Antopio Barbadillo Mateo is the heir to the Bodegas Barbadilo, Sanlúcar de Barrameda's largest sherry producer. He stepped down from the company in order to make a top quality Manzanilla 'passada en rama' under the name 'Sacristia AB'.
Antonio is a passionate amateur and connoisseur par excellence of the bodegas of Sanlúcar. His aim is to restore Manzanilla to its original quality. This means in practice that the wines age in the solera for a particularly long time in order to build up a maximum of acetaldehydes while simultaneously retaining a minimum of nutrients and flavours from the flor. Then these Manzanillas are bottled with minimal filtration and stabilisation. As a consequence, this type of Manzanilla 'en rama' can continue to evolve in the bottle and gain in complexity. Which is unthinkable with a more commercial, filtered Manzanilla.
D.O. Jerez - Manzanilla: Sherry is wine with a protected designation of origin and can only come from the southernmost part of Spanish Andalusia. This sherry region is officially named D.O. Jerex (Xérès) Sherry y Manzanilla. This region forms a large triangle on the map between Sevilla and Cádiz. It's a beautiful area with picturesque white villages, rolling vineyards, exquisite palaces and a lively street life.
Inland, at the heart of the region, is the city of Jerez de la Frontera. It is from here that the wine derives its name. Sherry is in fact an anglicisation of Sherris, the old Moorish name for Jerez. A lot of bodegas are to be found in the old Moorish city centre. You can nibble on delicious small eats in its many tapas bars, washed down with a little glass of sherry. You can also find a lot of bodegas in the fishing village of Sanlúcar de Barrameda. This village is famous for a special sort of sherry, Manzanilla. The third most important place for sherry is the harbour city of Puerto de Santa Maria. Sherries have been shipped from here for hundreds of years.
There are two reasons why the sherry region is particularly suited to the production of this special wine. Firstly, the climate is extremely favourable to growing grapes. It's very hot in the summer, cooled by a west wind off the sea. Secondly, the region has a particular soil, known as Albariza. It is dazzlingly white in colour and very chalky. This allows the grapes to develop their elegant taste and aroma. This chalky soil is very good at absorbing rainwater. So the vines can always find an adequate supply of water in the soil, even in the dry summer months. Most of the grapes are grown on Albariza. Two other soil types are also found here: Barro (clay) and Arena (sand). Only a very small share of the grapes grow in these two soil types.
The Palomino grape accounts for 95% of the vines, making it by far the most important grape for sherry. Although Muscat (called Moscatel in Spain) and Pedro Ximénez are also used. Both of these grape varieties are frequently left to dry in the sun after harvesting. Their water evaporates and their sugar content becomes more concentrated. These dried grapes are used to make sweet wines. They are also used to make dry sherries somewhat sweeter.