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Pasada

Variant of sherry; see there.

The famous dessert wine was named after the town of Jerez de la Frontera (Jerez on the border) in the province of Cádiz in the Andalusia region between the two cities of Seville and Cádiz, deep in the south of Spain. It has been a centre of wine, liqueur and brandy production since the Middle Ages. In 711, Spain came under Arab rule, but wine continued to be produced despite the Islamic ban on alcohol. Caliph Alhaka II decided to uproot the vines in 966, but the locals successfully argued that some of the grapes were also processed into sultanas, which the Muslims fed on during their campaigns. As a result, only a third of the vines were destroyed. As early as the 12th century, Spanish winegrowers sent sherry to England and received English wool in return.

Sherry - Karte und Albariza

Sherry as a brand

It was during this time that the wine got its name, derived from the Arabic name of the town "Sherish" or "Xeris". At the time, it was considered one of the best wines in the world. The conquest by the Castilian King Alfonso X (1221-1284) in 1264 brought Jerez back under Christian rule and ended five centuries of Moorish domination. Before a battle, the Christians allegedly even gave their horses a drink of wine to revitalise them. In 1483, the city fathers of Jerez issued the first legal regulations for the production of sherry, which included detailed instructions for the grape harvest, the nature of the leather wineskins, ageing and trading practices. In the 19th century, Spanish companies settled in Jerez, some of which still exist today. Wines were produced all over the world under the name Sherry, but the name was only protected in the European Union in 1996.

Sherry in Shakespeare plays

Sherry was ideally suited for longer voyages due to its shelf life. In 1519, for example, the Portuguese navigator Ferñao de Magellan (1480-1521) bought 417 tubes and 253 barrels of sherry before setting off on his voyage around the world. In 1587, the English privateer Sir Francis Drake (1540-1596) attacked the city of Cádiz and stole 2,900 barrels of sherry. This quickly became popular and an English fashionable drink. William Shakespeare (1564-1616) was a fan of sherry, drinking a considerable amount every day in his favourite pub, the Bear Head Tavern. Wine was repeatedly mentioned by name in scenes from his works (Richard III, Henry IV and The Merry Wives of Windsor). In this context, Shakespeare - and the sherry - was also involved in the naming of the sparkling wine (see there).

DO area Jerez

The DO area Jerez was already classified in 1933. Its full name is Jerez/Xérèz/Sherry y Manzanilla de Sanlúcar Barrameda. The area for the sherry is the eastern part and the area for the manzanilla is the western part. There are therefore two DO areas. The production area covers over 7,000 hectares. Around 80% of the vineyards are certified as Jerez Superior. Here, the location, the climatic conditions and the Albariza soils with their special physico-chemical properties are ideal for producing high-quality wines. It is perhaps less well known that there are two other Jerez DO designations, namely Vinagre de Jerez (sherry vinegar) and Brandy de Jerez(brandy).

Sherry - Rebflächen

The area under cultivation was expanded in 2021. The designation Viñedos de Jerez Superior is now available for all areas of the DO region and no longer just for Jerez, El Puerto, Sanlúcar and Trebujena, as was previously the case.

Climate

The mild, Mediterranean climate is influenced by the nearby Atlantic Ocean. There are summers with little rainfall and frost-free winters. The average temperature is around 17.5 °Celsius and rises to 40 °Celsius in summer. Rain falls about 75 days a year. The high humidity coming from the sea has a positive effect on the ageing of the wines.

Soils

Most of the vineyards face the Atlantic Ocean. Particularly on the mountain slopes, the soil consists of limestone marl, known here as albariza (Latin alba = white). The surface is covered with a kind of fine powder, which gives the typical bright white colour and reduces evaporation. The lower layer has an excellent water storage capacity. Alongside the climate and the winemakers ' art, this is the greatest secret of Sherry's success. There are only small areas with sandy or clayey soils. The vines are planted in rows (liños) orientated in a north-south direction. This maximises exposure (sunlight) throughout the day.

Grape varieties

The most important sherry variety is Listán (Palomino), which accounts for around 90% of the growing area. It contributes to the special character of the wine. Small stocks of the Muscat d'Alexandrie (mainly around Chipiona) and Pedro Ximénez varieties are also cultivated, which are mainly used to sweeten special sherry varieties. In 2021, a further six white grape varieties from the time before the phylloxera plague were authorised. These are Beba, Cañocazo, Mantúo Castellano (Alcañón), Mantúo de Pilas (Chelva), Perruno and Vigiriega (Sumoll). There is a map of the special sites, the so-called Pagos.

Production rules

The "Consejo Regulador" (Regulatory Council) is responsible for the regulations of the entire production process, quality control and proof of origin. In 2021, the most extensive changes to the rules for sherry in 50 years were adopted. This concerns the growing region, the authorised grape varieties, individual designations and the ageing period of sherry types. These changes are listed in the relevant chapters.

The production and ageing of wines and the use of the protected designation of origin is only permitted in the so-called Sherry Triangle. This is formed by the three towns of Jerez de la Frontera, El Puerto de Santa María and Sanlúcar de Barrameda, which is why...

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Thomas Götz

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