Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Bodegas: Infantes de Orleans Borbon

The title of Monpensier was one of the noblest in France. Antoine Philippe Marie Louis de Orleans, Duc de Monpensier (Neuilly 1824 – Sanlucar 1890) was the son of the French King Louis Philippe of Orleans (the last King of France) and would surely one day be king of Spain. To this end, a marriage was arranged in 1846 between the Duc and the Infanta  Maria Luisa Fernanda de Borbon (1832-1897), daughter of Fernando VII and younger sister of Isabel II who was married to the Infante Francisco de Asis de Borbon. Frustrated in his kingly hopes by his sister in law, the Duc devoted his energies, and immense fortune, to conspiring against her.

Two years later, because of their political views, he and the Royal Family were obliged to leave France after it became a republic in 1848, and decided to go into exile in England, but what with political problems there, the Duc and his wife decided to move to Spain, the country of the latter's birth. He took out Spanish nationality. They lived in the Palace of San Telmo in Sevilla, where he held what he hoped would be an alternative court to that of Madrid. He never achieved his ambitions, and suffered further periods of exile in Portugal and the Balearic Islands, but did at least get his daughter Mercedes married to future king Alfonso XII.
Logo: the coats of arms of Orleans (L) and Borbon (R)

The Monpensiers found Sevilla unbearably hot during the summer months, and in 1849 visited El Puerto de Santa Maria and Sanlucar, and were so impressed with the latter that they decided to build a summer house there, complete with a 220 hectare sporting estate in Torre Breba where they could spend the summers in a more bearable climate. Since the wines of Sanlucar were very fashionable, the Duc planted some vines in the Finca Botanico, and a few years later he converted Torre Breba itself to vineyard, which he rented to an Englishman and important bodeguero of the day, Richard Davies.

The house they built  in Sanlucar was a palace, the Palacio Orleans Borbon, designed in the Mudejar style, surrounded by beautiful gardens and with a large stable block known as the Caballerizas de Orleans Borbon where many horses and carriages were housed. The upper floor housed the estate workers. The palace itself, which is now the seat of the town council, can now be visited and its many rooms and patios are used as wonderful venues for weddings and other such events.

The old stables, now the bodega
In 1943, the Duc's descendants, the Infantes de Orleans Borbon, Alonso (de Orleans Borbon), the Duke's grandson and Beatriz (de Sajonia Coburgo – or Saxe Coburg in English), granddaughter of Queen Victoria and of the Tsar of Russia, saw the potential of the vineyards and decided to go into the wine and brandy trade, and established the firm, always with quality in mind. The bodegas were situated in the old XIX century stables and now contain some 8,000 butts.

At first, the family had little to do with the making and marketing of the wine, which was left to Barbadillo, who owned 50% of the firm. In more recent times, however, the family has taken back control, and the vineyards are owned by Compania Agricola Torrebreva SA, a family-owned company, and they are making and marketing the wines themselves, aided by a fancy new website. Meanwhile, the Duke's great great grandson, Alfonso de Orleans Borbon established the successful motor racing team Racing Engineering in 1999, based in Sanlucar.

The caserio (vineyard house) in Torrebreba
The range consists of:
Manzanilla Torrebreva (5 years old); Oloroso Fenicio (15 years old); PX Carla (15 years old); Palo Cortado Virrey (15 years old); Amontillado Ataulfo (15 years old).

There is a Brandy Gran Reserva at about 20 years old, and a Peach Liqueur made from peaches steeped in the brandy to an old recipe brought by Beatriz from England.

Visits? Yes, by appointment
Address: Calle Baños,1, 11540 Sanlucar de la Barrameda, Cadiz
Telephone: (+34) 956 849 002
Web: www.biob.es



  1. Hi I have just come into a few bottles of "Finest Peach Brandy Licor, Orleans Borbon, Sanlucar De Barrameda, R.F. CA-03694, R.E. CA-30 R.S.I 30.1.712/CA". How can I find out when this was bottles and anything else about is please?

  2. Vorrei acquistare un paio di bottiglie del vostro Manzanilla per la mia famiglia è per alcuni amici.
    Potete rispondere a questo indirizzo di posta elettronica:
    Sono italiana e mi chiamo Anna Maria Contu, abito a Roma.