Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Bodegas: La Bodeguita

Few Jerezanos are aware that there is a tiny bodega on the ground floor of Jerez city chambers. Now, it is all but forgotten, except for a few legends. It was the idea of Pedro Pacheco, the city’s longest serving mayor (1979-2003), as a feature of private visits, not long after the council moved from C/Madre de Dios to its present location of C/Consistorio. Until then some half a dozen butts of wine, donated to the council by various bodegas, had been stored in the basement of the historic building, which would be refurbished in 1991.

A year later, while an annexe was being refurbished, Pacheco decided to bring the wines up from the basement to a 120 metre space on the ground floor, and set up the collection of butts, now amounting to fifty-six and the majority being half-butts, in two groups stacked five high. There are also three quarter-butts, donated by Lustau, at the entrance, and another with a glass front for observing the flor.  Pacheco’s successor, Pilar Sánchez, began the tradition of giving a glass of Sherry to those who get married at the council.

For many years Pacheco counted on the help of the late Rafael García “Kubala” to maintain the good condition of the wines, a good few of which are very old. Once Pacheco was no longer mayor, he set up his own little bodega in the basement of his house. Meanwhile, as part of the “Tourism Excellence Plan” the bodega was occasionally opened to visitors, however in the following years it was hardly used at all. Now, under the mayorship of Mamén Sánchez, the question of what to do with the bodega is again on the table.

 In 2015, Manuel Lozano, Lustau’s oenologist, visited the bodega and agreed to recuperate it, which he felt could be done in a reasonably short space of time. He worked there three times before his untimely death. Since then, the council has been in discussion with five bodegas who would be interested in helping, and also supplying the necessary wine to top up the butts. Francisco Camas, councillor in charge of patrimony, culture and festivals, would like to see a visit to the bodega included in a tour of the council building, which would include the gallery of portraits of past mayors, the great hall, the patios, the loggia and the adjacent Antiguo Cabildo, the beautiful old council building of 1575 in the Plaza de la Asunción.

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