Why is Jerez the perfect place to make sherry?
The EU denomination which protects sherry as a product says it must come from the ‘sherry triangle’ in Andalusia to ensure consumers get the true taste of Spain.
But why did sherry production start in Jerez de la Frontera?
In fact, there are five key things which came together to make it the best place in the world to grow the grapes which make fine sherry, primarily Palomino grapes.
What are the 5 key reasons Andalusia produces wonderful sherry?
- The chalk soil– Many arid climates are difficult for growing wine because the vines wither and do not produce the best fruit without a huge extra irrigation operation, which is banned under the denomination rules for Jerez sherry. What you need is a chalk soil which retains moisture, something which is abundant in Spain’s sherry triangle. Jerez has white Albariza soil which contains 30% to 80% chalk. The area was once covered by an inland sea which left lots of marine fossils and plankton skeletons, which become chalk. The rest of the soil is a mixture of clay, limestone, and sand, and the soil has similar characteristics to vineyards in Champagne and in Chablis. This vines absorb large quantities of water in the rainy season then in the dry season, the soil surface bakes hard, like a crust, preventing water evaporating in temperatures of up to 40C. The white soil also reflects sunlight up at the vines, helping them to grow and fruit to ripen. The soil is also loose and that helps roots travel deep into it. The Palomino grapes grow best in this soil.
- The sunshine – The area has 3,000 hours of sunshine every year, a vital component in ripening the grapes used to make sherry.
- The rain in winter – Jerez has 620 litres per square metre of rainfall each year, mostly in the winter. Its summers are hot and dry. However, having a decent winter rainfall helps to irrigate the vines.
- The right breezes – Jerez de la Frontera has dry, warm breezes from the east and fresher, more humid breezes from the west which leave heavy dew on the vines and give them an extra source of moisture.
- Nearby water– When vines are near a large body of water, the winemakers find that temperature and humidity fluctuations are evened out and grapes ripen more evenly. Water is able to heat more effectively than the land. So, when there is a fall in the air temperature at night, it releases that heat. When warm air rises from the land during the day, it is replaced by the cooler air from near the water. Jerez is near the Atlantic and the Guadalquivir and Guadalete rivers.
Which sherries from Jerez should you sample?
We recommend trying one each of the sherry styles, Fino, Amontillado, Manzanilla, Palo Cortado, Oloroso, Pedro Ximinéz, and Cream, to see which you like best.
- Fino – Sample our Fino Antiqueby Fernando de Castilla for a fresh, delicate taste which pairs well with olives, fish, and shellfish.
- Amontillado – Our golden Élite Amontilladofrom Dios Baco is perfect with soups and consommés and spicy dishes from Asia.
- Manzanilla – The Manzanilla Classicby Fernando de Castilla is a light, dry sherry which is ideal when served with tapas dishes.
- Palo Cortado – Enjoy our fine Palo Cortado Antiqueby Fernando de Castilla. Serve with smoked meats.
- Oloroso – Our Fernandez Gao Olorosois well-balanced with an intense flavour.
- Pedro Ximinéz – Try the Pedro Ximinéz Classicfrom Fernando de Castilla. Pair this delightfully sweet sherry with chocolate and ice cream.
- Cream – Sample our Cream Sherry Dios Baco, which is a smooth drink perfect with cheeses, cakes, or desserts.
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