A blog and review on all things Sherry. It is about tasting, enjoyment and learning more about the World’s Finest Wine. "Sherry is a thoroughbred" as Javier Hidalgo rightly puts it. Included are the amazing local Brandies and the remarkably good table wines also produced in the province of Cádiz.
Ramón Jiménez Dávila was born in Albuñol, Granada
in 1833 and established his wine business in 1860 at the Bodega Victoria on the
west side of the Camino de Urdax (now Avenida de la Estación)
in El Puerto de Santa María. He also purchased the Viña La Rosa vineyard in the pago
Balbaina which supplied musts for some of his best wines, and recognising its
quality this vineyard was extremely well cared for. It had been a vineyard since at least the mid XVIII century, having passed through the hands of "indianos", people who had returned after making a fortune in South America.
The casa de viña at Viña la Rosa and the interior of the bodega Victoria
He married a girl from
Sevilla, Rosario Mateos Garabito (1846-1921), and they had nine children; five
girls and four boys who would continue the business after Ramón´s
death in 1912 under the style Hijos de R Jiménez Dávila. The firm lasted until the 1960s and now the bodega complex has gone having been replaced by housing.
In those days there were some 25
bodegas in El Puerto (not to mention 18 cooperages and 8 distilleries!) and Jiménez
was soon regarded as one of the best. His bodegas were full of infinite
varieties of Sherry with an unusually large range of Amontillados ranging from
wines which were still almost Fino to very old wines, as well as Manzanilla, Madeira, Málaga,
Tintilla, Pajarete and Port, and business was brisk with a thriving export
trade. As early as 1867 he exported over 260 butts.The firm won medals for the
quality of its wines in every competition it entered.
Some of the many brands were: Amontillados Medalla
de Oro, Rosa Blanca, Rosa Encarnada, Rosa Amarilla, Rosa Aterciopelada, all
from the Viña la Rosa, also Balbaina, Nobleza, Alfonso XIII, Reina Victoria, Imperial
Añada 1754 (this was expensive at 25 pesetas a bottle when one could buy 5
litres of a 14 year old Amontillado for the same price!) Then there were
Moscatel Casa Real, Pedro Ximénez NPU and Ponche Davila to name a few.
Grateful thanks to Bernardo Rodriguez Caparrini for information.
Deep bright gold, almost pure amber with old gold highlights. Nose
Beautiful, full, deep and complex, this is almost Amontillado but not just quite. It is at a wonderful tipping-point stage where it has distinct light and charming Amo notes of hazelnut and almost caramel-like gentle oxidation yet still has some fresh zippy Manzanilla undertones as well as slightly buttery notes of cabezuela, faint traces of straw, flor and salinity. It is in fantastic condition, super fresh, and is an absolute treasure.
Fresh and clean with incredible depth of flavour and complexity. It is lighter than an Amontillado and still has some of that tangy Manzanilla bite with a dry, gently saline bitter edge, but it is fuller, rounder and more concentrated thanks to the beautifully controlled oxidation and an extra 1.5% alcohol which is acquired naturally. The finish is fairly light but packed with lingering flavour. This is an outstanding wine, virtually unique, and shows just why Sherry is the best wine in the world.
This stunning wine comes from the La Guita bodegas in the Calle Misericordia. Here there is a small solera of 15 very special butts which have reached the very limit of survival of the flor and which are filled almost completely to preserve what remains of it against the oxidation which is creeping in, since only occasional sacas and rocíos are done. Technically the wine is bordering on Manzanilla Amontillada meaning it is very close to Amontillado in style but has not been re-fortified and still has many Manzanilla characteristics. Since the old term Manzanilla Amontillada is no longer permitted in the regulations, the wine has to be labelled Manzanilla Pasada, and it is very Pasada, almost at the limit of being allowed to be called Manzanilla. It has an average age of around 14 years and was selected from just one of the 15 butts so availability is scarce with just 900 half litre bottles released. It is not cheap at 1 euro per centilitre, but it is worth every céntimo.
Up till now European legislation (CE
110/2008) has only permitted age statements on labels of Brandy de Jerez to be
expressed as the age of the youngest component of a blend, as with whisky, but
this does not take into account the solera system and the notion of average
age. As it progresses through the scales of a solera the youngest component
forms an ever decreasing proportion of the final product, down to some 2%-5%
The Consejo Regulador is taking
advantage of an opportunity to have the current regulations modified to incorporate the
traditional system of criaderas and soleras, and the proposal for such a
derogation has already been approved by the EU council of ministers, always
providing that the brandy is subject to controls which guarantee its average
age. A “delegated act” would be required to activate this which involves the
Commission consulting with experts from each member state, but things look hopeful.
Definitions of the criaderas and
soleras system and of the method of calculating average age will be contained
in a new Annex IV which will substitute the provisions of Annex II in CE 110 and once approved by the EU
parliament will hopefully be published in the Official Journal of the EU in the
first quarter of 2019. It has been a difficult task to get this far as there
has been opposition to it mainly from the Scotch Whisky Association which is a little unfair as it
implements very different - static - ageing procedures. Whisky and brandy are very
different products from very different places with very different traditions,
however. The solera system is not a blending system but rather a dynamic system
for ageing blends. Currently Brandy de Jerez has three categories: Solera (min.
6 months wood ageing), Solera Reserva (min. 1 year) and Solera Gran Reserva
(min. 3 years), but most, particularly the latter, are much older yet have not
been able to state this on the label.
Last Monday the High Court of Andalucía
declared its ruling on the prohibition of BIB effective since the period
allowed for the submission of any appeals had expired. It turns out however
that this was a mistake as the court had miscalculated the number of working
days and instead of expiring on the 21st January it actually expires today
at 3 o´clock. This still allows time for the defendants to present their appeal
for a judicial review, and if it has merit the court will send the case up to
the Supreme Court. The defendants are the Junta´s agriculture department, the Association
of Artisan Bodegas of Sanlúcar and three of its members: Yuste, Sánchez
Ayala and Argüeso, Hidalgo La Gitana having decided not to take the