You can find Bodegas Sanchez Romate right in the historic centre of Jerez - i.e. literally at the heart of the D.O. The bodega was established in - yes, you're reading it right - 1781 by Don Juan Sanchez de la Torré, and is one of the last houses at the current time to still be fully in the hands of a Jerez family. Among other things, this means that they can make, age and sell their wines totally independently, remaining true to their own traditions.
At the end of the nineteenth century, they started to make Cardinal Mendoza Solera Gran Reserva, a brandy which quickly gained a reputation both in Spain and abroad. At the same time, they were delving further into ageing and bottling outstanding sherries - among other things they were appointed purveyors to the Vatican. The end of the 1940s saw their fame and reputation wane until the bodega was bought by five friends in 1954, whose families still manage Sanchez Romate to this day.
Sanchez Romate has its vineyards at the best locations in the region - over 100 hectares in total - where the quality of the Palomino can develop to its full potential. PX and Moscatel are bought in from suppliers including Montilla-Moriles.
The oak barrels of La Sacristia - the heart of the bodega - are 120 years old on average, and are still checked daily to prevent leaks. Every effort is put into guaranteeing tradition and quality.
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. Jerez (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 are grown on these two types of soil.
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 a little sweeter.
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