A plan in the making
Erik first met Ignacio López de Carrizosa, Export Director of Jose Estevez S.A. in Glasgow in December 2017. When Ignacio learned that we were visiting Jerez for Vinoble 2018 he invited us to visit their vineyards and wineries whilst there.
He also extended the invitation to our good friend from Portland, Seanna, who was also attending Vinoble.
The Macharnudo Alto
Ignacio picked us up from our hotel and after a short drive our first stop was the Grupo Estevez vineyards of the Macharnudo Alto. This is the highest point in the Marco de Jerez with a statue of Christ and the Sacred Heart.
This vineyard of 56.2 hectares is located 5 kilometres northwest of Jerez de la Frontera in the centre of the Sherry Triangle, 135 metres above sea level. Part of the famous Pago Macharnudo the vineyards are directed to the southeast on 10 degree slopes. Ignacio along with Jose Manuel Malvido, the vineyard foreman, explained that the calcium carbonate levels of 60 – 65% of the albraizo soil found here are amongst the highest in the region and there are 600 litres per square metre of rainfall and 300 hours of sunshine annually. They also explained that green pruning along with the albarizo soil produce low yields of highly concentrated fruit that have an intense minerality. Grupo Estevez own nearly 800 hectares of vineyards out of the 7000 hectares under vine in the D.O. Jerez-Xérès-Sherry and Manzanilla Sanlúcar de Barrameda.
Grupo Estevez S.A. Headquarters
It was then time to head back to the headquarters of Grupo Estevez back in Jerez where offices, ageing cellars, bottling plant, refrigeration plant, warehouses, laboratories and controlled fermentation plants are all housed on one site. We proceeded through to the Real Tesoro Bodega, home of the Tia Mateo Fino solera, after seeing some of the fantastic artwork and one of the function spaces.
Tasting through the evolution of a single vineyard Sherry
Ignacio had mentioned earlier that he’d wanted to illustrate to us the evolution of a single vineyard sherry from the vineyard through the criaderas and the solera. He took us to Bodega de Mi Madre, home to the soleras of Innocente Fino, Tio Diego Amontillado and Solera del 42 (Brandy).
The must from the Macharnudo Alto is fermented in very old oak casks using indigenous yeast. Valdespino is unique as they are the only producer of single vineyard sherries who carry out their fementation in oak. When fermentation ends it is fortified to 15% ABV. After a year the winemaker will decide whether the wine will be moved to the 10th criadera of Innocente or 10th criadera of Tio Diego. Fino Innocente is usually bottled twice a year in Spring and in Autumn. We then got to taste the following: –
Macharnudo at one year old
9th Criadera Innocente will be approximately 2 years average age
5th Criadera Innocente at approximately 6 years average age
Solera Innocente has an average age of 10 years
We then moved on to the evolution of Tio Diego Amontillado where we tried the following: –
7th Criadera Tio Diego at approximately four years average age
3rd Criadera Tio Diego at approximately eight years average age
Solera Tio Diego has an average age of 14 years
Ignacio also explained that the best casks from both the Fino Innocente and Tio Diego solera system are also selected by the winemaker, fortified to 18% ABV and then added to the 4th criadera of the Palo Cortado Viejo C.P. solera system. Little did we know that we were to try this sherry a liitle while later.
Tasting some of Valdespino’s liquid jewels
Next stop on our tour was the tasting room. Valdespino produce top quality sherries including a number of V.O.S. and V.O.R.S. expressions. V.O.S. certifies that the wine has an average age of more than 20 years and V.O.R.S certifies that the wine has a mean age over 30 years. This certification is carried out by the Consejo Regulador of D.O. Jerez-Xérès-Sherry and Manzanilla Sanlúcar de Barrameda. So what a treat he had in store for us.
- Amontillado Coliseo VORS – 22.0 % ABV with an average age of 60 years
- Palo Cortado Viejo C.P. – 20 % ABV with an average age of 25 years
- Palo Cortado Macharnudo Alto Vintage 2000 – 20 % ABV and one of only 500 half bottles released in June 2017
- Don Gonzalo Olorosso VOS – 20% ABV with an average age of 25 years
- Cardenal Palo Cortado VORS – 22% ABV with an average age of 50 years
- Solera de su Majestad Oloroso VORS – 22% ABV with an average age of 50 years
- Oloroso Solera 1842 VOS – 20% ABV with an average age of 25 years this is a blend of Oloroso and Pedro Ximenez
- El Contado Pedro Ximinez – 17% ABV with an average age of 10 years.’Candado’ is the Spanish word for ‘padlock’, and each bottle is sealed with one.
- Ninos Pedro Ximinez VORS – 15% ABV with an average age of 60 years
- Moscatel Toneles – 15% ABV with an average age of at least 80 years possibly even 100 years. One of the rarest sherry wines with only 100 half bottles released each year.
Simply one of the best wine tastings we have experienced.
Sanlúcar de Barrameda
Another short trip, a 20 minute drive away, took us to Sanlúcar de Barrameda to one of the Hijos de Rainera Pérez Marín wineries housed in the Bodega de San Juan de Dios. Formerly the Santa Misericordia Hospital it was later renamed the Hospital de San Juan de Dios in 1859. It was then converted to a winery in 1867 and 1868 and is the original home to Manzanilla “La Guita”. La Guita is Spain’s top selling Sherry in the domestic market and was acquired by Estevez in 2009. This was a visit we were very excited about as it is one of our go to Manzanillas. We regularly bring home bottles from our visits to Spain.
We were joined on this visit by José García, El Cabo – Cellar Foreman of Bodegas La Guita and went on to tour the bodega’s buildings and tasted La Guita from different criaderas and the soleras. Again we were seeing and tasting the evolution of the wine through the solera system drawn straight from the cask by José. With five criaderas and a solera, Manzanilla “La Guita” has an average age of four to five years.
4th Criadera “La Guita” at approximately two years old
1st Criadera “La Guita” at approximately four years old
Solera “La Guita” at approximately five years old
Solera Manzanilla Pasada VJA “La Guita” – This was taken from one of only six casks used for the Deliciosa Manzanilla en Rama 2018 saca in April.
Lunch by the Guadalquivir
Following the visit to La Guita our final stop of the day was Restaurante Casa Bigote for lunch. We left it to Ignacio to order for us and we had a meal to remember. Sanlúcar de Barrameda is reknown for its seafood and we were not disappointed. Nothing better than fresh seafood all enjoyed with La Guita Manzanilla of course.
Calle Pórtico de Bajo de Guia, 10
11540 – Sanlúcar de Barrameda – Cádiz – España
Tel: +34 956 36 26 96
Muchas Muchas Gracias
We have been very fortunate with our experiences in Andalucia that literally money can’t buy. This was another one of those and to say we were blown away by this day is an understatement. Words will never be able to express our gratitude to Ignacio for a day we will never forget. We would also like to thank Pilar García from Grupo Estevez for helping Ignacio to organize this day for us along with José García at Bodegas “La Guita” for hosting us. To be able to share this with Seana was literally the icing on the cake, she thouroughly enjoyed it. We were all overwhelmed with the hospitality.
A Company History
The origins of the Jose Estevez S.A wine cellars (Bodegas) are from the Jose Lena Rendon and Co. enterprise, which was established in 1809 for ageing Sherry and Brandy.
In 1894, Mr. Ruiz, the principal shareholder, changed the name of the company to his own: Felix Ruiz and Ruiz, S.A. At this time, the business reached as far as Northern Europe and South America.
Since 1974 the Estevez family has managed the entire company and in 1984 the name of the company was changed to Jose Estevez S.A. In keeping with the traditions of a family business, great importance has been given to the care of the ageing of the wines.
In 1982, Jose Estevez de los Reyes bought a large proportion of shares in the Marques del Real Tesoro bodega, taking over the whole company in 1985, injecting financial and professional support. By 1989 the Estevez family held a 95% share of the company.
The same year, 1989, the Estevez family drew up a plan to merge the two companies, JOSE ESTEVEZ, S.A. and MARQUES DEL REAL TESORO, S.A., investing in a “brand new” facility, the actual headquarters. These buildings include the new offices, ageing cellars, bottling plant, refrigeration plant, warehouses, laboratories and controlled fermentation plants. This new structure reinforces the new Bodegas José Estévez, S.A., equipped with the most modern machinery and technology in Spain. Following this philosophy of expansion, in May 1993, the international brand of Fino wine “Tio Mateo”, is acquired, as well as its complete “Solera”. One of the oldest wineries in Jerez, A.R. VALDESPINO, is acquired in September 1999; and in 2007, the Estévez family takes control of “Hijos de Rainera Pérez Marín y M. Gil Luque”, proprietors of the well-known Manzanilla “La Guita”, from Sanlucar de Barrameda, which is the market leader in Spain .