Gonzalez Byass has doubled production for the re-launch of its Tio Pepe En Rama, a sherry that it hopes will revive the flagging sector.
See the full interview with Pedro Gonzalez below:
Tio Pepe En Rama – rama literally means ‘raw’ – is a young, ultra-fresh fino made from unfiltered and unclarified Tio Pepe taken from the cask in spring when the flor is at its thickest. This is the second year of production.
With no stabilisation of any sort the sherry must be drunk within three months of bottling, the company advises.
‘We want people to taste it as they would if it came directly from the barrel,’ marketing director Jeremy Rockett said.
Gonzalez Byass executives which also owns several wine brands, have high hopes for Tio Pepe En Rama, doubling production this year to 5000 bottles.
They refer to London’s mini-boom in sherry and tapas bars as an indicator of the burgeoning popularity of top-end sherry.
London has gained four new sherry bars in the last 12 months: Bar Pepito in King’s Cross, Capote y Toros in Knightsbridge, Morito in the City of London, and the soon-to-be opened Jose Pizarro in Bermondsey.
But the sherry sector is not robust. Overall sales in the UK are falling by 5% a year, and Byass’ Croft Pale Cream, and Harvey’s Bristol Cream, both brands bought overwhelmingly by consumers in their 60s, dominate the market.
However, managing director Martin Skelton said, the top cuvees like rare old solera sherries had doubled sales in the last year, and according to Nielsen, sales of Tio Pepe were up 18% year on year at Christmas.
This was the result of the very healthy London market, Skelton said, pointing out that wine merchant Lea & Sandeman to sell out of all its 300 bottles of Tio Pepe en Rama even before delivery.
Gonzalo Byass, a director of the venerable Spanish company, agreed that there was a good deal of work to do to make sherry more mainstream in Britain.
‘We must change the culture of sherry-drinking in Britain,’ he said.
Tio Pepe En Rama is available in London restaurants such as Hakkasan and tapas bars, and Harvey Nichols.
Written by Adam Lechmere