(June 2018) Bodega Delgado Zuleta is located on the outskirts of Sanlucar, Spain in an industrial area with plentiful parking. They are one of the largest sherry wineries in Spain, and are the producer of the famous La Goya Manzanilla brand. Their partner winery, Barbiana, is also housed at this complex. Established in 1744, the winery has over 1,000 hectares of vineyards, and produces millions of bottles of wine each year.
I arrived in the afternoon and was met by Eva Jimenez who is a sherry expert living in the area, and also a great tour guide and educator with perfect English speaking skills. She provided a tour of the complete facility, and I was impressed at the many educational posters and sections they had set up in the winery. It is a great place for someone who is trying to learn about sherry grapes and production.
Don’t Shake That Sherry!
Eva told me a funny and tragic story about a barrel of sherry with flor on top that was set-up as a display. She said she was explaining to a group of visitors how flor is a tiny community of living creatures that grows on top of the wine to protect it and provide it with its distinctive taste, when a man came forward and started shaking the barrel.
“I lunged forward and screamed at him to stop,” she said, “but it was too late. He had mixed all of the flor into the wine and it took months for flor community in the barrel to restore itself.”
“How awful,” I said. “Why did he do it?”
She shrugged. “I’m not sure, but I think he thought he was trying to help the wine. Now we no longer leave a single barrel on display, and instead use this more contained version with triple barrels.” (see photo)
Recycling Sherry Barrels with In-house Cooper
One of the fascinating aspects of this visit was the cooperage. I have never visited a sherry cooperage before, and learned that it is a place of the utmost recycling. This is because they must use old barrels to age the sherry. Therefore, they are continually tearing apart old barrels and making new ones. I was able to watch the cooper performing his tasks for a while, and then he stopped and led us to a stack of old dusty sherry barrels in the back of the warehouse.
Unlocking the Ancient Sherry Barrels
Eva explained that this unique stack of black sherry barrels held the private reserve wines of the Zuleta family. I watched as the cooper unlocked several barrels, and then using a llenenzia, he deftly subtracted some sherry and poured it into wine glasses. We were allowed to taste an amontillado and cream sherry from these ancient casks. The cream sherry was especially delicious with Pedro Ximenez grapes added to the blend.
Private Tasting at Bodega Delgado Zuleta
At the conclusion of the tour, Eva invited me to sit down and taste several different wines. She also showed me photos of La Goya, who was a famous singer from the early 1900’s. Highlights from the tasting were:
La Goya – very fresh and elegant with notes of white flowers, green apple, almonds, and a hint of salt. La Goya is always aged 6 to 7 years in cask. I was surprised at the yellow color of the wine, and the strong floral notes. It was one of my favorite manzanillas on the trip.
Quo Vadis Amontillado (40 years) VORS – Very Old Rare Sherry. Truly delicious with nutty notes, toffee, great acidity, mouthwatering finish.
Monteagvdo Muscatel – tasted liked white chocolate, caramel apples, and cream toffee. Very much a decadent dessert wine.
The Quaint Seaside Village of Chipiona
On the drive back to my hotel, I stopped in the quaint seaside village of Chipiona. It has a lovely walking trail along the ocean, a lighthouse, and many tiny cobblestone streets filled with shops and restaurants. In the future it would be a nice place to stay for several nights.