Sherry producers need to help consumers understand more about the vineyards behind their wines, according to the president of the Sherry wine council, Beltran Domecq.

A snapshot of vineyards in Jerez, Spain’s Sherry wine region. Image credit: Sherry Institute

The prowess of the Solera ageing system that is centred on bodegas’ cellars needs to sit alongside greater recognition for the work that takes place in the Jerez region’s vineyards, said Beltran Domecq in an interview with Decanter.com in London.

He believes there is untapped consumer interest in the vineyards and their specific geological characteristics, and that this could be printed on more bottle labels.

‘50% of the quality of the wine comes from the vineyard,’ he said. ‘Vineyard distinctions are very important. We have the Solera system, but why not say if the majority of this particular Fino is from Anina, Carrascal or Macharnudo vineyards? It would help a lot.’

Some wineries have started doing this, and particularly for Manzanilla wines, he said. He added that the Jerez DO regulatory council is seeking to help producers by creating a central vineyard map as a reference guide.

‘We are writing to everyone who has a vineyard and asking which area they [think they] belong to.’

The amount of land under vine in Jerez has fallen significantly in the past three decades, from around 22,000 hectares in the late 1970s to 7,000 hectares now.

This reflects lower demand for the region’s wines in general, but Domecq re-iterated comments made to Decanter.com in March last year that the region has found a balance between production and consumption.

Those growers who remain have greater ability to invest in vineyard management, he added. ‘Over the last three years, vineyard owners have been receiving three to four times more than they were before,’ he said.

Domecq also spoke of his respect for the emerging trend for unfiltered ‘en rama’ Sherries, as well as the DO Council’s plan to continue to promote Sherry and food pairings – as long as the proper glasses are used. ‘No schooners, please, Sherry is a wine,’ he said.

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Written by Chris Mercer