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.
PARTLY it is because they arouse my curiosity since
many of these old firms were the forerunners of the bodegas of today. Many of
their soleras still exist but are now in different hands, often renamed,
sometimes unused, but it is interesting to know how and where they ended up. Most
of the family names still exist, but few of the original bodegas. As the firms grew they bought or built more, resulting in bodegas all over the place
which was impractical. Recent years have seen firms consolidate in much bigger
bodegas and sell off the old sites to the builders. Anyway, many of those old
bodegas were no longer fit for purpose as surrounding modern construction had
diverted their supply of Poniente wind and modern trucks could not pass down
the narrow streets.
Luckily Real Tesoro was rehoused at Estevez (foto:laeasignatura.wordpress.com)
PARTLY it is because the trade was different
then. It was full of industrious and innovative people who, in the days before
the Denominación de Origen, were also involved with other types of wine such as
Madeira, Port and Málaga, which they either bought in for resale – though in
some cases they actually owned the respective wineries - or simply made it themselves.
There used to be “Porto de procedencia” (genuine Port) or “Porto de Jerez”. The
same applied to spirits with, for example “Coñac” and “Ojén” (an anise
flavoured spirit originally from Ojén near Marbella). They did all sorts of
things which were perfectly legal then, including refreshing soleras with
Montilla and making outrageous advertising claims.
PARTLY also because I realised it is almost impossible
to find this information anywhere else and decided to offer what I could find.
I have spent a great deal of time researching them in my own Sherry library (37
books - so far), on the internet, talking with people, and of course in the
library in Jerez with the librarian, but there is not much there either.
Naturally there are records of births, marriages and deaths, the padrón (a list
of everyone habitually living in a municipality), planning permissions, council
taxes and such like, but virtually nothing about individual Sherry firms. A whole
team of researchers with plenty of time would be needed to piece all this together
and match it up to any other extant information.
Interior of Jerez Library
As historians say, it is the winners who write
history, or in this case the bigger, surviving bodegas. There is no shortage of
information on them, but it is amazing how quickly information about even recently
closed bodegas disappears. Rumasa certainly didn’t help; in its rush to buy up
bodegas little thought was given to their records. Another point is that many
of these old firms simply left less evidence. They would change the company
name as directors came and went, making it very hard to trace their history,
and most exported in bulk so the wine would usually bear the name of its
importer in another land, meaning the producer often had no label; even less to remember them
Here’s to the hundreds of lost bodegas who
helped create the wonderful wine we enjoy so much today.