Friday, 8 January 2016

Bodegas: Zoilo Ruiz Mateos SL

The original business was established in 1857 in Rota. Zoilo Ruíz Mateos Rodicio inherited the firm which produced the local red wine, Tintilla de Rota, known then (to the anglophones) as “Tent.” He was married to María Dolores Camacho y Cacella.

One of these children is Zoilo (foto:Fundacion Alcalde Zoilo Ruiz Mateos)

Their son, Zoilo Ruíz Mateos Camacho born in Rota in 1900, reorganised the business and associated himself in 1930 with another small bodega, Benítez López, in Jerez. He bought a small (hexagonal!) bodega with a mere 300 butts in the Calle Chancillería from Perico Lassaletta in 1944 and was now happily dealing in Sherry as an almacenista.  He enjoyed a very happy marriage to Encarnación Jiménez de Tejada y del Pozo with whom he had various children. He was a much respected man and mayor of Rota, where a street is now named after him - and one in Jerez too.

A lovely portrait (foto:Jose Luis Jimenez)
In 1952 his three elder sons, Zoilo, Rafael and José María, joined him in the business and in 1958 José María formalised it into a company called Zoilo Ruíz Mateos SA. It was still a modest family business but José María had big ideas. In 1960 he somehow managed to persuade Harveys of Bristol to make him their principal wine supplier with a 99 year supply contract even though he didn’t have enough wine to supply the 96,000 butts Harveys needed. Over the next decade, therefore, he would buy up no fewer than 16 of the Sherry firms which were struggling and amalgamate them into the new Bodegas Internacionales (BISA). Really he was more of a businessman than a bodeguero, leaving  Zoilo to run the Sherry business while he embarked on his Rumasa empire in Madrid. Zoilo died in 1962 and José Maria's sons took over.

The sign reads "The firm started here" (foto:diariodejerez)
Sherry which ZRM could produce was augmented by that of BISA, keeping the remaining brands supplied until Rumasa was expropriated in 1983. The ageing bodega is in the Calle Pizarro next to Sandeman and close to the Real Escuela. Through ZRM Nueva Rumasa bought Sandeman’s bodegas and 400 ha of vineyards with a contract to make the wines for the latter’s owners, Sogrape of Portugal, most of which is made at Garvey.

Both the Garvey bodegas (Complejo Bellavista) and Bodegas Zoílo Ruíz Mateos are being sold by the administrators as a going concern, but together, as they share winemaking and bottling facilities. Also for sale is the iconic Sandeman bodega which is still not yet fully paid for.

Apart from the Sandeman range, the bodega makes three wines of its own: Zoilo Ruiz Mateos Reserva Privada Amontillado, Oloroso and PX, all VORS in fancy cut glass bottles.

In 1994 Williams & Humbert bought the BISA bodega and the Sherry brand Don Zoilo and Brandy Gran Duque de Alba from Marcos Eguizabal who had bought it from the Spanish State. In the end it might be said that this once very good bodega reflects the stories of both Rumasa and Nueva Rumasa.




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