González Byass sees a bright future ahead for sweet Sherry

González Byass has brought the traditional production of Pedro Ximénez back to the Sherry region, using age-old methods for making sweet wines.
 

Viña La Canariera/González Byass
Viña La Canariera/González Byass

González Byass, one of Spain’s best-known Sherry makers, has plunged back into the traditional production of Pedro Ximénez (PX), one of the three white grapes used in the production of Sherry.

While PX has long been primarily sourced in nearby Montilla, Gonzalez Byass decided more than a decade ago to bring the variety back to its traditional heartland. In 2006 and 2007, the company planted 30ha in Carrascal, a famous Sherry region. 

PX production cannot be mechanised and requires a large team of people. After several years of trials, 200,000 kilos of grape bunches were hand-picked and then laid out to dry in the vineyards on grass esparto mats for 10-12 days to develop concentrations of sugar at 25-27 degrees Baumé, a process called ‘soleo’. The bunches of grapes have to be turned over regularly and they are covered at night to avoid the dew. The 2020 PX harvest began on 24th August and is set to end this week. 

More recently, Gonzalez Byass has finished restoring and refitting the sweet winemaking plant at Viña La Canariera, where sweet wines were made until 1986.

The resulting wines are destined for the González Byass PX soleras where they age for many years before being released as Néctar and Noé V.O.R.S.  PX is also used for sweetening Oloroso or to make Cream sherries such as Solera 1847.

Martin Skelton, Gonzalez Byass UK’s managing director, said the restoration of the vinification plant underscored the company’s belief in a strong future for sherry. He added that all styles of Sherry have been selling well in the UK marketing during the pandemic “All Sherry brands have posted 20%-plus growth since March, with Tio Pepe leading the pack with the highest increase.”

Via press release

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