Wednesday, 31 July 2013

30.7.13 Manzanilla..with Fish

Bodegas Delgado Zuleta and Sanlucar Fish Spa have reached an agreement to offer during August and September the enjoyment of their joint services, to enhance the local activities for tourists and locals alike at the best price. What is on offer is a unique and appetising mix of Manzanilla and good Health. There are three different options available.

The first, at 15 euros, is a 20 minute ictiotherapy session in the Urban Spa followed by a visit to the bodegas of Delgado Zuleta. {Ictiotherapy is putting your feet into a tank of warm water where lots of tiny fish eat away the dead skin on your feet – tickly at first, but effective}.

The second, at 24 euros is a 20 minute ictiotherapy session, a manicure or pedicure, a tour of Sanlucar and a visit to Delgado Zuleta.

The third, at 32 euros, is a 20 minute ictiotherapy session, a massage at the Spa and a visit to the bodegas with a tasting of tapas
Separately, the Spa is offering a free glass of La Goya Manzanilla with any ictiotherapy treatment between the 15th July and the 15th September.

This is definitely a new way to enjoy Manzanilla with fish!

Saturday, 27 July 2013

27.7.13 Osborne's New Museum of Old Wines

Starting yesterday, Osborne has opened the doors of one of its most interesting bodegas, La Mora in the Calle Moros, Puerto de Santa Maria, to the public. The bodega has been converted into a sacristy containing some 635 butts of very old and historic wine of all types, some dating from well over 200 years ago. This is a veritable enological museum containing the biggest collection of historic wines in the Sherry zone. There are 26 soleras, all real jewels which make up the original range of old Osborne wines and also those which were bought, such as Domecq, Duff Gordon, Blazquez and Bobadilla. It has taken a year to assemble all these wines, which were previously in their original bodegas or at various Osborne bodegas in El Puerto, into one single bodega.

The opening of this exhibition took place last night with a reception for local politicians, tour operators, travel agents and members of the Consejo Regulador, along with directors of Osborne. A piano recital was held, followed by a visit, the same visit which locals and tourists can now make. The exhibition is more than just barrels of Sherry, however. There is also an exhibition of old labels and one of old bottles, signed by the more – or less – famous personalities of the last two centuries or more, and some sculptures of well-known locals.

The visit starts at the beginning with two giant butts of 2,300 litres capacity, the founding butts, which preside over it all. From here the genealogical tree grows outward: Duff Gordon 1768, Osborne 1772, then the Washington Irving and Zar de Rusia soleras and many more.

Osborne, which is now run by the sixth generation of the family, has other such projects in the pipeline. They are planning a bullfighting museum, a museum of tools, and one of brandy. The company currently produces 2.5 million litres of Sherry, of which 70% goes for export, and they are the leading producers of brandy. A lot has been achieved in the last 250 years, all recorded in the sediments of these historic wines.

Tickets for the visit cost 8 euros, and tours by an expert guide are in Spanish, English and German. A tasting will follow of four Sherries and a solera reserva Brandy with nibbles.

Friday, 26 July 2013

26.7.13 Great Exhibition at Jerez Museum; Last Pre-Harvest Consejo Meeting

Antes de las Soleras y el Catavino (before soleras and tasting glasses) is the theme of a new activity in the Jerez Arqueological Museum, dedicated to the relationship between wine and the history and culture of Jerez. There will be four events on the 6th 13th 20th and 27th of August at 19.30 in English and at 20.00 in Spanish.

These will comprise a tour of the Museum, highlighting the most relevant exhibits to the theme.  The Museum director, Rosalia Gonzalez, explained that wine, which has so marked the city’s history, will be the protagonist, so that visitors will be able to get to know the different aspects of the art and culture of wine in Jerez up to the end of the XVIII century, when the solera system came into common use.

The Museum has all sorts of ceramic vessels, amphorae, sculptures, reliefs, mosaics and pieces of glass among other things, which speak of gods, myths, symbols, rituals and business, all relative to wine, whose consumption is generally accepted in this area as dating back to the fist millennium BC in the times of Tartessos with the arrival of the Phonecians. The Carambolo painted ceramics belong to this era, and were excavated both at the necropolis and at the area called Mesas de Asta, and recent studies have shown they were used for wine.

The Manzanilla Question and the shortage of grapes will be the main topics at the plenary meeting of the Consejo on Tuesday, where it is hoped to finally cure some old wounds. The Manzanilla Question, a proposal by Fedejerez to limit Fino production to Jerez, a vote on which was postponed for a cooling-off period, will be on the agenda, but it seems likely to be postponed again. Also, the Consejo has not yet received a reply from the Junta, from whom it requested an opinion, as the Junta is waiting for an opinion from Brussels on the new Reglamento.

There are other matters needing resolution, such as old customs and rules unchanged since the start of the Denominacion de Origen in the 1930’s which are obsolete, and more so with the arrival of the new regulations. The thorny issue of bag-in-box is another, not to mention the use of the word Chiclana on moscatel from there, the producers of which were threatening to leave the DO.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

24.7.13 Ruta Casas de Vina El Puerto

For the second year running, the Puerto de Santa Maria Ruta de las Casas de Viña through the Balbaina vineyards is under way. Last year over 100 people participated. The route, which covers about 8 kilometres starts outside the inn Venta El Cepo on the Jerez – Rota road, where participants meet up at 8 o’ clock pm. Along with the natural beauty of the route is the attraction of getting to know the area in which many casas de viña are situated, forming part of the wine culture of El Puerto, accompanied by experts in local historical patrimony. The route will be on offer next on Friday 16th August at 8.30 am, and is very well worth doing.

(imagen voz digital)

Monday, 22 July 2013

Tapas: Berenjenas Fritas con Miel

Fried aubergines with honey

This is absolutely delicious, and dead easy to make. The slightly crisp yet juicy aubergine texture with sweet honey is lovely! All you need is:
1 Large aubergine or two small ones
Salty water
Olive oil - Extra Virgin
Runny honey

Slice the aubergine and soak in salted water for 10-15 mins. Next flour the slices and fry in very hot oil. Lay on absorbent paper till excess oil has run off, plate up and pour honey on top.
{The salty water prevents the aubergine absorbing too much oil}

22.7.13 Sherry Stock Situation; Lustau Win More Medals

Production in Jerez has swung from an alarming excess to an alarming shortage, aggravated by grubbing up and abandonment of vineyard and a very small 2012 harvest – one of the smallest in history. This could lead to supply shortages in the short to medium term.  The harvest for 2013, which is predicted to be 25% bigger or around 60 million kilos will only provide a short term relief.

This harvest should provide about 60,000 butts, but 80,000 are needed for estimated sales, leaving a deficit of 20,000, meaning that there could be shortages in about 3 years as stock works through the system. It is a major worry, and an analysis of the situation will shortly get underway to find ways to combat the situation.
It had been thought that that the supply and demand balance had been restored, but now it looks as though the grubbing-up was excessive. 10,000 hectares were reduced to 7,000 – almost one third of the vineyard was lost. This was not helped by the poor state of some vineyards caused by the poor economic situation of growers. Action is needed soon.

The vineyards need an integral plan and producers need to discuss the future. Even with the 500 hectares which are now back in the Denominacion de Origen after being used for trials of complementary products, it is estimated that if the next harvest is normal, there will be 75,000 butts, leaving a deficit against sales of 5,000. The cumulative effect over 2012,13 and 14 will therefore be 55,000 butts, or 27 and a half million litres. Meanwhile, bodega stocks have been reduced by 20% over the last three years, from over 400,000 at the end of 2011 to the 315,000 with which it is hoped to end this season.

All available information needs to be put on the table, particularly the state of the vineyards which are theoretically in production but which give low yields for lack of husbandry over recent years. They need to be recuperated, work which takes time and no small financial investment. The bodegas need to clarify their future requirements, in fact everyone in the trade needs to work together.

Lustau’s capataz, Manuel Lozano has won the International Wine Challenge “Best Winemaker” for a record fifth time. Lustau won 35 medals: 12 gold, 14 silver and 9 bronze. Manuel has been the Lustau enologist since 1999 and he looks after the vineyards as well as the 22,000 butts in his care, which he regards as his children. A modest man, he “wasn’t expecting this, as the standard improves every year”, and thanked his team at Grupo Caballero.

Manuel with judge Charles Metcalfe

Friday, 19 July 2013

18.7.13 Homage to Shakespeare in Jerez

For the eighth year there will be a homage to William Shakespeare in Jerez, the city whose wines he did so much to promote. It will take place in the Parque Gonzalez Hontoria on the 7th September at mid-day. As usual the programme will include a floral offering and a toast at the monument, a reading of his poetry in Spanish and English, a musical presentation and a theatrical presentation. The event is organised by Jose Luis Jimenez Garcia and the Cine Club Popular de Jerez.

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Manzanilla Las Medallas de Argueso 15%

Very pale straw with golden hints, light legs.
Flor with the slightest traces of camomile and apple, very fresh with a hint of sea air, light, then a slightly savoury character kicks in, which with the slight salty tang makes you crave some ham and some olives! Fairly serious but attractive.
Light but tasty, lots of flor, a trace of quince,and that savoury hint mean it must be a really good wine which has been filtered, but not within an inch of its life. Low acid with a gentle bitterness on the finish, impeccably clean and well balanced.
Very good Manzanilla. This wine has spent 5 years in the solera system and it shows. This is one of four Manzanillas produced by Argueso, and they are all good, only they don't - as far as I know - sell any "en rama". That's a pity, because it would be very good if the filtered wines are anything to go by.
£5.50 per half bottle from Henri, Edinburgh.  UK - can be obtained from Bibendum

18.7.13 Sad News from Jerez; Fiesta de la Vendimia Poster

Milagro Lopez de Carrizosa y Eizaguirre, wife of retired president of Gonzalez Byass, Mauricio Gonzalez Gordon y Diez, Marques de Bonanza, has died at the age of 90. Their son Mauricio is the current president of GB. Milagro was a devoted and supportive wife, since their marriage in1951, for one of the top men in the Sherry business. Those who knew her describe her as charming, loving and joyful.

The Fiesta de la Vendimia poster for 2013 looks like this:

The harvest look to be bigger than last year – it could hardly be smaller – but, now we are into the crucial last two months, the weather is a bit variable. There has already been one heat-wave, and another is forecast, yet there have also been cooler days with grey skies. Anyway the Fiesta will take place between the 10th and 15th of September.

Monday, 15 July 2013

Oloroso Ochavico 19%, Garvey

Deep mahogany amber fading toward yellow at rim, legs.
Fairly pungent with savoury notes of Marmite on toast as well as touches of implied sweetness, damp barrels, walnuts and clean oxidation, open and frank, very oloroso.
Fairly intense, just a hint of sweetness there along with roasted nuts, traces of raisin, barrels and a good solid texture. Not a particularly old wine, perhaps about 8-12 years, but very sound. It has real depth.
I don't know very much about Ochavico at all, what with the bodega virtually closed down, there is nothing forthcoming. I'll add any info as it comes to hand.
I'm guessing a UK price would be about £12, but as far as I know nobody is importing it at the moment.

Bodegas: Garvey

William Garvey Power was an Irish aristocrat born in 1756 at New Ross, County Waterford to Patrick Garvey Shortall and Mary Power. He came to Cadiz in 1776 in search of merino rams to mate with his father’s ewes. According to legend, his ship was wrecked in a dreadful storm in the bay of Cadiz, but he was rescued by a Spanish naval captain, Rafael Gomez, whose daughter nursed him back to health at their home in Puerto Real. Garvey fell for Sebastiana Gomez Jimenez and later married her in 1794. They had two children, Patrick (1796-1872) and Maria Antonia.

It seems that he never went back to Ireland - although apparently he did send the sheep -  moving soon to Sanlucar as a general merchant, but his real interest was wine.  Dated 1780, the oldest document in the well-stocked Garvey Archive is a receipt for wine purchased from one Juan O’Connery. The earliest accounts book, dating from 1798, shows that he bought most of his wine from Gordon & Co, but also from fellow Irishman, Richard Shiel who worked in Spain for Devereux Shiel & Co of London. Garvey began by shipping small quantities to England and Ireland.

In 1793 Garvey moved to Jerez; at the age of 38 he was already quite wealthy, and decided to build a huge bodega next door to his house. He was considering the marketing of Fino, and was probably the first in Jerez to do so. The bodega was built in the Calle Divina Pastora and was the largest in all Jerez, 170 metres by 38 metres. It was christened Bodega San Patricio, after Patrick, Patron Saint of Ireland, and later its Fino and indeed William’s son were also given that name. The bodega was full of wine – 8,000 butts of it. A thousand butts of Amontillado alone were kept ready for almost immediate shipment.

Outside, under the colonnades of the bodega, was stored a huge number of butts of more common wine (rayas, most likely) which would be used in blending. The Price of Wales (later Edward VII) once visited Garvey, and was impressed particularly with an old brown Sherry, the solera of which had been laid down by William Garvey. According to Vizetelly, the bodega also held stocks of Montilla wine, and even had an establishment there (at Lucena) where 1,500 butts were produced annually from bought-in grapes. This was not uncommon in those days. Then there was the stud - like so many in the Sherry business, horses were hugely important to the Garveys.

The modern bodega, Complejo bellavista
The bodega San Patricio remained the largest of all until the 1970’s when Rumasa built Bodegas Internacionales, now Williams & Humbert. The lovely old Garvey bodega was demolished in 1997, and replaced by a supermarket. Sic transit Gloria.

William and Patrick Garvey believed in Fino and, of course its descendant, Amontillado, and were among the earliest and most successful in shipping these styles from Jerez. Up till then, it was mostly Oloroso, usually blended with PX. What we now know and love as Fino was regarded then as a “sick” or “straw” (pajizo) wine, covered in yeasty scum, and was used for vinegar production. Garvey had other ideas as to its quality, possibly influenced by his stay in Sanlucar and his experience of Manzanilla, but he died before he could do a great deal with it, leaving its development to Patrick.

For a short while in the early XIX century William Garvey was a member of a partnership with Juan Carlos Haurie, his nephew Juan Haurie and James Wilson. This was organised by JC Haurie who was an unscrupulous operator and claimed to be the biggest shipper in Jerez, but in fact most of the wine had been shipped by Garvey and Wilson. On William Garvey’s death in 1824 this partnership was soon terminated by his son and heir Patrick Garvey Gomez.

Patrick Garvey married in 1826 Maria de los Angeles Capdepon y Lacoste (1806-1870), a girl of French descent and of a wealthy family. They had 11 children of whom three boys and four girls survived. Two sons, Guillermo and Jose, remained bachelors but the other, Patrick, married Consolacion de la Mota y Velazquez –Gaztelu.

The vinification plant shared with Zoilo Ruiz Mateos
Patrick senior ran the business extremely ably, making it the biggest shipper in Jerez in the 1840’s and 50’s. In 1850 the Palacio Garvey was built for the Garvey family in the Plaza Rafael Rivero in the historic centre of Jerez and was highly luxurious. It is now a 16 room boutique hotel. In 1853 Garvey exported over 3,000 butts, more than any other shipper. By now Patrick had the resources to pursue his and his father’s dream: the Fino. He bought stocks of Fino and these were delivered when it was dark to avoid the disdain of neighbouring bodegueros. Fino San Patricio was launched in the 1850’s in Ireland with immediate success through the Dublin agent James McCullach.

The three sons, but mainly Guillermo and Jose, continued with the business after the death of their father in 1872, but after Jose’s death, the firm was divided up to family members and became a limited company, though remaining in family hands. In 1923 Patrick Garvey y Gonzalez de la Mota Capdepon y Velazquez, great grandson of the founder was awarded the hereditary title Conde de Garvey by King Alfonso XIII.

After the Civil War, the firm invested in more vineyards and in 1970 the new Bellavista bodega complex was completed by architect Miguel Fisac. This was another giant bodega, and the idea was to have all aspects of production in one place. Here, vinification, stabilisation, ageing and bottling (38,000 bottles could be filled every hour) all took place, and here too were the offices. Provision had been made for future storage capacity of 25,000 butts. At the bodega there is a fascinating museum of 15,000 old Sherry labels from 1854 to 1954 collected by Jose Saldaña Trigo, who bequeathed it to the bodega. There is also a collection of old XIX century hand-painted bottles.

In 1978 Garvey was taken over by Rumasa, who continued with the modernisation programme and ramped up sales at home and abroad in this, one of the last of the boom years. They also restored the old Palacio Garvey. By now Garvey owned 600 hectares of vineyard including the Cerro Viejo, Hacienda San Patricio and Myriam de Montegil, all in Jerez Superior albariza.

Rumasa was expropriated in 1983 by the Spanish Government, and all its component companies sold off. Garvey was sold to a German cooperative, but in 1997 it was bought by Nueva Rumasa, and was merged with another of Nueva Rumasa’s acquisitions, Vinicola Soto in 1998, becoming Grupo Garvey in 2000, along with Bodegas Valdivia and Zoilo Ruiz Mateos.

For a while things looked good, with a revamp of the range in new, dumpier bottles, and the addition of Soto’s Manzanilla Juncal to the Garvey range (for some reason). But Sherry sales were steadily falling, and Garvey was not immune, particularly with their large stocks. They have been plugging away, however, and even participated in the first World Sherry Day.

When Nueva Rumasa imploded, many of its companies were sold to Angel de Cabo, who ran a firm called Back in Business which (theoretically) got firms back on their feet, but he is now in jail, and the whole situation was a disaster. Work at the bodega had all but ground to a halt, and huge quantities of wine were sold off to pay for the receivers and the remaining workforce, which had already been dramatically reduced. Things had looked bleak to say the least for five years until Andrew Tan, the Phillipino brandy magnate who had already bought what remained of the old Domecq business, bought Garvey and Zoilo Ruiz Mateos along with brands and stocks and the supply contract for Sandeman in 2017 for 35 million euros. This includes the liqueurs Calisay and Ponche Soto. Hopefully he will be able to reverse the fortunes of this once great firm.

Standard: Fino San Patricio (6 criaderas, around 6 years old); Oloroso Ochavico; Amontillado Tio Guillermo; Cream Flor de Jerez; PX; Manzanilla Juncal

No longer seen: Long Life Oloroso Medium; Manzanilla la Lidia

Sacristia: Amo Oñana (solera 1834); Palo Cortado Jauna (solera 1817); PX Gran Orden VORS (solera 1860); Oloroso Puerta Real VORS (solera 1826); Asalto Amoroso (solera 1858); Oloroso Dulce Flor de Museo (solera 1860)

1780: VORS Amontillado, Oloroso, PX

Vinegar: Garvey, Soto, Reserva Garvey PX

Brandy: Esplendido; Renacimiento; Solera Reserva; Sacristia and:
Conde de Garvey : 200 years old solera of just 5 butts, 100% holandas distilled in the bodega in an old Cognac pot still bought in France. This was the Garvey private brandy till Ruiz Mateos discovered it and decided to release it under Conde de Garvey brand. The first filling of only 3,000 bottles was drawn on Saint Patrick’s Day, and Lourdes Davila Ybarra, the current Condesa de Garvey presided over the occasion. The brandy retails for around 750 euros per bottle.

Address:  Ctra Circunvalacion s/n, 11407 Jerez de la Frontera, Cadiz 
Tel: (+34) 956 319 650
Visits: Probably, but best to check on

Sunday, 14 July 2013

14.7.13 Latest on the 2013 Harvest

First estimates from growers and the Consejo on the 2013 Sherry harvest are for an increase of 12 million kilos or 25% over last year to about 75 million kilos.  As always these predictions come with a caution, however. July and August are the decisive months in the campaign, and it all depends what happens from now on.

After plenty of rainfall in the spring which has boosted the water table, the weather has been very hot recently with a Levante (hot dry east wind) which may reduce yields slightly. A particularly dry summer, like last year, is not predicted, and a sign of this is that wasp nests in the vineyards are orientated east, exposed to the Levante from which wasps normally protect themselves.

According to Francisco Guerrero, president of the independent growers, it has rained when needed and the canes for next year are good, and furthermore there are no signs so far of any disease. The worst enemies of the vine at this time of year are the Levante which reduces yields, and rain which can bring mildew or oidium because of the humidity. For the time being, however, everything looks good, but the harvest will probably be a bit later than last year’s very early one, perhaps at the start of September.

With an estimated crop of 75 million kilos, there would be enough wine to replace stocks in the bodegas, especially as sales are still falling. A drop last year of 1.92% led to sales of 41.6 million litres. The sales drop over the last five years averages around 18% meaning about 10 million litres fewer than sales in 2008.

The Consejo’s department of vineyards is supervising the state of the vineyards, paying special attention to vineyards which have been uprooted and will not be in production this year, and those which have been replanted. Growers should have informed the Consejo about this by the end of June, but not everybody has. The area of vines in production this year is very similar to that of last year, just under 6,500 hectares. The Consejo has been meeting managers of the over thirty vineyard press houses to keep them up to speed with developments, and in particular a new computer application which allows them to control the entry of grapes to the production bodegas.

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Tres en Rama Fino de Jerez 15.5%, Lustau

Like all en rama wines, slightly deeper in colour than everyday finos, and not quite so bright, a hint more yellow in that strawy gold, legs.
Full and deep, complex and tight with lots of flor, saline and almondy, dry with background traces of olive brine, turron and membrillo, even a hint of clove, but overall flor, a wine with some age real character.
Full of flavour, some fruit there, but briny almonds and flor bitterness predominate, balancing out low acidity, there is an immensely long, full, slightly savoury finish. Excellent.
Tres en Rama denotes that there are three wines in this Lustau en rama range, one from each of the Sherry Triangle towns; Jerez, Sanlucar and El Puerto. Each wine is bottled with minimal filtration and from one single butt, in this case from a solera of 708 butts located in the bodega Los Arcos in the centre of Jerez.The UK allocation is not more than 20 cases of 50cl bottles of each wine. This is the first release, chosen by capataz Manuel Lozano, and the bodega hasn't decided yet whether to release another saca in autumn, or release a bigger saca, say 3 butts, next year. Ooooh PLEASE! Don't drink this too cold - cellar temperature is ideal.
£ 14.50 (50cl)  from Drinkmonger, Edinburgh. UK distributors are Fields, Morris,Verdin.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

10.7.13 Independent visits Jerez; El Trovador; Vinoble

Journalist Katie Manning, who contributes to the Independent and various other publications, is visiting Jerez to write an article on what the city has to offer tourists. She will be visiting the Arab Baths, the Alcazar, the Real Escuela and a couple of bodegas; Tradicion and Diez-Merito. She will also be visiting some of the tabancos on the Ruta de Tabancos, and have a look at the Sherry Cooking Classes iniciative. Antonio Real, local tourism councillor will be assisting her in her visit.

The original signed manuscript of El Trovador by Antonio Garcia Gutierrez has come home to Chiclana, where he was born, for exhibition along with other works and letters celebrating the 200th anniversary of his birth. The exhibition is called Garcia Gutierrez – the Triumph of Romanticism, and is at the Chiclana town museum. El Trovador, written in 1836, and which formed the basis of Verdi’s opera Il Trovatore,  has been stored at the Real Academia Española in Madrid.

The Mayor of Chiclana can't wait to open El Trovador

 Vinoble 2014, which will take place once again after missing out on 2012 due to lack of funding, will be reduced from four days to three. The event will take place from the 1st to the 3rd June. This reduction is the result of sounding out exhibitors and visitors, 80% of whom felt 3 days were better than 4, rather than for money reasons, although the Ayuntamiento de Jerez is still trying to put a final funding package in place. I would urge you to go if you can; it is a great show, in a great place.

Monday, 8 July 2013

Bodegas: Duff Gordon

James Duff, son of William Duff of Crombie and Elizabeth Dalrymple, was born in Ayrshire, Scotland in 1734, and was shipping Sherry from Cadiz from 1768 as quite a young man. In the early days he bought his wine from Haurie, and later on was to buy some of his soleras when Haurie went bust in 1815. Duff was a generous man, and an enormous help to Thomas Osborne (1761-1845), advising and supplying wine initially and giving him storage for his own.

He never married and took on his nephew William Gordon (1772-1823), son of his sister Anne Duff and Alexander Gordon (of Aberdeenshire, the judge Lord Rockville), as a partner and inheritor in 1788. The firm was re-named Duff Gordon & Co. Their very skilled capataz, Johan Nicolas Bohl de Faber also helped Thomas Osborne who would later return the favour. On the 3rd of April 1790, Duff was appointed British Consul in Cadiz, a position he retained till his death.

In the same year, another young Scot, George Sandeman, newly arrived in London, became his agent there until 1805, and again in 1818, by which time Duff Gordon wines were commanding top prices. In 1805, with business booming, Duff set up a London agency called Gordon Murphy, among whose employees were John James Ruskin (father of the writer) and one Pedro Domecq Lembeye. In 1809 the firm became Ruskin Telford and Domecq. For a while they also handled Haurie wines, but this proved rather undiplomatic, and soon ceased. Domecq later took over Haurie in 1818. Duff appointed Oliphants of Ayr as his Scottish agents in 1767.

Duff Gordon had brief dalliances with Madeira, leaving when Oidium destroyed the vineyards, and also Malaga Wine, but a longer one with Port. Sherry was always the main product of the firm, but their Ports had a decent reputation. All their interests in Oporto were, however sold by Osborne - -except the brand name - when they bought out the Duff Gordons. In the 1960's, Osborne established themselves in Oporto under their own name, and from time to time release a Duff Gordon Vintage Port, the latest being the 1994 (at time of writing).

 In 1813 Duff was awarded the first baronetcy of Halkin in recognition of his help to the British Crown during the Peninsular War. He did what he could for his countrymen, and also for the Spaniards, who had a wretched time under Napoleonic occupation, and for whom he had great respect. He died in 1815, having lived just long enough to see the final defeat of Napoleon, and was buried at sea off Gibraltar. William Gordon inherited the firm along with his uncle’s title becoming 2nd Baronet, changing his name to Duff Gordon with Royal Licence. In 1810 he had married Caroline Cornewall, but it was a short marriage, as he died in 1823. From 1807-1818 he held the seat for Worcester in the House of Commons. He was also a lavish spender.

Sir William Duff Gordon left two sons, Alexander and Cosmo, and their mother split their inheritance: Alexander got the title and Cosmo got the bodegas, but as he was still too young, she empowered Bohl de Faber to run the bodegas. As the family grew more remote from the business, Thomas Osborne began working more closely with Bohl de Faber, who moved the firm from Cadiz to El Puerto de Santa Maria, and in 1825 Osborne married his daughter Aurora.

By this time Duff Gordon wines had an enviable reputation and had many aristocratic customers. One was the American Diplomat Washington Irving, who wrote “The Conquest of Granada” while staying at a mansion belonging to Osborne. Irving sent wine samples to the Tsar of Russia who was so impressed that a solera was laid down to supply him: Oloroso Viejisimo del Tsar.

In 1833 Thomas Osborne and Cosmo Duff Gordon became partners, and ran the business, the more so after the death of Bohl de Faber in 1836. Thomas Osborne died in 1845 and his son, Tomas, continued. In 1856 DG exported 3,036 butts, putting them in 5th place, but sales began to slip. In 1857 Cosmo retired leaving the Osbornes to run the business, and after he died in 1872 the family sold all its Sherry interests to them. In 1890 Duff Gordon was dissolved, but Osborne continued with all the DG brands from their original soleras and bodegas until 1890, and some up until the 1980’s when they disappeared altogether.

In his 1875 book “Facts about Sherry”, Henry Vizetelly describes the Duff Gordon bodegas in El Puerto. They were reached through a charming garden court bordered with flowering shrubs and fine old trees, geraniums and various climbing plants trained up the walls. The spacious shipping bodega contained 8,000 butts, neatly arranged, with various types of wine. Four other bodegas are devoted to the soleras, and one very fine oloroso had received offers of £400 per butt, which were refused. In the end there was a total of eight bodegas holding over 10,000 butts. Over the sample room door was the stuffed head of a bull which had apparently killed all the 11 horses in the ring.

The best-known of the Duff Gordon brands were: Fino Feria, Amontillado El Cid and Santa Maria Cream, Oloroso No 28, Pinta Pale Dry Cocktail Sherry, Nina Medium Dry. There was also brandy.

Interestingly, the 5th Baronet, Sir Cosmo Edmund Duff Gordon (1862-1931), a prominent landowner and sportsman (a brilliant fencer), with a country estate at Maryculter, Aberdeenshire and his wife, the fashion designer Lucy Christiana Sutherland were among the survivors of the Titanic disaster in 1912. At the time it was thought they had bribed their way onto a lifeboat, but they were cleared at a Board of Trade inquiry. Lady DG had her own business known as Madame Lucille.

Lady Lucy Christiana Duff Gordon


Tapas Recipe: Tortillitas de Camaron

Tortillitas de Camaron (little crisp prawn cakes)

Ingredients for 12 tortillitas:

100 grams camarones (peeled or whole)                                                               100 grams wheat flour
1 large glass of cold water                                                                                         Half teaspoonful salt
1 spring onion                                                                                                              Fresh parsley
50 grams chick pea flour (optional for colour and texture, you can use 150g wheat flour instead)

Mix the two flours in a large bowl, add the finely chopped spring onion and roughly chopped parsley (amount to taste), add salt and finely chopped camarones (best when peeled, really).

Mix thoroughly the contents of the bowl with a fork and slowly add the water, stirring all the time to achieve a yoghurt-like consistency. It is important that the camaron/shrimp/prawn sticks to the mixture.

Put plenty of olive oil into a frying pan – the widest available – and heat it. It needs to be very hot but not steaming or smoking. Add a small amount of the mixture and spread it a bit, the tortillitas need to be quite thin (it is a bit like pancakes), fry on both sides till golden and see how it is. Any adjustments can be made now, but if all is well fry up the rest. Once fried, remove from pan and let the tortillitas cool on some kitchen towel to absorb excess oil. That’s it! Ready to eat!  Time to pour the Fino or Manzanilla!

Note: Camarones are tiny shrimps found in Cadiz Bay. As an alternative, it is best to use unfrozen prawns, as frozen ones contain a lot of water.                                                                                                                                                       

8.7.13 World Sherry Week; Tastings in Sanlucar

World Sherry Day, planned for 2014 is to become World Sherry Week. This is because in 2013 many restaurants round the world found it difficult to do on the exact day because of opening hours and timetable problems. A whole week would give them greater flexibility. Chelsea Anthon, one of the promoters of WSD, said that all over the world interesting food was matched with Sherry, enriching enormously the possibilities. She also echoed the thoughts of many, expressing her surprise at how little promotion Sherry gets abroad, and disappointment that only about 2,000 people work in the trade now, when twenty years ago it was 20,000.

Every summer for the last three years, a superb tasting has taken place in Sanlucar – in a taberna. The Taberna der Guerrita, in fact, run by Armando Guerra, a great lover of wine and especially Sherry. His father established the business in 1978, and in 2008 Armando took advantage of a spare room to create the “Sacristia del Marco de Jerez”, where the tastings will take place. They were both also involved with the production of the Enomap, a wine related map of the province of Cadiz (

This year’s programme runs from the 28th June till the 7th September. It includes tutored tastings of light wines from Asturias, Cantabria, Emporda, Canarias, Champagne, Beaujolais , Italy and Portugal. There will, of course, be Sherries, those of El Maestro Sierra and Vintages of Williams & Humbert, and also two tastings on the subject of biological ageing, by Eduardo Ojeda and Luis Perez Rodriguez. There will also be a comparative tasting of Champagne and Sherry by Peter Liem. Not to be missed!

Taberna Der Guerrita, C/San Salvador at corner with C/Rubiños, Sanlucar de Barrameda

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Manzanilla en rama Deliciosa Saca Primavera 2013,15%, Valdespino

Strawy gold, darker than usual Deliciosa, very light legs.
Intense, lots of flor, brine, bread dough and bitter almonds, very fresh and very complex, something floral, camomile, dried flowers, straw, trace olive, interesting and attractive.
Decent acidity, fresh and deeply flavoured, all the above with a trace of autolysis for good measure, bone dry and very long, quite delicious - "deliciosa!"
Lovely wine, it just shows what damage can be done by filtration. This wine is made by Maria Isabel Estevez, Jose Estevez' daughter who is an enologist, although I am sure Eduardo Ojeda must have something to do with it too. It comes from one selected butt only, which supposes somewhere around 1,500 half bottles, and is the first release. It is made from Miraflores grapes and aged between 5 and 6 years (the same as normal Deliciosa) in a solera system consisting of 6 criaderas plus the solera itself. Given that it is available worldwide, allocations must be tiny. Let us hope they do more seasonal sacas, or bigger ones to increase availability.
£8.30 per half bottle from The Fine Wine Company Edinburgh. UK importers Liberty Wines.

PX Leyenda 18%, M Gil Luque

Deep blacky burnt umber through mahogany to yellow at rim, pronounced legs.
Deep and fairly intense aromas of pasas, toffee, caramel, miel de cana (cane honey), and dried figs,  a hint of alcohol there too. Still quite young, but very good quality.
Very fruity: liquid pasas and dried figs, viscous, unctuous and intensely flavoured with toffee predominating and a slight kick from that alcohol, quite a serious wine.
Considering this wine is only around 5 years old, it is quite intense and strong, which covers the slight lack of complexity due to its youth. It is very good, though, with considerable length.
£ 8.95 per half bottle from Drinkmonger, Edinburgh Agents Vinoceros

Bodegas: M Gil Luque

The origins of this firm date to the end of the XIX century, but it took its current name after it was bought by Manuel Gil Luque in 1912. Hijos de Rainera Perez Marin, famous for their Manzanilla La Guita, bought Gil Luque in 1984. A number of small and very old soleras from Bodegas Fernando Carrasco Sagastizabal in C/ Rincon Malillo and C/Cordobeses were bought by M Gil Luque in 1995 and moved in 1998 along with their brandy, vinegar and other wines, to the new Gil Luque facilities in Viña El Telegrafo on the road to Lebrija, in Carrascal.  The bodega complex, containing 2,100 butts, was surrounded by 55 hectares of albariza vineyard, and the wine was made at bodega Pago de Miraflores and bottled at Pago Sanlucar Viejo, the 2 bodegas being now owned by La Guita. The old Carrasco Sagastizabal wines were sold under the De Bandera label.

In January 2007 Hijos de Rainera Perez Marin was itself bought out, by Grupo Estevez for 36 million euros.  Gil Luque’s De Bandera soleras were moved again, this time to a lovely bodega in El Puerto de Santa Maria which once belonged to Cuvillo. What with the various acquisitions made by Estevez, and the number of brands which that entailed, they have put the De Bandera wines on the back burner for the moment, but are looking after them. Let us hope they will be available once again! Meanwhile, the Leyenda range can be found occasionally.


De Bandera VORS : PX, Moscatel, Oloroso, Amontillado, Palo Cortado  These had a tiny output - only 600 botts of each per year

{Equipo Navazos bottled some De Bandera Palo Cortado as Bota Punta No 6 Palo Cortado, Saca Abril 2007}

Luque Classic: Sherries and Brandy (solera 1928)

Leyenda:  Oro Cream (12 years old & 70% olo 30% PX), Amontillado, Oloroso, Cream, PX

There used also to be a more commercial range called Deportivo

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

2.7.13 Fiesta de la Vendimia 2013

The Fiesta de la Vendimia 2013 will be held between the 10th and 15th September. It will start with the traditional treading of the grapes outside the Cathedral at 20.00 on the 10th, after which the official reception will take place at the Alcazar. The following day, youngsters still in education will tread the grapes, in the same place, at 11.30. The councillor for the Special Plan for Cultural Promotions, Antonio Montero, said that this was a good way to get the young people to appreciate the history and traditions of Jerez wine.

Cata Magistral (Great Tasting) Alcazar, Jerez

 Other events include the participation of the bodegas, the Gastronomic Festival in the Alameda Vieja, and the Great Sherry Tastings which will take place in the Patio de las Armas of the Alcazar, supplied by the bodegas and the caterers Alta Cazuela. There also will be two charity equestrian galas. According to Antonio Real, councillor for Tourism, Culture and Fiestas, the cycle of events offers a fantastic range of activities for visitors, especially for those interested in wine.

Monday, 1 July 2013

Two Spanish Ham and Manzanilla Events in London

Juan Manuel Gomez of Jose Fine Wines, who imports the lovely - and scarce - Manzanilla en rama Esencia de la Andana and Jose Sol, who is London's Jamon specialist are working together at two events on the 10th and 18th July. Two outstanding products come together to provide infinite pleasure - almost as if you were in Spain! - at the Waterloo Quarter Food Festival 2013. Go if you possibly can! Here's the link:

Jose explains ham beside a poster of Juan's Manzanilla