Thursday, 17 January 2019

Bodegas: Páez Morilla

It was Don Francisco Páez y Sánchez who founded a small Sherry firm in Jerez in 1911. His best known brands were Amontillado Don Luis, Fino Blasón, Fino El 90, Oloroso 1/54 and his vinegar was well regarded. His son Antonio Páez Lobato was born in 1923 and worked from an early age in the bodega´s despacho de vinos, more of a tabanco really. At the age of 23 this astute entrepreneurial young man not only got married but also set up a cooperage business, Tonelería Antonio Páez Lobato, which gradually grew to be very successful. Nowadays they also season butts with Sherry for the whisky industry and bottle the wines and vinegars they produce at their plant in the outskirts of Jerez. Here one of the huge bodega walls has been painted with a mural of trees and sky.

Antonio Paez Lobato

Antonio also did something no-one else had thought of and that was to commercialise Sherry vinegar which, despite its well-known quality was only used by its producers or local restaurants. He selected and bought vinegar soleras from various firms like Williams & Humbert, Sandeman, O´Neale, González Byass, Lacave Ruiz Tagle and Osborne and before long he earned the nickname “the vinegar king”. It was he who put Jerez Vinegar on the map and it eventually got its own Denominación de Origen. Now the firm markets a large range of solera vinegars up to over 10 years old and a range of balsamic sauces called Doña Pepa.

Hacienda La Vicaria

 Backed by this success he decided to produce table wines and in the early 1970s bought a large vineyard with albariza soils, Hacienda La Vicaría near Arcos de la Frontera. This vineyard dates back to the XVIII century. The first wine, Viña Lucía, was a red made from Syrah, Tempranillo and Cabernet Sauvignon, aged in oak for a year and launched in 1977 being the first bottled crianza red wine from Cádiz. This was followed in 1981 by Tierra Blanca, a blend of Palomino Fino and Riesling and later by a semiseco version. Both of these are cold fermented in stainless steel tanks and are not aged in wood. 

Vineyard at Hacienda La Vicaria

 Recently four other wines have been released: Risa is a sweet semi-sparkling low strength Moscatel with a rosado version. Faluka Chardonnay is cold fermented and not oak aged, and Arrullo de Estrellas is a sweet red made from Cabernet Sauvignon. They have even recently branched out into the production of a unique liqueur based on Brandy de Jerez called Licor de Tocino de Cielo. This is a local dessert made with caramelised egg yolk and sugar first produced at the Convent of the Holy Spirit in 1324.

In 1992 one of Antonio´s sons, José Páez Morilla, bought three of the 12 old bodegas which had previously belonged to Palomino & Vergara from the sell-off after the expropriation of Rumasa. Here he established a new Sherry firm, Bodegas Dios Baco, named after the largest of the three bodegas, and produces top quality Sherry, Brandy etc. Interestingly this much smaller firm exports 85% of its products while Páez Morilla exports very little, mainly the vinegar products.

Address: Avenida de Medina Sidonia, 20, Jerez de la Frontera, Cádiz
Telephone: 956 181 717
Visits? By appointment

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