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ewan ([personal profile] ewan) wrote2015-05-13 10:48 am

Happy Jerez

When I started this blog, back in those dark days when we feared LJ would be lost forever (though it certainly isn't operating at full strength even now, eh), I dedicated my Dreamwidth to SHERRY, which I'm ashamed to say I somewhat drifted from, hence the years of aridity. However, just the other week, Kerry and I visited Jerez de la Frontera, which is after all the epicentre of all things sherry-related, so it would be remiss of me not to provide an update on this.

Well, readers, it was delightful. I visited two bodegas in the end, Gonzalez Byass and Lustau. The tours were pretty similar -- there are only so many ways you can gussy up a visit to lots of large, high-ceilinged old warehouse spaces piled high with sherry casks -- though the Gonzalez Byass people clearly had a nicer and larger patch.

Tio Pepe Bodega

Their signature sherry is Tio Pepe, which is cellared in an ENORMOUS three-storey 60s building (and I'm going to just pretend that Croft's cream sherry doesn't exist, because it's a bit naff), but they also do some nice smaller ranges, generally cellared in smaller spaces which are a bit more picturesque.

Bodega La Concha

They had some vines planted and lush gardens and a little train to take people around on the tours.

Lustau Lustau Bodega

By contrast, Lustau were more straightforward, with a few big warehouses all linked together. Both had the requisite see-through cask to show the 'flor' (yeast) that sits atop the fino sherry barrels to keep the contents from oxidising (it's the lack of this barrier in the higher-alcohol sherries like oloroso and pedro ximenez which give them their distinctive darker colours).

Inside the Bodega La Concha

Both had barrels affixed with the flags of all the countries they export to (more for Byass than Lustau).

Signed Barrels at Gonzalez Byass

And both had some signed barrels, though Lustau were less interested in showing those off -- then again, Byass had Jean Cocteau, Orson Welles and King Edward VIII (also Prince Philip and other nobs).

But the tours were fascinating, and then there was the best part of course, which was the tasting! As a result, we may have brought back a suitcase filled with sherry bottles (all of which survived at least as far as our home, though their days are surely numbered now), and it meant this was a rare holiday when I wasn't tracking down beers. That said, due to the sun and the heat, my first drink on arriving was a cool refreshing Cruzcampo cerveza, but that was pretty much it for the range available thereabouts.

Barrels at Lustau

In the first bodega visit, there was a Dutch group taking part, and one older couple I talked to were shocked -- SHOCKED! I tell you -- that young people might drink sherry back in the UK. I mean, I did try to make it clear that there were only a handful of sherry bars but that along with all the tapas places which offer good sherry selections, that young people were indeed attending these. I only hope for a resurgence in interest beyond yr elderly granny, but I am certainly keen to continue my IMPORTANT RESEARCH into sherry by continuing to drink it.