Barbadillo – Spain, Andalucia
Barbadillo is a family owned business, one hundred percent Spanish, that effortlessly brings together tradition and modernity. It looks towards the future without forsaking its origins and skilfully converts the true essence of the south into its unequivocal mark of identity. Barbadillo currently owns 500 hectares of vineyards spread over two estates, Gibalbín and Santa Lucía, both of which are located in the area known as Jerez Superior, or Upper Jerez.
Today, Barbadillo is the largest producer of Manzanilla in the whole of the Jerez region and proud creators of well-known and prestigious brands such as “Solear” and “Muyfina”. In addition, Barbadillo is a true pioneer within the industry producing the first ever white wine of Andalucía; “Castillo de San Diego” and currently making the full range of sherry wines permitted within the Marco de Jerez. Its offices are housed in a striking building known as the Casa Palacio de la Cilla, which dates back to 1773. From this exceptional location Barbadillo is known for offering products of the highest quality that are capable of satisfying the demands of the most select palates whilst achieving general approval with all kinds of public. However in addition, Bodegas Barbadillo is currently experiencing an exciting period of change, progress and evolution reflecting the fact that each era has its own aesthetic expression as well as distinct references, symbols and languages. Since its foundation, Bodegas Barbadillo has been a traditional point of reference as an important family producer within the wine producing areas of Jerez-Xeres-Sherry, Brandy de Jerez, Vinagre de Jerez and Manzanilla-Sanlúcar de Barrameda. More recently, and thanks to a comprehensive and carefully planned diversification strategy, Barbadillo has embarked on new projects that considerably extend its operational area.
The vineyards of Gibalbín and Santa Lucía extend over gentle, rolling hills within the famous Jerez triangle and are qualified as “superior” due to their quality. These are the celebrated lands of albariza, a porous, chalky soil characterised by its pale colour that is particularly well suited to the cultivation of vines grown for the production of quality wines. The climate is mild with more than 3,000 hours of sun softened by the cooling influence of the Atlantic. These factors, together with a long winemaking tradition, allow for excellent ripening of the Palomino grapes and ensure a high degree of beaumé (level of sweetness) and moderate acidity.
The harvest takes place during the month of September during which time the Palomino grapes are carefully cut from the vines and quickly transported to new holding presses located in the vineyards. Once the grapes arrive at the modern winemaking plant a light pressing takes place using state-of-the-art technology. The selected musts then flow along a complex piping system before arriving in large stainless steel tanks where a controlled fermentation takes place at low temperatures; this ensures that the special qualities afforded to the Palomino grape by their unique locality are retained and results in wines with maximum fruit expression. After fermentation and the gentle removal of lees the new wines are expertly classified for subsequent ageing.
Fortified Wines and Vela de flor ageing The wines selected for Finos and Manzanillas also originate from the primer yema musts and are fortified up to 15º before being left for decantation and filtration. At this stage they are known as sobretablas (new wine of a single vintage) and are stored in American oak butts ready for an ageing process that follows the traditional system of criaderas and soleras. The criaderas are tiers of butts that contain wines of different ages with the youngest wine on the top tier; the solera tier is at ground level and contains the oldest wine from which wine is extracted for bottling. As small quantities of wine are taken from each butt of the solera, they are consequently topped up with slightly younger wines from the first criadera (the row of casks directly above the solera) and this in turn is replenished with wine from the second tier and so on. Upon reaching the last criadera, the butts are topped up with wine from the sobretablas. Our criaderas can be found in cool, fresh cellars with only subtle changes in temperature and humidity; they have high ceilings supported by slender arches and columns and face the sea. Barbadillo has a total of 17 cellars distributed throughout the urban centre of Sanlúcar, each with its own name, with capacity for more than 65,000 butts of American oak. Here the criaderas are used for a unique aging process that can be categorised either as biological or as bajo velo de flor (under a layer of yeast).
The latter is characterized by the presence of a layer of unicellular yeast (called the flor) on the surface of the wine that prevents it from coming into contact with air and therefore avoids oxidation. The combination of climatic features at the mouth of the Guadalquivir River in the Coto de Doñana National Park, in the nearby marshes and from the winds that blow in from the Atlantic create a special microclimate in our city that guarantees the permanence of this layer of live flor 365 days of the year. This unique ecological phenomenon, which only occurs in our city, is the origin of Manzanilla and as a result, the butts are always left with a little space to favour the aeration necessary for the development of the yeast. Furthermore, the need to decant the criaderas is essential as the flor needs a regular supply of nutrients to survive; this is achieved by topping up butts that contain older wines with younger wines. This decanting process needs great care so as not to cause turbulence that could alter the stillness of the criaderas, so is only carried out by specialists. These master blenders have a long experience of carefully blending the criaderas and are responsible for turning our wines into famous and delicious Manzanillas.
Fortified Wines and oxidative aging The wines classified by our experts as having greater body, colour and alcohol content are fortified to 18º and are either assigned to ageing by vintage in empty oak butts (with no blending taking place) or to replace the last criaderas of the tier system for oxidative aging. In this case the ageing process also relies on the system of criaderas and soleras to carefully blend the various vintages however, the higher alcohol content of these wines impedes the formation of yeast. A number of well-known wines such as Oloroso, Amontillado, Cream Sherry, Muscatel, Pedro Ximénez and Palo Cortado are all aged using this traditional system, a technique that has brought great fame to our region. Fino wines are aged under velo de flor but also undergo a period of oxidative aging as the flor is lost during the winter and summer months. Amontillado wines are Manzanillas or Finos that, once their ageing is complete, are left to a further period of oxidative ageing over many years during which time they achieve a much darker colour.
Penin Guide 2015 – Bodegas Barbadillo was nominated for the 2015 Peñín Guide Prize of ‘Best Winery of the Year’, which aims to distinguish the work of the best professionals, companies and products in the sector and which just celebrated its 25th anniversary. In this way, the judging panel of this prestigious publication aims to recognize the winery’s ‘merit of maintaining a high quality in a variety of brands, and a complexity that all producers of quality wine of this country are aware of”.
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