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Sherry producers shake off years of surplus

After years of seeing their vineyards diminish due to declining consumer demand, Spain's Sherry producers have found balance, according to the head of the region's trade council.

Sherry sales fell once more in the fortified wine category’s largest export market, the UK, in 2013, down 6% in volume and 3% in value versus 2012.

‘I couldn’t believe it after the events we did,’ said Beltran Domecq (pictured), president of the CRDO Jerez-Xérès-Sherry & Manzanilla-Sanlúcar de Barrameda.

But, his optimism for the sector is undimmed. ‘I feel very optimistic,’ he told Decanter.com in London this week.

‘The sector has come to a moment where we have balance. We have had a long problem of excess production since the mid-1970s. [But] the vineyard area has shrunk from 22,000ha at its 70s peak to 7,000ha in 2014.

‘I think it will stay at 7,000 and if things go well, it will slowly increase, but on a quality message. We have an adequate surface of vineyards to produce what can be sold and vineyard owners are making money. This has been happening over the last three years.’

According to Domecq, bodegas have around four years worth of stock in their cellars. ‘That’s exactly where we should be, because the average ageing is four years. Before, bodegas had much more stock.’

Domecq believes the approachable style of cream should appeal to younger drinkers who can progress to more complex styles.

To emphasise the quality message, Domecq pointed to en rama – Fino and Manzanilla sherries that have undergone fewer stabilisation steps before bottling. ‘They have undergone some stabilisation otherwise they would be unstable and hazy,’ Domecq said.

Written by Lucy Britner

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