Wish you were here! xx
Updated to include days 2 & 3…
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.
This week I was supposed to be out on an Andalucía Adventure travelling around the white villages with Peter and our friends from Austin Texas Jane & John, but the rainy weather put the kibosh on that plan. Instead we opted for a return to sherry country with a side trip to Cádiz.
After arriving in Jerez and checking into our hotel we made our way to the central market for a quick breakfast of churros, followed by a market visit and a quick sherry at El Pasaje. Then it was time to visit Bodegas Tradición.
As most of you already know, Bodegas Tradición is a unique bodega experience. Not only do they only make VOR and VORS sherries (aside from one fino) but their private art gallery is a joy to behold. Sabrina put out some lovely snacks for us and we sat around chatting and sipping our very special wines. It was actually Tradición’s palo cortado that changed my life all those years ago at a bar in Sevilla, turning me into the
sherry-obsessed person sherry professional I am today.
After leaving Tradición we made our way back to the city centre for a penúltima, in order to relax and figure out where to have dinner that evening. That’s when I heard from Rocío from Bodegas Urium and we ended up having an impromptu bodega visit there with the family: father and bodega founder Alonso, and Rocío’s husband Mario. This small family-run biz doesn’t offer public tours, but on occasion they very generously open up their doors to friends, and friends of friends. As always, Alonso was in fine fettle, regaling us with stories while pouring wines from the barrel. I think Jane & John came away from this visit a bit awe-struck, and to be honest, I always do too.
Dinner that night was at one of my favourite places in Jerez, the super traditional Tabanco Las Bandarillas. It’s all home-style cooking there, nothing fancy, but always fabulous. And with super friendly service. Then it was time for bed as we had another special bodega experience planned for the next morning.
I first met Anne and Paul last spring when I went to Jerez for a sherry tasting followed by a combined birthday/leaving party for our mutual friend Momoko. Since then we’ve stayed in touch and have also met up on other Jerez Getaways, such as this past weekend.
We all went to the Lustau sherry tasting at noon on Saturday, and afterwards met up with our friend Tomoko at nearby Albalá Restaurante for an amazing lunch. This (of course) was followed by a penúlitima and Paul chose a bar that I’d never been to before, but will certainly visit next time I’m in town. Then it was “suddenly” time to get the train home. Fabulous day… I look forward to taking Anne and Paul on a tapeo in Sevilla sometime soon. 🙂
La Penúltima with Tomoko, Anne, Peter and Paul
Paul & Peter at the Jerez train station
Sometimes the best plans are the ones that are barely planned at all. I had started thinking about last year’s Birthday Month, when I took a short getaway trip each week of January to celebrate my big 6-OH birthday on the 7th (one day is never enough 😉 ). Anyhow, it seemed a bit much to celebrate 61 in the same way – but wait until I turn 65! – and yet I still wanted to do something special. So I decided that taking a day trip each week this month would be a fun thing to do. Then I realized that I was already in the middle of the first week and still hadn’t planned the first day trip!
Then by chance I got a “follow” on Instagram from Bodegas Fernandez Gao, an up and coming winery in Jerez I’d been interested in learning more about and, although I knew they still weren’t offering tours, I asked if I could pop by for a visit – and they said yes! So that sealed it. I decided to go to Jerez for the day. And of course I immediately got in touch with my friend Tomoko to see if she wanted to meet up. It turned out that there was already a little party planned at one of my favourite bodegas and I ended up getting an invite. But after our visit to Fernandez Gao we decided to stop off at Las Bandarillas for a quick lunch before heading over to Urium.
I can’t remember the number of impromptu fiestas I’ve stumbled upon at Bodegas Urium. At this point that place really feels like my second home in Jerez. This time expat pals Paul & Anne had arranged a little “sherry and Christmas cake” thing at the bodega, that ended up growing… and eventually included me and Peter.
It was a fabulous bodega party, with everyone (I think maybe 25 of us?) all standing around a long food-laden wooden table with sherry glasses in hand, all talking, all catching up. Some people I met for the first time, but it was mostly meeting up with old friends. Afterwards Paul, Ann and Tomoko joined us in the center of town for a “penúlitima” before we had to catch our train home. A perfect day out.