Jerez home of some great bodegas
Jul 12, 2007
|We wanted to see Southern Spain and the opportunity to combine this with a tour of the bodegas that produces Harvey's Bristol Cream was what lead us to Jerez. This is a true wine producing region that has the right mix of sun and special soil. The only trouble we thought as we planned was there was no good way to get there. When we got to Algeciras we were told 'no train to Jerez... bus'. As blessed as we were as we traveled it just so happened that the bus left from the frontier (border between Spain and Gibraltar)and went straight to Jerez.
We traveled along the coast stopping in small towns and little seaside resort communities. Cattle and horse farms along with miles upon miles of wind turbines. There were hundreds of turbines and it was quite a sight. The 3.5 hour trip went by quickly and we were soon at the Jerez bus station which was right next to the train station. I was so relieved to know where I was. We checked into the train station for the next days travel then onto the hotel.
We plodded along in the midday heat for 10 min and soon we were in the foyer of this very beutiful hotel which was a converted grand home. We were greated by the owner, Monica, who made us feel so welcome as she checked us in, picked a great room (made sure the ac worked then moved us to a cooler room)and assisted us with our plans. The Hotel Casa Grande was a true treasure! The center was open to the sky flooding the space with light. The owners desk was in an open area to the side of the courtyard. The room looked over the tree lined plaza. Monica recommended a place for lunch tapas and we sat in the shade had drinks and a late lunch and went back to enjoy a siesta prior to our night out.
We walked to our restaurant for dinner and sat in the back room and as the sun set the ceiling retracted so we could see the sky and the sparrows. This is where Sheri ordered a fish 'spawn' dish that she could not eat(white firm but a little mushey) and I watched them make me a bristol cream out of dry and sweet sherry. The man at the next table had a bull's tail. We finished and thought we had proper instruction on the way to the flamenco show but we got so lost. I asked for directions and the response from the guy was one of surprise as we were so far afield.
I thought we were too late but thankfully the show started 20 min after we arrived and lasted an hour. As a guitarist played and a big man howled, four woman performed for the full house. This was the real gyspy deal, loud, hot and passionate. We took a cab ride back and were met by the night desk woman who was just waiting for one more couple so that she could go to bed. Down and out by 1 am.
We were getting a slow start when the phone rang at 9:30 with news that the Harvey's folks would let us tour at 10:00. We hustled and walked into the main gate, met our tour guide and the other couple and off we went. The tour started with a video presentation of the rich traditions of horses, sun, soil and wine. The history of the bodegas and then to the store houses. The wine is stacked three high with the newest on top. As they removed some from the bottom barrel they would replace it with some from the next up and replace that with some from the newest. This blending as the fermentation open to the air are trademarks of the sherry making... and the proof was...
The last stop was in a large enclosed courtyard with vines blocking the sun. In the cool of the stone we sat, 2 from Massachusetts and 2 from England who live in Switzerland, enjoying three different bottles of sherry. After about 30 min our guide brought glasses of Harveys on the rocks with orange slices. What a breakfast.
Returning to the hotel we found out that we had but an hour before our next bodegas tour. I went to work on the computer as Sheri went to find sandwiches. Quite a feat as she did not like to venture alone to procure an item in a country where there was a language barrier. We were both successful and soon we were off to Bodegas Tradicion which was also a museum housing a large private art collection of the owner.
Again with an English couple this time from northern England. They seemed more 'up' on the bodegas and it's art but after a morning of tasting I just was happy to follow along to the next tasting. The B-Tradicion focuses on older wines of 20-30 years. These were stronger in several ways; not my favorite and three times the cost. Steve was going to buy a bottle but at 40euros he declined.
After tasting we brought Steve and Lynn to the tapas restaurant fot lunch. We watch as the streets emptied for siesta and the temp rose over 100 again. We learned over lunch that we were both staying at the same hotel. We walked back together and as I worked on line Sheri visited with Lynn. With time to spare we took our time getting to the train station. We stopped to take pictures and shop only to find that the time of depature we had was wrong. Our panic was short lived as we quickly found out from the crowd on the platform that the train was very late. Yea.... who was that watching over us?