Thursday, 7 June 2018

Vinoble 2018 A Brief Report

Tuesday evening marked the end of the well-attended 10th edition of Vinoble, with more tastings - some of them unforgettable - and lots of new wines and new sacas making their debut. While the event has experienced its fair share of ups and downs over the years, the organisation has noticeably improved, especially with the new website offering plenty of information and a means to buy tasting tickets online and in advance, thus avoiding the awful queues of previous years. 2018 has generally been considered very successful, but a great deal of work can and still needs to be done to further improve it, and starting now, as it generates not only great interest in and sales of wine but also provides an important boost to the economy of Jerez itself, not only for the bodegas but also for local bars, restaurants and hotels which were almost at capacity.

Given Vinoble’s location, the presence of the great wines of Andalucía can be counted upon, but it is more difficult to attract those in other regions of Spain and abroad which add greater breadth and variety to the event. In 2010 there were representatives from 17 other countries, while this year there were only 5, though many did have some sort of representation by their Spanish distributors. In all there were 62 stands including various dedicated to food and wine matching. 7,300 people attended, with 20% from abroad representing 16 countries. Jerez City Council is already looking at increasing the number of stands; over a dozen applicants had to be turned down.

There were many unmissable tastings, tickets for which ran out in 48 hours, but I managed to obtain tickets for four, all held in the Alcazar's XII century mosque: The Treasures of San Ginés – vintage wines from the Consejo Regulador’s bodega, Liquid Relics from González Byass, A Journey through the Albarizas and Vineyards of Jerez by Willy Pérez and Ramiro Ibáñez and From Miraflores la Baja to Macharnudo Alto by Equipo Navazos. Tastings of such a calibre inevitably attract many more than there is room for, and in the cases of more than one, more time was needed, and this is something the organisers could look into, however with certain very old and rare wines, larger quantities could be a problem.

Alongside the official programme there were all sorts of side events organised by individual bodegas. Fausino González offered an event for restaurateurs and sommeliers, Díez Mérito offered tapas and Sherry for friends, restaurateurs and distributors, Sánchez Romate offered a fiesta including flamenco, Bodegas Tradición held a show-cooking event and González Byass showed off their Botellero, the wine racks at the bodega containing ancient treasures. The Council held an event in its little bodeguita.

The stars of the show were the young, talented and driven “rebels”, operating under the banner of Territorio Albariza and members of the Manifiesto 119, an association dedicated to recuperating old vines, winemaking methods and re-evaluating the pagos: Ramiro Ibáñez, Willy Pérez, Primitivo Collantes, Alejandro Narváez, Rocio Áspera, Armando Guerra and Francisco and José Blanco. Not only was their stand incredibly busy, but also the tasting given by Willy and Ramiro was greeted by rapturous applause. These “rebels” are at the root of the Consejo Regulador looking into including new products into the Denominación de Origen and are pointing the way forward.

After three hectic days I left the Alcázar exhausted but with a genuine sense of optimism. A lot is happening on the ground and even in officialdom, there seems to be a new product every five minutes, something very few wine regions could boast, and the reins of Sherry’s future are now at last firmly in the hands of its producers, who seem ever more open minded and justifiably proud of their unique and magnificent product. Only a few years ago there was only doom and gloom, but now there is imagination, hard work and optimism. The Sherry Revolution is real and unstoppable.

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