Sunday, 30 September 2012

Fino Perdido 15%, Sanchez Romate

Deepish fairly bright golden straw, deeper than many Finos, light legs.
Lovely, quite intense aromas of flor - bread dough, almond, a certain salinity, yeast and very finely controlled oxidation, more intense and serious than many finos, little if any Marmite, but very complex and quite soft.
Soft and gentle yet full of flavour and elegance, trace acidity balances beautifully with the yeasty roundness, the very earliest hints of Amontillado are there but it is delicious as it is without going any further, quite savoury with just a hint of salty nuts with a tang of flor on a very long finish.

From a tiny 15 butt solera called Celestino which is run less frequently than the bigger Marismeno solera, this wine is at least 8 years old and bottled "en rama" - with minimal filtration. It is a style rarely seen nowadays, unfortunately. In Sanlucar the Manzanillas Pasadas are better known, being Manzanillas with more ageing and thus depth. In Jerez, however, there are few "Finos Pasados", and the term is not actually used. Some are approaching the style such as Hidalgo's La Panesa or perhaps Valdespino's Fino Inocente, but this is a cracker. Alexander Jules used it for his 22/85 bottling.
Around £10.00, available from the Wine Society

News from Jerez 30.9.12

Estevez urges Sherry sector to avoid losses of vineyard

Jose Ramon Estevez, president of Grupo Estevez, wants to see some sort of pact to ensure the survival of the Sherry business. After two decades of stagnation, the business is now in balance and now is a key moment to ensure that the growers and vineyards survive. Without them there would be no wine, no bodegas. “We must make the vineyards profitable or they will simply disappear. Current stocks are about 350,000 butts, and the 2012 vintage will bring in about 50,000, but if sales are running at 85,000 the conclusion is obvious.”

“What we need is a long term plan. Up till now the bodegas have only been thinking about reducing costs, stocks, staff. Now is the moment for us all to join together and move forward, from the bottom up and create a good business model. The era of over production is over and Sherry has ceased to be a “commodity”. Now it is a question of quality rather than quantity.

Back from Jerez: Part 1

Just back from Jerez, and had a wonderful time, not surprisingly! I had only made three official bodega appointments, with the intention of taking things easily and getting at least some relaxation from my holiday, but that's not how it worked out. Inevitably. This is Jerez after all.

I had barely arrived and parked when I noticed an old house with a wall plaque announcing that the famous
                                                           singer Lola Flores was born here. Nearby there is a charming statue
     to her just outside the Centro Andaluz
     de Flamenco. The Flamenco legend
     Antonio Chacon is also remembered
     on another plaque erected in 1936 by
     the Republican Government. Further
     down the street, is the birthplace of
     another Flamenco legend, La Paquera.
     There too is a scruffy house with a plaque
     and at the end of the street, another
statue, one which really looks like her. I was in my element, my accommodation
was in the heart of flamenco-land as well as being very central. It would be a
wonderful thing to restore these houses and create museums, but Jerez is not
in a sound enough financial position at the moment - nor in the near future.

La Paquera
 Anyway I was here to see about Sherry, and my first appointment was the following day with Osborne in El Puerto de Santa Maria. The estuary-side town is a short drive from Jerez with a prominent bullring (built by Osborne).
The firm has two main bodega complexes here, one for the extensive range
of brandies and the other for the Sherries. This is where I met with Area Director Stanley Manski and Technical Director and Enologist Jose Ignacio Lozano. Real gentlemen both, we began with a discussion of the VORS
Sherries: Capuchino, Amo. 51-1a, Venerable and Sibarita, whose soleras
brands and bodegas were bought from Pernod Ricard when they disposed
of Domecq. These wines are all well over 30 years old and among the best
of their kind, coming from some of the oldest soleras in Jerez, yet have the
most astounding fragrance and elegance without much woodiness.

Jose Ignacio explained the tortuous lengths they have to go to to prove the wines' age to the Consejo and the amount of stock they need to have. The sacas (withdrawals from solera) are rare, perhaps annual, and so production is tiny despite demand. The wines sell in Scotland for about £35 and represent an absolute bargain. The bodega makes little profit, but the pleasure and value offered to the consumer is immense.

Our attention turned to the Venerable PX and the summer
phenomenon of the butts "weeping" (see right). It really does
look as if the barrels are weeping - all the staves of the butts
are being forced apart very slightly by the action of sugar in
the wine setting in the summer heat. This wine has nearly 500 grams per litre of sugar in it (all totally natural from the grapes
- or raisins) and as tiny amounts of almost solid PX ooze out
between the staves there is a fantastic smell but it can attract flies.
All this puts some strain on the butts, and the coopers need to
tighten up the hoops occasionally.

After an in-depth talk and tasting with the charming chaps at Osborne, to whom I am much indebted, it was time for a spot
of lunch, and I wandered down past the Gutierrez Colosia bodegas ( I confess I bought some wine - well, wouldn't you?!)
to the riverfront and found a typical local bar where I found just how well Osborne's Fino Quinta matches with olives and ham. Very well indeed!

Fino Quinta was followed by Fino Pavon from the other big bodega in El Puerto, Luis Caballero (owner of Emilio Lustau) and the Pavon was accompanied by more ham and olives. Delicious! After chatting with a few locals, thoroughly nice folk, and taking a few photos, I left the town with a distinct feeling of happiness and satisfaction.

Saturday, 29 September 2012

News from Madrid 22.9.12

The Madrid Tio Pepe sign

Jorge Grosse of Gonzalez Byass has assured Spanish Television that the famous illuminated sign will be back in the Puerta del Sol to light up Chrismas and New Year. This year it will have to adorn a different building, and GB has not yet decided which as it is considering 3 offers. After nearly 80 years it is showing signs of wear and tear, but they are confident it will be restored and erected in time.

Sherry Cooking Classes in Jerez

Bodegas Diez Merito and the excellent Jerez restaurant Carbona in conjunction with the tourist agency Surways have launched a new project with Sherry tourism in mind called Sherry Cooking Classes. The idea is to offer the visitor the opportunity to get to know the wines and gastronomy of Jerez by participating directly in the purchase of raw materials at the Mercado de Abastos, cooking it and also visiting the bodegas to learn about the wines to match with it. The courses are available every Wednesday till November. The director of the Consejo Regulador, Cesar Saldana, along with representatives of the three companies involved attended a launch presentation. Great idea!

Just Add Cheese USA

Just Add Cheese is a new campaign promoted in the USA by the Culinary Collective. For a month it will promote various products from the Jerez area which are available in supermarkets and which can be complemented by cheese. The Culinary Collective has a network of distributors in nearly every state sellin Andalucian products to famous restaurants. Lots of lovely food, but no mention of Sherry...

News from Jerez 19.9.12

Ruiz Mateos tries to get back his companies

Jose Maria Ruiz Mateos says he has made a verbal agreement with Angel de Cabo for the return of the companies he sold him, all at 1 euro each. He says the objective is to be able to study their viability and to resolve problems with investors. In the next few days he hopes to have a contract in place which will show the condition of the companies which will pass back to the ownership of Ruiz Mateos. He has also asked those investors to get in touch directly to find out how things are progressing.  He sold around 200 companies to Angel de Cabo and a couple of others, all for 1 euro, but all they ended up with were empty shells, and they have now initiated legal proceedings for fraud.


The VII Homage to Shakespeare will take place in the Gonzalez Hontoria park in Jerez in November. There is a monument to him (one of the greatest promoters of Sherry) in front of which there will be a traditional Sherry toast, a floral offering and a poetry recital.

The 2012 cork harvest

Andalucia's 2012 cork harvest which ended officially at the end of August has shown losses of between 15 and 20 million euros. More than 50% of the bark remained on the trees (800,000 of the forecast 1,500,000 quintals) due to the crisis and weather conditions, according to Javier Benitez, director of the cork sector of COAG-A.

The cork harvest

News from Jerez 18.9.12

Beam Global offer last of this year's Alcazar tastings

The final of the Great Tastings held in the Alcazar of Jerez as part of the Fiestas de la Vendimia was sponsored by Beam Global, owners of Harveys and Terry. The enologist, Manuel Jose Valcarcel, showed various of their wines married with food to very happy diners.

Harveys win top prize

Harveys Fine Old Amontillado VORS won the Champion Award trophy at the recent IWC (International Wine Challenge) in London. More than 1,000 wines had been entered, and this wine also won the Sherry trophy and the Amontillado trophy. Antonio Jose Souto, director of Beam Bodegas said that Harveys had a wonderful range of wines and that they won trophies every year. Their enologist Manuel Jose Valcarcel has 28 years of experience.

Bodegas: Wisdom & Warter

In 1854 a ship named the Arctic sank in the Atlantic drowning a Jerez wine merchant. His younger brother, Henry Wisdom acquired large stocks of Sherry from the firm of Ysasi, already well established. Henry took on as a partner Joseph Warter (b.1834) who had been working for Juan Haurie, and they began to sell these fine wines, some of which dated from the XVIII century.

Henry Wisdom (foto Jerez Siempre)
Due to the Napoleonic wars, the number of British firms trading in Jerez was reduced to 2 (from 82) and the foundation of Wisdom and Warter made a third. The firm flourished being one of the first to recognise and ship Finos, and in 1860 they entered the top ten shippers based on exports (949 butts), in part due to Fino. In Britain, the company built an enviable reputation and Henry Wisdom ran the firm in England while Joseph Warter ran things in Jerez, as well as pioneering the Dutch market, now one of the leading markets. His was a hospitable house, situated on the Avenida Capuchinos, hosting tennis parties and musical evenings. He also kept a fine stable of horses.

Joseph Warter (foto Jerez Siempre)
When Joseph Warter died Wisdom took on as a partner Graham Gandell and he ran the firm after Wisdom´s death till his own. He was succeeded by Enrique Isasi Ivison, grandson of Enrique Isasi y Lacoste, and ran the company till he died aged 80. His younger cousin, Jaime González-Gordon Díez, ran the firm, which had been bought out by González Byass around 1929, till 1975. The last director of the firm was Antonio Arías before GB finally absorbed it.

The logo of the owls on the firm’s coat of arms dates from the turn of the XIX and XX centuries, when Millicent Warter found a baby owl and raised it near the bodegas. Owls being wise, it made the perfect logo for a wine called Wisdom. Indeed Punch magazine quipped “Warter makes the wine and Wisdom sells it”.

Part of the bodegas (foto Kohya Nakase
The firm owned 70 hectares of vineyard in the albarizas of Jerez Superior at los Tercios, near the sea, an outstanding area for Fino. This land provided an average of about 1,500 butts of Fino which were housed in the bodegas at Calle Pizarro, 7 in central Jerez. Much of the wine was latterly sold as BOB (buyer’s own brand) but some wines were also available under the Bodega name, such as Los Buhos.

Most of the well known brands are gone.....

Amontillados Paola, Royal Palace
Oloroso Merecedor 
Cream Wisdom's Choice  - still available at GB bodega shop
Manzanilla La Guapa
Finos Olivar, Wisdom, Los Buhos (The Owls) - the latter two available at GB bodega shop
Palo Cortado Tizon
Brandy Montado, Gran Reserva Wisdom and RC Ivison Gran Reserva

.....and what is now sold is a standard range of sous-marque blends. There is no website, nor any mention of the name Gonzalez Byass save for their RE number. Some wines are available in the USA under the name Wisdom & Warter (from Banfi), but have different labels. They are: Pale Fino (1908 solera), Extra Amontillado (1912 solera) and Delicate Cream (1902 solera).

News from Jerez 17.9.12

Manuel Lozano wins Best Fortified Wine Maker award - again

The International Wine Challenge in London has awarded the accolade to Lustau’s winemaking chief for a second time. He is responsible for all the Emilio Lustau wines and the ex Domecq wines such as La Ina and Rio Viejo. The award was presented at what is known as the wine “Oscars”, at which the wines themselves won 20 medals and 3 trophies.

Robert Parker has already awarded 90 points or more to 8 Lustau wines, 96 to the Palo Cortado Peninsula. Spain’s Guia Penin awarded 9 wines 90 points or more with La Ina and Papirusa getting 96 and 94 respectively. It is wonderful to see Jerez getting such recognition.

Rain arrives
After a drought ridden year, the rain has finally arrived to refill reservoirs and raise the water table. Up to 4 times the average monthly precipitation has fallen in 1 day, some 75l/m2 ! Andalucia is suffering torrential rainfall, which of course just runs over the parched land. What is really needed is lighter but sustained rain which will be more easily absorbed.

Friday, 28 September 2012

Fino Los Buhos 15%, Wisdom & Warter

Bright pale golden straw with very light legs.
Fairly light, but quite subtle traces of salinity, camomile, fruit, almond and only the slightest hint of autolysis, a fairly young wine but quite attractively polished.
Still traces of fruit balancing with a certain tang, very fresh and appealing, plenty of charm if a bit less depth. A very decent wine with great commercial possibilities.

Wisdom & Warter was bought some time ago by Gonzalez Byass, where I bought this bottle. Los Buhos means the owls, two of which adorn the shield logo of W&W. The wines are not now widely available but had a good reputation.
6.20 euros

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Off to Jerez!

As the Fiesta de la Vendimia celebrations wind down for another year, my holidays have arrived, and I'm off to Jerez -where else! (well, Malaga as well actually!) My laptop is staying at home, but my camera and notebook will accompany me to bodegas and vineyards, so that when I return I can put loads more pictures on the Blog as well as interesting news and information. So there will be no Blog posts for the next couple of weeks, but heaps after that!

I hope you have enjoyed the Blog so far, and found it useful and interesting. I'd welcome any comments, questions, information and/or samples from bodegas. It has been satisfying for me to see that there still are Sherry aficionados out there, but the Blog's work will not be done till everyone has a bottle of Sherry in the house!

Hasta luego,

Friday, 14 September 2012

Manzanilla Extra Dry 15%, Barbadillo

Pale strawy gold with lightish legs.
Quite saline and yeasty with a hint of autolysis, sea breezes, not over penetrating but has a hint of bitter almond.
Dry, yeasty with that hint of autolysis, quite low acidity but has a compensating touch of bitter almond, yeasty and bitter.

This is the basic standard wine, and as such is sound and genuine, good value for the price.
£ 8.50 from Spirited Wines

Thursday, 13 September 2012

News from Jerez 13.9.12

Muestra Gastronomica
One of the central streets of Jerez, the Alameda Vieja, came alive last night in celebration of the Harvest Festival with forty stalls serving local dishes in the second annual Muestra Gastronomica. The stalls will be open from 8.00 in the afternoon till 1 am until the 16th, and have already attracted crowds of people. The idea is to offer a tapa and a drink for only 2.50 euros, and many stalls are also selling local produce.

Bodegas Barbadillo
The Sanlucar bodega has finished its harvest satisfied that while the shortfall in yield was about 20%, the quality was excellent Quite a lot of red grapes were harvested as well as the white in order to produce Barbadillo’s new red wine, the Gibalbin with 8 months crianza. The sin crianza Gibalbin has been produced successfully since 2008, and the crianza wine has only been produced since last year. Is is made with  Tempranillo, Merlot and Tintilla de Rota grapes.

Copa Jerez
The international food matching competition Copa Jerez .offering chefs, sommeliers and restaurateurs from all corners of the world the opportunity to show off their talent, has begun.  After a first national round to decide who will represent their countries. The international final will be held in Madrid in November. All that is required is to present a menu which matches perfectly  the wines of Jerez.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

2012 Fiesta de la Vendimia gets under way

The activities of the 2012 Fiesta de la Vendimia get under way today with the symbolic act of treading the grapes outside the cathedral. There will be a reception at the Alcazar to celebrate this event and also the European Wine Tourism day.

Another exciting event is free courses in dancing of the Buleria (Jerez’ own style of Flamenco) offered by Jerezano Antonio “El Pipa from today till Friday at the centre for Flamenco known as “Danzalucia” in the calle Ponce.

Antonio "El Pipa"

From today till Saturday15th The Consejo is holding Grand Tastings at the Alcazar and on Sunday a charity tasting at the bodega San Gines, the Consejo's own bodega.

Bodegas: Lacave y Cia.

The firm was established in Cadiz in 1810 by Pedro Lacave, born in the Department of Lower Pyrenees in France in 1776. He left France due to food shortages in 1791 and went to Cadiz. His maternal uncle had a shop there and he worked there as an assistant  Later he worked in his cousin’s shipping business until he decided to start up on his own. He took on as a partner, one Mr McDermont and registered the business under the title “Lacave y Cia.” He married in 1821 a Jerez girl, Ana Maria Lacoste Salazar, but they had no children. After  Mcdermont’s death in 1824, Lacave carried on alone until 1832, when he took on another partner, his fellow countryman Pablo Echecopar, forming the house of Lacave & Echecopar.

Some years later, Lacave brought his three nephews to join the business and this proved to be a powerful influence on its prosperity, developing into banking, bodegas and industry. Lacave ships travelled everywhere freely, transporting Spanish goods direct to the markets avoiding the London monopoly on certain goods, especially Sherry. A quay was built at La Segunda Aguada on the outskirts of Cadiz on land purchased in 1849 for the storage of timber imported from Northern Europe for their own use and for selling to the cooperages of the Sherry country. This storage grew to occupy 90,000 square metres.

In 1848 Juan Pedro, delegated to Sevilla founded the company JP Lacave & Cia specialising in cereals, oil and cork. Meanwhile Pedro dedicated himself to the wine side of the business while the other partners looked after other aspects of the business, especially banking. Notable among these industrial firms were Los Amigos, a woollen cloth manufacturer in Sevilla and La Cartuja which manufactured porcelain and floor tiles. Pedro Lacave died in 1850, leaving his fortune to his nephews. Wine exports had progressed so well that the firm decided to drop other business and dedicate itself to wine. In 1870 the original company name Lacave & Cia. was re-adopted, and the firm even had installed its own railway for the transport of wine from the bodegas, not to mention a Civil Guard barracks!

These bodegas consisted of two large warehouses divided by pillars in which were to be found large stacks of cases, long rows of barrels and a bottle store. There were also offices, a tasting and sample room and a tool store where barrels were branded and labels applied. The dispatch warehouses gave onto the quayside, and in La Segunda Aguada there was a large area for washing barrels, equipped with all imaginable machinery for the manufacture of barrel hoops, wires and staples to secure the cased goods. There was a mechanised sawmill where around a hundred people worked. Except for the peace of the bodegas, all was noise and bustle.  On the quayside there was a huge mast for signalling to ships, and various cranes. There was also a bottling shop, two gas engines and three steam engines with two large boilers, They even had telephones a while before most citizens were able to have them.

Of the numerous wines they exported round the world, the most in demand – especially in France - was the golden sweet wine. Another equally successful style was the “Madeira” from Jerez and Malaga. The bodegas’ proximity to the sea added to the quality of their wines. Having owned vineyards, the firm decided it was more convenient to buy in grapes or must, but with the exception of Moscatel and Tintilla de Rota, where their property extended to over 5,000 m2. The buildings there formed a rectangle consisting of offices, living quarters for the vineyard manager and three large bodegas where the wine was produced.

The firm had incredible vitality. In 1811 they produced 35 hectolitres, and in 1896 they produced 19,375 hectolitres. Their top market was France, followed by the United States and Sweden – where such was their domination of the market that people would ask for a “Lacave” rather than a Sherry. But all good things come to an end and the company was taken over by Rumasa in 1978 with the soeras taken to Williams & Humbert. Where the  majestic Lacave bodegas once stood, blocks of housing now stand – in the barriada (district) Lacave!

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Bodegas: Agustin Blázquez

Agustin Blazquez y Blazquez was born in Antequera (Malaga) in 1826 moving to Cadiz in the early 1850s where he worked as a merchant. He married Servanda de Paul y Picardo, from a prominent local family in 1857, and they had eight children. Agustin achieved great success in business, due in no small part to his wife's social and business connections. Thanks to diligence and a reputation for quality the family was soon able to build a substantial and palatial house in the Calle de la Novena.

Regarding the Sherry business, there is some doubt as to when it was founded. It could have been in 1795 by the Paul family, of possible Scottish origins but more likely from northern Spain, or it could have been in the 1820s. It was certainly the Paul family (See Bodegas Paul & Dastis) who built up the business throughout the XIX century, steadily acquiring more vineyards and bodegas. During the 1850s it was run by Manuel Francisco de Paul, whose sister Servanda, married Agustin Blázquez. Servanda died from a fever in 1881 aged only 44 and Agustin inherited much of the business. He died in 1886 leaving a large fortune. The bodega business was taken over by their son Manuel who re-named it Hijos de Agustin Blázquez SA, and it continued in family hands till 1972 when it was bought for 500 million pesetas by Pedro Domecq, Osborne and González Byass in a joint purchase to keep it - and them - safely out of the hands of Rumasa. It was later absorbed by Domecq.

The evolution of Carta Blanca from single pago Amontillado Fino (L) to inexpensive Fino

The bodegas occupied an entire block in central Jerez bounded by the streets Sevilla, Paul, Santo Domingo and Eguilez. The firm was known for producing wines from particular vineyards (or vinos de pago), for example the Fino Agustinito came from the Balbaina and their Capuchino Palo Cortado and Carta Blanca from the Macharnudo. They were also famous for Felipe II and Anticuario brandies.

Domecq continued to operate Blázquez independently if rather briefly. With the arrival of democracy in Spain, town councils had to reorganise, and the old bodegas, part of which originated in the XVIII C, were pulled down to make room for housing except for one bit which is now a municipal exhibition centre, and is known locally as the Callejon de los Bolos. Domecq itself  (QV) was in turn split up by successive takeovers.

The old Blazquez bodegas (R) and what is now the Consejo Regulador (L)

The main brands sold by Blázquez were the “Carta” range:
Carta Blanca Fino; Carta Blanca Amontillado-Fino, Carta Roja Oloroso; Carta Azul PX; Carta Plata Amontillado, Manzanilla La Flor, Manzanilla Pasada Gloria and the above mentioned Agustinito and Capuchino Palo Cortado Superior. There were some other legendary wines such as the Oloroso Manila 1833 and the Anada 1840. 

So what if anything is left? Only Capuchino really. After being bottled under Domecq labels for a few years as a (well over) 30 year old VORS, it is now owned and bottled by Osborne (QV), as is the brandy. Some Blázquez soleras were bought by Joaquin Rivero Valcarce to establish his Bodegas Tradicion in the late 1990s.

While so many bodegas have disappeared over the years, the soleras generally have not. They may change hands and get new brand names, but old soleras are gold dust in Jerez. You can’t just start up a new bodega, it would take decades to build any sort of complexity into a new solera. All you can do is buy existing soleras if available, like Tradicion. Jerezanos have long memories and a deep sense of nostalgia, and great old names are still remembered - and often the wines are still drunk, though no longer produced by the original company. Quite a thought.

Amontillado Seco Dorius 18%, Valdivia

Pure amber with light coppery tints, fading to yellow at the rim, legs.
Very fresh, clean, round and quite nutty. traces of sultana, toasted nuts, oil, resin, something slightly sweet like madeira cake or turron yema tostada (ground almond and honey bar with egg yolk toasted on top). Fairly complex and attractive with a touch of finesse.
None of the astringency of long ageing, but perhaps a slight tannic note yet light on the palate with some crisp charm. Dryness tempered by honey roast nuts and an attractive balancing tang with a bitter edge of walnut/almond, decent length and perfect for meaty tapas.
The bodega was set up by Rumasa and its history is very much interlinked. After the collapse of Nueva Rumasa it was in a difficult position and was on the market for some time. In September 2015 an offer from Jose y Miguel Martin, coopers and wine dealers with an extensive cask seasoning service to the spirits industry, was accepted by the administrators. It remains to be seen what their plans are for the bodega. This wine is fairly hard to find but worth looking out for. The whole Valdivia concept is a good one and the wines have proved themselves with medals and awards.
£ 17.45 from Peckhams

Bodegas: Valdivia

Valdivia was originally established by Rumasa in 1960, and passed through the hands of Williams & Humbert and then in 2003 to Intermonte, an investment and construction group from Murcia. They bought the grand house the Villa del Duque and neighbouring bodegas from Williams and Humbert which they proceeded to revamp, converting the Villa into a hotel, thus creating Jerez’ first wine tourism centre in a complex of 20,000 m2 located in the central Barrio Santiago.

The three bodegas called Valdivia, Pedro de Valdivia and Sacromonte were up dated to the highest level of equipment and the enologist Rafael Veas was installed. Vineyards extending to 250 hectares were bought - the Pago de la Plata in Jerez Superior.

In March 2008 the complex was bought by Nueva Rumasa for 20 million Euros through its Grupo Garvey subsidiary, which is now in administration. Nueva Rumasa was sold by the Ruiz Mateos family to Back in Business, a company specialising in revitalising companies with difficulties, and which received offers to buy Valdivia – including its debts – but refused. Angel de Cabo, owner of Back in business is currently in jail, and the bodega is not working, so heaven knows what will happen to it.

The bodega produces Brandies and Vino de la Tierra de Cadiz as well as the following Sherries:

The Valdivia Suite range, aged for 5-10 years:
Fino; Manzanilla “La Rubia”;PX; Medium; Cream; Pale Cream; Oloroso Seco; Amontillado Seco

The Sacromonte range aged over 15 years:
Amontillado; PX; Oloroso

Address: C/ Zoilo Ruiz Mateos Camacho s/n, 11408 Jerez de la Frontera, Cadiz
Tel: (+34) 956 314 358

Bottling Dates

Great news that GB has decided to print bottling dates on all Tio Pepe labels. Let's hope other bodegas follow suit.

It is impossible for the consumer to know how long a non vintage wine has been lying around, or indeed how well it has been stored. By its very nature, Sherry is very rarely a vintage wine, and the Finos in particular can go stale or spoil if sitting around on shop shelves or on bar gantries for too long.

Despite most Finos having the words "Serve chilled" printed on labels, most bars in my experience have their Tio Pepe - for it usually is Tio Pepe - exposed to light and un-chilled sitting on the gantry slowly oxidising away. This is obviously bad for the consumer, the bodega and Sherry in general. Perhaps a concentrated campaign by the bodegas, aimed at bars in particular, to point out shelf  life and serving issues might help, and I strongly recommend it.

Many houses in the Champagne trade are now printing disgorgement dates on labels rather than bottling dates, but it is not far from the same thing, as effectively once the wine is separated from the yeast it will begin to age more rapidly.

News from Jerez 9.9.12

Bottling dates
Gonzalez Byass has announced that bottling dates will be printed on the labels of Tio Pepe from this month onwards. Hopefully this will ensure that your Fino will always be fresh. Splendid idea!

Great news that someone in Jerez has won 267,078 Euros. Let's hope they invest it wisely. In Sherry perhaps?

News from Jerez 8.9.12

The super tastings at the Alcazar have begun

The first event in the series took place last night with a menu proposed by Alta Cazuela – a catering firm run by two local chefs - and the wines of Grupo Estevez. Maribel Estevez, enologist of the bodega, put forward Fino Inocente, Amontillado Tio Diego, Oloroso Ermitano, Royal Cream and Moscatel Promesa to match pickled fish, partridge pate with caramelised onion, Barbate tuna steak and mixed mushroom risotto, among other dishes.
Saturday’s event features the wines of Williams and Humbert matched with a different menu from Alta Cazuela. Antonio Fernandez Vasquez Maeso, enologist at the bodega, will lead the tasting. He is offering Fino Don Zoilo, Amontillado Coleccion 12 Anos, Oloroso Coleccion 12 Anos, Canasta Cream and PX Don Zoilo 12 Anos.

Meanwhile at the bullring:

The XLV edition of the Fiesta de la Buleria kicks off tonight. This is an absolute must for Flamenco fans, the Buleria is indigenous to Jerez, and its greatest exponents are here. Some great names will be performing such as Jesus Mendez - said by some to have inherited the greatness of La Paquera  (a legendary singer who died some time ago); Juan Moneo “El Torta”and Tomasa Guerrero “La Macanita” among others. The leading dancer will be Mercedes Ruiz and the guitarists will be Ismael Heredia and Isaac Moreno. These are all flamenco stars from Jerez but are famous far beyond.

Tomasa "La Macanita"

The Cooperative Virgen de la Caridad regains control from Ruiz Mateos

The Sanlucar Cooperative has regained ownership of all the shares of Bodegas CAYDSA which it sold to Nueva Rumasa in 2009 for 12 million euros – of which only 800,000 was ever paid - and which was renamed Bodegas Teresa Rivero. After “laborious and complex negotiations”, mainly with the administrators, the Coop, which has 700 members, is now awaiting the rubber stamp from the courts which should come through “in a few days”.

Friday, 7 September 2012

News from Jerez 7.9.12

Consejo asks for promotional support from Department of Agriculture

A meeting was held yesterday between the directorof the Consejo, Cesar Saldana, the Presidents of the Consejos of Sherry and Jerez Brandy, Beltran Domecq and Evariste Babe and the provincial delegate for agriculture, Federico Fernandez.

Sr Fernandez said that the meeting was very positive and that Sherry was a beacon for Andalucia, a sign of identity to the eyes of the world. He also has a calendar of meetings with the various interests in the Sherry sector to address any worries. “The future of the sector is for everyone to work together and for Agriculture to facilitate this and help with its promotion which is essential, and we will not spare any effort”, he said.

Sainsbury's Manzanilla Superior 15%

Pale golden straw, legs.
Quite light, traces Marmite, bread, olive brine, quite yeasty but not very salty or particularly zippy.
Similar, with that touch of Marmite spread thinly on bread, brine quite tangy, clean with a rather savoury finish.
The wine is made by Emilio Lustau, and according to the back label is at least 4 years old. I was a little surprised to note that it had won an IWSC (International Wine & Spirit Competition) gold as best in class in 2010.
About £6,99

News from Jerez 6.9.12

Fire at a cooperage in Jerez
Fire broke out yesterday in the 600 m2 roof of the Tevasa cooperage, a well-known supplier of barrels to the Scotch Whisky trade. It is thought to have been caused by a spark, and happened at about 6.00 when the 57 men were winding down from their day’s work. They managed to control the flames with their own hoses and cut off the electricity supply. The fire brigade hosed the place down to avoid any risk of the fire restarting, and unfortunately some of the machinery got wet, holding up work till it can be dried out. The civil Guard were also in attendance.

The Harvest
The coastal areas of the Sherry zone have now started picking. In Chiclana and Sanlucar thecrop is coming in to the presses albeit at a slightly lower must weight than the vineyards of the interior. In Trebujena the harvest is finished. In all the picking is on the home straight.

La Catedra del Vino: Why Sherry is good for you
Carmelo Garcia Barroso, director of Andalucian Centre of viti-vinicultural Investigation and chair of Analytical Chemistry at UCA (Cadiz University) was the first speaker at the event held at the Consejo’s own bodega, San Gines. He talked about the many benefits offered by Sherry.
 It prevents illness, preserves and lengthens life, it can even be eaten, it can be used in skin care and in cooking. It is effective against colds and flu – the old home remedy of a glass of sweet Sherry with an egg yolk in it. He quoted Alexander Fleming who said “If penicillin cures disease, then Sherry can surely waken the dead”.
Sherry contains nutrients such as amino acids, calories, vitamins. For that reason in the past, Spanish ships were provisioned with it. Sherry can prevent cardiovascular problems and augment good cholesterol. Its polyphenols act as antioxidants blocking dangerous free radicals. It fights degenerative diseases such as cancer, osteoarthritis, dementia and diabetes.
And it doesn’t even need to be drunk; it is as wonderful in a dish as out of it, it enhances flavours. If the alcohol and water are removed, the resulting essence can be made into delicious sweets, and chocolate with sweet Sherry is sublime. Even the leftovers from winemaking have valuable uses; jam or biscuits are made with pressings, and cosmetics and gels too.
What more can one say?!!

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Sherry News 5.9.12

The Consejo has initiated the 5th edition of the International Food and Wine Pairing Competition “The Sherry Cup”. Teams from seven countries (the biggest Sherry markets) are competing to represent their country for the cup which will be awarded at the final next year in Jerez.
To compete, a team need only comprise the chef and sommelier of the same restaurant who must propose a menu of two dishes and a dessert to be accompanied by wines from Jerez. A panel of experts will choose 3 teams who will have to cook the dishes and explain their menus to the panel, which consists of famous names in the world of Spanish gastronomy, at the national final to be held in Madrid in November. The winning team will compete in Jerez at the international final in 2013.
The Sherry Cup is a food and wine pairing competition which is held every two years. It is a prestigious affair, with a high level of judges and of participants and their ideas.

After a gap of 27 years The Consejo and the Jerez Town Council have revived as an adjunct to the Fiesta de la Vendimia the “Wine Conference”. The idea began in the 1950s and consisted of a multi-disciplinarian vision of Sherry through the mouths of eminent people. This year’s theme will be “The Goodness of Sherry” and begins at the Consejo’s base at the bodega San Gines tonight at 20.30. The conference had lapsed since 1985 through a combination of lack of municipal interest and of suitable personalities. 

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

News from Jerez 4.9.12

Three items today:

Grupo Etevez has announced the completion of its 2012 harvest. Production is down on last year by about 20%, but the company, being the largest vineyard owner in the area, has still picked one sixth of the entire Jerez harvest.
The quality of grapes harvested is good, however, with good acidity and a Beaume reading of around 12 degrees. But the grapes are small due mainly to the drought, with rainfall being just under half the usual 700 l/m2. The company used pickers during the mornings and machines during the night in order to bring in the harvest in the best possible condition.

Jose Maria Ruiz Mateos insisted yesterday that the man who bought Nueva Rumasa from him, Angel de Cabo, give it back to him because he has not, in almost a year, fulfilled his promise to pay back shareholders.
Ruiz Mateos has also been trying to avoid appearing in a court case against him in Mallorca. After being detained in Madrid, flown to Palma and physically taken to court at the behest of the judge, he exercised his right not to declare in a case in which he is accused of fraud in connection with the purchase of a hotel in Mallorca. He has also accused the judge at the court in Palma of being  ”A demon, a criminal. She has no heart or feelings. She is a bug proud and arrogant.”  This may not help his case…

Jerez Town Council has launched an initiative to promote and improve the ambience of the Fiesta de la Vendimia to be held between the 11th and 16th of this month. Officials met with the leader of local businesses and have come up with 2 ideas. One is to promote local wines: a copa of Sherry and a tapa for 2.50 euros, and the other to promote Flamenco. 18 bars will be involved. Complementary to this will be the Rutas Flamenco y Vino. Details can be had from Looks wonderful! Meanwhile Fedejerez (the body which represents the bodegas) has agreed with the Consejo to display old Fiesta de la Vendimia posters from 1948 to 1985 in shop windows throughout the town centre. There will also be an exhibition of photographs about the vendimia by members of the Asociacion Fotografica San Dionisio at the Alcazar from tomorrow till the end of the month.

Saturday, 1 September 2012

News from Jerez 1.9.12

A small part of the grapes harvested by Gonzalez Byass are destined for the Tio Pepe Kosher solera. On Thursday a group of rabbis visited to supervise the production of the 22,000 litres of must. Back in 1998 the bodega bottled the first kosher Tio Pepe. To be kosher, the raw material must be inspected, and all production processes and handling supervised by a rabbi. The wine will be labelled as usual but will bear the symbols of the Jewish certification authority and a clear reference in Hebrew to its method of production.