Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Bodegas Sebastián Argudo e Hijos

As with so many lost bodegas the history of this one is a little sketchy, but luckily the family had some information. In fact, José Argudo López de Carrizosa is the current marketing director at González Byass. It began with Sebastián Argudo Guijarro who was born in Jerez in 1837. Around 1868 he married Josefa Flores Guillén (1842-1899), a member of a distinguished local family and they had three children; José (1871-1936?), Joaquín and Rosario. They lived in a very attractive house in Calle Larga, 52 next to what is now Unicaja Bank. This house was refurbished in 1924 and later owned by the bodeguero Aurelio Segovia.

 In 1870 Sebastián set up in business in the Sherry trade and three years later had an elegant  new bodega constructed by the architect José Esteve on a piece of land he owned in Calle Circo, close to the bullring. All that remains now however, are the outer walls, but they have a certain charm with their medallions carved in stone with the initials SA y Hnos which are now very weathered.

Sebastián’s brother Francisco worked in the business until 1889 along with José and Joaquín who continued it after their father’s death on 27th August 1910. Sebastián had built up a solid and profitable business as a grower, almacenista and exporter and as a distiller of spirits and brandies. He also had a timber and coal business, importing oak from the Baltic among other woods and supplying barrel hoops. His annual brandy production amounted to 1,000 hectolitres and required 50 workers to run the stills and soleras. Most of the brandy was sold in Spain and the Americas.

Argudo exhibited at the Bordeaux Exhibition in 1895 and the Universal Exhibition in Paris in 1900. His wife’s brother in law, José Soto Nuñez de Villavicencio, ran an important cooperage and bought his raw materials for the making of Sherry butts from Argudo. Many of these were supplied to Palomino & Vergara. During the 1920s the firm was featured in the magazine Blanco y Negro and the newspaper ABC showing its importance at the time.

Sebastian Agudo

The fim’s best-known brands were: Tres Cortados Sagunto, two Manzanillas La Sevillana (a Manzanilla of this name was also sold by C del Pino) and La Giralda (a Manzanilla of this name was also sold by Gordon & Doz), Fino Excelente, Matúsalem 1820 and Coñac Extra Argudo.

Information from José Luis Jiménez

Monday, 12 November 2018

Manzanilla 3 en rama Spring 2018 15%, Lustau

Brass tinged pale strawy gold with golden highlights.

Clean, fresh, saline with a definite maritime air. The other classic Manzanilla aromas of herbs are there too with a slight grassy note and a hint of camomile backed by a slightly mineral edge. There is of course a yeasty, bready, briny character and the flor doesn´t predominate.
Crisp on entry and quite "punzante" (incisive, zippy),with perfect acidity, then it settles down and releases an attractive freshness and a trace of apple fruit. The flor is not excessively bitter allowing that fruit and the lovely herbal notes to come through. It is quite light and zesty, good and dry and with a very long clean finish.
One of a range of three en rama wines from Sanlúcar, Jerez and El Puerto which show the differences in style in the three distinct places, this is a textbook Manzanilla with an average age of about five years, and was bottled in April 2018. As Lustau have no bodegas in Sanlúcar, the wine might come from either Elías González Guzmán, whose bodega is amongst the closest to the Guadalquivir estuary and whose wines are very good, or the almacenista Manuel Cuevas Jurado. The wine underwent no pre-bottling treatment whatsoever.
15.25 per 50cl, Licores Corredera

Saturday, 10 November 2018

Brandy Marqués del Mérito Solera Gran Reserva 38%, Diez-Mérito

Deep mahogany with copper highlights and the faintest trace of green at the rim.
Rich and smooth with aromas of walnut, fine old oak butts, brown sugar, and hints of vanilla, dried orange peel, Oloroso and traces of fruit cake and raisins, possibly from PX. It is extremely harmonious in a way that only sufficient ageing can achieve, and most attractive.
It is rich and very smooth on the palate as well with a hint of sweetness rounding it off nicely without obscuring anything. Added to that there is a good "winey" fruit along with those orange and raisin notes and the faintest  hint of rancio without any aggressive wood tannin. A very fine brandy; smooth, tasty and very long.
Diez-Mérito was the result of the 1979 merger of Diez Hermanos (est 1876) and Marqués del Mérito (est 1862). It was taken over by Rumasa in 1981 and merged with Pemartin and Bertola and the group was bought in 1985 by Marcos Eguizabal whose heirs sold the firm to the Espinosa family. The brandy solera dates back to 1819 and had been bought by Mérito in the XIX century. It has been sold under various names over the years, and Eguizabal had renamed it Conde de los Andes, but it is now back to its original name and sold, at least until very recently, in various versions: 15, 25 and 35, but there numbers are being removed as people thought they referred to the age of the brandy, but they don´t. In fact nobody seems very sure what they refer to. The different label colours are sufficient to signify a difference. Anyway this brandy is pure holandas and over 5 years old, though I suspect it is much older and even better than that, presumably because of the age of the solera.
30 euros ex bodega

Friday, 9 November 2018

9.11.18 Consejo Says There Is No War Between Sherry and Manzanilla

The response from the Association of Artisan Bodegas of Sanlúcar (Asaba) to the High Court ban on BIB has not gone down well in the Consejo which yesterday issued a communiqué criticising the nature of their response.

The Consejo rejected the disparaging remarks directed at the region´s institutions, especially the Consejo itself, as well as at “perfectly respectable people”. In particular the Consejo condemned the Association´s “insults” aimed at Fedejerez president Evaristo Babé who, it points out, “represents the interests of the majority of the trade”.

The Consejo also rejected the “localised and victimised” tone in which Asaba is making the BIB affair into a conflict between the DOs Sherry and Manzanilla. “There is no war between the DOs” it said, pointing out that Asaba omits to mention that the largest Manzanilla producers are against the sale of BIBs and that those in favour of it want to use it for both Manzanilla and Sherry.

The wines of both DOs “coexist in the bodegas´portfolios without any problems as they have been since the DO Manzanilla was established over 50 years ago” said the Consejo, and since then Sherry and Manzanilla “have shared the same production zone, have been supplied by the same vineyards and essentially face the same problems in the marketplace”, so to present the matter in terms of competing products is to attempt to fragment a sector which needs to be united to be able to successfully tackle the challenges of the future”.

The Consejo also responded to Asaba´s criticism of the sharing of representation at the Consejo “which can be changed through legal channels” but Manzanilla, vinegar and the small bodegas each having their own representative would not mean that the others would not have interests in Manzanilla, as happens in the production sector which is common to the three DOs supervised by the Consejo.

The bodegas affected by the High Court ruling, the association they belong to and the Junta itself have every right to appeal the court ruling which found in favour of Fedejerez against the Junta which authorised the use of BIB for use in horeca counter to majority decisions at the Consejo.

The latter underlined in its communiqué that its prohibition of BIB is “in line with the most prestigious DOs in Spain”, the criterion being image. Finally the Consejo points out that justice has proved that it acted legally in this matter and that “the decisión not to authorise BIB was made with the sincere conviction that it was best for our DOs”.

Thursday, 8 November 2018

8.11.18 González Byass Best Bodega in Europe 2018

GB has received this accolade in the Wine Star Awards 2018 held by the influential American wine magazine Wine Enthusiast in recognition of its achievements worldwide and especially in the US. Also noted was the fact that the firm makes unique wines which faithfully express the vineyard and uses artisan winemaking techniques with respect for the environment. GB was established in 1835 and is now run by the fifth generation, selling its products in more than 100 countries. It has bodegas in Jerez, Rioja, Somontano, Cataluña (Cava), Rueda, Rias Baixas, Castilla and Cádiz, as well as Chile and Mexico. President of the firm Mauricio González Gordon Will collect the award in Miami next January.

Wednesday, 7 November 2018

7.11.18 Sanlúcar´s Reaction to the Ban on BIB

The Professional Association of Artisan Bodegas of Sanlúcar has reacted to the recent High Court ruling on the prohibition of Bag in Box saying that Fedejerez is continuing with its policy of ruining the Marco de Jerez. The bodegueros of Sanlúcar point out that the ruling runs against that of the Junta de Andalucía which is the titular body of the Consejo Regulador of the denominations of origin Sherry and Manzanilla.

While they will comply -reluctantly - with the ruling, the Association considers that its contents show “a completely erroneous, insensitive and unjust interpretation of the facts as related to the regulations and also show total insensibility to a matter of great economic importance to a very significant part of the trade since the appeal against the preventive measure imposed two years ago and which infringed basic principles of justice has not even yet been resolved”.

The Association is therefore urging the Junta and others to appeal for an annulment of the ruling to reclaim the “justice which has been erroneously denied”. Furthermore the Association considers it a fact that ”Fedejerez, whose members are bodegas outside the DO Manzanilla, is trying to manage their sales to the benefit of their own competing DO”. It complains about the words of the Fedejerez spokesman on learning of the Court´s ruling that “ in some way it will contribute to calming relations between the DOs which comprise the Consejo Regulador”. On this point the Association is urging “generational change of the people who have been running the institutions and are bringing the area to ruin”.

Association press conference (fot:diariodejerez)
The Sanluqueños indicate that they will continue working “ceaselessly” to unite the different bodegas which comprise the DO Manzanilla “ to ensure their own decisión-making capacity at the Consejo and not have to submit to decisions made by bodegas of another DO with opposing interests” which is what happens now as they “only have one voice out of twenty”.

The Association will take up the matter of BIB again at the Consejo as “we are entirely convinced that it is the container of the future and will help to improve things in a región where the price of grapes is the lowest in Spain and sales are in freefall due to the complacency of those who continue to run the institutions”. To achieve this they are holding meetings with other operators in the area to gain the necessary majority.

“A small group of big firms maintain control of the Consejo where Señor (Evaristo) Babé is lord and master” is the Association´s charge against the president of Fedejerez. While the Consejo consists of representatives from all sides of the trade, “curiously, and despite having the same weight, Manzanilla only has one voice of the twenty established in the regulations to face a full majority from DO Sherry”. The Sanluqueños feel that “times will change in the area”, not only in terms of regulation but also in terms of generations, capable of adapting to the markets “for a return to a period of growth on solid foundations which would put our prestigious wine back in the position it deserves not just in terms of quality but also of price”.

The Association has been working for some months now to protect the interests of the Manzanilla producers having fostered the creation of the Mesa de la Manzanilla and the Fundación Manzanilla – Sanlúcar Barrameda.

It is perhaps worth pointing out that sales of wine in BIB in Spain grew by 50.7% last year according to official figures.