González Byass: world famous, and with a very good reason.

One of the most familiar names within the world of Sherry, and it just so “happens” to produce a beautiful PX and Manzanilla. The Bodega is situated in the centre of the Sherry triangle and has the typical Spanish characteristics to it, but also very touristic. Obviously, I am talking about Tio Pepe by now.

But first a bit of history behind this producer. The origin of Tio Pepe lays in 1835, when it was founded by Manuel Maria González Angel. By the time known as González Byass, Manuel was not on his own. His companion was the Englishman Robert Blake Byass, hence the name Gonzáles Byass. It was only in 1988 when the González family had full ownership over the company. In the meantime, in 1963, Tio Pepe was built. Besides Tio Pepe, Las Copas was also founded, the latter was in 1972.

The symbol of the producer is also situated just outside the bodega. It is a bottle playing a guitar, probably a Spanish one at that, and it is wearing a sombrero. This symbol also is on their bottles, and it has been their symbol since 1935. There is not only a statue of the symbol, but also one of Manuel Maria González Angel. It is in the town of Jerez de la Frontera. This was in honour of him building up this company.

Ever since González started making sherry, a lot has changed and a lot has happened in the world of sherry. With that, it was also the quality that shifted off to a very high standard. For instance, their wines have won a few awards. In 2010 they won the International Wine and Spirit competition.

 

Two examples of what quality Sherry wines Gonzáles Byass and Tio Pepe can make.

Gonzáles-Byass Nectar Pedro Ximenez:

Seen the fact that the producer named it nectar, I assume the flavours will be intense. And my assumption was right, a rich, syrupy flavour with a lot of dark dried fruit and tobacco. A lot of aromas like liquorice and chocolate. This PX is obviously not disappointing at all. The palate is full of caramel, honey, apricots, nuts, syrup, chocolate and raisins.

Putting these tasting notes into a conclusion, it is easy to pair this wine with both cheeses and sweet desserts. The wine is so sweet, that a dish cannot possibly overpower the wine. And in terms of cheese, blue cheese would do very well, like Danish Blue. But also a more local Cabrales.

Tio Pepe fino Muy Seco:

The classical example of a Fino Sherry, the typical doughy aroma with almonds and herbs. Despite this, it is not tiring for the nose. The taste is lovely and dry with similar characters. With the finish, it gives me a certain heartiness and it is undoubtedly a long finish.

Serving temperature of this sherry would be quite cold, around 8 to 10 degrees Celsius. Due to the beautiful tasting notes, I can understand that the Ultimate wine challenge gave this wine 91 points in 2014, and since that year, it won four other awards. When pairing this sherry with food, it goes very well with a big variety of dishes. Ranging from Asian dishes with seafood to the Italian Gazpacho and acidic salads. Another good combination would be to pair this with Sashimi.  But what I would prefer best, is to pair this with a more local Tapas.

The name Tio pepe is derived from the Spanish word for uncle: Tio. Also, Tio Pepe also owns the largest actually working wind vane in the world, and therefore, the bodega is in the Guinnes book of World records.

Climate, how does it affect wine?

Climate change, we all heard of it. But does it have anything to do with the global wine industry?

Actually, it has everything to do with the wine industry. Wine, as we know it today, would not be how it is, if the climate did not change this much. The regions of the world are influenced gravely by the climate it is in. A while ago, Wine Folly wrote an interesting blog about how the climate change is going to affect the wine industry and the regions of the world by 2050. In this, there is also indicated what regions fail to thrive and which are going to thrive by the time of 2050.

As you can see on this picture, there are many regions indicated as red. This indicates that the region will be too dry and it will be very difficult to grow wine grapes. Green tells us that the region will be fine for this, blue will be new potential growing areas.

The funny thing to see is that the Netherlands could be a potential new wine region.

The wines

A wine producer in La Mancha, Mureda, makes beautiful wines under the name of Drágora Tinto. This Tinto is mostly made of Tempranillo, which is resilient to heat and drought. But this drought is very bad for the grapes when they are maturing on the vine. In terms of viticulture, this producer must change quite some things to enhance the quality of the grapes in the future, by 2050.

The changes can be to irrigate, fighting the drought that might happen. This is easier here in Spain than in France, due to appellation laws. France has one of the strictest appellation laws in the world, making it difficult to change viticulture techniques.

On the other side of the Mediterranean Sea, we end up in Piedmont. Here, it is Nada who makes wines. This region is situated in Northern-Italy, bordering France and Switzerland. Guiseppe Nada makes red wines here, and as you can see, the colour is in the region red. Indicating that it will be difficult to make wine here. The changes that Guiseppe Nada could make, is to change the grape varieties they grow in the designated area. Seen the fact that terroir is so very important for the expression of the grape, this would be a good option. Terroir, as you might know, is the combination of the following factors:

  • Climate
  • Soil
  • Grape variety
  • Geographical Location
  • The winemaker

The thing about terroir is that some winemakers agree with the fact that it is very important for wine, others are sceptic.

Food for thought

The world is constantly changing, therefore it is very important to respond to this and not sit still. The world of wine is also changing, one cannot expect that a wine tastes the same in 50 years as today. Wine will always be a surprise and an adventure, how much knowledge someone has, it will always be a surprise.

Riesling, Italy Vs Germany

The grape that is regarded the queen amongst the grapes. The best and most loved wine for wine professionals. But how does the grape adapt itself to a different environment. Chardonnay, for instance, can adapt itself to a big variety of climates and soils. This is also one of the most important grapes in the world. But sometimes served too often, that is why the ABC thing is created: Anything But Chardonnay.

Origin

The origin of the grape is in Germany, more specifically the Rheingau region. After being planted a lot in Germany, Alsace joined Germany and there was the origin of Alsatian Riesling. Which you of course know, produces one of the very best Rieslings of the world. Nowadays, the grape is also grown in Italy, Canada, Australia, New-Zealand, America and many more.

One of the characteristics in the vineyard is that the grape is harvested rather late, mostly end of September or begin of October. The grape itself has a golden yellow colour. Besides these two characteristics, there is the versatility that this grape can be styled both dry and very sweet. Ranging from the dry Alsatian and Sekt Riesling from Germany, to the Trockenbeerenausle wines. People find the German translation of the grape to be the purest one.

The Italian

The Riesling from Italy, typically have a stone fruit character as well as peach, apricot and the logical citrus fruit. High acid and a long finish. The colour being golden yellow. The wine in question, is made by Laimburg and is made in Tentino-Alto-Adige. The alcohol content is 13,3%. It can be served very well besides chicken, pork and spicy dishes. But also, fish. The wine is made under the DOC law, so the quality is pretty good but can be better. Only DOCG could be of higher quality than this DOC.

The German

Not particularly close by the Trentino-Alto-Adige region, Beck makes wines here in Germany. This is in the southern part of the Pfalz region. In comparison to the Italian Riesling by Laimburg, the wine is less fruit-driven and has more pineapple aroma and floral. There also is a bit of a residual sugar in this wine, which makes it very well balanced. The colour is not golden yellow, but more green yellow. And has a lower alcohol level, with 12,5%. Pairing this wine with food, is rather easy, due to the balance. It goes well with light fish dishes, but also pork and highly seasoned dishes. This wine has won awards, and I can understand why. I could also drink this as an aperitif.

But which one is better?

What one could say, is that the comparing of the two wines is something that is difficult to do. And it is even more difficult to say whether one is better than the other. Both of the producers have produced a quality wine that can be enjoyed by many. What we now know, is that the grape adepts itself very well to a different environment. It is more important to enjoy the wine, instead of accessing the quality of the wine.