Jerez de la Frontera
This is where sherry is made. Sherry is a British version of Jerez, (the British have had as great an influence in Sherry production as they had in Port) which can only be made around in a triangular zone that encompasses the town of Jerez de la Fontera, Puerto de Santa Maria and San Lucar de Barrameda in the province of Cadiz in southern Spain. The key to sherry production is a combination of Palomino grapes, chalky, crumbly soil called albariza, a maritime climate which encourages the development of flor (a coating of yeast that forms a layer on top of the aging wine preventing it from oxidizing to become a Fino Sherry) and the Solera system of old barrels which permits sherry to develop character and complexity as it ages.
There are over 10, 000 hectares of vineyards in Jerez planted mainly with Palomino (named after a 13th century Spanish knight) grapes. After harvesting the grapes are fermented and aged in tanks before being put through the solera system (a stack of barrels through which the sherry passes during its aging). The different styles of sherry run from bone dry Finos and Manzanillas (made exclusively in San Lucar de Barrameda) to Oloroso, Amontillado, Palo Cortado and Pedro Ximenez (this last being very sweet indeed and made from the Pedro Ximenez grape grown in Montilla).
Sherry has been popular ever since the British admiral, Sir Francis Drake laid siege to the port of Cadiz in 1587 and made off with 3,000 barrels of Sherry. Since then the British have been the principal overseas clients but today Sherry’s fame has spread throughout the world and Sherry is experiencing somewhat of a revival as sommeliers love Sherry’s ability to match with different foods as well as an aperitif.