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.
This well respected but now lost bodega was
established in 1837 by Salvador García del Salto who spent some of his wealth on
developing extensive vineyard holdings in the pagos Macharnudo, Carrahola, Almenillas,
Cerro de Santiago, Añina and Balbaina, as well as bodegas, and offices in Plaza
de los Ángeles, Jerez. He built up a successful production, almacenista and
exporting business with export markets, primarily in Britain and France where
his brand was much sought after.
He was married to María de la Encarnación
Valiente, and their son, Rafael García del Salto y Valiente, was born in Jerez
in 1851. He studied first in
Madrid, and aged only 13, enrolled in the military college of Segovia in preparation
for joining the artillery. Four years later he abandoned this and moved to England
where he studied commerce at Cheltenham College before returning to Jerez in
the early 1870s. Here he spent a couple of years learning the Sherry trade with
bodegas Juan Haurie & Nephews, where he acquired a profound knowledge of and
passion for the Sherry trade, which stood him in good stead to take over the
family business on the death of his father in 1874.
Rafael Garcia del Salto y Valiente
Rafael inherited a great deal of money and a
thriving Sherry business, but rather than have an easy life, he threw himself
into the business, ending up with ten bodegas and approaching 9,000 butts of
wine in stock. Agents were established in Holland, Belgium, Denmark, Sweden, Norway,
Germany, Mexico, Canada, and he had offices in Paris and London. His Amontillados Macharnudo and Non
Plus Ultra were well known in up-market circles throughout Europe.
In 1889 he entered his wines in the Paris
Exhibition and won prizes for them. The 1890s saw many such exhibitions and, believing
in strength in unity, he entered the wines of various other exporters as well
and they won many prizes and medals, especially in the Universal Exhibition of
Bordeaux in 1895. The local press of the time said that this would have passed
unnoticed in Jerez had it not been for Rafael’s efforts in creating a Sherry
wines pavilion at the Exhibition. Having been appointed to the judging panel, and
not for the first time, he had a certain influence which he used to the full.
The French press devoted much space to the
banquets, meetings and tastings in which Rafael promoted his beloved Sherry and
explained it in great detail. On arrival, visitors were given a leaflet listing
all the Sherry producers and their products, and they were captivated with his
gently humorous talks - accompanied by models of soleras, lagares and samples
of albariza - on the production process of Sherry, which is nothing like what
is done in France. He even had the illustrious French chemist Ulysse Gayon,
regarded as one of the fathers of oenology, analyse samples of albariza, and he
in turn recommended suitable vine varieties for it.
For his work in promoting Sherry, often at his
own expense and his vast knowledge of it, Rafael was awarded all sorts of
recognitions including the Legion d’Honneur and the Cruz de Isabel la Católica.
He died in Switzerland in 1901 having achieved so much in his 50 short years, but the firm continued for a while as Rafael García del Salto & Cia, being run by one P de Lambarri.