Thursday, 28 December 2017

28.12.17 The Cooperatives Want to Extend the Zona de Crianza

It seems that the renaissance of Sherry has not reached the vineyards. The growers are not seeing the benefits of the growth in sales of de-classified wine driven by the shortfall in this year’s harvest elsewhere, and by growth in the cask seasoning business. Despite things looking up, the price of grapes and mosto is the lowest in the country and is strangling the cooperatives, whose spokesman, Francisco Lorenzo (also president of the coop Católico-Agricola in Chipiona), says that growers are getting ever older because the younger generation see no profit in the vineyards.

He says that “people are still abandoning vineyards so we need to sell more and better”, and he is asking the trade to consider raising prices since “we have a jewel of a wine but we sell it too cheaply, we simply can’t have Sherry at 2.50€ a bottle on the shelves”. He questions that Sherry sells as a wine of maximum quality but its true price is not paid. According to the man who represents the growers, who between them own almost half the vineyards “to have quality in the vineyard and the grape itself requires investment, and with current wine prices that is impossible”.

Francisco Lorenzo (foto:diariodejerez)

Having overcome their internal differences, the cooperatives are now defending their interests with a single voice, and within this integration process, a rise in the grape price and its effect on the growers are key to the future. Along with an increase in the final value of the product, the growers’ route plan for improving their situation includes a series of priorities and red lines, one of which is to extend the Zona de Crianza to the entire Sherry area.

As things stand, for a wine to have the Denominación de Origen (DO) it must be aged in the Sherry triangle of Jerez, El Puerto and Sanlúcar. But while, bodegas in the Zona de Producción: Chiclana, Puerto Real, Chipiona, Rota, Trebujena and Lebrija canal  produce Finos, Amontillados, Olorosos etc, they cannot have the DO. The cooperatives complain that wines from the production zone must comply with the same rules as those of the crianza zone but don’t have the same privileges. As Lorenzo puts it “the DO rules give us the same obligations, but not the same rights”. The cooperatives are thus claiming “recognition for what is already being made”.

It is paradoxical that a bodega in the crianza zone can buy wine from the production zone, age it for just six months more and sell it with the DO. In the judgement of Lorenzo this proves the quality of wine from outside the crianza triangle. He says that it is not really a question of competition since this refers to some 10,000 butts from the production zone versus some 85,000 from the crianza zone.

At the Consejo Regulador a committee was set up to look into increasing the area of the crianza zone, but members have not met in six months. In the face of this lack of progress the cooperatives have proposed reviving the debate, warning that if nothing happens soon they will look at other ways of reaching an agreement.

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