One of the reasons that I am not posting on a regular basis lately was that I was on vacation. 🙂 And not just any place. Finally a little dream of mine came true and I was able to walk the magic halls of some of the finest bodegas in the city of Jerez de la Frontera in Spain. Endless rows of solera style casks strung one after the other. Oloroso, Canasta, Fino and many other wines where stored and one of the things that stood out most for me, was that sweet scent of aged wine and wood that was in the air. This intriguing and intoxicating aroma reminded my of some of the best, old Brandies I have had and I immediately got caught up in it, never wanting to leave again.
I was able to attend a guided tour of the Bodega Lustau. The history, tradition and knowledge there were really deeply impressive. The tour ended with the obligatory wine tasting (of course, no Brandies were included in the standard tasting). As I had to drive later that day, I passed on some of the drier wines just nosing a little. When it came to the sweeter Sherrys I did try some with the Lustau East Indian Solera being my favorite. Excellent stuff! A little dissapointment was that the in-house shop did not have anything special when it came to my beloved brandies. Don’t get me wrong, I love Lustau and all of their Brandies were present there. But I was kind of hoping that there would be something to find that you can only get right from the bodega and not anywhere else (later I found out that none of the bodegas I visited had something like that). Here I would like to give my respect to Manuel Lozano, the head enologist at Lustau. He obviously has a very special hand (,nose and palate) and is able to refine Lustaus wines and spirits into something very special. I certainly recommend a guided tour at Lustau!
Of course I was on the lookout for Brandies when visiting Jerez! Stuff that I did not know up until then or I was not able to get my hands on so far. On the one hand side I entered every shop I could find and asked for “especialidades” (not much to the pleasure of my family) and on the other hand I payed a visit to as much bodega shops I possibly could in the short time. The best visit of a bodega shop certainly was at Williams & Humbert (gotta love the Gran Duque d’Alba!). This was due to the simple fact that the shop was at the very end of a huge ‘almacen’ (warehouse) stocked with solera lines of casks. As I was on my own I pretty much had the chance to walk unguided through the warehouse, soaking up the atmosphere, the scent and the tradition. Truly amazing places that give the impression of cathedrals where your senses are lulled by the sweet smell of aging wine.
At the end of the short trip we had to buy an additional suitcase to make space for all the bottles of Brandy. So it certainly was an eventful and successful hunt. 🙂 As posted on my facebook page already, I brought back 11 Brandies. I left for Andalusia with a big list of Brandys that I had not tasted before and I only got two or three from that list. Many of the ones I bought I have not heard of before or did not know that this bodega makes a “gran gran reserva”, platinum or whatever name they give their finest of the fine. So some are very unique and precious and some simply just to good to pass on. As I already had some closed bottles at home I am now left with the cumbersome work to open all of them and write a tasting. What a terrible stress I will be putting myself through! Can’t wait. 🙂