. Her majesty was joined for lunch by various dignitaries at a table laid with the finest lace cloth, candelabra and silver cutlery, and the most exquisite meal was served from the finest china and glassware. With dessert the Queen was given commemorative medals in gold, silver and bronze, struck for the occasion. Four thousand more – presumably bronze ones - were thrown from a window to the crowd along with poems printed on silk.

Commemorative medal (foto:todocoleccion)
After lunch her majesty went to the throne room of the beautifully adorned Palacio de Villavicencio where the great and the good could pay homage. She granted the mayor an audience where he begged her to become a patron of the company formed to bring a water supply to the city from the Tempul springs which she granted, instructing the minister of development to do everything necessary to this end. After greeting the cheering crowds at a window the royal party set off for González Byass (González Dubosq as it was known then).

At the entrance to the bodegas the firm had built a triumphal arch in stone, which still stands there to this day. The royals entered through it and were welcomed by Manuel María González Ángel, the founder and director of the bodega, who invited them to watch the treading of the grapes. Luckily he knew of the royal desire to see this beforehand as the harvest was long finished, so he had sent people out to buy as many grapes kept back by people for pasas as they could obtain. They obtained no fewer than 23,000 kilos!

The arch at Gonzalez Byass (foto:elperiodico)
Treading over, their majesties were shown round the bodegas where the finest soleras were kept and here a young venenciador filled two crystal glasses with very old PX from a silver venencia so they could taste the nectar of Jerez. On taking their leave the royal party thanked Manuel María for a wonderful visit and stressed how important the Sherry industry was. Poor Manuel María, however, was out of pocket to the tune of 30,000 duros. He was offered a dukedom by the Queen but he politely refused. The wine produced by such unusual means turned out to be excellent and he commissioned a massive barrel to contain the 33 butts worth of it. As Christ died at the age of 33 the barrel was christened “El Cristo” and still sits in the bodega alongside twelve others named the Apostles. Judas is kept in the vinegar store. Manuel Maria dedicated the bodega La Concha, built in 1869, to her majesty in honour of her visit.

The triumphal arch at C/Lenceria (foto:jerezintramuros)
The Queen and her party now set off to visit Garvey’s bodega in Calle Guadalete via the Calle Lancería where a triumphal arch had been constructed in the Doric style. Having passed by more cheering crowds they arrived to the sound of the royal march and were greeted by Patricio Garvey, son of William the founder, and his two elder sons. Here the royals tasted their wines which would include their famously fine Amontillados and probably their Fino San Patricio which was  quite new to the  market. They went on to enjoy a tour of the bodega San Patricio which was the largest single bodega in Jerez, before setting off again to Visit the hospital.

At the Hospital de la Merced, which was renamed Santa Isabel de Hungría in the Queen’s honour they met the senior doctor and the nuns while visiting the wards and chatting with patients. Then it was back through the cheering crowds to the station where the Queen thanked the mayor in words of real affection and satisfaction for the wonderful reception she had received from this “Most Noble and Most Loyal City of Jerez”. At five o’clock the train pulled away from the cheering crowds in the direction of Sevilla. For many days afterwards the royal visit was the only thing people talked about, after all it had been 66 years since the last royal visit, that of Carlo IV in 1796.

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