Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Sanlúcar de Barrameda - home of manzanilla

Sanlúcar de Barrameda is home of Manzanilla and an absolute must for any sherry tourist.

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Directly upon arrival it becomes obvious what the city lives off. The visitor is greeted by the massive letters of the advert by Barbadillo sherry house, perched on the hills surrounding the city. Welcome to Sanlúcar de Barrameda, the Northwestern corner of the Sherry country.




Together with Jerez de la Fronteran and El Puerto de Santa María Sanlúcar de Barrameda forms Marco de Jerezin, the area known as the Sherry country in the South Western Andalusia. What makes this city unique is the fact it's the only place where they make sherry known as Manzanilla. It became its own separate wine region and classification in 1964. 

Located on the shore of Atlantic Ocean, Sanlúcar de Barrameda's particular micro climate gives Manzanilla its distinctive, gently oceany and salty flavour. Sea, the humidity it brings and the winds blowing from the sea have all been taken into serious consideration among the local sherry houses as the bodegas were being built - along with details such as the directions they face and their altitude.


Sherries fall into two categories: those aged through oxidation and those aged biologically. Oloroso, Amontillado and Pedro Ximenez sherries are made with the first method, the later is employed for sherries like Fino and Manzanilla. Biological sherries are aged in barrels under a layer of yeast called flor. The humidity in Sanlúcar de Barrameda is higher than than of the other Sherry cities, so flor developed here is thicker, therefore providing Manzanilla a better protection against oxidation.





If you're travelling through public transportation, Sanlúcar de Barrameda is a bit tricky as the city is not accessible by trains. From Cádiz you'll get here with M-960 bus and the journey takes at least an hour each way. The return ticket costs about €7.50, for timetables please see here

For a Sherry tourist, however,  Sanlúcar is a must see and by far the most user friendly of the cities of Marco de Jerez. Apart from a couple of exceptions all the bodegas are conveniently located within short walking distances from each other right in the city centre. In fact, you're never more than a couple of minutes away from the nearest one. 


One of the bodegas definitely worth a visit is Delgado Zuleta, which is actually the olderst still functioning Sherry house in the Marco. I'll take you on a tour here later on...





...along with tiny La Cigarrera, the oldest bodega still operating out of its original premises. 






Owing to its strategic location, Sanlúcar de Barrameda was a key player during the exploration and evangelization of the America in the 16th and 17th century. Its role quickly diminished though after Spanish Armada suffered a devastating defeat at the hands of the English, bringing shame to the noble family of Medina Sidona. The house of Medina Sidona had been ruling Sanlúcar since 13th century and the Armada was led by its head at the time. 





Sanlúcar de Barrameda's importance decreased even further in 1717, when Casa de Contratación, the authority overseeing the trade between Spain and America, moved from Seville to Cádiz.





Since the 19th century wine industry has been the leading business here. Another important source of income is tourism, but even by Andalusian standards the city is exceptionally poor: income per capita here is the lowest of the whole of Spain. 




In addition to Sherry bodegas the most important tourist site is Castillo de Santiago, a fortress built in the 15th century by the house of Medina Sidonia (admission adults €7, children and over 65's €4) 


Photo courtesy of Castillo de Santiago

Beyond that the most important sights (here, too) consist of churches and palaces - for more information please see the city's website over here.





I hope you've enjoyed the tour? Which of the destinations was your favourte, by the way? Jerez with its dancing horses and palaces? Foodie's favourite El Puerto de Santa María? Sanlúcar de Barrameda? Or my great love, Cádiz?


* The trip was organized in collaboration with Cadiz Tourism *

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