On Tuesday of this week I spent the day in Sanlúcar de Barrameda as I am about to change the itinerary of my wine tour there. Over the last few years there has been an increase in the production of high quality unfortified wines from specific vineyard sites in the Jerez region,with many being produced in Sanlúcar. I think these wines are going to become more important in the future as they were in the past, many years ago.
I went to visit Ramiro Ibañez, one of the most important people in this quiet revolution of producing very fine non-fortified wines, which in many cases like finos and manzanillas are aged under a layer of yeast. Ramiro showed me around his winery and talked about his approach to winemaking and how his wines are a real reflection of the different terroirs in the area. A lot of the grapes in the Jerez region are grown on “albariza” or chalky soils. However, there are different kinds of albariza which give wines with very different profiles. It was incredibly interesting tasting wines with completely different aromas and mouth feels. Many people say that the Palomino grape produces neutral wines. A short time spent with someone like Ramiro tells you that this is completely untrue. Neutral wines are produced from the palomino grape when production is double what it should be. Ramiro is also producing wines using grape varieties which were important in the area in the 19th century like Perruna and Uva Rey, absolutely fascinating!
As well as the visit to Ramiro’s winery, I went out to see some of his vineyards with 50-60 year-old Palomino vines. I think it’s very important to see where the grapes are grown as I think we are going to see more and more wines from this region in the future that express a specific terroir. For lovers of fine wine this is going to be very exciting.