Wednesday, 30 November 2016

30.11.16 La Gitana Ignores BIB Prohibition; Doñana in Danger

The Consejo Regulador has reported Bodegas Hidalgo-La Gitana to the Junta for selling BIB during the High Court ban. The court had decreed that until its final ruling on the matter the sale of BIB is prohibited and the issue of precintas has been suspended. The bodega, which is president of the Association of Artisan Bodegas of Sanlúcar, professes that it was unaware of the ban, despite the court ruling being faxed by the Consejo, joint inspections by the Consejo and the Junta and the bodega having publicly voiced its displeasure at the ruling. Anyway, in Spain ignorance of the law is not an excuse for breaking it.

The "Manzanilla Rebels" at a press conference

The National Park of Doñana, with some of Europe’s greatest biodiversity, is facing slow destruction. Despite being a UNESCO world heritage site for over 40 years, this marshland, which is partly responsible for the humidity which makes Manzanilla great, is being over exploited. The World Wildlife Fund Spain has for years been warning that the aquifer at the heart of this land has been drying up. This paradise is home to the winter migration of millions of birds and a total of some 4,000 species including the Iberian Lynx and the Imperial Eagle.

The WWF is urging the Government and the Junta, via a petition and a video, to comply with UNESCO which gave them an ultimatum to do something about the problem within a year, and that year expires tomorrow. Compliance would mean the elimination of around 1,000 illegal wells, the removal of 3,000 hectares of illegal crops, the cessation of dredging of the Guadalquivir, putting a stop to the Aznalcóllar mine and putting an end to the underground gas storage project. All these measures would support the perfectly legal rice production and fishing.

Greenpeace is also working to stop the gas project and has a “resistance camp” to paralyse work and try to persuade the Government to comply with the Paris Agreement. The gas companies Fenosa and Enagas, have reported Greenpeace to the Guardia Civil.

If you would like to help to support this important petition to stop the gas project go to: and click on SUMATE A LA PETICION, and:

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Closures for Sherry Bottles

One could be forgiven for not paying much attention to the seal when in a rush to get that perfectly chilled Fino into the glass, but actually the seals are more varied and interesting than people think. Well, at least to geeks like me. But they are largely responsible for the condition of the wine.

Generally they come in three types: firstly the tapón corona or stopper cork. (tapón corona could be translated as “crown cap” but in Spain the word “chapa” often is used to denote beer or soft drink bottle stoppers). Then there are the cylindrical natural cork and the tapón rosca (or screwcap), but within these three basic types of stopper there is a multitude of variations.

When natural cylindrical cork is cut out of the bark it leaves a piece of bark full of cork-shaped holes, and it would be a pity to waste it. The solution is to grind it down to fine or very fine particles, and using special food-safe flexible and waterproof adhesive, form it into various cork shapes. This is called agglomerate cork, and it is both efficient, and cheaper than natural cork and thus very widely used, though it is most suitable for early consumption wines.

Natural cork

It is also easier to detect and remove 2-4-6 Trichloroanisole (TCA) infected granules which could lead to “corked” wine. Diam is a brand which guarantees no cork taint by using a super-critical carbon dioxide process which removes all sorts of possible problems. The world's biggest cork producer, Amorim, also offer guaranteed corks using a gas chromatography process known as ND Tech. MA Silva use gas phase spectroscopy for their One by One corks. Then there is "Subr" which guarantees against TCA and apparently uses no adhesive. Occasionally thin discs of natural cork are stuck onto one or both ends of agglomerate corks, which both improve the appearance and the seal. These corks are called tapones técnicos or 1+1 and are smaller, but on the same principle as a Champagne cork.

Agglomerate cork with twin cork discs (1+1)

Natural cylindrical corks depend on top quality bark and are used for fine wines which are expected to be stored for a while. If the bark is good but not perfect however, corchos colmatados (or filled corks) can be made. These are natural cylindrical corks but have slight imperfections in them which are filled with a mix of cork dust and adhesive making them cheaper.

I have only come across one Sherry with a (pink!) synthetic cylindrical cork made from different plastic polymers and silicone. Production of these closures emits huge levels of CO2 into the atmosphere and they still need further testing for suitability for wine. All the above corks need a corkscrew to remove them, except those for sparkling wine.

Synthetic "Plastic" cork

Tapones Corona, also known as stopper or T-top corks, can be removed by hand, can be made from any grade of cork – though usually agglomerate - and are very common in Sherry bottles. The material is generally bevelled off at the base for easier entry to the bottleneck, and sometimes given an “acorn” shape for a tight seal. The crown or upper part can be made from any material and to any design, the commonest being wood or plastic, usually adorned with the bodega’s logo. All the above corks need capsules.

Stopper cork T top

The tapon de rosca or screwcap, known in the trade as "ROPP" (rip-off pilfer proof) is widely used for less expensive high turn-over wines and is pretty efficient. A deft flick or the wrist is (usually) all that is required to open the bottle and, unlike the above, no capsule is required – although a different bottle design and bottling equipment are required to accommodate the screw. Screwcaps are made from aluminium and provide a good seal, but are not suitable for ageing wines. They are used for the majority of New World wines, but Spain has its own cork industry and only 5% of wines have screwcaps which are seen by consumers as cheap. Amorim have produced a clever "screwcork" called Helix. Not sure about that one.

For storage it is best to keep Sherry bottles upright unless they have a natural cylindrical cork, in which case it is best to keep them on their sides.

Sunday, 27 November 2016

Palo Cortado 19%, Bodegas González Obregón

Deep copper and amber tinted mahogany, legs.
Very nutty with toasted almond and some walnut, some oak and traces of dried fruit and cinnamon which all comes together to give a complex, characterful bouquet of good Oloroso with an up front crisp Amontillado edge. 
Full and dry, with lots of nuts, that hint of oak and a trace of tobacco now. As it opens out it swings from Oloroso to Amontillado and back again making it not only entertaining but delicious with a long nutty finish with just a trace of warm spice and exotic woods. 
This bodega deserves to be much better known. Surprisingly not much is written about it in books on Sherry, but it is an amazing place. It is tiny but full of character and the wines are excellent - though in rather short supply, especially this Palo Cortado. After all the bodega houses a mere 200 butts in total, and two of their wines are supplied to Lustau for their Almacenista range, though not this one. So the solera is tiny and only a few hundred bottles are released annually. At a guess, it is about 15-20 years old.

18 Euros ex bodega

Saturday, 26 November 2016

Bodegas: Hesselink Hermanos

Herman Gijsbert Keppel Hesselink (1811-1888) was a wine merchant in Zutphen, Holland, who later moved to Arnhem. The firm was then known as Hoffmann Hesselink & Co and traded particularly in Sherry and Port. Herman opened a bodega in Jerez under the trading name Kappel Hesselink in Calle Bizcocheros. One of the few Dutch owned bodegas, It was taken over and expanded in 1872 by his sons Cornelius (1852-1917) and Willem (1846-1927) who renamed the firm Hesselink Hermanos. The family were already established wine traders in Holland, now under the name Wijngroothandel Gebruder Hesselink & Co and moved to bodegas in the nearby Calle Cerrón, expanding later into Calle Medina. The firm was often referred to as the Compañía Holandesa.

Herman Hesselink

Their connections with their homeland were naturally strong, and Holland was the destination of the vast majority of their wines, exported in bulk and distributed to bars, hotels and restaurants from their premises in Marktstraat in Arnhem. Until his death Willem was Spanish vice consul there, followed after his death by his son Herman who also worked in the business. Many medals were awarded to the firm’s wines at exhibitions throughout Europe. The two Dutch brothers married two Dutch sisters, Egberta and Hendrila Engberts, daughters of a rich cloth merchant.

Hesselink premises in Arnhem

Nothing has been heard of the firm in Jerez after 1908, and it was probably absorbed into another company. The Dutch end ceased trading in 1916. While Holland remained neutral in the First World War, it is likely that importing wines from Spain and Portugal became all but impossible.

Friday, 25 November 2016

La Bota de Florpower 67 "Más Acá" MMXIV 12.5%, Equipo Navazos

Mid strawy gold with brassy gold glints, virtually no legs.
First impression is of  Manzanilla but softer and a little lighter - less intense yet almost as complex. There is a lot of seaside salinity, some straw, almost oxidative notes and a noticeable presence of flor and general yeastiness, so it would be hard to mistake its origins, in fact it could only really be made here. It is amazingly developed and sophisticated for a wine of only two years of age.
Soft, textured and quite full with a fairly low acidity, it has a good depth of flavour and good length. It naturally lacks the alcoholic bite of the Manzanilla but it is similar in many ways and extremely, perhaps dangerously, drinkable. Think lower strength Manzanilla Pasada with a trace of apple.
This delicious 2014 vintage Vino Blanco table wine is pure Sanlúcar. The Palomino grapes are from the Pago Miraflores and are fermented in stainless steel tanks before the wine is transferred to 40 butts seasoned with Manzanilla. Here it was aged for 7 months under flor before being transferred back to the tanks, one of which was bottled in June 2016. The "Más Acá" (less "there" = less mature) refers to the fact that as it was already delicious, it was bottled young as opposed to the La Bota 53 "Más Allá" (more "there" = more mature) which spent more time in butts. In total the wine spends 20 months under flor and 2,800 bottles were released. Hopefully the wine in the other tank will spend more time ageing under flor and produce another "Más Allá". Can't wait!
19.50 euros from Er Guerrita

Thursday, 24 November 2016

24.11.16 Sherry Wants Same Tax Treatment as Other Spanish Wines

The Spanish government is desperately seeking to plug a hole in its finances of some 5.5 billion, and is seriously considering increased mortgage rates and a rise in alcohol tax among many other options. A tax rise would have severely negative effects on Jerez and Fedejerez paints a very gloomy picture as Sherry is already taxed at a higher rate than any other Spanish wine, and along with Jerez brandy, which accounts for 92% of Spanish brandy production, would be hit hard. What is more raising alcohol tax would hurt the hotel, bar and restaurant trade, the wine and brandy trade, and of course employment.

Fedejerez has joined forces with the Federación Española de Bebidas Espirituosas (FEBE) - which covers all alcoholic drinks and the various agrarian organisations, distributors, horeca etc. – to create a powerful lobby which will hopefully make the government think again. The presidents of Brandy de Jerez and FEBE, Evaristo Babé and Bosco Torremocha pointed out that the last time tax was increased on alcohol, in 2013, it proved counterproductive as government receipts decreased due to a loss of sales, particularly in horeca.

Babé totally rejected the idea of increased tax on brandy while Fedejerez is claiming that Sherry should be treated in the same way as Montilla-Moriles which is not subject to the higher tax rate despite containing much the same amount of alcohol – it is just that Sherry is fortified and Montilla is not. “These wines are table wines just like the rest. Over taxation produces reduced tax receipts and if the finance minister, Cristóbal Montoro, wants to increase income he should reduce public expenditure, and remember the economic importance of alcoholic drinks”.

Not increasing taxes could lead to a gentle rise in government receipts, which are currently about 20 billion euros. According to a study by Analistas Financieros Internacionales (AFI) increasing the tax would reduce those receipts by 46 million and leave 52,734 people out of work in the first year. Everyone is hoping the government sees sense.

The current Spanish rate of tax on Sherry is 55.53 euros per hectolitre, or 0.416 euros per bottle as opposed to table wines which bear a tax of 33.32 euros per hectolitre, or 0.25 euros per bottle. Both are, of course, subject to IVA (VAT). In the UK, excise duty on table wine is £2.08 per bottle and Sherry is £2.78 per bottle, again subject to VAT.

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Ojo de Gallo 2015 12%, José Estévez

Fairly pale strawy gold with silvery highlights, very slight legs.
Very fresh, young and vibrant with some generosity, trace vegetal – almost smells like the vineyard -yet fruity as well with stewed apple, melon and glacé fruit notes, then there is noticeable strawy, chalky minerality, and all these factors produce a very natural nose. Who says Palomino is neutral?
A certain raw, wild freshness is there despite low acidity but that gentle Palomino fruit balances nicely without the need for much acidity. The minerality carries the flavour through sufficiently and gives the wine length. It is dry and clean with a slightly chalky feel, and is a very attractive, characterful wine with real vineyard flavour and truly tastes of Jerez - and it really grows on you.
Made from single vineyard Macharnudo grapes from old vines, fermented in tank and bottled in May 2016 without any flor or oak influence, this is a young table wine which really gives you a taste of the great Pago Macharnudo. Fino Inocente is made from the same must but is barrel fermented. It is sealed with a driven Diam cork and the only downside is that only 1,000 cases were made. This is the first release of the wine, and it has a bright future. It is classic vino blanco from Jerez and very well priced. I’m thinking about how it will age in bottle, and it might develop some slight Sherry characteristics over 2-3 years. Right, I’m off to buy some more….
7.55 euros from Licores Corredera                                 

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Bodegas: Abárzuza y Cia

The Abárzuza brothers Fernando and José, originally from Navarra, set up in business as maritime traders in 1830 in Habana, Cuba, where they quickly made a fortune. Seeing the huge potential in Sherry, they moved the firm to Cádiz in the mid 1840s. They were a talented family with a playwright (Luis), a painter (Felipe) and Buenaventura became a writer and politician, later signing the peace treaty which ended the Spanish American War, while his brothers ran a mercantile shipping business. They were very successful, and branched out into other enterprises such as banking, insurance and wine trading. Being located in the restricted space offered by the city of Cádiz, the firm owned no vineyards yet still traded in large quantities of Sherry.

In 1888 the next generation took over, in the form of brothers Fernando, Luis and Joaquín Abárzuza y Ferrer and formalised the firm in 1897 establishing large bodegas at the corner of Avenida Portugal and what is now Avenida Juan Carlos I in the Segunda Aguada district. 

The soleras were stored in Jerez and the bodegas in Cádiz were used for storage and bottling for export, mainly to Mexico, Cuba and the United States. They were one of only three Sherry bodegas in Cádiz. In 1899 the firm appeared in the Guia Oficial de Jerez as purveyors of wines and vinegars, and in 1900 they changed the trading name to Viuda Abárzuza and in 1906 to Antonio Abárzuza which remained till 1944 when it was changed to Luis de Abárzuza. 

Wirh the advent of the DO for Sherry in 1935, the bodegas in Cádiz were initially not included in the Zona de Crianza, but the Abárzuzas managed to persuade the authorities to include it, at least till the 1960s. The firm already had bodegas in Jerez, in Calle Sancho Vizcaíno. Between 1942 and 1949 Fernando was secretary to the syndicate of exporters and  the trading name was changed again in 1953 to Sucesores de Antonio Abárzuza SL remaining the same till the 1960s when the firm was sold to Fernando A de Terry. This firm based in El Puerto de Santa María used the bodegas till they were sold off in the 1980s and demolished.

Large blocks of flats were built on the Cádiz site in 2016 and the sub-district is now known as Abárzuza. Before construction, the site was excavated by archaeologists who found 127 graves dating from between the VI century BC and the II century AD.

Brands were Manzanilla Olorosa María de la O, Manzanilla Mari-Cruz, Solera Gaditana 1860, Amontillado Fino Cañailla

Monday, 21 November 2016

Alba Ancestral 11%, Viticultores Alba

Very slightly hazy pale strawy gold, virtually no legs and good, very fine mousse.
Attractive and very fresh with gently tangy Palomino fruit, traces of apple, lemon peel, dried apricot and straw. Some aromas of bottle fermentation and a certain yeasty, bready, almost autolytic undertow balanced by some minerality. 
Fresh, clean and quite light with moderate acidity but develops more depth and complexity. There is some fruit there and a hint of biscuit but also some Manzanilla flavour, but without any flor bitterness. There is a real sense of  terroir which shows how good Palomino can be in the right hands; it is very moreish with an amazingly clean finish - and the sparkle lasts really well.
This is a delicious naturally sparkling wine from Sanlúcar made from Palomino grapes grown in Miraflores albariza. No vintage date is given, but L15 on the label probably indicates 2015, which seems likely. At 11 degrees the grapes were presumably picked reasonably early to retain some acidity and give zip to the wine. Hardly any sulphur was added. Fermentation took place with local yeasts in special food grade plastic containers and after 12 days the wine was bottled still fermenting and unfiltered so the fermentation could continue in bottle. The bottles then spend 5 months laid down before hand disgorgement  with no addition of licor de expedición, just more of the same wine, so it is good and dry. This process is a variation on the method used to make Champagne and Alba refer to it as "método sanluqueño" and it is all about the Palomino and the albariza, a soil which is very similar to that of Champagne. It does leave a trace of perfectly harmless, almost unnoticeable sediment though. This stuff is lovely and could have a big future, but the quantities number only in the hundreds of bottles, unfortunately, but one can only much admire its producers.
18.20 euros from Licores Corredera

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Casas de Viña

For centuries it was important to have houses in the vineyards. These charming buildings, some grander than others, were mostly constructed between the XVII and XIX centuries. Many are shaded by fruit trees, palms or cypresses and once served as accommodation for workers, equipment stores, press-houses and occasionally holiday homes for the bodegueros and their families. There would be a well and an almijar, the large yard where the grapes were sunned before treading in the lagar, which was usually done at night when the grapes were cooler, postponing fermentation. Here the must was filled into butts for the journey to the bodegas in town.

Looking over the almijar to the casa de vina El Corregidor in its Sandeman days

In readiness for the harvest there was much activity: the almijar would be weeded and swept, the walls whitewashed and the lagar cleaned with water and a brush made from sprigs of thyme. The canastas, or harvesting baskets, made from olive twigs were repaired. It was important that their conical shape was maintained so the minimum number of grape bunches were pressing down on each other. The contents of one canasta, approximately one arroba (12 kilos), fitted perfectly on one redor, the round esparto mats on which the grapes were laid out to sun. After a hard day’s labour there was a simple but filling meal and often considerable merrymaking.

Vina Romano, Gonzalez Byass

Nowadays many casas de viña are abandoned, victims of the onset of mechanisation in the 1960s, the uprooting of many vineyards and even urbanisation. The grapes are now mostly harvested nocturnally by machine and only very few are sunned to make sweet wines. They are taken by truck to the bodegas and processed there in mechanical presses and huge stainless steel fermentation tanks. While this achieves great control and consistency, there are some who feel that the old inconsistency was a virtue.

The Castillo Macharnudo, once Domecq, now Fundador

Not all the old vineyard houses have fallen into disuse, thank goodness. Some bodegas use theirs for entertaining and there are companies which rent them as peaceful retreats to holidaymakers. There is even a most interesting route round the casas de viña in the Pago Balbaina, details of which can be found at the website and for further exciting vineyard activities;  and  

Saturday, 19 November 2016

Parpatana 2015 12%, Bodegas EMC3

Very pale bright silvery gold, legs.
Very aromatic, light and super fresh with pronounced fruity Moscatel notes predominating, hints of lychee, apple, green tea and mandarin meet floral aromas giving the Palomino little chance to shine. True, it is less aromatic, but it seems all but invisible, especially since the wine is supposed to be 80% Palomino. Can that be right?
Dry and beautifully balanced with a gentle texture and a mouthful of gently tangy fruit and flowers. This is delicious, unaggressive and has considerable length, pure drinking pleasure.
Made from 80% Palomino and 20% Moscatel this wine is sold without ageing. Various people were involved with its creation and the winemaker was Ramiro Ibáñez. The idea was to make an ideal wine for fish and especially the legendary local tuna (parpatana is the name of the most delicious part of the fish). The first bottle was blessed at Tarifa, famous for the atun de almadraba, the net-caught bluefin tuna.
5.15 from Licores Corredera

Friday, 18 November 2016

18.11.17 Sherry Week Huge Success

International Sherry Week celebrated 2140 events in 30 countries, a big increase on last year. Five more countries joined in and events in Spain doubled. There was a considerable rise in food related events such as matching tapas and Sherry. The social media were buzzing with Instagram leading the way with a massive increase in pictures of succulent looking food and Sherry matches. In Mexico a Guinness World Record attempt was made for the largest number of people tasting Sherry at the same time – 315. There were live Twitter tastings and a question and answer session from the Consejo Regulador. The “Sherry Foodie” fashion has really taken off and the passion which Sherry inspires has spread to the five continents. Hearty congratulations are due to all involved.

Thursday, 17 November 2016

Tsunami Inevitable in Bay of Cádiz

A new documentary film called “La Gran Ola” (the big wave) by Fernando Arroyo is to be released in May 2017. Unlike the “wave” of disaster movies, this one is factual and involves nearly fifty of the world’s leading scientists who conclude that according to the rules of geology an earthquake and tsunami will definitely happen, it is simply a question of when. They have occurred before, and archaeological evidence has been found of at least 20 in the Bay of Cádiz alone. In fact there are regular tremors in the order of 3 - 3.5 Richter as the African tectonic plate pushes north against the Iberian one.

The epicentre is likely to be on the sea bed off the coast of Lisbon where there is constant seismic activity, and which was the epicentre of the massive earthquake and tsunami of 1755 which killed tens of thousands of people causing immense damage. It has been calculated that the speed of the wave oscillated between 300 and 735 kph and hit Andalucía – from Huelva to Cádiz - only 30 minutes later at a height of 16 metres. It also caused radical changes to the landscape and even changed the course of some rivers. The city of Cádiz is only 11 metres above sea level and much of the province is low lying – like the Sherry vineyards - so there is much to lose.

After various earthquake and tsunami events already this century there is now a World Day of Tsunami Awareness. Spain and Portugal are working together to create an early warning system, but many believe its rate of progress is too slow. Fernando Arroyo does not wish to be alarmist, but such an event could happen at any time and it is only prudent to issue warnings.

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

16.11.16 Manzanilla Rebels Claim their Survival is at Stake

In a press conference in Sanlúcar yesterday the Professional Association of Artisan Bodegas expressed their profound discontent with the judicial ruling banning BIB in the pouring trade. They say it is a measure ”imposed by Fedejerez through its executive arm, the Consejo Regulador”. According to the Association the BIB is the quality alternative to the outdated re-useable garrafa, and satisfies the bulk wine needs of the catering trade. “It is not trying to replace the bottle but to complement it, especially for bulk, and in no way harms the image of the DO wines. In fact the big bodegas of Jerez, members of Fedejerez, use BIB for some of their other wines, including direct sale to the public.”

The press conference (foto:CCruz/andaluciainformacion)

“We are not talking about image but rather of market share. This the real root of the problem” they say, and they have not ruled out the possibility of consulting the Spanish competition tribunal. “It is a question of survival”. In the judgement of the Association Fedejerez “is trying to impose its own rules of commerce through its effective control of the Consejo” despite “having no representation of the Manzanilla bodegas with a head office in Sanlúcar.” They went on to criticise the fact that the DO Manzanilla is represented by only one bodega of the twenty members which make up the Consejo. The Association wants parity of representation between bodegas in Jerez and Sanlúcar, and went on to say that they are not yet intending to create their own separate Consejo, but they are studying the idea, given the “undesirable” situation, and the town council of Sanlúcar is prepared to collaborate with a viability study.

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Bodegas: De Goñi

Damián de Goñi y Fernández, whose family originated in Navarra, was born in Cádiz in 1813, son of Damián de Goñi y Plou and María Jesus Fernández Rendón. His parents had made money in the Spanish colonies in South America, but which were gradually gaining independence. Those returning were nicknamed “Indianos” and usually very rich, and Damian de Goñi was one of them. He became a general merchant and like so many saw wine as more profitable.

When he was only two years old, the family moved from Cádiz to Jerez to start up a wine business from their home in what is now Calle Manuel María González. The house was on the first floor and the ground floor was the bodega, office and general store. His parents owned two vineyards in the Cerro del Pelayo. Young Damián began his career with a brief stint in diplomacy as Portuguese Vice Consul, but began work in the family bodega in 1832, and took it over in 1834, aged only 21, after the sudden death of his father.

(Foto:La Imagen del Vino de Jerez)
It was a good time to start. In 1825 English excise duty had been reduced and sales quadrupled. The Gremio de la Vinatera was abolished in 1834 offering a new found freedom for merchants dealing in wine. Damián had other interests including a flour mill jointly owned with Pedro Domecq and John David Gordon. In 1834 he joined forces with Feuerheerd & Co, a mercantile company established in 1815 by the Oporto born German Dietrich Matthias Feuerheerd, which later specialised in Port. Together they traded as De Goñi Feuerheerd & Co.

Like his father, Damián de Goñi died young, in 1839, and his uncle Justo de Goñi y Plou took over from him. The firm continued successfully throughout the rest of the century, exporting 1001 butts in 1856. De Goñi Feuerheerd opened a branch in London in 1860 jointly with their English agent Frank Wearne (whose daughter Edith was one of the survivors of the Titanic disaster), naming it Feuerheerd Wearne & Co Ltd, 4 New London St, London. The 1880s saw a new generation of the Feuerheerd family taking an increasing interest in Port.

(foto:La Imagen del Vino de Jerez)

The XX century brought change and some of the de Goñi bodegas were sold off in 1900. By 1911 De Goñi Feuerheerd & Co had their own branch in London at 47 Mark Lane, but it didn’t last long. Barros Almeida bought out Feuerheerd in 1926 and later merged it with another subsidiary, Hutcheson, and the de Goñi Sherry interests were bought by González Byass in 1927.

Monday, 14 November 2016

Manzanilla La Montería 15%, Bodegas Yuste

Bright, fairly pale lemony strawy gold, light legs.
Quite attractive with distinct yeasty saline notes balanced with floral ones like camomile. There is still a trace of fruit which is slightly outweighed by seaside aromas, but it all comes together nicely.
Not short of flavour for its age, there are various touches of yeast, bitter almond and salinity which lasts for ages and offers a hint of floral complexity and an attractive zippy freshness (bottled April 2016). Good value for money.
This might be the youngest Manzanilla in the Yuste range at around 4 years old and behind Aurora and La Kika, but it has character. The name "Monteria" means "hunting" and it is just possible that the wine might originate from a solera of the same name which used to belong to the now lost bodega Manuel Garcia Monge, who latterly occupied the bodega now used by La Guita in Calle Misericordia. It used to be sold as a Manzanilla Pasada, but this wine is obviously younger, so maybe Yuste simply owns the brand name. Certainly the labels are completely different. I'll be looking into it. My bottle had a screw cap unlike the stopper cork illustrated, not that it matters.
About 6 euros from Licores Corredera

Sunday, 13 November 2016

13.11.16 Consejo Worries about Trump Victory

While there is naturally worry and uncertainty after Donald Trump’s election victory, the Consejo sees no particular reason for it to affect sales of Sherry in the US, which have been growing steadily. The US is a wine market with great potential being the largest in the world, but what does worry the Consejo is Trump’s protectionist attitude to foreign trade and in particular to the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations, which have involved a great deal of work and which may be cancelled.

Included in these negotiations is the protection of many European denominations of origin such as Sherry, which have been falsely used in the US for domestic products for over a century. There was no absolute guarantee that such protection would have come about through TTIP, but it is felt that a window of opportunity might well now close.

Saturday, 12 November 2016

12.11.16 New Label for Consejo Generic Sherry

The winners of the competition for a new generic label design for Sherries have been announced. They are Bibiana Domecq and Blanca del Rio, two young designers at the agency +B in Madrid, who both have personal links to Jerez. The Consejo organised the competition back in June and though the results were decided in August, it was decided to delay the announcement of the winners till International Sherry Week.

The new design (foto:noticiasandalucia)

The competition attracted 200 entries from 35 countries and many were fresh and groundbreaking. The new design unites tradition and modernity and enhances each different Sherry’s identity with the use of the classic chalk barrel markings screen printed on the bottle shoulder. The generic Sherries are used by the Consejo for promotional purposes and are supplied by various bodegas as typical examples of the various styles of wine. The Consejo label ensures impartiality. 

Friday, 11 November 2016

11.11.16 Consejo & Fedejerez Reject Independent Sanlúcar Consejo

Yesterday’s news that the Association of Artisan Bodegas had asked the town council of Sanlúcar to conduct a viability study on an independent Consejo was not well received in Jerez. Both the Consejo and Fedejerez emphatically rejected the idea and stressed that the Artisan bodegas are only a minority representing 25% of Manzanilla and 5% of Sherry overall, and that neither they nor the town council have the authority to set up a new Consejo.


They continued that any secession would need the agreement of all the bodegas and growers of Sanlúcar and the process would have to go through official channels, not the town council. Fedejerez president, Evaristo Babé suggested that the three Artisan bodegas should leave the DO if they didn’t agree with its rules. He said that this BIB saga was unfortunate and prejudicial to Sherry’s reputation, and if it continues like this there is the possibility of expulsion from the DO. He said that the rebels should be better informed before they announce legally unviable plans and pay attention to the harm they are doing to the DO.

Thursday, 10 November 2016

10.11.16 Manzanilla Rebels Want Separate Consejo Regulador

The Professional Association of Artisan Bodegas of Sanlúcar is threatening a breakaway Consejo Regulador based in Sanlúcar, and it has the support of the town council. The reaction to the recent High Court of Andalucía ruling on BIB has taken a few days to come, but after a meeting yesterday with the town’s mayor, Victor Mora, the council released a communiqué saying that the Association had requested a viability study on the establishment of an independent Consejo Regulador based in Sanlúcar. It feels that the interests of Manzanilla would be best served this way, and not by a Consejo run predominantly by Jerez bodegas which cannot produce Manzanilla.

Yesterday's meeting in sanlucar (foto:andaluciainformacion)

This would imply a complete break with the Consejo in Jerez which has always governed the two DOs of Jerez-Xeres-Sherry and Manzanilla de Sanlúcar since the latter was given DO status in 1965. However the Association does not represent all the bodegas, and the three which between them sell the lion’s share of Manzanilla: Barbadillo, Delgado Zuleta and La Guita, are not members, though La Guita is not counted as it is owned by Jerez based Estévez. A spokesman for the Association says that although they have not yet been in contact with the big bodegas, they are not ruling out their interest. 

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

La Maquinilla – The Wine Train

Plans for a railway were first conceived in 1829 due to the need to transport growing quantities of wine to the seaports by better means than oxcarts. This was the dawn of the railway era, and it would have been the first line in Spain, yet nothing came of the plans, due mainly to difficulty in raising money. It would be 1854 before a line was constructed between Jerez and El Portal on the river Guadalete, where butts of wine used to be loaded onto boats and taken to El Puerto de Santa María for onward shipment, mostly to Britain. That same year the  line was extended to El Puerto. These were the first railway lines in Andalucía.

The train at bodegas Manuel Guerrero (foto:Jose Luis Jimenez)

The line was further extended to the Trocadero quayside at Puerto Real in 1856. Now one could travel from Jerez to Cádiz in little more than an hour via El Portal and El Puerto de Santa María to El Trocadero, from where a boat would whisk one across the bay to the capital. Stations were pretty primitive in those days, and the fairly crude structure which was Jerez station became a goods depot in 1870 when a better passenger station was built. The station of today was designed by the famous architect Aníbal González, who designed the Gallo Azul and the Exposición Iberoamericana in Sevilla in 1929. The station was completed in the early 1930s and is opposite the now abandoned offices of Díez Hermanos.

Butts of Sherry, and indeed other goods, still needed to be transported to or from the station by cart on roads in poor condition, so a plan was drawn up for an urban railway system. The council readily gave permission and work was well underway by April 1870. It is thought to be the first urban railway in Spain, and Jerezanos used to joke that people in Madrid still had to use carts. There were three locomotives which, along with their wagons needed to be on a smaller scale than normal trains to negotiate narrow streets, but they had the same gauge, allowing the wagons to be linked to the mainline train at the station. The whistle of the little train (maquinilla) could be heard for miles and clouds of smoke followed it everywhere, but it made things a great deal more efficient, even at a speed limited to 10 kph.

In those days there were more bodegas than now, and many proprietors of the larger ones paid for branch lines to go directly into them. Many of these were inevitably dead ends, but that was no problem; wagons could be left there, loaded at the bodega’s convenience, and collected later. Bodegas which had no branch lines had to load or unload quickly to avoid congesting the street.

By the 1960s the maquinilla was becoming obsolete as there were better roads and more convenient road transport in the form of trucks which could go anywhere. The trenecito (as it was also known) was taken out of service and scrapped in 1969, after 99 years of service, and is now the focus of much nostalgia.

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

8.11.16 Winner of Copa Jerez Spanish Heat

Chef Matteo Pierazzoli and sommelier Juan Luis García of the restaurant Casa Marcial in Asturias have won the Spanish heat of the prestigious VII Copa Jerez food and Sherry matching competition. They will represent Spain in the final in May next year and will compete against the Ritz in London who won the UK heat and the winners of the other heats in the USA, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Russia and the Netherlands.

The Spanish winners produced a starter, a main dish and a dessert which consisted of tortellini of pheasant and seaweed with Amontillado Viejo Zuleta; wood pigeon in its various parts: parfait of liver with Gutiérrez Colosía Palo Cortado, barbecued breast with Sacristía AB Amontillado and stewed thigh with Hidalgo Oloroso Villapanés. Dessert was a salad of chocolate with mint ice cream and PX VORS from Bodegas Urium.

Monday, 7 November 2016

Fino La Draga 15%, Bodegas González Obregón

Mid straw - gold with bright reflections, light legs.
Forthcoming, quite full and interesting. There is a fruity edge with faint traces of autolysis, minerality, a trace of salinity and a yeasty, almondy bitterness. It is a bit multi-faceted: every sniff reveals something more, even the slightest hint of oxidation. Good start.
Salinity and yeasty bitterness are to the fore, it is very dry and fairly full with real character, still with that trace of fruit and a long well-rounded finish. A a good example of the Classic El Puerto style.
This characterful almacenista bodega/despacho in El Puerto has a great range of wines and this Fino is probably the best known. In fact they supply Fino, Oloroso and Amontillado for the Lustau Almacenista range. This fine Fino is about 5 years old and may well be the same wine as Lustau’s Almacenista Puerto Fino. Its name is interesting: “draga” translates as “dredger”, there being a faint picture of one on the label. The port area of El Puerto needs to be dredged now and then as a lot of silt is washed down by the river Guadalete.
About 5 euros ex despacho C/Zarza

Sunday, 6 November 2016

6.11.16 Consejo Acts Quickly After BIB Ban; International Sherry Week Starts Tomorrow!

The Consejo Regulador has understood that the High Court ban on BIB has immediate effect and has therefore sent a copy of the ruling to those bodegas in Sanlúcar affected by it, advising them that no more precintas (DO labels) will be issued and asking for any unused ones to be returned. No more Manzanilla may be sold in BIB and that which has already been sold should be returned. The Association of Artisan Bodegas of Sanlúcar, those who sell BIB, say they will comment on the developments once they have analysed their full implications. Meanwhile the Consejo will be on the lookout for infractions.

Sherry lovers worldwide will be participating in all kinds of Sherry related events from tomorrow in celebration of International Sherry Week. There will be more than 1,000 events in over 26 countries making this III edition the biggest Sherry Week ever. This year there is an interactive website at where one can find out what is happening locally, and of course social media will have lots of information. Even if there is not an event nearby, you can always buy a bottle of Sherry and raise a glass to the sheer quality and versatility of this unique and marvellous wine which arouses such passion in its admirers.

Saturday, 5 November 2016

5.11.16 Bag in Box Affair Not Quite Over Yet; Wine Technology Centre

The high court of Andalucía has overruled the Junta’s decision to allow the sale of BIB’s in horeca (hotel, restaurant and catering) and suspended their sale as a cautionary measure until the full verdict is published. The Junta went against the majority view, represented by Fedejerez, and the Consejo’s own rules in permitting this contentious container (though not - officially - for sale to the public) and instructing the Consejo to issue the appropriate seals.

Fedejerez, who appealed the Junta’s decision, is delighted with the result, “an important success for the protection of the Denominación de Origen Manzanilla, which we are very proud of”. The institution which represents the bodegas feels that the Junta’s decision was arbitrary and allowed some Sanlúcar bodegas (which represent only 4% of total sales) to break the Consejo rules. It had therefore asked the court for BIBs to be suspended as they were in “flagrant breach of the rules and agreements repeatedly adopted by the plenary of the Consejo.” Not only that, but BIBs “do irreparable harm to Sherry’s prestige, reputation and perception of quality”. Fedejerez hopes that this will now put an end to the matter.

The Parque Científico Tecnológico Agroindustrial was established in 2007 near Jerez for important research by various institutions such as the University of Cádiz and businesses involved in the agricultural sector. In 2010 a Centro Tecnológico del Vino (CTV)was proposed, but lack of investment saw the project shelved and the PCTA declared itself insolvent in 2014, being currently in administration. Now the Junta de Andalucía is to invest 750,000 euros in the “rebirth” of the CTV from its 2017 budget to get it off the ground. This would be a fantastic move towards modernisation, innovation and research and development. The announcement was made at the Consejo’s bodega San Ginés by Manuel Jiménez Barrios, vice president of the Junta.

Friday, 4 November 2016

4.11.16 González Byass Release New Palmas; Chiclana’s New Wine & Salt Museum

The Palacio de las Dueñas in Sevilla, property of the Duchy of Alba, was the scene for the launch of the sixth edition of the González Byass Palmas range yesterday. The grandeur of the wines matched that of the Palacio itself as oenologist Antonio Flores and GB vice president Pedro Rebuelta led a tasting of the wines, referring to them as “the ages of Tio Pepe”.

L-R: Pedro Rebuelta, Cayetano Martinez de Irujo, Antonio Flores

Hoteliers, journalists, sommeliers, bloggers and members of Sevilla society, including Cayetano Martínez de Irujo, son of the late Duchess of Alba, were given a glass of Tio Pepe straight from the barrel on arrival. This year’s wines were selected by Antonio Flores and Gérard Basset, the first to become a master sommelier and master of wine. Each wine was introduced with poetry and flamenco guitar. The Una Palma, aged six years was selected from the three best butts of the 150 in the fourth criadera and 3,000 50cl bottles will be released. Only 1,500 bottles will be released of the Dos Palmas which is eight years old. The Tres Palmas is ten years old and 1,000 bottles will be released, while the Cuatro Palmas, a magnificent old Amontillado aged 51 years will be released in only 500 bottles.

Chiclana’s new Centro de Interpretación del Vino y la Sal was officially opened yesterday by the mayor accompanied by various dignitaries. The museum is located in an old bodega formerly belonging to Viuda Guerrero and latterly to Primitivo Collantes in Calle Concepción. The old bodega has been beautifully restored and contains a huge number of interesting historical items, all donated and extremely well displayed. It offers an amazing insight into the long history of Chiclana, its salt pans, vineyards and bodegas, and of course it’s people. Very well worth a visit.

Thursday, 3 November 2016

Bodegas: A Quijano

This bodega in El Puerto de Santa María was founded in 1840 by the montañes father of Atanasio Quijano Cieza who took over in 1865. He was blessed with great leadership qualities and was very successful in whatever he did, be it bodegas, business, politics or any other field of human relations. He was married to Concepción Rosende, whose father, an expert arrumbador, gave him the advice he needed to expand the bodega business and improve quality. They owned the 100 aranzada (47 hectare) vineyard called Las Puentes in Balbaina Alta, and there was a bodega in the calle Caldevilla.The family became prominent in the town.

Atanasio Quijano Cieza

One of the firm’s brands was Moscatel Las Cuatro Perlas, and there is a story about that. Originally, Quijano marketed this wine with the agreement of one Ramón Carlí who owned the trademark, but after his death and through various inheritances, it now belonged to one Domingo Rodríguez. There was no agreement about the use of the trademark and the latter’s complaints fell on the deaf ears of Atanasio. The matter ended up in court in 1900 with the judge finding in favour of Rodríguez.

Undaunted, Atanasio simply created and registered a new brand: Las Cinco Perlas and carried on as before, later acquiring a vineyard at Fuenterrabía which he called La Perlita. The firm continued to prosper and had good export business in Africa, Cuba and New York among other markets before tackling Spain itself. They claimed to be the first to export in bottle to America. Atanasio died in 1932 and his son, Francisco Quijano Rosende took over and grew the business as well as occupying many civic and municipal posts.

The firm lasted until the late 1950s making a wide range of products such as Ponche, Quina, and Anis as well as Brandies FQ, Admirable, Rosende and Brillante along with Sherries such as their well-known Oloroso Pata de Gallina (this 38 butt solera is now owned by the almacenista Juan García Jarana and bottled by Lustau), Manzanilla Olorosa La Perlita, Royal Cream, Amontillado Viejo 54, Solera Fina, Amontillado Fino Quijano and Old Brown Sherry. The more commercial range consisted of Golden Sherry, Vino de Pasto, Pale Sherry, Cabinet, Jubilee, Army and Navy (perhaps for the store of that name in London) and Gran Vino Tónico Cíclope. Complete with laboratory analysis on the back label.

(Thanks to Jose Luis Jimenez for content and pictures)

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

La Bota de Amontillado 31 "Bota No" 20%, Equipo Navazos

After four and a half years , the wine has stained the glass of the bottle, and there is a little sediment (it was bottled en rama) but that shouldn't bother a true wine lover. It has a beautiful deep amber hue with copper tints and legs.
Intense, fresh and lively, crisp even, with lots of toasted nuts, brine and hints of oak from the butt, traces of clove and salted caramel. The oxidative notes are very pure and the complex, very slightly spicy aromas are tight and lean with lots of depth and just enough glycerine to balance, giving it immediate charm and the impression that the wine wants to burst out of the glass and show that it hasn't finished maturing yet .
Full-on zippy Sanlucar freshness is provided by a gentle hint of acidity yet this is an old and serious wine, somewhere over 25 years, and it shows with amazing precision and integration. At this age one might expect some tannin but really there is very little and that hint of glycerine achieves perfect balance. It is very clean and has terrific length.
This outstanding wine was drawn from four butts in the solera 1/10 "Manzanilla Pasada Vieja" at la Guita's bodega on the Jerez road where they transferred the older wines in 1980, leaving them virtually intact. Here there are two other older soleras: Manzanilla Pasada Muy Vieja and Manzanilla Pasada Viejisima 1/3, but Equipo Navazos felt that this one had the best balance in relation to its age. This solera also provided the wine for La Bota 61. This batch consisted of 1,700 50cl bottles.
About 54 euros per 50cl bottle

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Palo Cortado VORS Baco Imperial 19.5%, Bodegas Dios Baco

Attractive transparent amber-topaz with coppery old gold reflections, legs.
Full, crisp, fragrant, open and complex. Pronounced Amontillado - almost crianza biologica - notes with a gentle bitterness and lots of toasted almond and hazelnut, a trace of marzipan-like sweetness balances with a phenolic note of oak. This is an old wine and gracefully integrated by age.
Tight and elegant at first, apparently quite light, then it opens out a bit revealing slightly fuller, more generous and textured Oloroso nutty notes with traces of cinnamon, wood and candied orange peel. There is a certain (volatile) acidity and a very acceptable level of tannin for a wine of this age, and there is a gentle grip but it helps give the wine its terrific length.
This is an excellent old wine from the Baco Imperial range which covers the bodega's oldest wines. Palos Cortados are so interesting; they swing between Amontillado and Oloroso, and the differences are incredibly subtle but I would say this is closer to Amontillado. It is a very elegant wine with all the nuances which can only be acquired by long ageing.
About 55 euros ex bodega