Friday, 23 May 2014

Bodegas: Miguel Sanchez Ayala

Miguel Sanchez Ayala was established in Sanlucar in 1789. The historic old bodegas are situated in the Barrio de la Balsa (Barrio Bajo) between the streets Banda Playa and Divina Pastora, once an area surrounded by navazos. The bodega San Pedro, constructed in the XVIII C by the Arizon family of cargadores a Indias shows the early beginnings of bodega-specific architecture, and contains about 500 butts of Manzanilla. It was once used by the family as a warehouse for goods being sent to the Americas. It was sold by the Arizon family to the Vicario Inigo family, also cargadores in 1798 and the firm passed through the hands of various families till today. The bodega San Miguel is a mid XIX C Moorish-looking structure which started life as a tomato canning factory. In all, the firm has 5 bodegas holding some 6,000 butts.

Bodega San Pedro (Foto: Aula Gerion Sanlucar)
For a long time Sanchez Ayala was a traditional almacenista bodega, supplying bulk wine to local bars and the exporting bodegas, but has more recently begun marketing wines under its own brand names as well. There are some quite superb wines, and this is the way forward.

Bodega San Miguel (Foto: Aula Gerion Sanlucar)
Ayala owns some 200 hectares of vineyard in the Pagos Balbaina, Torrebreva and Martelilla, and produces about 5,000 hectolitres of wine, over half of which is Manzanilla.

In 1986 the entire business including brands, soleras, bodegas and vineyards was bought by a local businessman, Jose Luis Barrero Jimenez after the crisis began to tell. He has continued to run the business keeping everything immaculate and continuing to make Manzanilla in the classic way, and is producing fine quality Amontillados which are marketed in very small quantities, much to Equipo Navazos, who also buy their Manzanilla. Current cellar master is Luis Gallego. The firm is doing well and is about to expand with the purchase of a disused bodega, while stocks of wine and butts for it have been building up at the bodega at Las Cañas. Luis Gallego keeps the bodega nice and damp and small sacas and rocios are carried out frequently/

The firm’s main brands are:
Manzanilla Pipiola: a solera which was bought from the widow of Manuel Garcia Monge, not currently bottled but available on draught.
Manzanilla Gabriela: solera with 9 criaderas, wine aged about 5 years, grapes from Las Cañas. Gabriela is named after a famous dancer and singer Gabriela Ortega Feria, born in Cadiz in 1862. She married a bullfighter and her sons became bullfighters too, one was the legendary Joselito.
Manzanilla Gabriela Oro: en rama, solera of 9 criaderas, wine about 6 years old, grapes from Las Cañas
Manzanilla Las Cañas: (solera of 40 butts, 12 scales, refreshed monthly) Single vineyard - Las Cañas (50ha) in Balbaina
Amontillado NPI: Uncertain age but very old, no sacas between 1968 and 2007
Oloroso El Galeon: Youngish but extremely good
Palo Cortado Arizon: Not available yet
PX Ayala: A straightforward wine
Don Paco: Amontillado over 50 years old, 13 butt solera, available late 2017?

There is also a despacho de vinos next to the bodega.

Visits ? No, but you could try
Telephone: Office/shop: (+34) 956 384 387

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