A blog and review on all things Sherry. It is about tasting, enjoyment and learning more about the World’s Finest Wine. "Sherry is a thoroughbred" as Javier Hidalgo rightly puts it. Included are the amazing local Brandies and the remarkably good table wines also produced in the province of Cádiz.
Antonio López López, the first Marqués
(1817-1883), was born in humble circumstances in Comillas near Santander, and
at only 14 years old he left for Cuba in search of better opportunities. In no
time he prospered in the shipping business and went on to make an immense
fortune counting banking, tobacco and railways – and some believe transport of
slaves - among his huge portfolio. In 1878 King Alfonso XII awarded him the
honour of Marqués. He also became a Grande de España.
Claudio Lopez Bru, II Marques de Comillas
His son Claudio López Bru was born in 1853, and
despite being the fourth son, he inherited the title on his father’s death.
Claudio was every bit as skilled in business as his father and increased the
portfolio dramatically. He set up a hugely successful shipping and shipyard
business in Cádiz. A deeply devout Catholic he did much for the Church and religious
politics and became a major benefactor.
The bodega in Pollero Alto days
Naturally the Sherry business seemed profitable
and he bought the bodegas originally established by the firm Viña El Pollero
Alto, established in 1837 right on the quayside at El Puerto de Santa María.
Sherry was sold under the Marqués de Comillas brand name but for some reason –
presumably the quality of its wine - the label made reference to the bodega
previously having been Viña El Pollero Alto. This, despite the bodega having
belonged in the interim to both AA Sancho and Pedro Domecq.
What with nearly a lifetime of legendary
philanthropy (he was known as Spain’s greatest donor - and was even beatified),
the Marqués was running out of money and had to sell many assets. One of these
was the bodega, which was sold in the early 1920s to José Gutiérrez Dosal, the
grandfather of Juan Carlos Gutiérrez Colosía who still runs the business today.
Interestingly, Grupo Estévez now owns the Viña El Pollero Alto brand but doesn’t
use it. The 2nd Marqués de Comillas died in 1925.