The Sherry Triangle
The Sherry wines setting is the Spanish wine growing territory in the Cádiz and Seville areas where Sherry wine is elaborated. This territory is formed by the towns of Jerez de la Frontera, Sanlúcar de Barrameda, El Puerto de Santa María, Trebujena, Chiclana de la Frontera, Puerto Real, Rota, Chipiona and Lebrija. The production on this wine growing area with the denomination of origin Jerez-Xerez-Sherry and Manzanilla de Sanlúcar is certified and under the responsibility of the denomination of origin regulatory body which guarantees the product’s quality and defined characteristics, Likewise, Brandy’s regulatory body guarantees said properties on our unique Jerez brandy.
Located in the northeast area of the Cádiz province, the most southern province in Spain, enclosed the Atlantic coast and between the rivers Guadalquivir and Guadalete. River Guadalquivir and its marshlands lay out in the North, and beyond them the extraordinary Natural Reserve of Coto Doñana. Inland, gentle hills reach Cádiz’s mountain range while in the South vineyards merge into salt lakes and pine woods along the stunning Atlantic coastline.
How to get there
Sherry wine setting is located on a privileged well connected area by sea, by air, by road and by rail.
By plane, you can choose among several airports:
Jerez de la Frontera airport only 10 kms. from city centre.
Seville airport: 98 kms.
Gibraltar airport: 112 kms.
Málaga airport: 215 kms.
By road, great quality freeways and motorways neatly connect the city of Jerez with the main cities in Andalusia. Driving a rent car or your own is definitely one of the best options to explore the area.
By train, Jerez de la Frontera has exceptional links with Seville and other main cities in Cádiz, as well as with Córdoba, Granada, Málaga, Huelva, Portugal, Madrid… The train station is located in the city centre right next to the coach station, both having long, mid and long distance services. (www.renfe.com)
From the coach station you can link with the main destination within the province, Andalusia and Spain.
By sea, Cádiz, Tarifa and Algeciras are the closest seaports.
Climate and geographic characteristics
Due to its geographic location, under the influence of the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea and with an average of 30 days a year of heavy rains, the wine aging has special characteristics.
Annual average temperature is 17,3º Celsius, you can enjoy around 300 days of sun per year. The predominant wind is westerly, which comes from the sea.
The weather in Jerez and surroundings is mild, due to its low latitude, as it is one of the most southern wine growing regions. In summer, the sea breeze moderates the temperature, counteracting the effect of the easterly winds. Winters tend to be mild, with limited days of frost.
The area features more than three thousand hours of sunshine per year and the annual rainfall concentration happens between the months of October and May, being September a dry month; which favours the ripening, salubrity and harvest of the grapes during the wine harvest.
This exceptional weather warmly welcomes visitors all over the year, as the region changes its nuances through the seasons and will never stop surprising you.
Jerez de la Frontera
Jerez de la Frontera is the main city within the Sherry Triangle and the capital of the/THIS Settled on one of the many hills from where you can see the wide white ‘albariza’ soils countryside, divided between the close mountains range and the bright coastal towns. In Jerez, wine shares importance with other ancient symbols of identity such as flamenco and horse breeding.
The wine: the winery, the vineyard and the grape
The wine produced is ‘el Jerez’ (Sherry in Englsih and Xérès in French), which is part of the foro de denominaciones de origen vitivinicolas historicas in all its specialities: fino, manzanilla, amontillado, oloroso, palo cortado, pedrojimenez, moscatel, pale cream, medium and cream. These wines are produced with the grape variety: Palomino, Pedrojimenez and Moscatel. Additionally, Brandy and Jerez Vinegar are produced in the area.
If I had a thousand sons, the first humane principle I would teach them should be, to forswear thin potations and to addict themselves to sack.Falstaff, Henry VII, by William Shakespeare
"Sherris sack" or just "sack", as it was sometimes known
The characteristic aging process produces Jerez’s wines and Brandies with the dynamic criaderas and soleras systems, through which wine in different aging stages is methodically blended to perpetuate some specific characteristic in the product. The appearance of the Flor is additional to the process.
Flor (Spanish and Portuguese for flower) is a winemaking term referring to a film of yeast on the surface of wine and which is important in the manufacture of certain styles of sherry.
Flor is the most extraordinary of the natural elements defining Jerez’s wine great singularity
The typical albariza soils, the weather and the wineharvest during the month of September contribute to the uniqueness of our wines.
Once the grapes are harvested and pressed, mosto (in English must or young wine) is the protagonist. The one known as mosto de yema is the star in the Sherry Triangle. Expert wine-testers will decide its course during the crianza stage (biological or oxidative aging) depending on its characteristics: the pale, clear to nose and light are classified formanzanilla or fino, while those distinctive to nose and bodied are classified for olorosos.
Por San Andrés, el mosto vino es.* St. Andrew’s day is 30th of November, and on these dates the young wines start finishing their fermentation and become wine
The mosto is profusely consumed between January and March in bars and ventas within the Sherry Triangle. The name used for this young wine is still mosto, though its alcoholic proof is between 11 and 12,5º.
In Jerez, you will become witness on how wineries, the solemn, soaring cathedral-bodegas and the more intimate "sacristy" bodegas, endow the wines with their essence.
A good sherris-sack hath a twofold operation in it. It ascends me into the brain, dries me there all the foolish and dull and crudy vapors which environ it, makes it apprehensive, quick, forgetive, full of nimble, fiery, and delectable shapes, which, delivered o'er to the voice, the tongue, which is the birth, becomes excellent wit. The second property of your excellent sherris is the warming of the blood, which, before cold and settled, left the liver white and pale, which is the badge of pusillanimity and cowardice. But the sherris warms it and makes it course from the inwards to the parts extremes. It illumineth the face, which as a beacon gives warning to all the rest of this little kingdom, man, to arm, and then the vital commoners and inland petty spirits muster me all to their captain, the heart, who, great and puffed up with this retinue, doth any deed of courage, and this valor comes of sherris.Falstaff, Henry VII, by William Shakespeare
Sherry wines are divided in three main groups:
Sherry vinos generosos are dry due to being produced with fermented mosto. Depending on the crianza process they are divided in:
- Fino: dry and light to the palate, between 15 and 18º, aged under the veil of flor, straw-coloured or golden, spicy delicate aroma reminiscent of almonds.
- Manzanilla: dry and light to the palate, between 15 and 19º, aged under the veil of flor, straw-coloured or golden but paler than fino, sharp bouquet. Similar to fino, its uniqueness comes from the special microclimatic conditions in the wineries located in the coastal town of Sanlúcar de Barrameda. They have their own denomination of origin: ‘Manzanilla- Sanlúcar de Barrameda’ within the same Consejo Regulador as Sherry.
- Amontillado: dry and light to the palate, between 16º and 22º, amber-coloured, with a strong aroma reminiscent of walnuts.
- Oloroso: dry, full-bodied with an alcohol content between 17º and 22º. From amber to mahogany, with a strong aroma reminiscent of walnuts.
- Palo cortado: dry, full-bodied, between 17º and 22º, bright mahogany-coloured, sharp bouquet suggestive of hazelnuts It mixes the amontillado palate with the oloroso body and smell.
Produced with Moscatel and Pedro Ximénez grape varieties. The grape bunches are desiccated through drying in the sun, known as soleo to obtain very ripe grapes. The high sugar content in these grape varieties produce a specially sweet and dense mosto.
- Pedro Ximénez: sweet, smooth, dark mahogany-coloured, raisins bouquet.
- Moscatel: very sweet, dark mahogany-coloured, with an aroma characteristic of the Moscatel grape variety.
Blended styles of Sherry
Blending (cabeceo) dry ‘generoso’ wines with sweet wines produces ‘vinos generosos de licor’, with different amounts of sweetness.
- Pale cream: sweet, alcohol content varies between 15,5º and 22º, straw-coloured or golden, sharp and delicate bouquet.
- Medium: slightly sweet, between 15º and 22º, amber-to mahogany-coloured, delicate aroma.
- Cream: made from Oloroso. Sweet, full-bodied, between 15,5º and 22º, mahogany-coloure, intense aroma.
On the other hand, when these wines meet certain characteristics they are catalogued as:
Sherry wines with a qualified age
The Regulatory Council allows the cataloguing of wines as ‘with a qualified age’. Among them, two distinctively stand out:
The Vinum Optimum Signatum (Wine designated as Optimum, also know as V.O.S – Very Old Sherry) is more than twenty years old.
The Vinum Optimum Rare Signatum (Wine Designated as Optimum and Exceptional, also known as V.O.R.S – Very Old Rare Sherry).
Not only Sherry wines are unique and worldwide famous but also Sherry Vinegar and Brandy.
From the wine production Sherry Vinegar is also obtained, which is produced from the acetic fermentation of the wine, following the same criaderas and soleras process used for the wine production
Likewise, Sherry Brandy alcohol content varies between 36º and 40º, and it is produced using wine made from Palomino grapes variety. After distilling the wine, the liquor is aged inside American oak casks which have previously been used to age Sherry for at least three years. Its uniqueness, aroma and colour mainly depend on the wine that formerly aged in the casks and on each winery’s personal style. Sherry Brandy is the only Spanish Brandy with specific denomination of origin and, like the wines and vinegar, it must be produced and aged within the Sherry Triangle through the criaderas and soleras process. According to its age, it is classified as ‘Brandy de Jerez Solera’ (one year old), ‘Brandy de Jerez Solera reserva’ (three years old) and ‘Brandy de Jerez Solera Gran Reserva’ (ten years old)
Special thanks to Consejo Regulador de las Denominaciones de Origen ‘Jerez-Xérès-Sherry’. www.sherry.org
- Horse Festival (Jerez) Feria del Caballo
- Spring and Fino Wine Festival (El Puerto de Sta. María) Feria de la primavera y del Vino Fino
- The Harvest Festival (Jerez) Fiestas de la vendimia
- Spring break festivities/Holy week
- International Sherry Week
- Motorcycle racing World Championship (Jerez)
- Horse races on the beach (Sanlúcar de Barrameda)
- Flamenco Festival (Jerez)
- Bulería Festival (Jerez)
- Christmas celebrations: Zambombas and Mostos.