How does a lifetime honing your palate to the nuances of each producer; a career dedicated to learning and analysing the technical and chemical development of these unique wines; scrutinising and ensuring quality is maintained in every registered bodega; and, of course, a steady stream of lectures, dinners and events that all help promote the wonders of Sherry around the world sound? Still interested? Well read on...
We caught up with Beltrán Domecq, president of the Consejo Regulador Jerez, during his recent trip to the UK to find out more about the on-the-road life of being the president.
It is an English institution and as we arrive tourists are outside taking photographs of the front door (!), The Spectator is one of the UK's most revered literary publications, with a readership who clearly love their Sherry. Hosted in the suitably grand board room, we prepared a Sherry and food matching lunch for twelve readers in collaboration with their resident wine writer Jonathan Ray.
Then it's a dash across town to get ready for the annual Caballeros investiture dinner, being held in one of London's smartest hotels. The evening is a celebration of Spanish wines in the UK and welcomes the great and the good from the world of Spanish wine. Each year two new Caballeros get voted in and this year it welcomed one of our own Jerezanos, Maurcio González-Gordon of González Byass; along with Beth Willard, who's a no-nonsense surf boarding kind of gal who's in the driving seat for buying Spanish wine at Direct Wines. The event always welcomes a glut of Sherry lovers, some in their finery, everyone in their best (see picture).
The following morning it's a stroll down St James' in glorious sunshine for the first of five 1-2-1 media interviews. For the past four years Mr Domecq has hosted this press 'meet and greet' opportunity and it's always a hot ticket, not least because each year there is a chance for guests to taste a small selection of Sherries with Beltrán. This year he brought seven age-certified Sherries, so an extra special treat for those who joined us.
The next day we arrive at the Wines from Spain trade fair which is the single most important event for Spanish wines in the UK. It attracts over 800 trade guests and for the last three years has also hosted a Sherry masterclass - which we think is testament to the quality and diversity of wines being produced in the region.
The one hour session was a sell-out, with people queuing to get in. It is always difficult to turn people away when they're so keen to learn about Sherry but when we're full, were full. And there's always the Great Sherry Tasting in September to tempt them with.
The hardest part of hosting tastings and talking about Sherry for Beltrán, he often says, is condensing his Sherry stories into such a short period of time - often 45mins to an hour. The knowledge he has can't be shared in the detail he'd like, so often he is left feeling like there was so much more he could have shared. Not that the guests know this as they go away with so much new knowledge and they're delighted.
To round off a busy few days Beltrán took the time to visit one of London's most dynamic and growing independent wine shop/bar businesses, Vagabond Wines. They've just started a new (April 2016) month long promotion of Sherry and we went down to their Spitalfields branch for a double finalé - some staff training and an informal Sherry tasting with consumers.
This corner of London has a great vibe with lots of young people open to new - to them! - drinks, so perfect for finding a new breed of Sherry enthusiasts. The team there are so switched on to food and drink trends, they lapped up the wines, ideas on food matching and had a go at being venenciadores - for which, fortunately, Beltrán was on-hand to give some top tips.
During this trip the schedule reached both trade and consumer audiences, engaging, educating and exciting them about Sherry. It is a privilege to accompany Beltrán, who's a real drop of Sherry royalty. And whilst it was exhausting, Beltrán is already back in Spain to start again, this time with a Sherry Festival in Valencia. And then it continues...
Beltrán Domecq returns to the UK in September (2016), to host the Great Sherry Tasting (trade only).
18 April 2016