I don’t know anything about sherry. Really. Never been much of a fan, but that’s mostly because of my total ignorance of how it all goes.
Shawn, on the other hand, is a big-time fan. And since we were all in Jerez together for a few days on a bit of a getaway, we decided to visit a bodega. Jerez de la Frontera is the sherry capital and part of the official triangle where all sherry is produced. It’s a denomination of origin, which means anything called sherry can only be produced in this region.
A bodega is basically where sherry is made, processed, aged, etc. Sherry makers buy their grapes and wine from other vineyards, and actually manipulate the process of how sherry goes from wine to its final product inside of their bodegas.
To me, it almost feels more distillery and less wine maker. But, what do I know? I only know how to drink things, something I’ve proven fairly decent at over the course of my years.
Most of the bodegas were closed to public tours due to the presence of the Feria de Jerez while we were in town. Shawn managed to track down the nice folks at Bodegas Tradición, though, and found out they were open to tours during this particular week.
Bodegas Tradición is a fairly new bodega, only existing in its current form since 1998. Its history spans back to the 17th century, though, so they’re not new folks on the block in the traditional sense of the term.
These guys specialize in higher-end sherry, made for the person who appreciates a top-notch bottle of the good stuff. In fact, each bottle is individually numbered. No fooling around here.
They make all the types of sherry in the bodega, as well as brandy, which is what really caught my eye (and my taste buds).
While I’m still fairly ignorant on the topic – there’s a ton to learn about sherry that can’t be taught in one hour! – we did learn a lot during our visit to the bodega. How the wine is processed, aged in oak barrels, and turned into the several different types of sherry available on the market.
Sabrina and her team are very enthusiastic about the quality of product they bring to the table, and their low-quantity, high-grade sherry now has a reputation as one of the best around.
In addition to being a bodega, the location houses the private gallery and art collection of the company’s owner.
It was insane to walk into a bodega and find a gallery stacked with original work by Velázquez, Goya, Zurbarán, and Picasso, among others. Whoa.
My personal favorite is this piece by José Jiménez Aranda.
Due to our travels, we didn’t grab a bottle of the good stuff. We did get to sample them all, and I found that I can enjoy it more, now that I have a bit of insight as to how the process works.
If you’re ever drinking your way through the region, it’s best to take the time to visit a less touristy and more traditional bodega like Bodegas Tradición. And if you can’t get out there, head to your local wine specialist and pick up a bottle of the good stuff.
You can learn more about Bodegas Tradición at their website.
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Have you ever been to a sherry bodega? If so, what’d you think and what was your experience? If not, what say ye? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!