Hi All. With apologies if this is covered elsewhere, and with anticipatory thanks for what I know will be good advice from the Community:-
We’re planning a Spain trip this October. So far we’re settled on a few nights in Madrid and then train to Granada and on to Seville for a few nights. (Any recommendations/advice on those stops gratefully received).
We’d like to finish the trip with perhaps 3 or 4 nights touring the sherry triangle before returning to Seville to fly home. Plan would be to hire a car (I think) and perhaps stay centrally with visits to the three Sherry towns and tastings. I’ve also seen hotels that offer Sherry tours which might be nice (and save one of us spitting).
All tips much appreciated. And BTW, there is a challenge here as my Wife has sniffed and rejected some of the best Sherries in the world. I have two aims in life and that’s to convince her that (a) Riesling is fantastic (partial success there) and (b) that Sherry is one of the great wines. No success at all on Sherry but October may change that!
I’m a regular visitor to Jerez, less so to Sanlucar and Puerto. We always stay in apartments so I can’t assist on organised tastings, outside of those available in bodegas. However I’ve never seen any advertised.
I’ve been on a few bodega visits over the years but since the process is essentially the same, one visit is sufficient. Gonzalez Byass is as good as any. I’d avoid Sandeman as the sherry is not very interesting. I’ve heard that Bodegas Tradicion is very good, albeit expensive and it has a fascinating art gallery as well. We may try it in September when we revisit Jerez.
In Jerez a must visit is Licores Corredera, a sherry shop in the centre of town. It has a fabulous selection of sherry including lots of half and 50cl bottles along with local vermouth and regional wine. Supermarket stock is very limited.
Another way to try sherry is a restaurant with a matched menu, like that at La Carbona.
I’ve been to all 3 of the main Sherry towns, and whilst a car makes this more flexible it’s not really necessary as there’re plenty of bodegas either in the centre of town or within walking distance. You can take the train from Seville to Jerez which runs on from there to Puerto It’s a bus to Sanlucar, I think from any of the towns. You could easily base yourself in just Jerez and do a day trip to the others via public transport. And it’s easy enough to book tours direct with bodegas via their websites that there’s no real need to do an organised tour.
In Puerto I’d recommend visiting Gutierrez Colosia rather than the much bigger Osbornes. This place used to simply supply the bigger shippers but is now its own operation and feels a bit more boutique. They do two en ramas which are both great and some fantastic, if expensive, VORS.
Jerez I’ve only spent a day in, we went to the Lustau tour which sampled some huge number of sherries at the end. I guess in Jerez there or Gonzalez Byass are the obvious places but I see a couple of other suggestions already offered.
And in Sanlucar, Hidalgo (already mentioned) is right in the centre of town, has a good selection and a decent tour. If you want another option Barbadillo has been suggested to me but I’ve never visited. Sanlucar also prides itself as a bit of a foodie place so plenty of eating options whether you’re there or staying for a night or two.
We stayed for a week in Sanlucar. I think we tasted only at Hidalgo and Barbarbadillo, but ate and drank in a few different places.
I’d third Hidalgo La Gitana (I believe there are 2 Hidalgos, but this is the better known one). We booked on the VORS tasting tour, and didn’t regret it at all. After that, if your wife is not convinced by Sherry she never will be.
Pretty much all the food is tapas or similar. THE place to eat is Casa Balbino in the main square. It is good, but everyone knows that, so it can be a bit of a scrum. The same owners (someone told me) have another place, Bodegón de Lola, a short walk from the centre, which is more sedate and works a bit more like a restaurant, which we liked. But the place we liked most, and we had two evening meals there, was Doña Calma. That was recommended by our hotel, and had recently opened at the time (2019). It’s quite small and had the best food we found - again more restaurant style than bar, but with smallish dishes. I am sure there are other great places to eat too - those are favourites from the small selection we tried.
Incidentally we discovered Manzanilla Gabriella at Doña Calma, and later visited the bodega. I don’t think there were tasting opportunities there, but we bought a few halves. I think it is now my favourite Manzanilla. Doña Calma also had a very reasonably priced local red, Louis Pérez, Garum VdT Cadiz, that I liked.
Sorry for being repetitive but I guess several endorsements for a suggestion carries some weight, so I’m agreeing with several suggestions already proposed
Sanlucar - yes I’d put Hidalgo / La Gitana as #1 target. I think they have regular times for tours, something like 10am, and a great cellar door where the sherry is on draught ! We did Barbadillo as well, but enjoyed Hidalgo more. We ate lunch in the town square and Hildago have a wine / tapas bar there too. Parking is a bit tight in Sanlucar so be prepared to walk a fair bit to get into the centre.
Jerez - we chose Gonzalez-Byass which was more touristy / corporate but good fun all the same, and of course have an enormous cellar door including a selection of limited run sherries.
Are you going to Montilla-Moriles ? I would strongly recommend it if you can and, of course, aim to visit Alvear in Montilla town.
To get your taste buds salivating… Solera barrel samples all round…
Thanks all for your advice. Excellent as I expected. We’ve changed plans and will train to Jerez and base ourselves there and bus/taxi out to Sanlucar etc. An expense spared which can be channelled into Members Reserves!
We took the local bus to visit Jerez from Sanlúcar, and I don’t remember it being difficult. We got times from the tourist information (and double-checked at the bus station), and I think they ran every hour or so. This was from town to town - nothing to do with the airport.
I’m wondering if there weren’t different route numbers and/or bus companies operating between the two places, so it might be difficult to find them all in the same place online
Another vote for the Jerez - Sanlucar bus…. have used it several years, but not in the post covid world. Evidence from our trip to Asturias is lots more domestic tourism in Spain, and very frequent buses - public services if anything have been augmented, rather than scaled back.
Need to do some more research, but we went a fair way towards arranging our wedding at a bodega in Sanlucar - fantasy running ahead of practicality (we found it was impossible for 2 foreigners to marry in Spain without spending a number of months in the country).