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I had been wanting to visit Bodegas Luís Pérez for a while, and finally got my chance on this trip to Jerez with friends Peter @SVQConcierge and John and Jane Bachner King. Although firmly inside the Marco de Jerez, it’s not, in fact, a sherry bodega, but rather produces red wines, once just as important as the white Palomino Fino sherry grape, but lost long ago for a variety of reasons, the coup de grace being delivered by the phylloxera virus that devastated European vines at the end of the 19th century.

The bodega was founded in 2002 by Luis Pérez, former enologist at Domecq and professor of chemistry at Cádiz university, when he bought the Hacienda Vista Hermosa, a farmhouse on the hill at the top of the Pago de Corchuela outside of Jerez, and began the work of planting the new vineyards with red grapes. These days the bodega is mostly run by the Pérez children, Willy and Fátima. Willy’s new project is producing vintage unfortified sherries, as they used to be made before the trade and shipping demands of the last few centuries that led to the development of the present day solera and criadera ageing system. I tasted some of these sherries at the Cuatro Gatos Wine Fest a couple of weeks ago and they are very special indeed.

One of the first things that strike you when you arrive is that the Vista Hermosa is very well named, as it has stunning views across the rolling landscape to Jerez and the Bay of Cadiz. The vineyards themselves run down the flanks of the hill, and consist mainly of Merlot, Syrah, Petit Verdot and Tintilla de Rota, though at this time of the year, before the leaves start to bloom or the grapes start to grow, they are rather bare. You can see how much work goes into pruning and training the vines, and it’s hard to imagine that in just 4 months they will be almost ready to harvest.

The bodega itself is a new building, housing offices and a laboratory as well as the pressing tanks (gravity pressing only), and the cellars full of oak casks for the wines (French for the red and white wines, American for the unfortified sherries). Following the bodega tour with our charming guide Roberto, he then gave us a tasting of four of the bodegas wines – El Muelle (a white wine), and three red wines, Garum (the flagship brand), El Triangulo and Samaruco. Then it was back to Jerez.

Vermut O’clock! A quick stop at the new location of Tabanco Plateros before lunch at La Tapería…

Then it was time to catch the train to Cádiz, and when we arrived the RAIN also caught up with us. So there wasn’t much to do other than hang out at the splendid Café Royalty until dinner time. I had only been to Salicornia for snacks before, so was keen to have a proper meal there. And we weren’t disappointed. Chef Juan Höhr was our host for the evening and took excellent care of us, right down to the house-made herbed orujo to finish. Another terrific day.

Chef Juan showing us his Tomohawk. We didn’t eat that. We ate this…

fried artichoke carpaccio with grilled prawns
creamy mushroom rice
scrambled eggs with sea urchin and salicornia