Thursday, 31 March 2016

Oloroso La Garrocha 18%, Bodegas Grant

Very deep walnut stained mahogany with copper tints fading to amber, legs.
Big and solid with lots of walnut, hints of roast chestnut, old oak barrels, candied orange peel, caramel and a savoury edge with a slight oxidative note.
Full bodied and savoury with walnut and slight hints of dried fig and date yet mellows and opens out a bit balanced by a gentle tang of acidity. There is a certain tightness and what it lacks in subtlety is compensated for with power.
This is a big deeply coloured full bodied wine despite its modest age of somewhere between 5 and 8 years. Some of it goes for further ageing for the Reserva Familiar. It has its own distinct character and is a real after dinner wine for cheese and good conversation.
8 Euros

31.3.16 Consejo Hosts Cheese Fair; Cayetano del Pino Bohórquez Dies

Cheesemakers from Villaluenga del Rosario held a Payoyo cheese and wine matching session yesterday at the Consejo HQ in Jerez. Fino, Manzanilla, Amontillado and Oloroso matched perfectly with cottage cheese, half cured and cured cheese with rosemary all from the milk of the famous Payoya goat. The home of this rare breed of goat is the Sierra de Grazalema in Cádiz and the village of Villaluenga del Rosario is the cheese capital of the area. The village (pop. 500) will this weekend be hosting the IX edition of the Artisan Cheese Fair of Andalucía, an event which has grown enormously and they are expecting 20,000 visitors. Thirty cheese producers will be there and for 5 euros you can try 8 cheeses and have a glass of wine.

The passing of Cayetano del Pino Bohórquez has been announced. A well respected man, he was president of the bodega of the same name in Jerez. The firm, which most unusually went from being a shipper back to being an almacenista, and has some outstanding wines, will remain in family hands, those of his nephew Gerardo del Pino Iñíguez.

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

30.3.16 Feria del Caballo 2016

The annual feria in Jerez, the Feria del Caballo begins on 30 April and runs till the 7 May. It takes place as usual in the González Hontoria park where there will be 207 casetas. The council has changed the dates slightly so it will begin and end on a Saturday instead of the usual Sunday in the hope that more people will be able to come from outside Jerez and thus make it more profitable. Gonzalez Byass are the sponsors. There will be a parade of horses and another of vintage coaches, lots for the children to do and immense amounts of food and drink. Unmissable! For more information go to

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

29.3.16 GB Shows Bloggers Retinto Beef; Solear en rama Spring Saca

González Byass organised a trip for food bloggers to learn about the unique Retinto beef, its various cuts and how well it matches with Sherry. The event took place at a large farm called El Jardinillo in the La Janda area near Jerez where the visitors could admire the Retinto cattle in their natural habitat accompanied by the farmer, the vet, the president of the association of Retinto farmers and the manager of El Alcázar meat products. Various Retinto themed dishes were presented and matched with GB wines by oenologist Antonio Flores. For example steak tartare with Viña AB, meatballs and hamburgers with Oloroso Alfonso and roast loin of beef with Palo Cortado Leonor.

Barbadillo has announced the spring release of the Manzanilla Solear en rama bottled during Semana Santa after a cold dry winter. It will be available for the feria season with a few weeks in bottle. According to oenologist Montse Molina it is full with complex aromatics with marked notes of flor and salinity and on the palate it is silky smooth developing flor bitterness and has great length. As usual there will be 2,500 half bottles available.

Monday, 28 March 2016

Cream Cruz del Mar 17.5%, Bodegas César Florido

Fairly deep mahogany chestnut with coppery tints, legs.
Full and fairly sweet with pronounced Moscatel aromas which give it a slightly lighter, fruitier touch yet there is also an attractive nuttiness from the Oloroso and a trace of vanilla from the barrel. There are hints of marzipan or turrón de yema tostada and dried fruits there too, giving an air of sophistication.
Rich, quite sweet, smooth and fruity, low on acidity and tannins, it is soft and well rounded yet has an attractive tang at the finish with traces of toffee and Indian tea. Sofly textured and gentle, this is ideal for sipping with a dessert or a good book.
Unlike most Creams which are blends of Oloroso and PX, and being from Chipiona the home of Moscatel, this is a blend of approximately 75% Oloroso and 25% Moscatel. It is aged as a blend from the start giving a homogeneous style and consistent character. The butts are positioned under cover at the edge of the "patio bodeguero" the patio at the heart of the bodega, where they get a little more heat than the other wines. This gives them a ripe mature style in the five years they are aged.
Around 7 euros

Sunday, 27 March 2016

Oloroso 20% Old & Plus, Sánchez Romate

Deep, dark, walnut-stained mahogany fading through amber to a hint of green at the rim, legs - I'm sure this is very slightly more viscous than most, it moves more slowly in the glass.
Intense slightly tight yet refined, it instantly tells you it is old, serious, deep and brooding, with notes of exotic woods like cedar, old oak butts, hints of cinnamon-spiced old English marmalade and the smell of an antique furniture shop.
Concentrated and full bodied at first yet opens out like a fan with all sorts of beautiful nutty flavours and even textures. For an exceptionally old wine it has remarkably little tannin and lacks the slight austerity of some of its peers. That slight viscosity, which might have presaged a sweet element, simply rounds it off; it is dry, luxuriant and very long, quite delicious.
This superb Oloroso is well over 30 years old yet the bodega apparently chooses not to call it VORS. This is probably because it is an expensive and time consuming process which not all bodegas adhere to. They are not quite sure how old the solera is, but it is certainly very old, well over a century, possibly two, after all the bodega dates from 1781. In the end the wine speaks eloquently for itself. The firm makes two other Old & Plus wines: Amontillado and PX and these "sacristía wines were always kept for family use with only very limited quantities reaching the market since the launch in 2009. In a tasting at the time of 24 fine Olorosos by this one came out top.
40 euros per 50cl ship's decanter style bottle (it comes in a box)

Saturday, 26 March 2016

Manzanilla Solear en rama Saca Invierno 2015 15%, Barbadillo

Mid depth bright gold with brassy highlights, legs.
Most attractive, very fresh and quite tight with lots of crisp up-front flor and background notes of brine, bitter almond, straw and a  hintof wax. There are also a very slightly buttery element of autolysis giving a lovely Manzanilla Pasada aroma with minimum oxidative character.
Crisp clean and saline with a decent acidity giving plenty of tangy flor bitterness all balanced beautifully by the weight and roundness offered by the fairly intense oxidative Pasada flavours. This wine is very clearly defined and has terrific length. Delicious.
Released just a few weeks ago. The oenologist, Montse Molina, says “This saca is splendid, radiant and luminous. On the nose it has a great variety of nuances of yeast, biological ageing, bodega, nuts, finesse and elegance. On the palate it is powerful yet charming with a long and persistent finish. It is one of the most expressive of all the sacas of this historic series.” The butts from which the selection is made are in the bodega El Potro and form part of the intermediate soleras between Solear and Amontillado Príncipe in other words the oldest butts of Manzanilla, so it's certainly over 8 years old. It has been a mild winter providing good healthy flor.
9 euros at Licores Corredera, Jerez

Friday, 25 March 2016

25.3.16 BIB Manzanilla Wins Medal

A Manzanilla Pasada packed in a BIB was one of the nine Spanish wines to win a medal at the second edition of the Best Wine in Box Competition held last week in Toulouse, France. The wine came from Bodegas Francisco Yuste, a member of the Association of Artisan Bodegas in Sanlúcar. In total, 325 wines were tasted and 97 were awarded gold medals, but unlike many competitions, entrants either win a medal or not; there are no categories.

Thursday, 24 March 2016

Oloroso VORS Mons Urium 20%, Bodegas Urium

Deep mahogany, pronounced reddy-coppery tints and a trace of green at the rim, legs.
Full and quite powerful with the almost bitter walnut and oak notes rounded out by some glyceric sweetness. There is a hint of fresh pipe tobacco, the smell of the workshop of a carpenter who restores antique furniture, a cinnamon note, even Oxford marmalade, yet all these and more are in perfect, fresh-as-a-daisy harmony. Only age can do that, and it certainly has here.
Plenty of sweetness and charm on entry and more than enough to mitigate the gently tannic woody, nutty notes of long barrel ageing. Full bodied, well rounded with warm spice nuances and very long, it is an absolute classic, a beautiful Oloroso. A friend who was not keen on Oloroso loved this!
From a solera aged about 100 years. I feel the wine itself is much more than 30 years old, it is so complex, charming and rewarding.
€ 33.00 in Spain. Available in the UK from Sherry Boutique

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

22.3.16 Vinoble 2016; Tio Pepe Recognition

Beltrán Domecq and Jerez mayor, Mamén Sánchez, have signed an agreement by which the Consejo Regulador will contribute 50,000 euros towards the costs of this year’s edition (the ninth) of Vinoble. This biennial wine trade fair concentrates on international fortified and sweet wines and is the perfect shop window for the wines of Jerez. It will take place on the 29, 30 and 31 May at the Alcázar in Jerez. The agreement gives the Consejo rights to be involved with any promotion of the event and to have its logo on any printed material while it undertakes to collaborate with any aspect of communication which requires coordination with the bodegas.

Tio Pepe has become one of the “most admired wine brands in the world” after its inclusion in a Drinks International Magazine ranking which lists the top 50 global brands. The ranking is decided by a panel of experts consisting of Masters of Wine and specialist journalists and sommeliers. Tio Pepe is the only Sherry ever included. And watch out - The 2016 Tio Pepe en rama will be released in two weeks!

Monday, 21 March 2016

PX Pandorga 2014, 12%, Ramiro Ibáñez Cota 45

Brassy gold with some depth and noticeable legs.
Delightfully fruity nose, very fresh, very PX with attractive aromas of quince jelly, apricot jam on toast (the latter presumably from the wood) and gentle overripe notes. There is an attractive lushness.
Fairly low acidity so soft and sweet and with a voluptuous texture but bursting with flavour with a great presence. There is lots of fruit and a trace of caramel towards the end which does not cloy.
This is not technically Sherry as it is not 15%. In fact it is really a sweet table wine made from 100% PX grapes and fermented naturally in butts to 12% and 200g/l residual sugar by the inveterate and very talented young winemaker and consultant Ramiro Ibáñez. A typical Sherry PX would have approaching double this sugar content. The grapes come from the La Panesa vineyard in the Pago Carrascal and are picked slightly overripe and then sunned for 10 days. The wine ages for one year in the same butts it was fermented in. This is the first release of this wine which is intended to show the characteristics of the vineyard and the vintage, not really possible with solera systems. Incidentally, Pandorga is the Sanlúcar word for a kite.
About 20 euros per 50cl bottle, from Cuatrogatos, Coalla..

Sunday, 20 March 2016

Types of Sherry: Palo Cortado

This most enigmatic style of Sherry is the choice of many connoisseurs for its complexity and comparative rarity. There is great debate as to whether it creates itself or is created (¿Nace o se hace? as they say in Spanish). There is another Spanish expression: “La tiza del Duende” which translates as “the chalk of the spirit (or muse)”, meaning effectively that Palo Cortado is decided by a divine hand. It was the subject of the excellent film “El Misterio del Palo Cortado” in 2014. According to the Consejo Regulador, it has the aroma of Amontillado yet resembles Oloroso on the palate but there are no specific regulations on its production. It is a bit of a rare breed. In Sanlúcar it is often known as “Jerez Cortado.”

The name of the wine stems from the chalk marking on the butt. Traditionally butts in the sobretablas which were destined to be Fino were marked with a “raya” or “palo” (/). They had flor, but occasionally the flor might die off or become too weak, probably due to the individual environment inside the butt. The wine would then develop a slightly fuller fatter style no longer suitable for Fino but definitely influenced by the flor, and the palo mark on the butt would be crossed (or cortado: ł) and the wine fortified to 17.5%. As the wine aged and oxidised it would get fuller still and possibly be fortified again so the fuller and or older it got the more cortados it would get, up to four. The full range is: Palo Cortado, Dos Cortados, Tres Cortados and Cuatro Cortados, the latter two being very rare.

Historians reckon that Palo Cortado was more common in the days before the aphid Phylloxera wiped out the vineyards from 1894, and many different old vine varieties were replaced by Palomino on American rootstocks, making musts less complex. Other reasons might be because of the small lagares where the grapes were trodden so the must from each lagar could have varying amounts of tannin and oxidation. The grapes were hand-picked so there was greater variation in their ripeness when they arrived at the almijar where they were ripened further from brief sunning. This reduced their malic acid content which was further reduced as the malo-lactic fermentation was allowed. Up till the start of the 1970s wines were still fermented in butt so there was inevitable variation from one to another if only because of the seasoning or even positioning of the butt. Now the equivalent of 100 butts is fermented in 50,000 litre temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks so that variation is now from tank to tank or 100 butts to 100 butts. The wines of today are much more homogeneous leaving less room for things to just happen.

Thanks to the popularity of Palo Cortado among connoisseurs bodegas need to have one in their range and modern oenological knowhow allows the wine to be produced without the hit and miss of the old days. Ageing delicate must intended for Fino under flor for a shorter time will bestow some Fino characteristics, and then fortifying to 17.5% will allow for the oxidation. The must will have spent probably not more than two years under flor (rather than say five for a Fino or Amontillado) and therefore while it retains some of those characteristics the oxidative part of its life is in a higher proportion, and less glycerol will have been consumed by the flor giving more roundness on the palate.

An alternative method is to blend good Fino with good Amontillado, fortify to at least 18% and in both cases age the wine through a Palo Cortado solera. The idea of blending Amontillado with Oloroso has, of course, been tried but the results are not great. While Palo Cortado is normally, and perhaps ideally, a dry wine there is the odd one sweetened with PX. Most Palos Cortados on the market have over 12 years’ average age, but good examples can be found from less than four years to over 100.

A mysterious Sherry, perhaps, but it is quite magnificent. A good mystery always helps promotion, so like the Loch Ness Monster, Palo Cortado should always retain its element of mystery.

Saturday, 19 March 2016

Old Sherry Film - Essential Viewing

This 15 minute masterpiece was filmed in 1943 by the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture and shows how primitive Sherry production still was then. It should be remembered that this was made at the height of the Franco dictatorship and half of Spain was starving. Some of the subtitles leave a lot to be desired unfortunately, so hope you can follow the Spanish. Here's the link, enjoy!

Moscatel Dorado 17.5%, Bodegas César Florido

Deep bright burnished gold with legs.
Perfectly ripe zippy yet luscious almost honeyed Moscatel nose with an attractive freshness and lots of grapey fruit and slight hints of tea, all in perfect harmony.
Lots of juicy Moscatel flavour and enough acidity to balance the sweetness giving an attractive tang which prevents cloying during the long finish. This is delicious.
This classic Moscatel is made from overripe grapes and fortified to retain the natural grape sugars. It is then aged for over a year in a solera system. It is the youngest of the Moscateles produced by César Florido, the leading bodega in Chipiona, which is itself the leading area of production, and is delicious almost any time when served chilled. My family had an elderly cook from Cádiz who insisted she never drank, but who always enjoyed a glass of Moscatel de Chipiona!
About 8 euros.

Friday, 18 March 2016

18.3.16 Sherry Festival Valencia; Earth Hour

The III Sherry Festival in Spain kicks off in Valencia in April. After the highly successful events in America and those in Madrid and Barcelona, the Consejo considers these festivals as its principal promotional activity. Between 15 –24 April there will be a full calendar of events in restaurants, specialist shops and all sorts of other establishments consisting of tastings, gourmet experiences and seminars with a major professional tasting event at the Hotel Balneario las Arenas as a focal point on the 18th. Some 20 bodegas and 200 brands will be there, providing a golden opportunity for public and professionals alike to experience the unique and special character of Sherry and how well it matches food. This is already being proved by the Sherry Bar phenomenon which is taking off in places such as London, New York, Sidney, Tokyo and now in Spain too.

Tomorrow the world will switch off lights at 8.30pm in recognition of Earth Hour, a global initiative to promote awareness of global warming caused by excess CO2 in the environment. In Spain iconic buildings such as the Royal Palace in Madrid, the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona and the Guggenheim in Bilbao will switch off, as will the famous Tio Pepe sign in Madrid’s Puerta del Sol.

Thursday, 17 March 2016

17.3.16 Castilla-La Mancha President visits Jerez

Emiliano García Page, president of Castilla-La Mancha, visited the Consejo Regulador Brandy de Jerez and Fedejerez yesterday where he was met by Evaristo Babé, Beltrán Domecq and César Saldaña. He noted the importance of the close connection between the two places since a large proportion of the wine produced in Castilla-La Mancha is destined to become Brandy de Jerez and he hoped this would continue. He encouraged medium to long-term contracts between wine and brandy producers to assist forward planning and thus stability of supply. He also defended “proper” brandy as a product exclusively made from grapes (probably in reference to the “spirit drinks” some bodegas are selling). Thanks to its huge vineyard area – the largest in the world - Castilla-La Mancha has for more than a century supplied some 6 million hectolitres of wine annually for the production of Jerez Brandy, a perfect symbiosis between the origin of the grapes and the climate of Jerez.

Tasting brandy at the Consejo (foto:diariojerez)

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

16.3.16 Another Medal for Williams & Humbert

Dry Sack 15 Years Old has won the Best of Spain award for the second year running at Prowein, one of the world’s most important wine trade shows in Düsseldorf, Germany. The respected trade publishers Meininger Verlag organised the tasting. Dry Sack 15 is collecting quite a harvest of medals and good scores, no wonder its sales are growing.

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Oloroso Cruz del Mar 18%, Bodegas César Florido

Mahogany to amber with copper highlights, legs.
Open textured and fresh with hints of vanilla, cinnamon, and nutty sweetness along with a trace of English marmalade and slightly textured glyceric sweetness tinged with caramel. There is a hint of quince fruit and a slight turrón de nueces (ground walnut confection) note.
Medium to full bodied, smooth, nicely nutty: walnuts in syrup and a slight toasted note with a certain glyceric sweetness. Easy going and well rounded with a certain charm and a clean long finish, a very decent wine with some character.
Aged in  40 arroba butts of chestnut as well as American oak. Most butts are 30 arrobas (with a capacity of 600 litres) but here they use bigger butts which are about 150 litres bigger. The wine is about 5 years old and while fairly young there is no tannic bitterness from the wood, and thus charm.
About 7 euros

(This is the US label - it is 18% in Spain)

Monday, 14 March 2016

The Small Bodegas Make Sherry Great

This interesting article by Á Espejo appeared in the Diario de Jerez yesterday:

He innovated with the clear glass bottle and the labelling of his wines. He refused to make the most popular styles: Medium and Pale Cream, and chose to stick to the classics – Fino, Amontillado, Palo Cortado, Oloroso and PX, the wines which had earned Sherry its worldwide fame. Yet this Norwegian is no dreamer, he has his feet firmly on the ground, refusing to sell his wine too cheaply – his cheapest is 13 euros – if only others would do the same.

He is so Jerezano that one might think Jan Pettersen was born in Norway by accident: Sherry runs through his veins and he promotes it like the best Jerezano. At his bodega in the Calle Jardinillo he gives daily lessons on how to manage a wine and brandy bodega without ruining oneself in the process . He is quite clear about it “you can’t make a quality wine for 6 euros”.

Jan at his bodega (foto:diariodejerez)

So how did he end up in Jerez? Pettersen was “recruited” back in 1983 by Osborne for their international division while he was studying for a degree in business management in Barcelona. Seven years with Osborne was enough to steep him in the culture of Jerez and decide to join it. The opportunity arose to buy the bodega, wines and brands of Fernando Andrada to which he later added the adjacent bodegas of José Bustamante. By 2002 the bodegas, which had been in a ruinous state, had been restored.

The Andrade bodega specialised in brandy, a lighter, drier style than the norm and highly regarded. As with the wines, Petterson’s watchword from the start was maximum quality in the brandy, marketed as Fernando de Castilla and at much higher prices than other brands of this much devalued drink. With the wine he refused to get involved in the scramble for high volume and low prices of the “wines for grannies” which were the best sellers but in decline. He did the same with the brandy, sticking only to the high quality Solera Reserva and Solera Gran Reserva styles and eschewing the basic Solera which was causing so many headaches for the Consejo Regulador as some bodegas had decided to remove their Solera brandies from the DO and sell them cheaply as “spirit drinks” containing very little alcohol derived from wine.

Pettersen takes a different route. Quality costs money and that in turn brings profitability. This rule is strictly applied at Fernando de Castilla and has turned the company around. In the Andrada days it had a fine but local reputation, but now its products are available in some 50 markets worldwide. “There is no possible profit in the prices many bodegas are selling their wines for. Sherry must be sold at its proper price which is much higher than it is now,” he says. He shares the new movement which focuses on the value of the vineyard. “Before, the price of grapes varied according to quality, but that has been lost. Many bodegas are looking in the other direction now, above all the small ones, who are leading the way with more sensible prices, which are necessary because of their small production.”

His philosophy has brought him much recognition. He is very proud to have won the Best Spirit of the Year for his Solera Reserva brandy from the Verema forum. He confesses to being a Sherry romantic and notes that rather than lead the way many big bodegas have simply diversified into other products. Now the small bodegas are leading the way, there are more brands on the market and there is more cooperation between the bodegas to take advantage of the renewed interest in Sherry.

Sunday, 13 March 2016

Bodegas: A&A Sancho SA

This fine bodega was stablished in 1866 as Sancho Hermanos by the brothers Juan de Mata, Antonio, José Vicente and Hipólito, all of whom had achieved high levels of education. They bought an old bodega which may have been established in 1812, though this is not known for sure, from the almacenista María del Carmen González Encinas in 1868, buying two vineyards; La Pena and the 40 hectare Viña El Caribe in the Pago Añina in 1886 where they made wine and acted as almacenistas and exporters. The firm came to prominence later though, in the hands of Antonio’s son Alfonso.

The river is much closer than now. Taken @ 1890-1920

Alfonso Sancho Mateos (1858-1952) was born in Jerez, one of eleven children of the lawyer and joint owner of Sancho Hermanos, Antonio Sancho Díez de Alda-Sopranis and his wife María Antonia Mateos Valdés. (The name Sopranis comes from Alfonso’s grandmother’s family, originally from Genova, Italy). After primary education he studied for a year with the Jesuits in El Puerto de Santa María before further study in England in the early 1870s and then went to Hamburg and thence to Paris in 1877, where he earned a Diploma at the business school in 1879. In 1880-1881 he went to London from where he successfully represented the family bodega; in fact he made many trips abroad for this reason.

Alfonso Sancho
Alfonso married Mercedes Peñasco (1861-1929) in 1884 and they had three children: Félix, Alfonso and Mercedes. On the death of his father in 1903 and the dissolution of Sancho Hermanos, Alfonso inherited 40,000 litres of wine in 79 butts and Viña El Caribe. In 1905 he and his cousin changed the name of the firm to Alfonso & Hipólito Sancho in their Bodega Santa Ana in the Calle Aurora, 23. This bodega, built in 1837, had once belonged to the Marqués de Comillas (Viña del Pollero Alto). This doesn’t seem to have lasted beyond 1914 when he established A&A Sancho with his younger brother Antonio (1873-1940) in Calle Valdés, down from the bullring (now Bodegas 501). He had set up agencies in Paris, Bordeaux, London and New York and sales were good. The firm had a reputation for quality and good husbandry, and Alfonso was free with advice about re-planting after Phylloxera.

At a trade fair in Sevilla 1923 (foto:gentedelpuerto)

Alfonso was very enthusiastic to establish the Denominación de Origen and the Consejo Regulador of which he was a founder member, insisting that the production zone needed to be delimited legally.  He was a fervent promotor of the wines of El Puerto and campaigned to see them included in the delimitation, not just Jerez, as had been planned, and he organised and presided over a new association of Puerto de Santa María producers and exporters.

Alfonso(centre front) entertaining staff to lunch 1920

While his brother Antonio ran the firm Alfonso spent ever more time with civic duties. Among many accolades, he was the first president of the Academia de Bellas Artes 1900-1901. He was elected Mayor of El Puerto - without even having stood as a candidate- between 1924 and the fall of the Primo de Rivera dictatorship in 1930, and during his mandate he began the much needed dredging and channelling of the river Guadalete in 1928.

Alfonso’s dedication to civic affairs, along with Prohibition in the USA gradually led to the decline of the firm, and he sold the stocks and brands in 1925 to Pedro Domecq, but not the bodega in Calle Valdés nor the vineyards which allowed him a seat at the Consejo as a grower . The bodega in Calle Aurora now belongs to Gutiérrez Colosía. The last decade of his life saw worsening blindness with his daughter Mercedes caring for him and reading him books. Alfonso Sancho will be remembered for his part in the establishment of the DO and Consejo Regulador and for his efforts on behalf of Sherry. The firm continued under various owners till the 1980s but its products cannot really be considered as those of A&A Sancho and they had different brand names.

Single vineyard Fino (all

 Products: Amontillados Quijote, Si, Solera Majestad; Finos Caribe,  & Abuelo; Oloroso Único, Tres Cortados Hércules, Moscatel Fontanal, Quina Vincitor; Manzanilla Jota, Brandy Majestad

Much information gleaned from the work of Bernardo Rodriguez Caparrini, great grandson of Alfonso Sancho Mateos, in the excellent book "Nueve Bodegueros del Marco de Jerez" and his posts in the very interesting website Gente del Puerto.

Saturday, 12 March 2016

12.3.16 26 New Sherry Educators; González Byass Buys Rias Baixas Bodega

The XIV Sherry Educators course concluded successfully yesterday bringing to over 500 the number of restaurant professionals, sommeliers, wine educators and journalists to have completed the course. The latest group were from Spain and countries as far away as Brazil, Venezuela and Colombia. The knowledge gained from this course will allow them to become ambassadors for Sherry in their respective international markets.

Sherry Educators at Barbadillo's La Arboledilla bodega

This highly respected and much enjoyed course takes place twice annually, once in Spanish and once in English, and looks in depth at all aspects of Sherry production from the vineyard to the bodega with tastings along the way. If you are interested, details can be found at

González Byass has bought the bodega Pazo de Lusco in the Galician DO Rias Baixas. The firm is now present in no fewer than nine DOs in Spain. Pazo de Lusco consists of five hectares of vineyard planted to Albariño, a XVI century manor house with stables and a chapel.

Friday, 11 March 2016

11.3.16 Juan Gil Looking to Invest in Jerez; New Barbadillo Table Wine

The highly successful Spanish wine group Juan Gil Bodegas Familiares which owns 10 bodegas in 8 DOs wishes to expand and has a budget of 30 million euros to do so. This year the firm celebrates the centenary of its first bodega in DO Jumilla, and between now and 2018 they plan to invest this money not only in expanding operations in DO Priorat, DO Campo de Borja and purchasing vineyard in DO Rioja, but also establishing themselves in DO Jerez.

Angel & Miguel Gil Vera with a few of their wines

Miguel Gil Vera, fourth generation of the family, says they want to invest 5 million euros in Jerez. “It is the DO par excellence which has more history than any other, but we want to do things properly, and are already ”prospecting”. The idea is to try to team up with some existing project which would allow us to sell the wine sooner.” Starting from scratch would take years as the wine needs to age, so it would be much more convenient to buy an existing bodega. If they can find one, they could have the wine on the market in 2018, but if not they will wait rather than sell something below standard. This looks very hopeful.

Barbadillo Launches New Wine

Blanco de Blancos is the name for Barbadillo’s new table wine from their albariza vineyards at Santa Lucía and Gibalbín. It is a blend of Sauvignon, Verdejo and Moscatel grapes. This new wine joins the ever growing number of excellent table wines produced in Cádiz.

Thursday, 10 March 2016

Can Anyone Help with this Bottle?

A man who is lucky enough  to have a very old bottle of Sherry has been in touch but neither he nor I know anything about it. We wondered if anyone could help. It  has a hand-written label “Xeres Rebello 1864”. We considered Rebello Valente, a vintage Port by Robertsons who had some connection with Sherry and were bought by Sandeman but ruled it out, and also Gonzalez Byass Rebollo bodega, but the spelling is wrong. Also we don't know if 1864 refers to the solera or to a vintage. Osborne's Oloroso Solera BC 200 was established in 1864, but I'm not sure if that helps. I came across a 1984 Heublein auction in San Francisco where a sample was opened and the Sherry was "drying out a bit, soft, lingering, round and featured a marvellous nutty bouquet, worthy of acquisition".

10.3.16 Díez Mérito to Move Production Plant; I Andaluz Cork Forum

The Espinosa family, new owners of Díez Mérito, plan to move the production plant which contains the bottling equipment, offices etc. from the Morabita road to the Viña El Diablo on the N IV road at the Jerez turnoff. The name El Diablo was changed by Rumasa to Viña San Patricio. A year ago Grupo Paternina sold the plant to the Tevasa cooperage (which produces Sherry seasoned casks for the Macallan) and rented it back until they could find a buyer for the bodegas. The rental agreement was extended to the new owners of Díez Mérito but without a renewal clause. Tevasa intend to move from their present outdated premises in Las Pachecas to those on the Morabita road, which they intend to modernise due to increased demand for Sherry casks, within two years.

Current production plant (foto:diariodejerez)

Today the González Byass bodegas in Jerez are hosting the I Andaluz Cork Forum sponsored by the Jaime González Gordon Foundation, which recently published an illustrated dictionary of cork, and the Friends of the Alcornocales Park association. The intention is to promote cork and at the same time protect the Alcornocales natural park where much cork is grown. Cork has many industrial uses but most of it is still used for sealing wine bottles, despite stiff competition from synthetic cork producers. For this reason it is considered necessary, indeed urgent, to promote the cork industry and its totally natural sustainable product which is recyclable, renewable and non-polluting and which provides employment and contributes to biodiversity.

Cork harvest in Alcornocales (foto:diariodejerez)

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Manzanilla Madura 15%, Viña La Callejuela

Golden hued pale straw with golden glints and some legs
Fresh, forthcoming and refined with unmistakeable saline seaside notes, dried flowers, constrained bitter flor, dough and a trace of chamomile all in perfect balance. There is a depth to this which belies its years but it doesn't shout it out, it is well-behaved and you need to look, but as the wine warms in the glass, it is most certainly there.
Beguilingly easy to drink, not the wild racy style of Manzanilla but well brought up, smooth, fresh well rounded and elegant. And then there is that depth which contains the slightest savoury lees note and plenty of flor. It has considerable length and is delicious.
Callejuela wines are excellent - and their soleras are still young. Lots to look forward to. This is one of three Manzanillas they produce and fits between the Fina and the Pasada, @ 8 years old.
Around 11 Euros ex bodega.

9.3.16 Gold for Delgado Zuleta

Manzanilla La Goya and Amontillado VORS Quo Vadis have both won a Medalla Gran Oro at the Premios AkataVino. This international competition is unusual as only wines which have scored over 90 points in the Guia Xtreme are invited to participate, so only the 180 best Spanish wines could enter. It is about the best of the best. All 3,000 wines were tasted blind twice by a panel of experts.

Monday, 7 March 2016

Fino Cruz del Mar 15%, Bodegas César Florido

Bright strawy gold with silvery-gold highlights, legs.
Fresh and zippy with hints of of dried flowers, chamomile perhaps, and plenty of flor, hints of salinity and minerality. Very maritime with traces of brine and bread dough. There is a certain depth and complexity for a wine of only three years of average age, and a noticeable resemblance to good Manzanilla which comes from nearby.
Clean and fresh with a crisp lively acidity and bitterness from the flor, this is delicious and perfect for local seafood. It has considerable length and charm.
Made from grapes grown on old vines in the firm's own albariza vineyards in the upper part of Pago Miraflores and Balbaina and aged for three years in a 62 butt solera only 50 metres from the Atlantic. This not only gives the wine some of its saline freshness, but also helps the flor grow all through the year. This is not DO Sherry but is every bit as good. On a small viewpoint at the beach, at the end of the street stands the Cruz del Mar, a stainless steel cross atop a lamppost, which looks out to sea over ancient fishing corrals consisting of long low curved walls made of oyster stone where the tide strands fish. Chipiona is a very interesting place. The firm also has a tiny 9 butt solera referred-to in the bodega as "Manzanilla" as the grapes came from Miraflores and it has certain such characteristics, but being from Chipiona (production but not ageing zone) it must be called "Fino". It is not bottled or commercially available but quite delicious.
About 6 euros

Sunday, 6 March 2016

6.3.16 Possible Buyer for Garvey?

After one Filipino businessman bought Beam, it seems that another might be interested in Garvey. Lucio Tan (not related to Andrew) is also in the distilling business, among others, and has his eyes on Garvey Complejo Bellavista and Zoilo Ruiz Mateos, both ex Nueva Rumasa and both in administration for the last five years. Any purchase would be extremely difficult since the bodegas have been run down over recent years and there are many complicated legal loose ends. One bodega interested in buying is said to have dropped the whole idea on learning of them while another very low offer was refused.

The main stumbling blocks are the brands, the mortgage and the workforce which numbers about 60. The Ruiz Mateos family transferred title of all the brands to henchmen in companies based in fiscal paradises. Without the brands the bodegas lose most of their appeal, not to mention value. The land and the buildings belong to Promontoria Holding, and any buyer would almost certainly have to pay off as many as 40 staff. When the bodegas went into administration their debt was 216 million euros. It will need a miracle to resuscitate them, so let’s hope this is it.

Saturday, 5 March 2016

5.3.16 Espinosa Family Buys Díez Mérito; BIB Handbag

The Espinosa family of Jerez has bought the Díez Mérito bodegas from the heirs of Marcos Eguizábal for an undisclosed price. Long connected with vinegrowing in Jerez and with connections to the cooperative Nuestra Señora de las Angustias, they have bought the bodegas Bertemati and El Cuadro between the Calle Diego Fernández Herrera and Calle Porvenir as well as the production centre on the Morabita road. The company will now be known as Viñas y Bodegas Díez Mérito and the 16 members of the workforce will be retained.

The patio of the Bertemati Bodega

According to Salvador Espinosa, family spokesman, they have bought 1 million litres of wine and 0.8 million litres of brandy along with some high quality vinegar. This historic old company had been languishing despite having famous and top quality Sherry brands like Fino Imperial, Victoria Regina, Bertola and Pemartín and Conde de los Andes Brandy. The deal includes the brand Otaola which is a range of Pacharán and herb liqueurs. The Espinosas want to put the brands back in the market position they deserve to be. Diez Hermanos was established in 1876 and in 1979 took over Marqués del Mérito who owned the beautiful Bertemati bodega. Díez Mérito was in turn taken over by Rumasa and after its collapse the Riojan businessman Marcos Eguizábal bought the firm along with Bertola and Paternina in 1985.

A new up-market bag-in-box aimed at women has been launched. The Vernissage BIB is disguised as a designer handbag and holds one and a half litres of French wine – but there’s no room for anything else unfortunately. It comes in three designs and costs a rather expensive £30 from online retailer Firebox who will be hoping to cash in on Mother’s Day. Don’t tell the Sanlúcar rebels!

Friday, 4 March 2016

4.3.16 Manzanilla Rebels Seek Public Support

The Association of Artisan Bodegas of Sanlúcar held their BIB information day on Wednesday at the Castillo de Santiago in Sanlúcar. Free Manzanilla meant there was always going to be a good turnout which would inevitably be rather partisan; the small Sanlúcar producers versus the might of the big ones, David and Goliath. The mayor of Sanlúcar was present along with representatives of the makers of the BIB, Conotainer.

BIB v Bottle in Sanlucar (foto:diariojerez)

The rebels find themselves in a temporary limbo as a final judgement on BIB legality is awaited while the Junta amends the regulation as proposed and approved by a plenary at the Consejo to forbid it and considers legalising it for horeca. The majority consider that BIB harms the image of Sherry, and that its supposedly superior convenience and hygienic properties are irrelevant, while the Junta feels that the current rules are open to confusion and is thus busy rewriting them. Until the new regulation is published, the rebels feel they are free to use BIB legally and have asked the Consejo for DO labels which the latter has refused to do until the matter is concluded.

Thursday, 3 March 2016

Fino Barajuela 2013 Saca 2016 15.3%, Luís Pérez

Mid depth strawy gold, legs.
There is a fresh and lively wine with depth and an attractive mix of flor with hints of crystallised fruit, melon, apple, a trace of minerality and a gentle nutty note of oxidation, all perfectly homogenised and with a sophisticated air.
Full of flavour, there is lots of flor bitterness balanced by glycerine not yet consumed by yeast as the wine is only about 2 1/2 years old. There is a fair amount of texture, fruit and nuttiness and a decent level of acidity which helps keep things fresh and gives excellent length.
This seriously interesting wine is the work of Guillermo (Willy) Pérez, son of Luis. The project was to make an unfortified Fino made from grapes from the El Corregidor vineyard (once owned by Sandeman) in the Pago Carrascal at the family bodega Finca Vistahermosa. Since Sherry grapes are normally harvested nowadays with a potential alcohol of about 12ᴼ and the wines must have a minimum of 15ᴼ (both for practical and legal reasons) they need to be fortified. In the old days, however, the grapes were subjected to brief sunning to bring them up to strength. What Willy Pérez has done is use careful pruning and later harvesting and sunned the grapes for 3-4 days. The result is excellent. The name of the wine derives from a thin laminated feature of the soil which looks a bit like looking at the side of a pack of cards (baraja). Unfortunately there is not much of this available...
Around 30 euros

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

2.3.26 The “Emperor “of Brandy Takes Possession of Domecq

The old Domecq installations are facing the dawn of a new era. Andrew Tan arrived in Jerez yesterday with the contract and took possession of his new purchase from Beam Suntory. Grupo Emperador is the world’s biggest brandy producer with sales of some 33 million cases. It has bought the old Domecq bodegas, the Viña el Majuelo with its tower in the Pago Macharnudo, the brands Fundador, Tres Cepas, Harveys and Terry as well as the distillery in Tomelloso.

The Emperor, Andrew L Tan (foto:diariojerez)

The Filipino magnate wants to bring back the glory, success and positioning of Fundador and make it into a globally recognised brand. He will call the company Bodegas Fundador, but will not be overlooking the other brands such as world leader Harveys Bristol Cream, Terry Centenario, the leading brandy in Spain and Tres Cepas which has potential in emerging markets. He said he wants to make the product even better which will need investment but he is committed to this and also to look at ways to revive the fortunes of Sherry. “I believe in the future of Sherry and Brandy de Jerez”.

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Vino en rama Monge 15%, Bodegas RF Cárdenas

Some depth of colour, bright straw with golden tints, very light legs.
Big fresh and soft, flor noticeable but fairly muted, fresh bread dough, a trace of salinity and a slight hint of wax reminded me slightly of Montilla, but actually it is a really good Sherry.
Full forthcoming and dry, some breadth, low acid but some bitterness from the flor sorts out the balance, very tasty with traces of straw, almond and bread dough, long clean finish.
Launched at the end of October 2015 this is an extremely creditable wine and the only one sold in bottle by this family bodegón in El Puerto. Grapes come from family owned vineyard. Although it is made by the standard system of criaderas and soleras within the zona de crianza, they felt that given the limited quantities available it was not worth while, at least at this stage, to join the DO. Because of that they sell it as "Vino" en rama. Sealed with a standard "T" cork and wax with an Andalusian flag tassel in a sand blasted bottle. I really recommend this wine.
About 7 euros, but only available locally unfortunately.