Jerez and Manzanilla close a successful Sherry Week

16 November 2021

The Regulatory Board of the Jerez-Xérès-Sherry and Manzanilla-Sanlúcar de Barrameda appellations have brought to a close the week of activities they have carried out under the name of Sherry Week in Spain and in countries such as Japan, China, United Kingdom and the United States. This Jerez action was inspired by the Argentine Malbec World Day campaign, which since 2011 has been invading the main markets for Argentine wine with promotional campaigns.

Be that as it may, the initiative developed by the Regulatory Board is more than appropriate, as the great weakness of the wines from the region is still the lack of knowledge and understanding of these wines among less specialised consumers. In addition, consumption levels are excessively low despite the recognised quality of these wines around the world.

Over the past week we have been able to observe how the organisers have focused on explaining the characteristics of their great wines: finos, manzanillas, olorosos, etc... the main hurdle faced by young people who decide to give these legendary wines a chance. Gastronomy, the main vehicle for promoting the greatness of Jerez today, has been present throughout the week, represented by many of its most renowned personalities.

Among the wide range of activities programmed, we were able to enjoy master classes, talks and interviews aimed at a variety of audiences and dealing with all aspects related to the wines of the region: consumption, production, style, varieties, climate and soil or its links with gastronomy and cocktails. A 360º vision that did not avoid any touchy subject.

Notas de cata

Interesting was the master class on biological ageing given by Josep Roca and César Saldaña in which they explored the diversity of finos and manzanillas. In addition, this week has allowed the industry players to address the issues of interest facing the appellations of origin of Jerez and Manzanilla de Sanlúcar, topics on which different personalities from the sector have debated and in which the Peñín Guide was also present through its director Carlos González, as well as other prescribers such as Luís Gutiérrez (The Wine Advocate) and Ferrán Centelles (Jancis Robinson).

The Debate on Still Wines in Jerez

Amongst all the issues discussed, there was a debate on whether or not the Regulatory Board should embrace the production of still wines. This is an issue that has been on the table for some time and which could solve certain problems of consumption of these wines, as long as it is approached in the most appropriate way. Carlos González stressed the need to maintain a common thread between these new still wines and the wines that already exist in the region. In his opinion, Jerez should not fall into making still wines without a criterion of location and style, as this would open up a path in which Jerez y Manzanilla could eventually lose the stylistic identity that everyone associates with its wines. "The opening up to this type of wine has to maintain a common thread with traditional winemaking, it is not enough to allow still wines to be made as they are made elsewhere in Spain," says Carlos.

Olfato vino

Copa Jerez Competition 2021 - haute cuisine and sommeliers hand in hand

Throughout this intense week of activities, the 9th edition of the Copa Jerez Competition also took place, an excellent laboratory of food and wine pairings and haute cuisine based on sherry wines. As usual, this competition is attended by the most renowned representatives of the world's gastronomy, as Jerez and Manzanilla have always been very well received by professionals in the kitchen and sommeliers. This year the sommelier Paul-Henri Cuvelier and the chef Fabian Bail, representing Belgium and belonging to the restaurant Paul de Pierre, have become the winners of the Copa Jerez. In addition to this prize, six other prizes were awarded in the categories of best sommelier (Paul-Henri Cuvelier), best chef (Fabian Bail), best pairing with a starter (Netherlands), best pairing with a main course (Denmark), best pairing with a dessert (United States) and most creative pairing (Russia).

The competition, which is held every two years, was attended by great professionals such as Quique Dacosta, Ángel León, Chef José Andrés and Andreas Larsson (World's Best Sommelier 2007). It is not surprising that this select group of professionals support these initiatives, as they are convinced of the great creative capacity of the region's wines, both when it comes to offering innovative pairings and when it comes to creating new recipes. All of this has allowed the wines of Jerez and Manzanilla de Sanlúcar to be included on the wine lists of the most popular restaurants in the world, a great opportunity for promotion and positioning in terms of quality.

Both Denominaciones de Origen are aware of the opportunities that this fact offers in terms of the growth and promotion of their wines, which is why gastronomy and sherry have been joining forces for years, something that has been rewarded in this latest edition of the Copa Jerez, an edition that has also been broadcast on streaming for the first time since its creation.

The sommelier Paul-Henri Cuvelier and the chef Fabian Bail, winners of Copa Jerez

Boca vino

A space open to debate

The most interesting aspect of this week has been, in the words of Carlos González, "the openness and dialogue of the gathering. The main successes and also the problems faced by the wines of the Region have been brought to the stage and to the social networks", which has allowed the professionals to express an open and sincere opinion about the possibilities for improvement that could still be forthcoming for such important wines as those of Jerez and Manzanilla de Sanlúcar.

In its eagerness to cover the broad spectrum of topics that encompass Spanish wine, the marketing of Spanish wines in general and the wines of the Marco de Jerez in particular were also addressed, where an intense debate could be heard on the convenience of defending and promoting the Spanish wine.

The week has left us with food for thought for future debates. It is essential to understand how one of the areas with the greatest identity in the world of wine has not managed to reach the end consumer with greater force. The most important thing is that those of us who form part of this professional universe contribute to the spreading of the culture and consumption of these unique and special wines. We would like to congratulate the Regulatory Board of Jerez and Manzanilla-Sanlúcar de Barrameda for its great initiative.

    Written by Javier Luengo, director editorial de Peñín