Friday, 31 May 2013

31.5.13 Bodegas Barbadillo and the Orden de la Solear

Bodegas Barbadillo have inducted new Ladies and Gentlemen into the Order in an event held at the bodega in Sanlucar yesterday, to coincide with the Feria de la Manzanilla. The Order was established by Barbadillo in 1979 to honour any personalities who have shown a special dedication to Manzanilla. A dozen or so people were invested, including  Sarah Jane Evans, a Master of Wine with a particular interest in Sherry.

Thursday, 30 May 2013

30.5.13 Sanlucar Races Poster; Wine Display in El Puerto Tourist Office

At an event held at the bodegas of Hidalgo La Gitana to coincide with the start of the Feria de la Manzanilla, the official poster, painted by Reyes de la Lastra, was presented for the 168th Sanlucar Race Season. As yet the programme has not been finalised by the Sociedad de Carreras de Caballos de Sanlucar. The races will take place, as usual, on the beach on the 2,3,4 August, and the 16,17,18 August, an unmissable event. Javier Hidalgo himself is a veteran of a good many races.

The Puerto de Santa Maria council Tourism and promotions department has inaugurated a new initiative to inform and promote the wines of El Puerto and its entire viti-vinicultural patrimony. It takes the form of an exhibition of the wines in the Palacio de Aranibar, handy for all tourists visiting the tourist office. There are two display cases containing some 60 products including wines, spirits and vinegars, along with explanatory notes on their production and producers. Excellent idea.

29.5.13 Fedejerez Postpones Voting on Fino/Manzanilla Proposal

The Jerez bodegas association, Fedejerez, has decided to postpone the vote on this contentious issue until the next Consejo meeting on the last Tuesday of July, in order to allow more time for dialogue and a potential solution to the problem. It is not clear whether they would have had sufficient votes to have the proposal passed, though a simple majority could have been achieved, according to  Evaristo Babe, president of Fedejerez, though not necessarily in the interests of the Consejo.

He said the meeting took place in a cordial and constructive atmosphere, yet there was an air of tension. He defended the proposal and his wish that it could be put to the vote, in contrast to the majority who wished it to be removed from the table, especially the Vinateros de Sanlucar, who wished it could be scrapped. Manuel Valdecantos of Barbadillo, on behalf of the Sanluquenos, recalled the historic rights of Sanluquenos to produce Fino.

Finally, Fedejerez acceded to the postponement of the vote until the next plenary meeting at the behest of Beltran Domecq, who in view of the lack of consensus and the sensitivity of the issue, asked for one last effort at dialogue.

During the next two months, the Sherry trade will sit down and negotiate a solution to the conflict, for which they have asked the Junta de Andalucia, a silent witness so far, to help. The positions of the two camps, however, seem irreconcilable.

In the face of criticism from the trade about the timing of the proposal, Babe declared that the date was pre-set from the expiry of the moratorium three years ago. Everyone knew that it was ending, and a decision has to be made now, so we are keeping in touch over the next two months while we seek more consensus.

Some sources say that Fedejerez is not interested in changing its proposal, and will spend the next two months seeking support for it, and if they don't get it, they are bent on bringing it to the next plenary meeting for its approval, even if only by one vote.

The independent growers also seek a solution which does not harm anyone's interests. Francisco Guerrero, president of Asevi-Asaja said that there is no solid base for the assertion that you can't age Fino in Sanlucar, when it has been allowed for the last 35 years since the implementation of the DO Manzanilla.

The president of Aecovi, Carmen Romero was pleased that the decision had been delayed, as the job of the Consejo is to benefit all, not to serve as a battleground for bodegas. "We must find unanimity or a good majority, or it will be bad for the trade, and worse for its image at a good time for sales. Let's be optimistic, and not seek out confrontations."

Homage to Shakespeare 2013

Jerez is making final preparations for the VIII annual homage to Shakespeare in recognition of his contribution to the promotion of Sherry. As usual, the ceremony will take place in the Parque Gonzalez Hontoria, where there is the one and only monument to him in Spain. Sponsoring this year's event are the town council, Gonzalez Byass, Genatur, the wonderful Jerez Siempre and the musical conservatory Joaquin Villatoro. It is hoped that the Consejo Regulador will also participate.

The programme consists of a floral offering and toast beside the monument, a reading of his poetry in Spanish and English, music and a theatrical presentation. The event is organised by the Cine Club Popular de Jerez, whose president is Jose Luis Jimenez Garcia.

Shakespeare recommended Sherry in many of his works, and it was immensely popular in Elizabethan England. Falstaff was a great Sherry lover, and here follows one of his many tributes to it-

"It illumineth the face, which, as a beacon, gives warning to all the rest of this little kingdom, man to arm; and then the vital commoners, and inland petty spirits, muster me all to their captain, the heart; who, great and puffed up with this retinue, doth any deed of courage; and this valour comes of Sherris."

The trains in Jerez

Jerez has a long history of trains, since 1854 to be precise. There have been inter-city trains and local ones, such as the well-known "La Maquina" which supplied the bodegas and transported their wines. The first railway line in Andalucia connected Jerez with El Puerto de Santa Maria, and was only the third line in Spain. In fact the first train would have been in Jerez, but for lack of support, which postponed its arrival for some years.

The "wine train" ran through the streets of Jerez collecting wines from each of the bodegas, and in recognition of this, the Jerez Railway Club was founded, consisting of 28 members. The railway is so important to the members that they would like to propose a roundabout in its honour. They have already organised, in colaboration with the Philatelic Club of Jerez, an edition of 15 stamps with pictures of trains. For more details, here is a link

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

28.5.13 More on the Fino/Manzanilla Polemic

The Sanluquenos are asking Fedejerez to withdraw their proposal that Fino can no longer be produced in Sanlucar, while Fedejerez are actively looking for support for it.
The Fedejerez argument is that Fino cannot be produced in two distinct DO’s – Manzanilla de Sanlucar and Jerez -Xerez -Sherry. There are those, and not only in Sanlucar, who see political interests- and not just commercial - behind the affair, linked to the schism when the principal Sanlucar bodegas left Fedejerez three years ago. These bodegas formed their own group, Vinateros de Sanlucar, and their argument is that if the technical commission found that there was no technical or organoleptical means of distinguishing the two wines, why change anything?
Many consider the timing of the Fedejerez proposal inopportune, as they haven’t had time to mull over the matter. Thus, Aecovi and Asevi Asaja, the growers associations, who have 5 votes out of 20 at the Consejo, feel unable to vote, and hope that Fedejerez will withdraw the proposal and consult more widely, especially outside the Consejo.
Meanwhile, after its round of consultations, Fedejerez  is to convene before the Consejo debate to see what support it has and decide whether to press ahead with the proposal. It would not be the first decision they had made on the hoof.

In principle, they have 8 votes, 6 from the bodega sector and 2 from the grower sector, but there will be abstentions for sure, and that could let the proposal through. If so, the bodegas would be in breach of a long tradition of trying to find consensus in hotly debated matters - and the modification of the Reglamento is just that. If the proposal is passed, it will inevitably open up a breach between Sanlucar and Jerez, Manzanilla and Fino: the two brothers who don’t get along.

28.5.13 Sanlucar Threatens War over Fino/Manzanilla Proposal

Pladevi (Plataforma de defensa de la vina - a growers' association) has joined in the fray against the Fedejerez proposal to limit the ageing of Fino to Jerez and El Puerto.

The Consejo will debate the polemic issue at a meeting on Tuesday, but meanwhile Pladevi has expressed its disapproval in a communique which threatens legal action. "We are convinced this is a bad idea, but if it were adopted, we are prepared to resort to the law to stop business interests putting themselves before those of the people," said Pladevi president Francisco Yuste in the communique.

The Sanluquenos insist in their call to the Junta de Andalucia and the town councils of affected areas that they do what they can to prevent the proposal from being adopted, since it would "endanger the economy of the Sherry zone and some of its population," according to the communique, in which it is noted that Fedejerez had tried to restrict Fino production in Sanlucar three years ago, provoking a schism resulting in the Manzanilla producers' group Arjeman to leave the DO and found Vinateros de Sanlucar.

On that occasion, it was agreed to place a moratorium on the matter and create a technical commission to investigate, and it reported back in 2011 with the conclusion that there were no technical or organoleptic criteria to differentiate Fino and Manzanilla. Now that the moratorium is over and the technical report received, Fedejerez wants to get on with its prohibition of the simultaneous production of Fino and Manzanilla in Sanlucar and preserve the DO Manzanilla, signed into European law in the mid 1960's.

28.5.13 Fedejerez Wants to Limit Fino Production to Jerez

Fedejerez has proposed to the Consejo that ageing of Finos and Manzanillas be delimited to their own zones. This thorny issue was postponed three years ago because, as the new Reglamento was being considered, and it was decided to put a three year moratorium on the matter of defining more clearly both types of wine and their differences.

The technical commission concluded at the end of 2011 that Fino and Manzanilla are the same wine, since no technical or organoleptic criteria could distinguish them, save for the ageing zone of Manzanilla being restricted to Sanlucar since the mid sixties when its DO was established.

Now that the three years have passed, Fedejerez wants to delimit the ageing zones for Manzanilla to Sanlucar and for Fino to Jerez and El puerto de Santa Maria. This would stop the Sanlucar bodegas from producing Fino, which they have done for years.

The very inclusion of this proposal in the agenda for the plenary session of the Consejo has provoked an immediate reaction from the Sanluquenos, who consider it an attack on their historical rights at a difficult time. After a meeting held on Thursday by all the Sanlucar interests, the bodegas, cooperatives and growers, a joint statement was released criticising the the attitude of Fedejerez, calling it a veiled threat, behind which was a hidden agenda to manipulate the Consejo. It goes on to say that it is a pity that the matter has been brought up in Europe, and that the Consejo, which should be looking after everyone's interests, has not opposed the measure. The Sanluquenos will appeal to the Junta de Andalucia and local administrations so that they will have the facts of the matter.

Fedejerez does not share this view that historical rights will be lost. They say that before having a distinct DO, Manzanilla was just another wine in the Jerez DO, and could be aged anywhere in the whole region. "It is not about losing any rights, it is about putting things in order and preserving the DO Manzanilla de Sanlucar", explained a Fedejerez spokesman, pointing out that the deadline for inscriptions of wines as Fino or Manzanilla expires on the 28th May. He expressed disappointment that the matter had been made public before the Consejo had debated it.

Oloroso Rio Viejo 19%, Lustau

Bright light amber/topaz with gold reflections, legs.
Attractive, fresh with a slightly crisp edge, toasted nuts - hazel, almond and walnut, some apparent sweetness, finely controlled oxidation with a savoury hint and a trace of turron yema tostada (ground almond bar with toasted egg yolk), not a particularly old wine but very charming.
Slightly less amontillado-ey, more oloroso: full, open textured with a gentle tang, more walnut and a trace of wood, on the light side, but with immense length. Lovely.
Rio Viejo is one of the old Domecq range bought by Lustau. The name comes from that of a Macharnudo vineyard owned by Juan Pedro Domecq close by the banks of the river Guadalete, from which the original wine for the (I think 282 butt) 1918 solera came. These soleras may have changed hands, but the wines are as good as ever.
About £13 from Drinkmonger, Edinburgh. UK agents Bibendum

Reflexions on World Sherry Day

Jerez can't quite believe it. There are good signs, but so far they haven't been translated into increased sales. A lot of good work has been done, but the Consejo has been scratching its head as to how to promote Sherry on a tiny budget, while being bogged down with the new Reglamento among other problems, and suddenly it is World Sherry Day.

Live tasting on TV, World Sherry Day Website, Sherry fans all over the world holding all sorts of events. Fantastic! Maravilloso! But two thoughts occur to me.

Firstly, and bearing in mind that this was the first WSD and it all happened in the last few months, this would have been infinitely more successful if there had been time to organise an advertising budget, and to promote it. I know it was timed to coincide with the 80th anniversary of the Consejo Regulador and the DO Sherry, but did it really have to? I haven't noticed that the public round here were aware of it at all. Indeed many in the trade were unaware too. So has it done any good? I certainly hope so. Still, at least next year there will be more time to organise it. Having said all that, I was impressed how the Sherry trade and the Ayuntamiento took it on board. And, of course, with the WSD team.

Secondly, and as Jerezanos are well aware, this was an(other) initiative created by foreigners. As is this blog, by the way. The Consejo must find a way to raise some cash. The levy on bodegas is ridiculously low, that should be increased. And it must also come up with inexpensive promotions, that's not impossible. Let the Sherry sales force work harder - a lot harder. We sell the wines of 10 different bodegas, and not one e-mail, call or sales visit has been received  - about Sherry itself - never mind WSD. Yet we have had visits from bodegas from many other regions of Spain, and of course, other countries. Sherry may be the finest wine in the world, but all wines need to be actively and constructively sold, and Sherry is not doing nearly enough, be it the bodegas, the importers/distributors, or the Consejo itself. The wine of all seasons should be promoted in all seasons.

At the moment, Sherry fans are promoting the product to themselves!

28.5.13 Bodegas Barbadillo Win 10 IWSC Medals; Andaluz Flamenco Centre is 25

Bodegas Barbadillo of Sanlucar have won no less than 10 medals at the recent International Wine and Spirit Challenge, including two golds, for the Manzanilla en Rama and the VORS Palo Cortado. Silver medals went to Amontillado Principe, Palo Cortado Obispo Gascon, while bronze went to the Amontillado VORS, Manzanilla Solear, Oloroso Dulce San Rafael, Oloroso Dulce VORS, PX La Cilla, and a table wine they make. Honourable mention went to Oloroso Cuco, Oloroso VORS, and three other table wines. That is no mean achievement.

The Centro Andaluz de Flamenco in Jerez is celebrating its 25th anniversary. When it first opened there was a gala of flamenco with the great stars of the day . The centre has a fantastic collection of over 800 books, a sound archive and a photographic archive. A must visit.

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Happy World Sherry Day!!

I'd just like to wish everyone a very happy day. Happiness is, after all, a copita in one hand and a tapa in the other. I am giving a Sherry tasting with tapas tonight. We have done many a tasting at Drinkmonger, and the only one we have had to repeat, by popular demand - three times! - is Sherry. Let us hope that after years of crisis, the world will be enjoying Sherry today, and that this great wine will be restored to its rightful position, at the top. 
Brindamos por el Jerez!!

26.5.13 Archaeology Museum; Real Escuela 40 Years Old; World Sherry Day

Even the Jerez Archaeological Museum is celebrating World Sherry Day with a thematic visit called "Before the Soleras and Catavinos" (catavinos are tasting glasses), which will focus on different aspects of the history and culture of wine in the Sherry zone.
Four guided visits are available, timed at 10.00, 11.00, 12.00 and 13.00 tomorrow with a maximum number of 25 people per session, which lasts about an hour.
All sorts of interesting objects can be seen related to gods, myths, symbols, rituals and commercial activity related to wine, such as ceramic vases, amphorae, sculptures, reliefs, mosaics and glassware among other things.
As usual, visits will be assisted so that the visitor can get involved and get the most out of it. Visits are free and available to the general public, and it is hoped to offer a new perspective on the history of Jerez.
If you would like to visit, you can book on, or by phone on 956 149 560.


The Real Escuela Andaluza del Arte Ecuestre (The Spanish Riding School) is celebrating the 40th anniversary of its first spectacular "How the Andaluz Horses Dance",  first performed in 1973. A celebratory show will be performed as close as possible to the original.

The promotors of World Sherry Day, Wolfgang Hess and Chelsea Anthon raised a copita and toasted the 80th anniversary of the Denominacion de Origen Sherry at the bodegas of Gonzalez Byass yesterday with Mauricio Gonzalez, president of the firm, and signed a barrel.

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Fino Tio Toto 15%, M Gil Luque

Pale strawy gold, slight legs.
Quite full, broad and yeasty, some waxy bitterness, very slightly stalky, a decent nose if not very complex.
Fairly big,very slightly clumsy, hints of fruit, acidity and even a trace of tannin, yet that bitterness and a hint of yeastiness are there too. Young and made to a price, but pretty sound.
M Gil Luque, a small but good Jerez bodega was taken over by Herederos de R Perez Marin, makers of La Guita Manzanilla, and the latter were subsequently taken over by Grupo Estevez, who now produce this wine. The commercial brand Tio Toto is associated with Valdespino, which also belongs to Grupo Etevez, but it seems as if it has been divested to the no longer extant M Gil Luque, which is now more of an inexpensive but decent supermarket brand. On the label it states that the wine is produced and bottled by JESA (Jose Estevez SA), and gives the same postcode as the Real Tesoro/Valdespino complex. Anyway Tio Toto consists of a Fino, Manzanilla, Amontillado, Oloroso and PX. There are still some really good M Gil Luque wines floating about, though.
I bought this from my chums at Lupe Pinto Deli in Edinburgh for £ 10. 50. Moreno Wines may be the importers of this, but Liberty wines also import Valdespino.

Roberto Amillo Collection to Open Soon in Jerez

A businessman from La Rioja is to modernise part of the Sherry business right from the city centre. His name is Roberto Amillo, an impassioned Sherry fan who has an idea he wants to develop. The local bodegueros already know about it, and one feature is an enomatic machine which dispenses small amounts of wine for tasting.

He already has a range of own brand Sherries and Brandies selected and bought-in from top bodegas, and sells a luxury pack of four tasting phials of Sherry, as well as one or two others.

Some of the Sherries with their Penin Points

Nicknamed "The Collector", he owns over 17,000 objects connected with Sherry, a unique collection in the publicity world, containing every kind of merchandising for Sherry and Jerez Brandy, and it will soon be able to be seen in a small palace in the Plaza Rafael Rivero.

The collection also has a "collectors' corner"where it will be possible to buy certain pieces, and which offers the opportunity to organise events, hold educative sessions, tastings, food and wine matching, press conferences and any kind of event which promulgates the culture of Sherry.

La Galeria del Jerez presents itself as a driving force for the Sherry bodegas as well as a meeting place for professionals and visitors alike who are interested in wine tourism which, as its owner says "should generate increased renown for the bodegas of Jerez."

The project could be open in time for the 2013 harvest. Another piece of good news for Jerez.

Friday, 24 May 2013

Amazing, but True....Tio Pepe Toothpaste!

Two young chefs who run an experimental restaurant in Dorset called the Larderhouse have come up with quite a novelty - Tio Pepe toothpaste. It contains - yes, Tio Pepe - and dashes of elderflower and mint.

They demonstrated its, er, efficacy at the Gonzalez Byass stand at the London Wine Fair. Apparently it was good as a palate cleanser after a lot of Port.

(Drinks Business)

I wonder if it could be helpful with the breathalyser?

24.5.13 Barbadillo and World Sherry Day; Fedejerez Proposes End to Bulk Wine

Bodegas Barbadillo of Sanlucar have announced their activities for World Sherry Day starting on Sunday, the Day itself. Along with the doors open visits from 10.00 till 15.00, they have organised a full programme of tastings which start at 11.00 till 13.00.

Juanjo Mesa of the enology department will lead the first part of the tasting programme with a vertical of Manzanillas. The second part will be a tasting of Manzanillas and Jerez wines led by another bodega expert, Rocio Rodriguez of the PR department.

Fedejerez proposes an end to all bulk wine, hoping all Sherry will leave the bodegas in bottle.  The association, which represents 90% of the bodegas believes that the moment has come to take a leap in quality and opt for the bodegas’ own leading brands, the high quality wines which are not only more profitable, but give Jerez its prestige. They feel it is time to get away from low grade wines as well as garrafas and bag-in-box BIB) formats, and to disqualify them from the DO.

In Sanlucar, however, many small bodegas would prefer to disqualify their Manzanilla in order to continue to sell it to the bar/catering trade in BIB, a very popular business. But Fedejerez is adamant that only the glass bottle will assure a profitable future for Sherry, and hopes that this will be included in the new Sherry Reglamento. This is a rather thorny issue.

According to the president of Fedejerez, Evaristo Babe, the future is in bottles, which offer all the guarantees of quality, hygiene and control. He sees no other problems  in supply to the pouring trade, particularly tabancos, with re-fillable bottles. He feels it is time to turn the page on the times in which anything goes and in which there has been excess production and rock-bottom prices. It is entirely logical that the bodegas should seek to improve things – to survive. Now that balance has been restored to the region, it is felt that alternative packaging, such as BIB detracts from the value of the product.

Many bodegas already take the matter as already settled, as it was debated at a plenary at the Consejo over a year ago, when the proposal to authorise the BIB was rejected by a majority. The majority are in favour of the bottle and the “maximum level of excellence” inherent in it. While they are aware that things can’t be fixed overnight, they are also well aware of the mistakes of the past.

Babe says that Sherry got involved in a spiral of reducing costs such that everything was to do with price, but the situation now is different. BIB barely covers the cost of the grapes, which has almost doubled in the last year, and he says that it is now time for a change of mentality, a change in the model. Bodegas’ own leading brands, in bottle, he considers, are synonymous with investment and employment.

This contrasts with the strength of the BOB sector, another matter which has to be dealt with in order to achieve “maximum excellence”.  Surprisingly, there are very few leading brands, but there need to be, in order to gain critical mass, and anyone who wants to go their own way does not have to belong to the DO. We should go for quality and not do what Montilla and Condado de Huelva (other Andaluz fortified wines) have done by embracing BIB.

24.5.13 Feria de la Manzanilla; Sanlucar and World Sherry Day; Jerez Carousel

Preparations for the Feria de la Manzanilla in Sanlucar are nearing completion. The fair starts on Tuesday evening at the Calzada de la Duquesa. There will be illuminated porticos in th Bajo de Guia and Las Piletas, avenues which lead to the fairground. Tuesday morning will see the inspection of all installations by the fire brigade and public health. Special bus services are also organised.

The Councillor for Tourism in Sanlucar, Antonio Reyes, has announced the town’s plans for the celebration of World Sherry Day. Over the next month, many bodegas will host doors open days, tastings and visits. Reyes said that really, Sanlucar has reason to celebrate 365 days a year, given the “natural and permanent theme park of wine and gastronomy” which attracts ever growing numbers of visitors. The town tourism department will organise vineyard visits, historical tours, visits to the Wine Interpretation Centre, all sorts of guided visits, even activities on the Guadalquivir, the common thread of all of which, is Manzanilla. Manzanilla Day is the 26th June. More information at

The vintage carousel, long a summer attraction in the Plaza Arenal in Jerez will open from tomorrow till the middle of November. For the first day, a kilo of food will be donated to Caritas for every ride taken. The food will go to the Salvador dining room, which provides food for the most needy.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

22.5.13 More on World Sherry Day

The Consejo tasting will ltaste the best wines made from musts trodden at the Fiesta de la Vendimia from 1948 to 1989. There are expected to be some surprises here. The wines have been aged in the Consejo’s own bodega, San Gines, oxidatively and as anadas , that is they are still vintage wines, never having been in a solera system. They consist of Palos Cortados and Olorosos.

There will be other features, too. Maridajes (wine and food matching), a live demonstration of vine grafting, talks on bodega architecture, kinds of ageing and conservation, the Copa de Jerez competition, the history of wine tourism, the language of the chalk markings on butts,  Sherry and health, the venencia (cup with long hooked handle for getting wine out of the barrel), and more.

At 12.30 (GMT+1) the Consejo plays host to a seminar by the Enologists Association of Andalucia on “Sherry and the Phonecean  legacy in the Atlabtic” presented by the historian Esperanza Serra. After this there will be a tasting, open to the public, given by Williams & Humbert enologist Paola Medina.

The mayoress of Jerez, Maria Jose Garcia Pelayo said she was proud of what had been achieved for this the first World Sherry Day, and in only a couple of months. Next year, with much more time available, the event will be even better. She noted that the event’s founders, Wolfgang Hess, a German Sherry Educator, and Chelsea Anthon, and Australian with Spanish origins, prove the value of the Sherry Educators system. There are now over 500 worldwide.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Some Interesting Snippets

1. Forty percent of annual sales of Sherry (mainly fino and manzanilla) take place in April and May, mainly due to the two big Ferias: Sevilla and the Feria del Caballo in Jerez. Some 6,500,000 bottles!

2. The Agriculture Ministry of the Junta de Andalucia is to be congratulated for its decision to reduce the minimum number of butts required to sell Sherry from 500 to 50. This will benefit many small bodegas.

3. In 1936, a Jerez businessman celebrated 50 years in business at a happy get-together with 20 employees. In a photograph of the celebration, many bottles are to be seen, and they are all Sherry - no beer, soft drinks or anything else. Now that's how it should be!

4. In his work "Las Tierras de Jerez", Isisdro Garcia del Barrio included 12 interesting rules for the construction of bodegas. From the white exterior and great thickness of the walls to the two-sided roofs and the high windows, all look magnificent - especially now, as we see the demolition of so many...

5. According to an old advertisement for Lustau brandies, King Alfonso X "El Sabio" (the wise) loved the brandy which was distilled by the arabs even in his times, the VIII century. The origin of this fact is obscure...

6. Bar/Taberna Los Gabrieles in Madrid had walls covered by amazing ceramic murals, many of them adverts for Sherry bodegas, and painted by well known artists like Jerezano Carlos Gonzalez Ragel, with his skeletal figures. Like a museum, the bar was known as the "Sistine Chapel of ceramics" and was awarded maximum protection by the Community of Madrid. It has been closed for a few years now, however, and it is feared that the tiles could be in a poor state for lack of treatment. It would be appropriate if someone from Jerez could do something to help...

7. The Encyclopedia of Wines and Spirits by Alexis Lichine and William Fifield published in 1981 says on repeated occasions that "Fino Sherry is considered the best and most perfect aperitif." All Sherry aficionados should bear this in mind and put it into practice. Of course they already know this, and practise regularly!

8. Enjoy a glass of Sherry every day and you will live to be 100.

Isn't that tempting?!

A Review of the Sherry Trade 2012

The Sherry zone is facing a more optimistic future after long hard years of vine uprooting, vineyard abandonment, lack of profitability and falling sales. Now, however, there are many good signs. The balance of supply and demand has been corrected, sales have bottomed out, and there has been a shift back to focus on the vineyards, an essential element in the history, culture and business of Sherry. For example, there is the Plan Especial, which is aimed at agro-tourism. There is a return to belief in Sherry, even among the most sceptical who are resisting the necessary changes – but yet don’t want to be left behind. The future is in their hands.

Justice offered the bodegas the opportunity – which they missed – in the 2010 elections, when they miscalculated their strength, allowing their interests to mix with politics – a time bomb which did not take long to explode. The shadows of his previous political life hovered over the new president of the Consejo, the ex-minister of employment at the Junta de Andalucia, Antonio Fernandez, whose preventative imprisonment for his alleged part in employment fraud undermined the Consejo and set alarm bells ringing about the image of Sherry.

Fernandez, who had resisted attempts by the bodegas to get him to resign, ended up resigning from a prison cell, and after some deep thought, consensus was regained and Beltran Domecq, a real Sherry man and much more suitable, was appointed in his place. No time was wasted, and the Consejo got back into its stride, restoring good relations between growers and bodegas, which allowed it to concentrate on the drought-stricken 2012 harvest, and promoting the wine.

There was still another hurdle, however, and that was to do with labour. After negotiations at the XXIV Convenio de la Vid broke down, the result was a full day of stoppages and the threat of strike action at harvest time by bodega workers. In the end, Fedejerez and the unions worked out a mutually acceptable formula at the start of summer, an example of cooperation for stability of employment in the face of crisis.

Meanwhile, the Consejo and its new president forged ahead with a plan to eradicate the political stain and recuperate the good image of Sherry, with Beltran Domecq working away quietly with his considerable diplomatic skills. With a new stage set, and production more closely matching sales, the next matter was the harvest, which was going to be very small due to the lack of rainfall over the past year. In the event, the harvest came in 20% smaller, and left some bodegas without enough grapes, but at the same time there was a welcome rise in grape and must prices, which mitigated in part the previous ruinous years.

Everything now points to this trend being continued in forthcoming years, and the contracts signed between growers and bodegas will be extended for a minimum of three years with a progressive annual increase. All the same, the price of grapes in Jerez continues to be well below average, as is the price of the wine, but there is still work to be done.

Bad news never comes on its own, but it appears that neither does good news. The Audiencia Nacional (High Court), which had already reduced by 75% the fine imposed by the Comision Nacional de Competencia (Office of Fair Trading) on the Consejo for alleged discriminatory sales allocations, again pleasantly surprised the Consejo and Aecovi (growers association) with the first annulations of fines for agreements on grape and must prices. Before long, fines on bodegas and other institutions were also drastically reduced. The Sherry trade has been especially critical of the “persecution” by the CNC, and this has obviously resulted in exemplary fines, such as 7 million euros on about 10 bodegas for their part in what is known as the Fino Cartel. It is worth noting that the CNC punished agreements which were not even profitable, as demonstrated by the uprooting and abandonment of hundreds of hectares of vineyard.

Sherry is now undergoing a renaissance, what with the tabancos in Jerez, the Sherry bars in in the UK and US, consumer interest is re-awakening, and even better, among the younger generation. This is great news, as in traditional markets such as the UK, Sherry has for far too long been widely perceived as what grannies drink; sweet and old fashioned.

The team at the Consejo have had to stretch the tiny budget for development and generic promotion to the last euro, and is therefore imposing a higher levy on bodegas, who pay little enough as it is – especially compared to other wine regions – and some of whom spend more on promoting their other wines than on Sherry, the wine that made their names. The fact that Sherry matches so well with food has created another promotional opportunity, as demonstrated by the Copa Jerez, a competition open to chefs and sommeliers for the best combination of food and Sherry. This was piloted by Jorge Pascual, a former president of the Consejo, and has gradually become a major event. The resurrection of Vinoble (Feria de Vinos Nobles) in 2014 is also good news for the Sherry trade, and is considered an excellent shop window by the Consejo.

Jerez is not entirely about Sherry, however; it also produces outstanding vinegar and Brandy. A new category has been introduced for vinegar: Dulce (balsamic) to take advantage of surging sales over the last decade, but which have slowed down due to the crisis. With 90% of sales going to only France and Spain itself, there is room to open new markets over the short to medium term.

Brandy still has a cheap image with the vast majority of sales being in the “solera” category where products can be below 36%, and the base spirit does not even need to come from wine. The Philippines is the biggest export market, but they are increasing duties on it in line with a World Business Organisation resolution, allowing domestic products a price advantage.

And finally, the famous Tio Pepe sign will be re-installed in the Madrid’s Puerta del Sol square in good time for the New Year 2013/4 grapes.

21.5.13 Asevi Avoids Fine for Grape Price "Fixing"

The fine of 300,000 euros imposed on the growers association by the Comision Nacional de Competencia (CNC - or Office of Fair Trading) for alleged price fixing has finally been quashed. Growers' representatives have received the notification from the High Court, which is in line with its more lenient (and sensible) treatment of other sectors of the Sherry trade.

21.5.13 Jerez Countryside Plan Raises Interest in Vineyards

A municipal project, the Plan Especial de la Campina, to promote vineyard tourism should bring an end to the abandonment of vineyards as they could become more profitable. After years of non-profitability, many vinistas were considering throwing in the towel - and many already have. The vineyard area is at its lowest for a very long time.

The idea, in response to demand from the trade, is to link the production of grapes with tourism, such as agrotourism, which has already been successful. The viticultors don't yet know the details of the plan, but if approved, their associations, Asevi-Asaja and Aecovi-Jerez will  inform the potential beneficiaries. It has been pointed out, however, that the plan could put a stop to sales of vineyards because it could increase their value, which has declined throughout the long years of crisis.

Nevertheless, the idea sounds "interesting" to Francisco Guerrero, president of Asevi-Asaja, who points out that there will have to be a lot of investment in public and private administration, from which it could be hoped that aid could flow in via rural development plans, and which would give better access to finance for viticultors. Carmen Romero, of Aecovi-Jerez, thinks it is a "magnificent" idea which would help the countryside to diversify its activities and strengthen the environment and patrimony.

Casa de vina or caserio

While Romero is confident of the project, despite being well behind other wine regions who already have  such plans in place, Guerrero is convinced that it would have already been a great tourist attraction had it not been for the difficulties of the last few decades. "We have lived through very bad times, and the bodegas have exploited eno-tourism at their installations, without looking after the vineyards", he said, underlining that there are caserios (vineyard houses where the wine used to be made) which would be ideal for the purpose, like other regions' chateaux, where the bodega is part of the vineyard.

According to Guerrero, the growers have wanted to do something for years, but lack of finance, drinking water and suitable access made it impossible. He made the point that nonetheless, the council had once thought about creating a golf course in the countryside and had said that there would be no problem with supplying drinking water. "Up till now it was all problems, but it now seems that the council is disposed to make the vineyards a tourist attraction." He went on to say that having looked at the plans, he thought they had been well done, very detailed and had a complete census of the vineyards. The objective is to begin work in September, after the harvest, when Asevi-Asaja will take the plan to the growers and make up groups of interested parties for each area, in order to keep cost to a minimum.

21.5.13 Osborne Profits; Ruta del Vino Logo; Lustau Win Gold; World Sherry Day

Grupo Osborne has announced its figures at the shareholder AGM for 2012, which show net sales of 222 m euros and a gross profit of 32.5 m euros, representing a 7% rise. The drinks side of the business contributed 78% of sales, principally brandy, anis, Rioja etc. The remaining 22% came from Iberico Pork and restaurants, which have seen growth of 50%. Unfortunately, Sherry was not a major contributor.

The Wine and Brandy Route of the Jerez area has a new logo. It was designed by Jose Antonio Chanivet, from Puerto Real. The logo was tiring and in need of a change, and this is a great improvement. La Asociacion de la Ruta del Vino y Brandy del Marco de Jerez, which covers all the main municipalities of the area, is composed of some 70 entities connected to enoturismo (wine tourism). These are bodegas, hotels, restaurants, bars, tabancos or wine shops, and they must all comply with the Association’s quality manual. The route is part of the official national system of Wine Routes, and is among the most popular.

Bodegas Emilio Lustau has won no less than 21 medals at the IWSC in London, considered the “Oscars” of the wine trade. They won half the medals available!
Their VORS Oloroso, Amontillado and Palo Cortado won gold, while the VORS PX won silver. Rio Viejo Oloroso, Rich Oloroso Anada 1997, PX San Emilio, Amontillado Los Arcos and the Almacenista Pata de Gallina also won gold. Three more Almacenista wines won silver: Amontillado de Sanlucar Cuevas, Amontillado del Puerto Cuevas and Palo Cortado Vides. Silver also went to Moscatel Emilin, Oloroso Emperatriz Eugenia, Palo Cortado Peninsula and Puerto Fino. Fino La Ina, Amontillado Botaina, East India Solera and Oloroso Don Nuno all won bronze.

 The first World Sherry Day has now listed over 200 worldwide events in 23 countries taking place this week up to the day itself, Sunday 26th. The town council of Jerez is looking at how to link WSD with next year’s Vinoble wine fair, along with – if it is granted – European City of Wine. Jerez is a candidate for this, and to that end has renewed its connection with Recevin, the European network of wine cities. The bodegas of Jerez are the most visited in Europe with 311,000 visits last year. To keep abreast of what is happening, follow these sites: y

Monday, 20 May 2013

Live Vintage Sherry Tasting on World Sherry Day!

Diario de Jerez announces World Sherry Day

The Consejo Regulador will be celebrating World Sherry Day with an amazing tasting to take place at their headquarters, the Casa del Vino, at which the tasting committee, made up of leading members of the trade, will participate. The wines will all be vintage wines, made from musts produced at the Fiesta de la Vendimia since 1948, so this will be a real homage to the production of Sherry.

The event will be broadcast live, worldwide online and on (Spanish) television, and will feature interviews, documentaries and many other surprises at 11.30 till 15.00 (GMT+1) on 26th May. 

And don’t forget to Give Someone Sherry, another World Sherry Day initiative.

Various bodegas will be holding "Open Doors" days on Sunday, including Grupo Estevez' Valdespino and Real Tesoro.

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Amontillado Goyesco 17.5%, B Rodriguez de la Cave (Delgado Zuleta)

Pale golden amber with old gold glints, legs.
On the cusp between Manzanilla and Amontillado; still lots of Manzanilla notes like the maritime flor bitterness and a trace of autolysis mingling with the oxidative and slightly sweet, nutty notes of Amontillado. This is what the wine smells like when the flor dies off and the air gets in, but before it has oxidised much.
Fresh young Amontillado: hazelnut, implicit glycerol sweetness, a trace of membrillo (quince jelly) but still retaining Manzanilla freshness and some of its lightness. Dry, well rounded, elegant and long. It really shows how Sherries develop.
Delgado Zuleta are proud of this wine, and rightly so. It won a Silver at the IWSC. In the past, it would have been called a Manzanilla Amontillada, but the Consejo felt that such terminology confused the consumer, and it was banned, so now only one or other term may be used - in this case Amontillado. And yet this wine has actually spent longer under flor (5 years) than it has under oxidation (3 years). Whatever, it is a lovely and hard-to-find style of wine, a little less strong and lighter than a full Amontillado, and perfect for people who are new to Sherry or, of course with food, with which this is very versatile.
£11.75 at Drinkmonger, Edinburgh. (UK importer Bibendum).

Manzanilla En Rama Esencia de la Andana, 15%, Javier Llinares

Golden straw, some light legs.
Fresh, saline, very soft and yeasty, traces of dry scrubland, seaside, bitter almond and slightest hint of autolysis.
Clean, fresh, very smooth with that lovely yeasty, slightly salty bitterness, soft with hints of Manzanilla pasada, low acidity, quite long. A very nice glass of Manzanilla, fuller being bottled en rama.
This is an interesting one. It comes from a solera of 8 criaderas dating from 1930, tended by capataz Jose Tiernes in the Bodega Santa Ana, formerly owned by Esteban Bozzano. The wine was originally produced by CAYDSA, but 79 butts were bought by Javier Llinares, who is marketing it under this, his own label. He has released 10,000 bottles (of which I tasted no. 3996), and each bottle is sealed with a driven cork. The scales of the solera are run only as often as necessary to keep the flor going, the wine is around 10 years old, and bottled with minimal filtration.
The importer is Juan Manuel Gomez in London, and he can be contacted on 0774 264 7954 or He is looking at importing more Sherries, and already sells olive oil, some great vinegars, caramel brandy and a lovely marmaladey orange wine.
£18.65 for a 50cl bottle.

Sherry at Foodies Festival in UK

The Foodies Festival is a series of food and wine matching events held throughout the UK in spring/summer. This year, Charles Metcalfe, the well known wine writer/critic will give foodies a seminar on the production of Sherry, along with a tasting and Sherry/food matching session.

The event is primarily aimed at the public, and there will be around 80 stands where local wine merchants and restaurateurs can show off their wares and skills. Brighton and Manchester have already held their events, but the remaining ones are:

Hampton Court Palace, 25-7 May
London, 7-9 June
Bristol 12-14 July
Edinburgh, 9-11 August
Oxford 24-6 August

For more information look up Remember, there will be Sherry!!

Monday, 13 May 2013

The Sherry Business and Religion

The history of Sherry is full of surprises, unusual deeds and minor events which all add up to some sort of importance. They are all inter-related, but there was one particular event, not well known or much looked into, which rocked a city where the Catholic majority lived together with a (largely English) Protestant minority who shared interests in the wine business.

It all started in the mid XIX century, when sales were buoyant. England was demanding more and more wine, sales were rocketing, and to its credit, Jerez got its first railway line in 1854, to the Trocadero quay (opposite Cadiz) via El Puerto de Santa Maria. The new railway station meant a great boost to business: it reduced transport costs and eliminated the interminable queues of bullock carts clogging the roads.

At this time, the British colony was suffering an outbreak of cholera, thanks to the vice consul Charles Peter Gordon (of the “Spanish Gordons”). His father was a prominent businessman, and a Catholic to his very marrow. He had as few as possible dealings with Protestant ministers and disliked his compatriot “heretics”. As British Vice-Consul, however, he was obliged to provide a place for them to worship, but this he roundly denied them. It was at this time that a scandal erupted which became the talk of the British Community. The matter reached Parliament and almost became a diplomatic incident between Britain and Spain. A Conservative member of Parliament , Sir Robert Peel, raised the matter in the Commons of the lack of freedom of Protestant British subjects to practice their faith in Spain, alluding negatively to Gordon.

The magazine Revista Jerezana reported “It appears to have come to the attention of the mayor that in the home of Mr Charles Harman Furlong, at C/Santamaria, 11, Protestant religious ceremonies are taking place”. The mayor passed this on to Gordon, asking him to ensure this stopped, according to Spanish rules, also advising Furlong.

The Protestants were not intimidated, and replied in a letter to Gordon that as British subjects they were surprised to be accused of breaking Spanish laws. They went on to say that they had come together at the house to attend a service by the Reverend William Cooke, British Chaplain at El Puerto de Santa Maria and Jerez. It was requested that Gordon provide them with somewhere to come together under English protection where they could quietly observe the rites of the Anglican Church. They demanded an immediate reply addressed to the house of Charles Furlong, and all those who had been present at the service signed the letter: William Cooke, Samuel Carter, Richard Ivison, Charles Furlong, Edward Collier, AM Stringer and C Noble.

Gordon replied that Spanish laws were very strict, and prohibited religious observance other than that of the Catholic Church under penalty of prison.

Meanwhile, in the House of Commons, Keel let rip at Gordon: “For example”, he said, “our Vice Consul in Seville is a Roman Catholic; nevertheless his drawing room is open to British residents in that city. Another Consul has installed a chapel for the celebration of Anglican services. Despite these examples, however, Vice Consul Gordon forbids our citizens (700 of them in the south of Spain) either to enter his house or to exercise their religion under the British flag”.

In 1861 Gordon was relieved of his duties which, ironically, were given to Furlong. But Gordon was a stubborn man. He kept the British arms above his door, he continued to use the official seal, and kept all the official consular archives. Furlong complained to London, writing: “Everyone in Jerez knows that Mr Gordon is using all his - not inconsiderable – influence at the Spanish Court to frustrate the intentions of the British Government. This was corroborated in a mysterious, black-edged letter with an illegible signature sent from the consulate.

Gordon continued with his attacks on his successor, discrediting him whenever possible. He accused Furlong of being a liberal, a distributor of Protestant bibles and pamphlets, and that he had allowed Protestants who were not English to meet under his roof to attend Anglican services. After Gordon was fired, Furlong continued in the job till 1868.

Furlong had interests in the Sherry exporter Matthiesen Furlong & Co, an important bodega, and unique in that it was in an old Jesuit convent, abandoned after the expulsion of the order. He was now faced with rumours from London that he had used illegal procedures in the production of wine, something which was confirmed by Walter J Buck, a naturalist and head of the big exporter Sandeman. Furlong retired back to England, and Buck took his place. In his time, the chapel Recreo de las Cadenas was used to hold Protestant services.

The spread of the Protestants, considered by Catholics as socialists, masons and enemies of the nation, continued. Jose Luis Jimenez has come across the figure of the Rev Joseph Viliesid, first pastor and founder of the Evangelical Congregation in Jerez in 1872. Along with his wife, Raquel Ben-Olier, he erected the first Church in the Calle Arguelles and two congregation halls in the Calle Mundo Nuevo in July 1874. As no willing Jerez architect could be found, a technician from Cadiz undertook the work.

Jorge Mundt, another ex-consul, ex Diez Hermanos, walking round a bodega said, “The proprietors of these bodegas are Catholics, and expect absolutely catholic conduct of all their staff. If I am a Protestant, what am I doing working here?”

(From Diario de Jerez 12.5.13)

Thursday, 9 May 2013

9.5.13 Chiclana May Abandon DO; Council Encourages World Sherry Day

The producers of Moscatel in Chiclana feel discriminated against by the Consejo Regulador, and are seriously thinking of abandoning the Denominacion de Origen because certain characteristics of their famous wine, which have now become traditional, have been vetoed by the new Reglamento. The firms in Chiclana, mostly small artesan firms and a cooperative, only want to continue doing what they have always done: supply Moscatel without wood ageing to the tabancos, without having to lose the name “Chiclana”, as allowed in the DO.

The new Reglamento insists on a minimum of two years ageing in wood for DO wines, and certainly does not permit sale of the wine in “bag in box” (BIB) format which the “Chiclaneros” want. The BIB question has been dragging on for years, and has still not been debated at the Consejo, while other regions have forged ahead, Montilla-Moriles and Huelva, for example. It has, however been used in the Jerez area, but only at the cost of the wine being sold without a DO and any reference to its origins. Despite that, considerable sales have been made to the catering trade.  The Consejo is perfectly aware of advantages of this packaging, but many feel it cheapens the image of Sherry.

Moscatel from Manuel Aragon - as CRDO would like to see it

Sales of Moscatel in the Chiclana area amount to some 60,000 litres, mostly to tabancos, which are witnessing a resurgence in Jerez, and are also traditional in other areas of the Jerez area, such as Chiclana and Sanlucar. Apparently, since the prohibition of BIB, a black market has sprung up among some aggrieved producers who will not be hamstrung by the new regulations.

The City Council of Jerez is encouraging World Sherry Day (WSD) participation. In the unlikely case you didn’t already know, this is the 26th of this month, 80 years since the foundation of DO Sherry. The plan is that events celebrating our favourite wine will take place simultaneously worldwide.

Over 100 events are already planned, including maridajes, cocktails, lunches, dinners, tastings etc. Jerez’s tourism and festivals councillor, Antonio Real, has pointed out the importance to Jerez of the event and has encouraged private business to participate. Chelsea Anthon, co-founder of WSD, said that the event has linked people from all over the world who share a passion for Sherry, and that a revival is beginning to happen. The director general of the Consejo, Cesar Saldana, agreed saying that he had no doubt that it would be a unique celebration and hoped that it would continue to grow and enjoy success for years to come.

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

6.5.13 Poster for Feria de la Manzanilla; Spectacular Feria del Caballo

This year’s Feria de la Manzanilla has its poster. It was unveiled last Thursday in the bodegas Hidalgo La Gitana by the mayoress of Sanlucar, Irene Garcia. It is the work of Jose Manuel Velazquez Ibanez, and is an allegory of Sanlucar and its buildings and vineyards in the form of a woman.

Imagen WebSanlucar

Meanwhile over in Jerez, the Feria del Caballo has begun in spectacular fashion. No sooner had the motorcyclists gone (after a very successful weekend) than the Feria broke out. 

Imagen MasJerez
Instead of thousands of motorcycles, the town is now thronging with thousands of horses. Needless to say, the local refreshment will be enjoyed to the full!

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Oloroso Dulce San Rafael 19.5%, Barbadillo

Mahogany fading through amber to pale green - tinged rim, legs.
Old oloroso, walnuts in syrup, nutty, hints of old barrels and acidity along with those of the added PX: pasas and toffee, but the oloroso dominates - a very old wine with just enough PX to round it off. Lovely.
Beautifully balanced between oloroso and PX, medium-medium sweet at the start with the oloroso following through and that crisper Sanlucar note helping it to balance. It leaves a lovely mellow buttered toast oloroso feeling on the palate that lingers.
A delicious wine, especially with Manchego type cheese, maybe even blue cheese. The oloroso has a really old feel to it, and is in fact aged over 15 years in the bodega San Roberto, with about 25% of PX. A hyper cream Sherry.

I got this one at Spirited Wines for £23.54 UK importer is Fells.

5.5.13 Motorcycles and Horses Descend on Jerez

The marco de Jerez has seen a massive influx of motorcyclists over the last few days in preparation for today’s Jerez Moto GP, with Jorge Lorenzo of Spain in pole position. He is a very happy man, as they have named one of the circuit’s corners after him. The circuit, which is laid out in the shape of a porron (a jug for drinking directly into the mouth) saw its first racing in 1985, and is now an important venue for cars as well as motorcycles. One of the founders was Enrique Ysasi Ivison, from a long standing Sherry family.

This weekend also sees the start of the Feria del Caballo, which runs till Friday. There will be many events such as a parade of horses and carriages; horse tests; Golden Horse award; equestrian displays; racing, and much more. The city really comes to life, with a great feria atmosphere. 

Sherry at the 1958 World Business Fair

Back in 1958, Sherry had its own stand at the World Business Fair in the USA. The Coliseum in New York hosted the pavilions of many countries in this important business “shop window” attended by 750,000 people. Visitors to the Sherry stand were welcomed by three pretty “Sherry Queens” who symbolised three of the most important types of Sherry, namely Fino, Oloroso and Amontillado. It had already been pointed out in pamphlets that real Sherry comes only from Spain.
(Jose Luis Jimenez)

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

PX Romantico 16.5%, Bobadilla

Dense blacky walnut brown fading to very dark amber rim, strong legs.
Lots of pasas (sun-dried grapes), you can smell the pulpy texture of the pasa and even the esparto mats they were sunned on, a trace of honey balances the aroma of oak, trace toffee, but mostly pasas. Lovely.
Intensely sweet and viscous, again lots of pulpy pasa, the accent being on the fruit - less coffee or licorice in the flavour than some, yet a hint of oak there, soft centred with a crisper woody edge, not terribly old, but serious and very long.
Lovely wine, presumably bottled direct from the solera unblended. I wonder where that solera is now, Osborne presumably.

I'm afraid I can't include a picture here. I have a label in my flat in Spain, so I'll try to remember to photograph it.

Tio Pepe En Rama 2013 Release 15%, Gonzalez Byass

Bright pale strawy gold, slight legs.
Forthcoming, extremely yeasty and quite unlike the 2012. Not particularly saline - though slightly, but plenty of bitterness - almond, freshly sawn oak, traces olive brine, hay and bread dough, dry, soft and very slightly humid, interesting and complex.
Lovely, fresh and yeasty, similar to nose, but slightly more bitter, that trace of freshly sawn oak again, low acid gives a breadth, softness almost wine-like fruitiness toward the finish, then a bitter tinge at the end.
Bottled on 8th April 2013 - in Spring - so that the flor is at its thickest. Last October, Antonio Flores, capataz at Gonzalez Byass, selected 100 butts from the Constancia and Rebollo soleras. Since then, Jerez has had a mild winter with plenty rainfall, which has led to amazingly healthy flor. In the end Sr Flores selected 67 butts for bottling without stabilisation nor filtration. There is therefore not much of this wine to go round, and the bodega recommends a drinking window of only about 3 months. So don't hang about!
£15.95 from Vino, Stockbridge, Edinburgh