Just enjoyed an interesting side trip from Estepona – visiting the three towns of the sherry triangle which is the only official part of the world where the wine made can be called sherry (or in the case of Sanlúcar de Barremeda Manzanilla which is a different version again).
I have learned that sherry is wine that is aged differently and for much longer. There are three main kinds (although actually about nine) all from a white grape – fino (dry and my favourite); amontillado (medium sweet) and ollorosso (sweet) – the darker colours of the latter two come from the aging process and oxidization (fino never sees the air as it is covered by a layer of yeast while it ferments) and most sherries age between 7 years minimum and up to 30 for some.
Anyway enough of the technical stuff – the towns we visited were all interesting to see and also include many bodegas where you can taste all kinds of sherries (plus a few brandies too)
Below is Sanlúcar de Barremeda – downtown and the seaside (a ten minute walk away). Very pretty.
This was our first bodegas visit. You can see the barrels are only partially filled to give room to the yeast to ferment on the top.
Then on to Jerez which is the largest of the three towns and has the most bodegas with names some of you will know – Croft, Timo Pepe and Gonzalez Byas. A visit to the local market was colourful.
The bodegas in Jerez is called Tradicion and that is because everything is done by hand – including the bottling. At this bodega there is an unexpected bonus of being able to see the (obviously wealthy) owner’s art collection. Yes that is a tile by Picasso and paintings by El Greco and Murillo.
In Jerez we also visited a traditional and very authentic flamenco show. Started at 10pm of course! We were just about the only non Spaniards there and it was amazing. Tiny bar, tiny stage and fantastic music and dancing. And as a contrast we visited the world famous Spanish Riding School and training centre – unfortunately no photos of the show allowed but suffice to say those riders and their horses are very well trained. And the last of the jacaranda trees too.
Of course Jerez has a cathedral which is as always in this part of the world impressive and very full of silver and gold!
And also a Small Alcázar in moorish style
We didn’t see much of interest in El Puerto de Santa Maria but we ate an amazing selection of tapas at Bespoke – worth it just for that!