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The Gonzalez-Gordons and Sherry

Jerez de la Frontera lies some nine miles inland from the sea between Cadiz and Sevilla in southern Spain and is the principal of three sherry towns. The others are on the coast are Sanlucar de la Barrameda at the mouth of the river Guadalquivir, and Puerto de Santa Maria.

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Between them they produce virtually all the genuine sherry that is shipped to the rest of the world.

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There is not much difference between the wines of Jerez and Puerto de Santa Maria, except that the latter are noted for their fino and amontillado types of sherry. Sanlucar, however, produces quite different wines: all the manzanilla is made there, wíth its distinctive fresh flavour and tea leaf colour that cannot be reproduced anywhere else.

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Despite such a short distance between them the wine produced will be affected by any slight change in the atmosphere or climate.

History records the earliest fermented fruit as date wine, but mead probably came first, then beer. Grape wine was prepared as early as the prehistoríc Djemdet-Nast period in Mesopotamia and was brought to Egypt before 3000 BC. The Greeks however practised viticulture as an art.

Some say that the Phoenicians introduced the vine to Spain, but it is more probable that Greek settlers brought it with them around 6th or 5th century BC. It is pure speculation, but the name Jerez may also be Greek in origin: they could have imported wines from the Persian city of "Shiraz", so why not name their new town after that city.


When the Romans captured Spain, they found many vineyards and viticulture advanced rapidly. Then the Vandals invaded (calling the south Vandalusia) and in turn the Visigoths. It heralded a time of perpetual war until the Moors swept over the peninsular for some seven centuries, only to be usurped finally by the Christians. During Moorish domination, Jerez expanded in size and wealth. They called it "Seris", whích was later corrupted to "jerez" by the Spanish and to "sherry" by the English.

By the 16th century, the sherry trade with England had become well established, but it actually originated earlier during Moorish domination (despite the irony that wine was prohibited to the muslims.)

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In recent times, wage inflation and the availability of cheaper and better machinery and new computer technology have jolted the traditions and whole atmosphere of the sherry towns. Equally the impact of individual businesses such as the fluctuating fortunes of Ruíz-Mateo has been enormous, from his family's humble beginnings as a local wine shipper to big business and banks. Nowadays all the big sherry labels of the world are present in some form in Jerez.

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The (sherry wine) vinegar from Jerez de la Frontera is probably the best in the world. The Duque de Diano label is the leading producer of aged sherry wine vinegar with exports world-wide.


The Spanish now own the name outright. From 1996 ‘British sherry’ and ‘Irish sherry’ ceased to exist. At least in the EU, the only wines that can be sold as sherry come from the triangle of vineyard land between the Andalucian towns of inland Jerez de La Frontera, and Sanlucar de Barrameda and Puerto de Santa Maria by the sea.


Three main factors contribute to the high quality potential of wines from this region:

the chalky-spongy albariza soil where the best vines grow,

the Palomino Fino grape — unexciting for table wines but potentially great once transformed by the sherry-making processes and a natural yeast called flor.


All sherry must be a minimum of 3 years old, but fine sherries age in barrel for much longer.

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Sherries must be blended through a solera system.

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About a third of the wine from the oldest barrels is bottled, and the barrels topped up with slightly younger wine from another set of barrels and so on for a minimum of 3 sets of barrels. The idea is that the younger wine takes on the character of older wine, as well as keeping the blend refreshed.


Finos, manzanillas and amontillados

These sherries derive their extraordinary, tangy, pungent flavours from for. Young, newly fermented wines destined for these styles of sherry are deliberately fortified very sparingly to just 15—15.5% alcohol before being put in barrels for their minimum of 3 years’ maturation. The thin, soft, oatmeal-coloured mush of for grows on the surface of the wines, protecting them from the air (and therefore keeping them pale) and giving them a characteristic sharp, pungent tang. Manzanillas are fino-style wines that have matured in the cooler seaside conditions of Sanlucar de Barrameda, where the for grows thickest and the fine tang is most accentuated. True amontillados are simply fino sherries that have continued to age after the for has died (after about 5 years) and so finish their aging period in contact with air. These should all be bone dry.


This type of sherry is strongly fortified after fermentation to deter the growth of for. Olorosos therefore mature in barrel in contact with the air, which gradually darkens them while they develop rich, intense, nutty and raisiny flavours.


Palo cortado is an unusual, deliciously nutty, dry style somewhere in between amontillado and oloroso. Sweet oloroso creams and pale creams are almost without exception enriched solely for the export market.

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Tio Pepe

15% ABV



Bright, very pale straw colour

Aged 5 years.


Pungent flor, yeasty. Very clean

Stylish, crisp, fresh, savoury, very dry, with a hint of almonds.

Drink as you would dry white wine, with nuts and nibbles. To serve with "tapas" or hors d’oeuvres plus seafoods, smoked salmon, oysters, as well as soups and fish dishes.




18% ABV


Dry Oloroso.

Golden amber / Dark copper

Aged 10 years.


Very intense, old oak and walnuts.

Full, dry but rich in flavour, nutty and complex. Warm pleasant finish

Good accompaniment for game, duck, consommé, red meats and cheese. Serve at room temperature.





Pale yellow straw

Aged 3 years.


Dry, clean nose with good Flor.

Clean, fresh and dry. Soft, full, savoury taste

Serve as an aperitif with nuts, crisps etc. Can also accompany seafood, vegetable and fish dishes. Serve well-chilled.

La Concha

17% ABV


Dry Amontillado

Medium to deep amber in colour. Aged 3 years.

Inviting nose showing classic notes of lemon, vanilla, toffee-apple and sour cream.

Good length, an attractive, slightly sweet finish. Plenty of rich baked fruit. Clean and fresh style

An excellent apéritif and perfectly matched to white meats, blue fish and also mature cheeses. Serve at room temperature.
















Amontillado del Duque

21.5% ABV

Aged 30 years

Old Amontillado/ Natural aged fino.

Ambar / burnished gold.



Complex aroma of dried fruits, apricots, toffee, old Cognac, leather and noble wood.

Structured, deep raisiny depth, flavours of nuts, apricots and mature figs. Tremendous power, fragrance and length but a surprising richness of flavours whilst remaining completely dry. A very long, lingering aftertaste of spices.

Perfect apéritif to serve with salted nuts. A fine complement to a starter of air dried ham and mature Manchego or Parmesan cheese. Drink at room temperature.

Bodega Visit

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Pouring Skills


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The Bottling Process


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Sampling for Local Aficionados

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Clan Chief meets Spanish Gordon Relatives !

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We meet the Gonzalez-Gordon-Gilbey Family 2003

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A good idea !