Saturday, 10 February 2018

Bodegas: Lorente & Barba

This is a new firm, established in 2016, but the wines and the bodega are old. It is run by two partners; Mauricio Lorente and Julio Barba. Mauricio’s great great grandfather was in the Sherry business and had a modest bodega which he passed on to his son at the end of the XIX century. He passed it on to his son, Onofre, who was a clinical and oenological pharmacist. He bought Bodegas Lukol and sold Sherry as well as Jerez Quinado La Enfermera and a Sherry based aphrodisiac containing yohimbine, which had modest success. He later sold the bodega and its commercial brands but retained the best of the family soleras, and these were inherited by Mauricio Lorente’s father, who was also called Onofre and was also a pharmacist and analyist, and who also had a bodega, in Calle Cabezas where he started in the 1970s as an almacenista.

The knowledge and skills of his forebears in the days before oenologists meant that when Mauricio inherited the wines they had been carefully looked after and he decided to establish a bodega with Julio and sell Sherry. They acquired a lovely bodega which is 500 years old, constructed from stone and brick with thick walls, low roof and hand carved single block stone pillars, in Calle Ceniza, an area where some of the oldest bodegas were built. As the street was re-paved over the centuries the bodega floor is now about one and a half metres below street level.

Another giveaway as to its age is the fact that it has two stories and the upper one would have been used to store grain and straw in the days before the advent of the “cathedral bodegas”. The bodega also has a well dating back to Moorish times, which once had a waterwheel, and it is said that the well never dried up even in the severest drought. For that reason, the first fire station in Jerez was installed in an adjacent building. The well is referred to in a book from 1261 listing property divided among the supporters of king Alfonso X “The Wise” when he took Jerez from the Moors.

The bodega is the oldest in Jerez still functioning as such and is still perfect for ageing wines. The firm has launched two wines to start with; a Fino and an Oloroso. At each saca 200 - 225 bottles (or a third of the contents) are filled directly from each butt. The wine drawn from each butt is not blended for homogeneity, so these are single butt wines, and the label of each bottle carries the number of the butt it was filled from and the date of the saca, so there can be slight variation between bottles from the same saca, making it even more interesting. And of course they are bottled en rama.

With the Fino they have stretched out the ageing under flor for to the maximum, helped by the excellent conditions in the bodega. It is darker and more intense than younger wines and is around 12 years old. The Oloroso is between 18-20 years old and intense yet elegant and very long. So far they are only selling these two wines, but others are in the pipeline. 

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