Sherry Wine News

Postcard from Vinoble

The thousands of glasses are being washed, the stands are being taken down and life in Jerez is returning to its usual leisurely pace, after three days celebrating the incredible world of fortified and naturally sweet wines.

The ninth edition of Vinoble closed its doors at 9pm on Tuesday, and the hardy souls who braved the three days went home for a welcome rest!  Vinoble takes place in Jerez every two years, and is a showcase for producers from all over the world.  We understand from regulars that this year’s edition had fewer exhibitors from the rest of the world, but Sherry and Manzanilla were out in force. There was also a strong showing from Montilla-Moriles, but I only had three days so didn’t really get further than the outer reaches of the sherry region!

The perfect setting

Normally you expect a trade show to be in a convention centre or other windowless, featureless space.  If you’re lucky, like with the Great Sherry Tasting in London, it’s in the banqueting suite of a swish hotel. However Vinoble has now spoiled me forever – set in the palaces and patios of Jerez’s Alcazar, a stunning mix of 17th and 18th century palacios and restored Moorish spaces, this is the trade show location to end all trade show locations. Producers had stands inside the Palacio de Villavicencio and in open marquees on the patios, and the tasting masterclasses took place in the Mezquita (the old Mosque). The sun shone, the wines glowed.

The Consejo Regulador for the DO had a large salon in the Palace, with different zones for tasting biologically aged wines, oxidatively aged wines, sweeties and VOS/VORS. There was also the #sherrylover barrel to sign and a photographer on hand to capture it for posterity. A small ante room doubled up as a space for sherrylover merchandise and small scale tastings. It was here that Jose Ferrer, gastronomic ambassador for Sherry Wines held court, running tutored sherry tastings paired with different food flavours in gel form.

Downstairs, the smaller Sanlucar producers had a salon too, focusing purely on their Manzanillas.

New things to try

As well as offering the chance to taste existing ranges and talk with producers, Vinoble is also a showcase for new launches. It was really heartening to see and taste a new range of sherries from Harvey’s, so soon after they were bought by the Filipino giant Emperador. The wines were great and I hope they signal a bright future for this old brand.

Añadas were a topic of conversation, with several bodegas having small numbers of statically aged sherries on show. Valdespino was testing reactions to samples of two Añadas from Macharnudo, which were both pretty exciting.  They’re not yet commercially available – the company was using Vinoble to see what people thought. I only hope others reacted as positively as I did, and that they’re on the market soon.  We also tasted Callejuela’s Manzanilla Añada 2/11, only bottled a few days before Vinoble.  I’m looking forward to tasting it again later this year (if there’s any left!), when it’s had time to relax in the bottle a bit.

Vermouth was also a bit of a theme. Lustau was the first sherry producer to dip a toe in to Vermouth last year, and here at Vinoble we also tasted offerings from Gonzalez Byass and Rey Fernando de Castilla.

Learning from the masters

As well as the producer stands and a show cooking tent featuring chefs from some of the region’s best restaurants, Vinoble offered several masterclasses per day, led by winemakers and experts. Tickets were in huge demand for subjects ranging from ‘The Flor Show – a tasting journey from Jura to Jerez’ with, Jesús Barquín, and ‘Unveiling the Mystery of Palo Cortado’ led by Consejo Regulador President, Beltrán Domecq.  

Final reflections

As I fly home, with a period of detox definitely on the cards, what are my reflections on my first Vinoble? As I’ve already confessed, I didn’t make it beyond the wines of the sherry triangle, and whilst I knew quite a lot about the wines and the producers already, I’ve left the show feeling energised and optimistic. Bodegas are trying new things, but doing them the sherry way with a commitment to quality. There are newer names blossoming alongside the established brands. Lots of new ideas are bubbling up that will excite both the sherry anoraks and the new discoverers.

And one rast reflection: I’m really glad I don’t have to do the washing up!

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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of El Consejo Regulador.
Helen Highley
I am a certified Sherry Educator and the editor of Criadera, a blog that tells the stories of the wines, places and people of the Sherry Triangle. I am particularly passionate about getting behind the scenes (or behind the bota!) of Sherry making and showcasing the people and places that make Sherry so special.
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Helen Highley @criadera
01 June 2016
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