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There's something in the air of
Jerez de la Frontera. Maybe it's the
citrus scent of orange trees lining
the colourful streets or the stirring
sounds of amenco guitar. Or
maybe it's the salty tang in the
air from the nearby Atlantic coast.
This unique atmosphere shapes Jerez's
most famous export: sherry. Together with
Sanlúcar de Barrameda and El Puerto de
Santa María, Jerez is part of the 'sherry
triangle' north of Cádiz in the province of
Andalusia in southern Spain. The area is
home to 40,000 hectares of vineyards,
numerous sherry producers and their
Wine has been made here since the
Phoenicians introduced viniculture to Spain
back in the 11th century BC. Winemaking
continued under Roman rule, but it was the
Moorish invasion in 711 that was pivotal in
the development of sherry, as the Moors
introduced distillation, meaning that brandy
and forti ed wines could be produced.
Jerez was known as Sherish under the
Moors, who ruled for more than 500 years,
and the Moorish in uence is evident in the
local architecture, language, music and food.
But it wasn't until Alfonso X of Castile took
back the town for Spain in 1264 that the fame
of sherry started to spread across Europe.
Brits became fans in Tudor times, when
Francis Drake sacked Cádiz and made o
with 2,900 barrels of sherry that had been
destined for sailors on an armada preparing
to attack England - and the English fell in
love with it. Some even went on to found
their own cellars in Jerez, such as the Harveys
family of Bristol, who set up here in 1796.
So what was all the fuss about? Why is sherry
so special? The story starts in the vineyards,
with a speci c type of soil known as albariza.
Take a walk through Jerez's vineyards and
you'll be dazzled by this bright white chalky
soil, which is great at retaining moisture,
ensuring that the grapes don't wither and
die under the baking Andalusian sun.
The grapes in question are Palomino,
which is the main variety used to make
dry sherries. Moscatel and Pedro Ximénez
(PX) are grown in smaller quantities for the
sweeter and darker styles.
There are several di erent styles of
sherry, from bone dry to unctuously sweet.
Variations are due to production methods,