Monday, 31 October 2016

Bespoke Sherry & Tapas Bar

When you are next in El Puerto de Santa María, make sure you pay a visit to Bespoke Tapas Bar. It is quite unique and the quality is excellent. Carmen Gutiérrez Pou came up with the idea about a year ago.  She is the daughter of Juan Carlos Gutiérrez Colosía, owner of the classic bodega of that name, only a couple of hundred metres along the street. Almost everything is made from old recycled pallets and Sherry paraphernalia and painted by hand in bold colours giving an incredibly bright friendly atmosphere, and the staff are every bit as friendly.



Naturally they promote Gutiérrez Colosía Sherry, which is served in proper, larger, glasses, but they offer many other wines, mostly local ones as well as other local products including locally produced beer. The food is delicious and beautifully presented while a range of Sherry cocktails is available as well as delightful Arabic cakes. The establishment is run by Jerezano Claudio de Diego and I highly recommend it.



Address: Avenida Bajamar, 36, El Puerto de Santa María
Telephone: (+34) 956 106 412

Website: www.bespokepuerto.com

Sunday, 30 October 2016

30.10.16 Workers Ratify Deal with Fedejerez

At a meeting in Jerez yesterday the deal was ratified almost unanimously and the strike called off. All that remains to do is for the agreement to be signed and sealed, which will happen on Wednesday. In effect, the workers have won back the rights they had before along with a slight increase in salary which includes payment according to the firm’s profits. The agreement will last for five years.

Workers ratify the deal (foto:andaluciainformacion)

Saturday, 29 October 2016

29.10.16 Agreement Reached over Strike

Union representatives and Fedejerez have thrashed out an agreement on the XXV Convenio de la Vid after a marathon meeting at the offices of the mediation service which finished at 05:00 this morning. The agreement needs to be ratified by both sides and could be signed on Wednesday, bringing an end to a ten day strike which has paralysed production at many bodegas.

(foto:diariodejerez)

Friday, 28 October 2016

28.10.16 Barbadillo Accedes to Convenio

Bodegas Barbadillo has agreed to the workers’ demands and they have today returned to work. This means that Sanlúcar is now strike free. Members of staff have agreed to work extra shifts to get things back to normal after a week of strike action. The strike still continues in Jerez, however, as no agreement has been reached despite two meetings between the two parties in 24 hours. The unions accuse Fedejerez of intransigence and of breaking its promise to reinstate workers’ rights as promised five years ago. They vow to remain on “defensive” strike till Fedejerez agrees to their demands.


Thursday, 27 October 2016

Manzanilla en rama La "E" 15%, Bodegas Argüeso

Appearance
Bright glinting golden straw, light legs.
Nose
Fresh, fairly saline with plenty of yeasty bready flor with a hint of that attractive bitterness. There is a strong almond note and the slightest background trace of autolysis giving a surprising amount of complexity to a wine which is no more than five years old.
Palate
Fresh pure Manzanilla, fairly soft with good depth and real Sanlucar character, a hint of texture and good length. As the wine warms up more flavour comes through, so what more could one want for the money?
Comments
This is one of the wines offered en rama direct from the butt at Argüeso, but which are not bottled, so you have to buy it "a granel" or on draught. The standard container is a 2 litre plastic bottle, yet I was pleased by the freshness and quality for the price nonetheless. Argüeso also sell this wine in various sizes of BIB, but now only to the bar and restaurant trade. It is the younger of the two granel Manzanillas they offer, the other being Viruta. Many bodegas have despachos de vino, a bar or shop where one can buy in bulk or by the bottle and they are well worth investigating.
Price
About 4 euros per litre




Wednesday, 26 October 2016

26.10.16 Awards for Rutas del Vino y del Brandy de Jerez; Protest March

The Wine and Brandy Trail of Jerez has won three awards in the III Rutas del Vino Awards promoted by the Spanish Association of Wine Cities (Acevin). The trail itself won one of the awards: Best Promotion Campaign for the website, while Best Gastronomy went to the restaurant La Carboná for its quality, local gastronomy, local produce and atmosphere. González Byass received a special mention in the awards for Best Wine Tourism Experience for the Tio Pepe Festival and Sherry Master. http://www.rutadeljerezybrandy.es/es/la_ruta

Cesar Saldana (Consejo), Mamen Sanchez (Mayor) and representative of Acevin (foto:andaluciainformacion)

The Ruta del Vino y del Brandy de Jerez was initiated in 2006 and involves 100 companies related to Sherry and Brandy; from bodegas, restaurants, hotels, wine shops and leisure firms. Over 450,000 people visited last year, making the trail a fantastic boost to the local economy which helps de-seasonalise tourism in the area.

Protest march in Jerez (foto:diariodejerez)

Hundreds of workers launched a protest march yesterday between the big bodegas of Jerez to raise awareness of their “struggle for decent working conditions”. They were accompanied by family, union representatives and left-leaning politicians as well as a police escort. Aware that with a lack of agreement with Fedejerez the strike could be a long one, they wanted to put up a show of strength. Cries could be heard of “Convenio si, miseria no”, “Que viva la lucha de la clase obrera” (long live the working class struggle) and “Si esto no se arregla, Guerra, Guerra, Guerra” (if this isn’t sorted, war, war, war). Both sides have nevertheless agreed to meet at the arbitration service tomorrow at 9.30.

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

25.10.16 González Byass Best Spanish Bodega in the World; Strike Latest

González Byass has been selected as the best Spanish bodega and 5th best in the world by the World Association of Wine Writers and Journalists (WAWWJ) in their world rankings of wines and spirits. This is the 4th time the firm has been the best Spanish bodega, and on top of that, their Noé PX VORS was selected as the 3rd best wine in the world, and best in Spain. Established in 1996, the WAWWJ rankings are based on a system where points are awarded for all the awards a bodega or wine has achieved at national and international competitions throughout the year (February to January). González Byass received no fewer than 167 awards in that period.



After a week of strike action the unions and Fedejerez are to meet again on Thursday at the offices of the resolution of industrial conflict service. Fedejerez has called on the unions to halt the strike to allow negotiations  to take place in a better atmosphere, but the unions say that they are not asking for anything new, simply that the rights they had before in the last Convenio de la Vid are respected. Pickets will be at Williams & Humbert, Fundador and González Byass today and the unions say the strike has massive support, however according to Fedejerez more than half the staff are working normally. There have been no further incidents.

Monday, 24 October 2016

Bodegas: Jorge Thuillier

Englishman George Thuillier Burrow left his home of Exeter (Devon) leaving behind his family and starting another in El Puerto de Santa María with his lover, Ann Bradshaw whom he married in Spain and with whom he had six children. He worked in banking and exchange briefly, but was soon drawn to the wine business.



It is not known whether he bought a bodega established in 1840 or established it himself in that year, but 1840 was always given as the year of foundation of the bodega situated in the Campo de Guia area. He chose to make high quality wines and won medals for them in Madrid (1857) and in Paris (1878) while exporting principally to England and the English speaking world.

These two hunks are the legendary bullfighters Joselito "El Gallo" and Juan Belmonte


On George’s death, probably in the 1880s, he was buried in the English cemetery which existed then on the road to Jerez.  His son Edward, then 29 years old, took over the bodegas changing their name to his own. There were also wines sold briefly under the name of Edward’s brother Augusto Thuillier. Edward lived with his family in a beautiful XVII century house in C/Palacios, 59. He was an educated and cultivated man with interests in the arts and learning.

Note St. George, patron saint of England

When he died in 1903 he left a house and bodega in C/Zarza, an estate, vineyards in the pago Rincones, more land in the pago de la Laja - and box number six at the Teatro Principal! Edward’s son, Jorge Thuillier Solares, took over the business and all went well till the Spanish Civil War, when he invested huge amounts in Republican War Bonds. Franco’s victory in 1939 rendered them worthless and he was forced to liquidate the business, but he did retain the brand names and the house which are still in family hands. Among their brands were: Amontillado Fino Los 2 Gallos and Quina Verdad.

Sunday, 23 October 2016

23.10.16 Only Barbadillo Supports Fedejerez in Sanlúcar

Barbadillo is now the only bodega in Sanlúcar with strikers at its gates after Delgado Zuleta acquiesced to the workers’ demands along with the two local cooperatives.  Members of the Asociación de Bodegas Artesanas de Sanlúcar are not affiliated to Fedejerez and were thus never involved with the strike. The union representatives say they can’t understand how these many small “more humble” bodegas – and not only in Sanlúcar - can agree to the workers’ demands yet the bigger bodegas, “the most economically powerful”, cannot. A month of strikes was called, and that could do immense damage to the industry, so it is to be hoped that an agreement can be reached as soon as possible.

Strikers at Barbadillo (foto:andaluciainformacion)

Saturday, 22 October 2016

22.10.16 Latest on Strike

Fedejerez has declined to negotiate further in the row over the Convenio de la Vid “while violence continues at the gates of the production centres.” The meeting scheduled for midday yesterday has been postponed indefinitely, and the bodegas’ representative body described it as “intolerable” that the rights of those who wished to work – in their estimation some 90% - were not being respected. They cited slashed and punctured tyres and damage to the bodywork of the cars of workers, mostly from administration departments. They also condemned the number of pickets “who don’t even work in the Sherry trade” and who are professional troublemakers.


Evaristo Babe (foto:dtlux.com)

Fedejerez president, Evaristo Babé said that negotiations cannot be conducted like this in the XXI century and that it is unjustifiable that such narrow points of difference are enough to provoke a strike. He pointed out the damage the strike is doing to Sherry which is only now showing signs of recovery after a long crisis with customer orders delayed, Sherry’s image tarnished and potential investment risked. According to what the Diario de Jerez has been able to learn, each striking worker has lost between 300-400 euros of pay, but the losses to the companies are much greater. Workers in Jerez are actually better paid than those in some wine regions, though the strike is not about salary so much as bonuses.

Friday, 21 October 2016

21.10.16 More on Strike; Coops Look to Merge with Dcoop

As the strike enters its third day tensions are rising; the unions and Fedejerez are meeting again with renewed determination to reach agreement before the strike gets out of hand. Those who work in bodega offices and shops are not striking as they belong to different unions, and police are escorting them into work as well as protecting vehicles entering and leaving the bodegas.

According to the unions, many small bodegas are expressing support for the workers’ demands, even though they are less able than the big bodegas to pay more. Despite the occasional incident, Evaristo Babé, president of Fedejerez, is hopeful that the two parties can agree today and put an end to a strike which harms everyone. He considers that the distance between the parties was not sufficient to call a strike and that not all the workers were in favour of it, and further, he says that Fedejerez is completely united.

Police escort tanker from a bodega (foto:diariodejerez)

The seven Cooperatives of the Marco de Jerez are looking at ways to integrate with the super cooperative Dcoop or to create a group of economic interest. Between them the 3,000 coop members own half the Sherry vineyards and have an annual turnover of 12 million euros. Discussions have been delayed by the harvest and the strike, but are continuing as the members feel that joining such a large entity would increase their competitiveness. Dcoop encompasses cooperatives in Castilla-la-Mancha and Pais Vasco as well as Andalucia and the Sherry coops hope that joining it will also help mitigate price speculation and curb excess production.

Thursday, 20 October 2016

20.10.16 Strike Begins to Bite

Pickets were at the entrances of the big member bodegas of Fedejerez yesterday in the biggest show of strength since the beginning of the 1990s when the industry was restructured, but then there were some 10,000 workers compared to barely 900 today. They have chosen the timing carefully to put the maximum pressure on the bodegas at this important time of year with much Sherry being bottled and dispatched for the peak Christmas period.

Police keeping order outside bodega (foto:diariodejerez)

The unions say the strike is supported 100% but Fedejerez says fewer than half the workforce have come out. The larger bodegas say that although some workers, especially the older ones, reported for work, production was paralysed, but in the smaller ones most people turned up for work. The police attended a couple of minor incidents where workers tried to impede access to bodega directors, and nails were scattered at two bodega entrances causing punctures to vehicles.


It is hard to say how long the bodegas can cope with this situation, which if prolonged, could cause serious damage to them, but both sides are aware that an early resolution is in everyone’s interests. Both sides say they are still prepared to negotiate.

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

19.10.16 Sherry Strike Begins; Award for Antonio Flores

The first total stoppage in five years begins at midnight tonight at member bodegas of Fedejerez if further negotiations today fail to achieve agreement. Workers say that while the bodegas have been making increasing profits, they have seen no benefits from Sherry’s recovery. Sanlúcar is less affected as only Barbadillo and Delgado Zuleta belong to Fedejerez, while the Asociación de Bodegas Artesanas has accepted the unions’ demands. Their workers are not striking but these bodegas represent only 4% of production. The other employees, some 900, are conducting 24 hour stoppages for the next month while the unions try to get the bodegas to agree to a deal similar to the one struck with the artisan bodegas in Sanlúcar.

(foto:diariodejerez)

Fedejerez is the only representative of the big bodegas, and despite lengthy negotiations on Monday night with the unions and the labour dispute resolution service (Sercla), agreement could not be reached. For their part, Fedejerez feels frustrated and says the strike not only harms the image of Sherry, but is also unnecessary and inopportune. They say the bodegas are absolutely disposed to flexibility on the two main issues: length of service payments and lists of casual workers, but the unions are not moving their position. Fedejerez president, Evaristo Babé, was disappointed to learn of the strike from the press rather than the unions and feels that this sours relations.




Antonio Flores, oenologist at González Byass, has been named best Spanish winemaker of the year at the first edition of the International Wine Challenge Merchant Awards Spain 2016. His passion, dedication and professionalism saw him win the best fortified wine award for the Amontillado Cuatro Palmas. The Tienda Tio Pepe also won an award for the best bodega wine shop in Spain.

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Lacum Listán Dulce 2014 18%, Gabriel Raya

Appearance
Paleish amber with orangey-golden highlights, legs.
Nose
Full with obvious sweetness and a slight oxidative note from the wood ageing, almost like toffee apples. You can small the pulp of the super ripe grapes and even a trace of pasification as if they had been dried in the sun for at least a short time, but as far as I know they were ripened on the vine. There are also faint herbal and honey traces giving a complex and interesting nose.
Palate
Rich and textured, sweet Palomino. It is amazing how much flavour Gabriel has got from his grapes and it offers a whole new dimension to the Palomino, so far rarely explored. There is enough acidity to balance the sweetness and it provides terrific length and versatility with food.
Comments
Most table wines from Cádiz are lower strength and dry, so this one is unusual. The winemaking technique is "dulce natural" where the must is fortified to stop it fermenting so the sweetness comes from the natural sugar in super ripe grapes. Listán is a synonym for Palomino, and the grapes come from albariza soil in Sanlúcar's Pago Miraflores. His friend Francisco Yuste lent Gabriel bodega space to make the wine and age it in American oak butts for some 8 months before bottling with minimal filtration. This is pure, sweet Palomino and it is delicious especially as an aperitif, with pâté
or after dinner, suitably chilled. Only 800 bottles were produced and made in honour of his granddaughter Montse. Oh, and it comes in a cardboard box. Please don't be put off by fashion: sweet wine is good!
Price
About 15 euros per 50 cl bottle from La Casa del Jerez in Jerez


Monday, 17 October 2016

17.10.16 Fedejerez Fails to Prevent Strike; Sherry Sales Grow

Despite marathon negotiations, Fedejerez has been unable to prevent the strike called for the 19th of the month. The fourteenth meeting on various issues connected with the Convenio de la Vid.lasted more than ten hours but achieved virtually nothing.

Protertors outside Fundador (foto:diariode jerez)

Encouraging figures are showing a rise in the value of sales to Britain as well as a drop in the BOB’s (buyer’s own brands) which have done so much harm to Sherry’s reputation. The Sherry Revolution is being talked about in specialist magazines as well as the wider press and is being driven by quality and not quantity. While sales volumes are still falling, the value of sales is more than compensating.


Sales on the home market are rising with a 4.2% rise over the last year, and sales to Britain have risen 4% over the last eight months. There is still a way to go in attracting younger consumers with more buying power to replace older consumers who tend to buy the Medium, Pale Cream and Cream styles who are slowly dying out. Now Sherry is being associated with tapas and as an accompaniment to food in Sherry bars and gastrobars, rather than as a dessert or aperitif wine. Whether by the bottle or by the glass, Sherry is earning itself a place in Michelin starred restaurants as well as establishments which are less exalted but which care for their cellars and respond to consumer demand. 

Saturday, 15 October 2016

The Table Wines of Cádiz

As if Sherry weren’t interesting enough, it is by no means the only great wine produced in the province of Cádiz. There is a plethora of very interesting wines; some are related to Sherry by grape variety or crianza biológica and others are completely different, but all are good. There is no Denominación de Origen Protegida (DOP) for the wines, so they mostly have the geographical indication Vino de la Tierra de Cádiz which was recognised by the Junta de Andalucía in 2005 but only came into force in 2011. Many are not available in large quantities unfortunately, and most are not available outside Cádiz, but it would be seriously well worth the journey to check them out. Quite a few have scored well with the critics like Peñín and Robert Parker. Below is a list in no particular order of the producers, many of which also make Sherry, and I apologise if I have missed any out...

Babadillo
Own 120 hectares of albariza vineyard in Santa Lucía and Gibalbín where they produce various table wines and are working on organic production: Beta Brut is bottle fermented sparkling wine made from Palomino and Chardonnay ; Castillo de San Diego is Spain’s best-selling white, made from 100% Palomino with no oak and its semi-sweet partner Maestrante with 25g/l sugars. Another white, Blanco de Blancos is made from Sauvignon, Verdejo and Moscatel. They also produce Fly 6.5, a partially fermented (therefore only 6.5ᴼ) still Moscatel and Vi, a semi sparkling Moscatel at 6ᴼ. The latest white is Mirabrás, a more serious wine made from lightly sunned Palomino fermented and aged in butts and tanks under flor for about 21 months.


Then there are the reds: Gibalbín, a young red produced from Tempranillo, Syrah, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Tintilla, and Gibalbín Crianza, a Tempranillo, Merlot, Petit Verdot blend aged 8 months in used French & American oak. Cobijado is the result of a colaboration between Barbadillo oenologist, Montse Molina, and wine expert Jaime Carvajal. It is made from the same grapes as Gibalbin plus Petit Verdot and aged 1 year in French and American oak. Recently launched is the delicious Nude, “insultingly young red” made from Tintilla grapes fermented carbonically and sold in a bottle with only a neck label. Also new is Quadis made from Tempranillo, Petit Verdot, Syrah and Tintilla and 11 months in oak.

Mostolé
This association of 7 organic grape growers in Trebujena collectively owns some 20 hectares, mostly Palomino but also some rare local varieties, releases small amounts of wine under the names of their producers. Best known are Pepe Cabral (see below) with his Entusiastico and Pepe Fernández Aguilar with his RiacheroMostolé also supply grapes to Williams & Humbert for their forthcoming organic vintage Sherries.

Pepe Cabral 
Pepe is a vine grower and great promotor of organic wines in the Sanlúcar area and is known for collaborating with Delgado Zuleta to produce Entusiastica, the only organic Manzanilla. He is also making wines from virtually lost grape varieties such as Castellano and Mantuo de Pilas, He is working with various bodegas as well as the viticultural research station, Rancho de la Merced, the Consejo Regulador and the University of Cádiz. His releases so far are usually so small that they are consumed locally.

Equipo Navazos
For at least a decade Jesús Barquín and Eduardo Ojeda have been setting the world on fire with stunning small batch releases of rare and interesting Sherry, but have also been experimenting with Montilla, Cava, spirits and table wine. They worked with Dirk Niepoort, a Port producer with an equally enquiring mind, on Navazos-Niepoort, a barrel-fermented unfortified Palomino wine aged about a year under flor which has been released annually since 2008. They have another version, the outstanding La Bota de Florpower which is effectively unfortified Manzanilla aged in tanks and butts under flor for 32 months, and capable of further bottle ageing.



Bodegas Ibargüen
On the road between El Bosque and Arcos is the Finca Las Posadas where they farm 5 hectares of Syrah, Tempranillo and Cabernet Sauvignon, They make three reds: a Ibargüen Syrah Seleccion, a Ibargüen Roble and a Ibargüen Joven, ageing all but the latter in French and American oak.

González Byass
While they are present in various other DO areas, GB own Finca Moncloa, a 45 hectare vineyard with albariza soils near Arcos, where (along with Tintilla de Rota) they produce 2 excellent reds: Finca Moncloa from Cabernet, Petit Verdot, Tintilla and Merlot and the Finca Moncloa Colección Barricas from Syrah, Cabernet and Tintilla aged in French and American oak.

Gabriel Raya
Gabriel makes a really interesting Lacum Listán Dulce, a dulce natural (fermentation stopped by adding a little alcohol) made from Palomino at Sanlúcar and aged for 8 months in seasoned butts. Only 800 bottles are produced annually.



Bodega Peter Maurer & Sons
This is a small 2 hectare organic vineyard near Lebrija planted with Petit Verdot, Pinot Noir, Merlot and Syrah. De Raiz is aged 1 year + in new French oak and there is a fine Pinot Noir.

Etú Vinos
A small organic family vineyard near Vejer run by Ute Mergner, growing Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, Tintilla, Syrah and Cabernet. Imaginatively the white is called El Blanco, the rosé is called El Rosado and the reds Son and Sonrisa, both aged in French oak.

Sancha Pérez
This is an organic family estate producing olives and wine between Conil and Vejer. They grow Petit Verdot, Tintilla, Tempranillo, Cabernet, Merlot, Syrah, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc and Albariño. There is a young Petit Vedot and Tempranillo red and the other 2 reds are aged in French oak while there is also a Sauvignon Blanc. All the wines go under the name Sancha Pérez.

Compañía de Vinos del Atlántico
Established in 2002, this is a go-ahead firm making wine all over Spain. The winemaker in Cádiz is Alberto Orté. His Vara y Pulgar is made from Tintilla grapes grown organically in albariza near Cádiz and aged in a mix of concrete tank and French oak barriques, while Atlántida is similar but from grapes grown in the Pago Bilbaina in Jerez and aged in French oak for a total of 28 months.



Bodegas Vinifícate
Established in 2011, winemaker brothers Miguel and José Gómez Lucas make Mahara organic tintilla from Balbaina, aged in tinaja and barrel. All production processes are entirely natural and decisions are taken according to what each wine requires.

Taberner (Huerta de Albalá)
Vicente Taberner bought El Caballo vineyard in Balbaina from Osborne, which now forms part of his 170 ha of Palomino, Chardonnay, Syrah, Tintilla, Melot and Cabernet Sauvignon. His wines are Barbazul red, white and rosé, Barbazul Seleccion, Taberner Syrah, Taberner No. 1 Syrah. Vicente once worked with Jan Pettersen of Fernando de Castilla when they both worked at Osborne.

Grupo Estévez
Although winemaker Eduardo Ojeda has been making table wine for Equipo Navazos for some time, Estévez themselves have only recently launched a table wine. Called Ojo de Gallo, it is made from Palomino grapes grown in the pago Macharnudo Alto where they own 256 hectares. This excellent wine spends 6 months ageing on fine lees before bottling and really shows the vineyard flavour.



González Palacios
Established in Lebrija in 1960, this firm makes excellent table wines like the crianza biológica Sólo Palomino with 2 years under flor, Viento en la Cara (Sauvignon/Palomino) and Overo Tinto (50/50 Tempranillo and Syrah). The bodega is actually in the province of Sevilla, not Cádiz, but worth including here as they make such good Palomino, and also wines in the Manzanilla style.

Luis Pérez
One of the best winemakers in the area, Luis Pérez and his winemaker son Willy Pérez produce Garum, from Merlot, Syrah and Petit Verdot aged for a year in oak, Garum Submarino, from Tintilla with 2 years in French oak then bottled, each bottle going inside an amphora and aged for a further year under the sea. Tintilla aged 16 months in French oak, Petit Verdot aged 1 year in new French oak. They also make Samaruco, which is a blend of Syrah, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Tempranillo and Cabernet Sauvignon. The latest additions to the range are the Tintilla El Triangulo, the Palomino El Muelle de Olaso and the Tintilla rosé Marismilla. Willy has his own projects too: he is making unfortified vintage Sherry, Fino and Oloroso Barajuela in their El Corregidor vineyard in the Pago Carrascal.



Ramiro Ibáñez Cota 45
Ramiro is a brilliant winemaker and seems to be making wine everywhere. He acts as a consultant for various bodegas as well as making his own highly individual wines. Ube is made from old varieties of Palomino and aged without flor to show the vine and soil characteristics, Pandorga is a dulce natural made from sunned PX grapes grown in Carrascal and is allowed to ferment naturally in butts without fortification, then aged for a year in those butts. Pitijopos is a range of 6 Palomino wines all made the same way but from different vineyards to show their differences. Ramiro also makes a young vintage Palo Cortado, Encrucijado, which though unfortified is more of a Sherry.


Viña Callejuela
Callejuela is a bodega surrounded by its vineyards just outside Sanlúcar and run by the Blanco brothers. Apart from excellent Sherry and Manzanilla they produce a classic  Blanco de Hornillos made from Palomino from their vineyards in Hornillos, Anina and Macharnudo without crianza, but delicious anyway as it really demonstrates the flavour of the terruño and has a tantalising trace of flor. They recently launched individual wines from each of these vineyards; La Choza, las Mercedes and Hacienda de Dona Francisca, and they are excellent. Their oenologist is Ramiro Ibáñez.

Hacienda la Parrilla Alta
Located in San José del Valle this charming estate is owned by brothers Ricardo and Miguel Rebuelta. Their top wine is Arroyo Alquitón a Tintilla with 12 months in French oak, while the Hacienda La Parrilla Alta range consists of a Petit Verdot with 10% Syrah aged for 4 months in French and American oak, and a dry white from 50/50 Palomino/PX. There is also a sweet red made from Syrah at 12 ᴼ and with 3 months in oak.  Their oenologist is Ramiro Ibáñez.

Cortijo de Jara
This is a beautiful old cortijo between Jerez and Gibalbín which produces various crops including olive oil and chick peas as well as wine. They grow Tempranillo, Merlot and Syrah, and for the whites Sauvignon Blanc and Gewürztraminer. The wines are CJ Joven, a fresh young Tempranillo, CJ Roble made from Tempranillo, Merlot and Syrah with 6 months crianza, CJ Doce Meses, Tempranillo, Merlot and Syrah with 12 months in oak and CJ Blanco, a fragrant Sauvignon Blanc and Gewürztraminer blend.

Finca las Mesetas
Owned by the Camacho family, this finca is near Setenil de las Bodegas, a town famous for houses built into the overhanging rock. Much wine was produced here till Phylloxera, hence the name. The finca’s vineyards extend to only 1.3 hectares of Syrah, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon from which their oenologist, Santi Jordi, makes their wine Xaldenil, a fine red with 4 months in French oak and which will improve over the next few years.



Regantío Viejo  
Between Villamartín and Arcos the Compañía General de Vinos de Cádiz owns the charming finca Regantío Viejo, probably the oldest producers of red wine in the region. It is an organic estate of 100ha of which 30 are planted with vines: Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot and Syrah. Miguel Gómez is the consultant winemaker. The Regantío Viejo range has a young red made from Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Garnacha and Merlot, and a white made from Zalema. Acanto is a Syrah, Merlot, Tempranillo blend age 5 months in oak, while Expresión is a fruity Syrah, Tempranillo, Merlot blend. The estate has country houses to let for wine tourism and a restaurant and makes olive oil.

Santiago Jordi
This young oenologist is mostly involved in winemaking projects in the north of Spain, but makes an excellent Margarito y Amapolo in albariza soils near Jerez. It is a small batch 50/50 Petit Verdot and Tintilla aged for 6 months in French oak and is superb.

Páez Morilla
Based in Jerez this firm is the leading Sherry Vinegar producer but is also involved with wine production. Apart from owning Dios Baco, they make table wines like Risa which is a semi sweet vino de aguja (semi-sparkling wine) made from Moscatel, Tierra Blanca dry Palomino and a sweeter version with Palomino, Moscatel and Riesling. There is a new Late harvest Cabernet Sauvignon which is quite sweet and called Arrullo de Estrellas, and also new is the Dios Baco Buleria Sauvignon Blanc. 

Hermanos Holgado
Based in Villamartín, the Holgado brothers were very successful with their Queso Pajarete cheese and are now producing organic wine in a vineyard in the Parque de los Alcornocales south of Jerez.  The wines are Merlot, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Sauvignon, all with 6 months crianza, Tinto Joven (Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Syrah) and Tinto Roble, which is Tinto Joven with a few weeks in barrel.



Cuatro Ojos Wines
Three girls and a boy newly qualified in viticulture at Instituto Santo Domingo in El Puerto have made a lovely dry Moscatel Contratiempo from grapes sourced in Chipiona. 2015 was their first vintage

Delgado Zuleta
This very old firm in Sanlúcar produces a good table wine called Viña Galvana. It is made from Palomino with a little Moscatel and fermented in tank. There is no flor or ageing involved and it is sold young and refreshing with plenty of albariza flavour.

Alba Viticultores
Fernando Angulo and his winemaker wife, Carmen Caballero, Alejandro Muchada and Miguel Gómez (of Vinifícate), known as “the four musketeers”, work in Sanlúcar and are passionate about the land, the vineyard and the Palomino.  They visited Jura, and Champagne, which has similar soils, and talked with similarly minded producers there, and were inspired to make organic sparkling wine in the Pago Miraflores in Sanlúcar, Alba Ancestral, made from Listán, an old clone of Palomino, and Alba Confitero has 8-9 months bottle fermentation, and there is a still version. Alba Mosto is a white Palomino table wine, and Alba Sobretablas is too. There is also a sparkling Rosado made from Palomino and Tintilla. These guys make great – totally natural and really interesting - wine, but in painfully small quantities.

Bodega Forlong
Oenologists Alejandro Narváez and Rocío Áspera own the small Finca El Olivar de Forlón near El Puerto de   María which once belonged to Sherry shippers Matthiesen Furlong in the XVIII-XIX centuries. Here they grow organic Palomino, Pedro Ximénez and Tintilla, while in another vineyard near Jerez they grow more Tintilla, Cabernet sauvignon and Merlot. Their bodega is unusual being underground. The wines are: Forlong Blanco (85% Palomino, 15% PX), Forlong Rosado (100% Cabernet), Forlong Assemblage (Syrah, Merlot and Tintilla fermented in tinaja and aged 1 year in oak), Petit Forlong (a younger version of Assemblage) and Forlong Tintilla (100% Tintilla).



Bodegas Miguel Domecq
Miguel Domecq, a member of the famous Sherry family established a bodega in 2003 at his 32 hectare Cortijo de Torrecera. He grows Chardonnay, Merlot, Syrah, Tempranillo and Cabernet Sauvignon in albariza soils. The consultant winemaker is Joaquín Gómez. There are 2 ranges of wines: Entrechuelos Chardonnay, Entrechuelos Rosé, Entrechuelos Premium (all the red grapes and 36 months crianza), Entrechuelos Roble (similar but with 1 year crianza, Entrechuelos Tercer Año (similar but 2 years crianza). Then there is the Alhocen Chardonnay (fermented and lees aged in French oak), Alhocen Selección Personal (all the red grapes plus 14 months French oak and 30 in bottle) and Alhocen Syrah-Merlot (60% Merlot, 40% Syrah, 14 months new French oak and 22 months in bottle). Recently introduced is a sparkling wine called Talayon, made from Chardonnay by the traditional bottle fermentation process.



Williams & Humbert
Like some others, this great Sherry bodega makes wines in other regions of Spain, but makes 2 table wines in Cádiz: Estero Blanco (100% Palomino from Balbaina cold fermented and bottled immediately after stabilisation) and Medina Selección (very similar to Estero).

Bodega Vina Santa Maria de Los Reyes
The 2.2 hectare vineyard is at the Finca Canchal Alto near Algodonales and was planted in 2003 by Roberto Salas Pinto. He produces two red wines: Petita made from 100% Petit Verdot aged 14 months, Galestro from Syrah, Garnacha and Cabernet Sauvignon oak aged in oak for 10 months and Vino 3, a blend of all the grape varieties.

Compañía de Vinos Entre Dos Aguas
Francisco Coro and Miguel Flores use traditional artisan methods in the best soils and offer four wines, Los Cuatro Pagos, which only differ in one respect: the soil. They also make a sparkling Gewurztraminer Aminea and a late harvest Tempranillo.

Lagar de Ambrosio
Established in 1982 by their father Antonio, José Antonio Bocanegra and his sister Ana run this tiny bodega in Olvera, in the Sierra de Cádiz, close to the border with Málaga. Their very interesting wine, Lagar de Ambrosio is made from organic late ripening Perruno grapes which are very rare these days as many found them difficult to work with. The harvest is in late September.

Viñedos de Taramilla
Based at Prado del Rey in vineyards once famous for Paxarete, they make Taramilla Cosecha from Tempranillo, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon and Taramilla Roble from the same grapes but aged for a few months in American and French oak barrels.

Bodegas Primitivo Collantes
Established in the XIX century in Chiclana and still a family business, Collantes make some very good wine. Their 55 hectares of vineyard are within the Sherry production zone but they also make the delicious single vineyard Viña Matalian (Palomino with no crianza – there is a sweeter version too) and Socaire, made with Ramiro Ibáñez  from Palomino grapes grown on albariza and fermented and aged in butts for 2 years.

Compañía General de Vinos de Cádiz
Based at Finca las Covatillas near Zahara de la Sierra this firm produces an excellent red from Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot and Syrah called Fine Tempo. Unusually, the oak ageing of the wine takes place in prehistoric caves. They also make a young red from Syrah and Petit Verdot called Ego Te Absolvo.

EMC3
This small outfit benefited from the work of the oenologist Ramiro Ibáñez to produce a white wine called Parpatana, made from 80% Palomino and 20% Moscatel. It is released without ageing and its producers' idea was that it would be the perfect match for tuna and various local fish.


Bodegas José Tejero Moreno
Established in 1937 this firm owns 29 hectares of albariza and makes Sherry style wines but is better known for their sparkling ones. The Vino de Aguja (petillant), the Espumoso and the still Vino Blanco are made from Palomino, while the red Vino Tinto is made from Tempranillo, Syrah and Tintilla.

Viña Granujales
Is a small producer of fine Moscatel in the Sierra de Cádiz near Prado del Rey. Granujales is a family finca run by Antonio Abad which till 2002 was an estate with pigs, cork oaks and olives, though vines grew there two centuries ago. He planted a hectare of Moscatel de Alejandria between 2003 and 2004 and produced wine for the family. In 2015 he decided to sell it, and it has been well accepted. Future plans include using cork from his own trees to seal the bottles, building a small bodega and planting the red grape Mollar Cano, a variety which has all but disappeared. The wine is dry and fruity and is currently bottled for them by neighbour Bodegas Rivero.

Bodegas Manuel Aragon
This famous bodega in Chiclana make an organic Tinto Roble from Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot fermented separately, blended together and aged for 4 months in French and American oak. They also make a Tinto Dulce Natural (naturally sweet red) from late harvested Tempranillo and Syrah at 15%. They also grow Sauvignon Blanc and make a vermouth.

Bodegas Rivero
Founded in 1864, this family bodega at Prado del Rey is the last producer of Pajarete and also makes fine quality table wines, the dry Fabio Montano and sweet Viña Tardía from Moscatel and the reds Fabio Montano and Rivero from Tempranillo, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.

In a separate post (Vinos de la Tierra de Cádiz) the rules and regulations for the wines can be found.





Thursday, 13 October 2016

Vinos de la Tierra de Cádiz

For millennia the province of Cádiz has produced wine of high quality, but only Sherry has ever received a Denominación de Origen Protegida (DOP), the first in Spain. On the 29th April 2005 the Junta de Andalucía officially conceded the Indicación Geográfica Protegida (IGP) “Vinos de la Tierra de Cádiz” though it took till 2011 to be implemented because of all the EU bureaucracy. IGP is the European quality category just below DOP and it is hoped that Cádiz can soon be elevated to the top rung. The production zone includes the Sherry vineyards as well as Arcos, Setenil, Prado del Rey, Puerto Real, Rota, Trebujena, Olvera, Villamartín, Bornos and San José del Valle. Wines produced can be red, white and rosé, yet oddly sparkling wines are not covered. All wines must be bottled in the area. Cádiz is one of 16 IGPs in Andalucía with 18 affiliated bodegas.

Of the 22 authorised grape varieties, the whites include Palomino, Pedro Ximénez, Moscatel, Chardonnay, Macabeo, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Verdejo and thankfully some of those local varieties in danger of disappearing: Mantua, Garrido Fino and Perruno. The reds are Tempranillo, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Garnacha Tinta, Monastrell, Merlot, Tintilla de Rota, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc, Mollar Cano and Graciano.




In its little more than ten years of existence the VT Cádiz has produced some seriously good wines, and according to the Association of the IGP Tierra de Cádiz - which will become a Consejo Regulador if the VT is promoted to DOP - is now turning over more than 60,000 hectolitres and 15 million euros annually. It currently works to rules laid down by the Junta de Andalucía.


The Association, whose president, Veronica Perez, qhality control director at Barbadillo, is keen to preserve and revive grape varieties which were nearly lost because of Phylloxera. They would also like to add Algodonales to the production zone and Gewürztraminer and Pinot Noir to the permitted varieties, but that means an application to Europe. Meanwhile they are working on an official website. If Sherry is included, the province of Cádiz is the largest producer of wine in the eight provinces of Andalucía with over 38% of production, and the largest exporter.

For details of the wines and producers see the post The Table Wines of Cádiz



Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Mirabrás 2014 14.5%, Barbadillo

Appearance
Bright, fairly pale golden straw with golden highlights and very light legs.
Nose
Fresh and slightly mineral with an attractive gently tangy, finely textured Palomino fruit, hints of toasted corn, fresh apricot and ripe plum balance with a faintly saline flor bitterness which is perceptible but not as noticeable as in a Manzanilla.
Palate
Complex with beautiful poise having almost the weight of a Manzanilla yet a fresh fruity zing to counterbalance that trace of flor bitterness. There is a gentle texture, a feel to it which reminds one of albariza. It is tantalisingly close to Sherry but it isn't, and that's what makes it so interesting to drink.
Comments
This wine is excellent and a great idea being wine as it used to be. It is a table wine and therefore unfortified yet only a half degree lower in strength than a Manzanilla. It was fermented in old toneles which had previously aged Manzanilla, and flor was allowed to grow during its year and a half or so of ageing in tank. The result is a wine which is an exact half way house between Manzanilla and table wine; there are alcohol and flor elements yet it is fruity and has more acidity than a Manzanilla but with the latter's dry finish. The grapes come from the Cerro de Leyes vineyard in the firm's finca Santa Lucia and were briefly sunned. This is the first release, only 2,000 bottles I'm afraid, and the wine has a Vino de la Tierra de Cádiz denomination.
Price
14 euros from Licores Corredera


Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Fantastic Score for Amontillado Jalifa

Shortly after the news that Sherry was the highest scoring wine in the latest Guia Peñín Guide comes proof in the news that Williams & Humbert's Amontillado VORS Jalifa has scored no fewer than 98.5 points and first place in the Akatavino ranking of the 10 best sweet and fortified wines in Spain. The Akatavino ranking is judged by 35 of the best Spanish sommeliers, and they also included W&H's Dos Cortados VOS in 6th place.


Rutasiete Vineyard Tours

Recently a friend and I went on a really interesting tour of the vineyards around Jerez and El Puerto de Santa María with Salvador Pineda who runs an excellent local tour business called Rutasiete. He picked us up in his 4x4 and we began with a visit to the beautiful Cartuja monastery just outside Jerez, close to the banks of the river Guadalete. This beautiful building was constructed in the late XV and early XVI centuries on the site where the locals defeated the Moors in the battle of Salado, with the help of the Virgin Mary it is said, and to whom the monastery is dedicated.



We then drove towards El Puerto via various spectacular viewpoints, which give one a very clear idea of the landscape, through the albariza soils of the Pagos Balbaina and Añina. With the harvest over, all the vineyards had been “aserpiado”, meaning that deep grooves had been formed in the soil to retain rainwater - though there was not much sign of that yet. Passing by so many famous vineyards we saw many of the pretty casas de viña, most of which are thankfully intact and still used, but there is the occasional sad ruin. We then headed via the Pago Carrascal to the famous Pago Macharnudo. Here at a winery, our guide offered us a picnic which very thoughtfully contained some Fino Inocente, which we relished as we looked out over the vineyard which produced it toward the Castillo de Macharnudo, munching almonds from the tree.




Salvador is great company and really knows his stuff, and the tour, which lasted about three hours, was delightful. I would thoroughly recommend it. In fact he does various tours such as the Alcornocales Natural Park and the Guadalquivir marshes, so to find out more simply search for:
http://www.rutasiete.es/

Sunday, 9 October 2016

Palo Cortado Medium VORS 19.5%, Harveys

Appearance
Well-patinated old mahogany through amber to a trace of green at the rim, legs.
Nose
You can tell straight away that this is old; it is perfectly harmonious and fragrant with lots of toasted nuts, the slightest bitter, mineral edge and a delightful implied sweetness with a phenolic oak note from the wood and traces of spice like cinnamon and sandalwood  to balance. It is elegant and serious at the same time.
Palate
There is quite an impact on the palate from its concentration, but as that subsides, all its complexity comes through. The nuts have changed into walnuts and have been joined by exotic woods,leather and a slight trace of cinder toffee. It is remarkably dry for a Medium, but between 5 and 115 grams/litre is classified as Medium, so there must be some (but barely perceptible) PX in there to balance the phenolics. The flavour lingers on and on. Delicious.
Comments
Some Palos Cortados veer slightly towards Amontillado and some towards Oloroso. This superb wine is right down the middle and is the very definition of the style with lots of Amontillado on the nose and lots of Oloroso on the palate. It is a blend of wines from soleras as old as 1909 with about 2% PX and won everything possible at the International Wine Competition 2016. It shows that it is not only Bristol Cream in those bodegas; there are some real treasures.
Price
Around 25 euros per 50cl bottle from La Vinoteria, Jerez



Saturday, 8 October 2016

8.10.16 The Ritz to Represent UK in Copa Jerez

The UK final of the Sherry and food pairing competition was held in London on Monday, and the winners, the team at the Ritz in London will go forward to compete against the rest of the world in Jerez next spring. Head sommelier Giovanni Ferlito and senior sous-chef Michael Nizzero produced such a good combination of Sherry and food that Angeline Bayley, director of Sherry Wines UK, felt it just might win the competition, now in its 7th edition having run for 14 years.



Friday, 7 October 2016

7.10.16 New Saca of Manzanilla Entusiastica; Sherry Workers Call for Strike

The second release of the only organic Manzanilla, Entusiástica, will take place on Tuesday 11th at Trebujena Castle. It is the fruit of a colaboration between the organic vine grower Pepe Cabral and the bodega Delgado Zuleta. The wine will not be released till at least the end of October, as they would like to sound out people’s opinion of it beforehand.


Wednesday 19th has been chosen for strike action to try and unblock the impasse between the workers and Fedejerez.  A general assembly supported the action called for by the unions who will now go through the necessary legal procedures for the strike, the length of which has not yet been decided. While the workers are keen to start the strike soon, the unions need time to deal with the legalities and stress that they are still open to negotiation. For their part, Fedejerez expressed surprise at the unions’ message, saying it gave a distorted impression of the negotiations to the public. 


Thursday, 6 October 2016

Cacao Pico: Liqueur from Sherry Country

El Puerto de Santa María is not only home to Sherry bodegas and gin producers, but also to an old liqueur producer called Destilerías Pico, famous for its Cacao. The firm was established in 1824 by Manuel Pico, originally from Alicante, at Calle Pozos Dulces with the stillhouse in Calle Albareda. He mainly produced Ponche and Aniseed and Mint liqueurs. From Manuel it passed to his nephew Federico Pico, being in family hands for three generations. In the early days they even had vineyards and sold wine from El Puerto, Sanlúcar and Málaga, but the popularity of the Cacao liqueur took up ever more of their time.



In 1940 the post-Civil War crisis brought difficulties, not least a lack of raw materials, and the firm became a limited company, Destilerías del Cacao Pico SA. Its new owners included names like Fernando Terry del Cuvillo (whose son ran Bodegas Terry), Ivison, and Manuel Díaz. In 1947 the name changed to Destilerías Pico SA and in 1952 the firm was bought by the Merello brothers, Jesús, Serafín, Francisco and Estanislao, whose family still own it. They moved the distillery to the current lovely premises in the Calle Cielos, site of an old dairy, in the mid-1950s. Serafín bought the others out in 1995 and the distillery is now run by his sons, the current director being Pablo Merello Díez.



Production has changed little in 190 years. The cacao beans, which come from Brazil and Ecuador in sacks, are toasted in a kind of revolving oven over a wood fire, rested, cooled and then milled. The powder is then macerated in alcohol at 96ᴼ for 3 months in glass demijohns. The highly aromatic liquid now goes to copper alambiques (pot stills) which are uniquely fitted with a bain-marie to avoid the distillate scalding and sticking to the inside, which is usually the case with direct-fired stills. Each still is slightly different and individually named, and over a century old. The distillate leaves the stills completely clear and very strong, and is mixed with some sweetening syrup and water to adjust it to the bottling strength of 30ᴼ.


The distillery looks much as it did a century ago, and equipment which is not still used has been conserved, and there is a cupboard with old bottles, including the original. Picturesque and historic though it is, the distillery hasn’t stood still. Here they produce the essences for the top quality Indi soft drinks, also made in El Puerto. They make the famous Cacao, a Coffee version, and various products for other companies: vodka, gin, spirits and liqueurs. This great old brand is enjoying a new lease of life thanks to the cocktail boom and not surprisingly winning various international prizes for sheer quality. This is really delicious artisan cacao, full of flavour with even a trace of the firewood.

Address: C/Cielos, 26 esquina C/Espíritu Santo, 11500 El Puerto de Santa María, Cádiz
Telephone: (+34) 956 871 215
Website: www.cacaopico.es
Visits? Can be arranged with a prior appointment.

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Cayetano del Pino’s Sparkling Vermouth

Now that Vermouth is back in vogue, let’s look back at an old classic from Jerez which would give the modern ones a run for their money. This brainchild of Cayetano del Pino y Vázquez was “Vermouth Champagne Santa Elena”, launched in about 1895 to huge success. 



This is how it was so eloquently described in a publication called “Reseña de las Bodegas de Jerez” by R Mena and Nephew in 1900: “Based on Jerez Fino with natural essences and bitters and with a natural, prudent and hygienic alcoholic strength, he created from all these elements a compound capable of competing with the most select known to this day, and while it was appreciated by the palate of the gourmet, medical science recognised it not only for its state of purity but for being a medicament, aperitif and tonic for certain ailments of the stomach and imbalance of the blood.”

Proof of its efficacy came in the form of medical opinion from the most notable doctors in Spain – forty-one of them! Added to this was a letter written to the bodega by the eminent gastronome Don Ángel Muro in 1897 highlighting the goodness in this kind of drink which is composed of over 75% of “fixed substances” and sugars and a strength of 13%, and recommending the product as the best aperitif and blood purifier capable of accompanying a good meal and admirably aiding digestion.



Mena goes on to state his admiration not only for the product but also for Don Cayetano del Pino, “a person who by his talent, hard work, knowledge and honour has placed himself in the front row of the most industrious men of Jerez, and who was awarded the Gold Cross of the Red Cross for the benefits experienced in Red Cross hospitals by anaemic soldiers repatriated from Cuba.”

One of the notable Spanish doctors even recommended the product to King Alfonso XIII and the bodega thus became suppliers to the royal household, the king himself paying a visit in 1897.