So we are at our last stop and this adventure will soon come to a close. But first we have Jerez – home to sherry !!

After so many Alcazar’s, mosques, cathedral’s and churches we feel full and whilst there is another Cathedral and Alcazar in Jerez we have decided to go for sherry and flamenco based activities instead 😂

View from our balcony – a cathedral we won’t be visiting 😂

Fortunately – and by no coincidence – we are staying at Hotel Bodega Tío Pepe, home to their famous fino (and many others) sherry ! We are looking forward to tasting them all – with the exception of Croft Original, which is made for Brits and only exported to the UK market – and probably still only drunk by people over 70 😂

Our first evening in Jerez was a restful one after a lots of zooming around in Sevilla. We had a lovely meal before calling it a day – ready for our 1100 tour the next day around the Bodega.

American oak barrels containing sherry undergoing ageing

Tio Pepe is owned by the Gonzales Byass company. The González Byass wine story began in Jerez in 1835, when young entrepreneur Manuel María González started out as a wine trader. Rapid success led him into wine production, helped by his UK agent Robert Byass and his uncle José Ángel, known affectionately as Tio Pepe, after whom he named his first solera. Almost 200 years later it is still very much a family concern and is now in the hands of the fifth generation of winemakers.

The bodega is an amazing place and we toured cellar after cellar full of barrels of sherry, all ageing gracefully.

Barrels and Arches in the Bodega

We were even fortunate enough to see the original workshop where Manuel Maria Gonzales started it all from.

Original Workshop of Manuel Maria Gonzales

There is even a cellar where commemorative barrels signed by the Spanish and other Royal families, and famous names such as Bobby Charlton, Steven Spielberg and many others can be seen. All sign and record the date they visited the cellar and some also leave a short message. Needless to say Odie wasn’t asked to sign one, which I am sure he considered an outrage 😂

The Royal Cellar

It was then time for the tasting. Sherry is made from only two grapes, palomino and pedro ximenez. It is the level of fortification, oxidisation during ageing and the blending of the two grapes that creates a particular style, moving from the dry fino to the sweet dulce which Sue describes as ‘raisins in a glass’.

The Line Up

We started with the dry fino and a 12yr old Palo Cortado. Palo Cortado is made by adding extra fortification to the ageing sherry so that it goes to 18% alcohol rather than the usual 15%. This effectively kills off the protective yeast layer or ‘flor’ that grows over the ageing fino, causing it to slowly oxidise. The resulting sherry is darker than a regular fino with more depth of flavour.

Nine green bottles, standing on a …err… table

We then moved on the (still) dry Oloroso and Amontillado, before cantering through various blends to the Solera and then the sweet sherrys. Now before you pull a face, these sweet sherries are not like your Grandma used to drink (unless you have some Croft Original in your cupboard…) they are wonderfully complex wines which taste amazing. We were fortunate enough to taste their collection of 30 year old sherries, which Odie had to try several times to make sure he fully understood the complexities of each one 😂

Now drinking nine types of sherry at 1100 is not for the faint hearted 😂 Especially when you need to recheck a few and then compare again just to make sure 😀😀. As you can imagine, once we finished a couple of hours later a rather long siesta was required !

Sue’s been on the sherry again

We did manage to get out for dinner that evening and felt refreshed enough for another couple of glasses, if only to prove we could remember what we had been told.

The next day we felt fine ! Which was surprising 😀 but also good as we were heading to the Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art to see a performance in their arena. As we have never been to any kind of horse event we were unsure what to expect – although we correctly guessed the smell 😂

The school is well known for its ‘dancing stallions’ shows for tourists however the majority of the riders and horses are under training before they are able to take part in international dressage competitions and shows.

Man on a horse
Marching Horse

They also train the horses to rear and jump. We weren’t too sure about this part as it didn’t seem particularly natural behaviour, especially with all the ‘coaxing’ required – but it did looked pretty spectacular.

I can fly…

The show finished with some synchronised horse work and carriage riding.

Men in hats and a carriage

Overall, it wasn’t really our cup of tea however you can’t help being impressed by the skills on display.

And so we come to our final event, and one we have been waiting for…flamenco ! But first it was time for cake😀 ! We were recommended to try Tocino de Celio. It was incredibly sweet and resembled crème caramel in its texture and appearance. This traditional dessert dates back to the 1300s when egg whites were used to clarify wine, with the leftover yolks being given to the local nuns. They then created this dessert which translates as ‘heavens’s bacon’. The chocolate brownie was more to our liking 😀

Half-eaten Heavens Bacon !

Then it was flamenco time ! We avoided the more touristy offerings in Granada and Sevilla and settled on Tabanco El Pasaje in Jerez. ‘El Pasaje’ is considered to be the oldest tabanco in the city and was inaugurated by its first owner, Mr José González Navarro, on December 16, 1925.

Ready for the show

It was a small place and we had a table at the front ready for the show to start ! We were very close !!

There were three performers; a flamenco dancer, a singer and a guy playing Spanish guitar. The place was full of locals and it felt very authentic.

In full song

The show started with the guitar before moving on to seated singing – which some may call wailing – with incredibly loud clapping and stamping.

If you’re happy and you know it…
Very distinctive singing

The atmosphere was incredible and that was before the lady got up to dance. Flamenco is an intense and passionate art form which we throughly enjoyed.

Dancing and stamping
Wonderful flamenco !

And that brought our tour of Andalusia to a close, and what a fantastic way to finish. If you are in Jerez then do pay El Pasaje a visit, it’s well worth. Book ahead, get a table and enjoy !

Hopefully we will see you all again in the not too distant future to share another journey with you.

3 thoughts on “Jerez

  1. A great blog. Really enjoyed reading that. Hope you brought some of your favourite sherry home! I would have loved the flamenco, it’s quite mesmerising. Don’t know how you are going to top that trip, it’s been amazing. X

  2. Great following your wonderful holiday and bringing back memories of our own venture to Andalucia several years ago – but it was never so intense or thorough as yours – we would love to have the energy to return !

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