A blog and review on all things Sherry. It is about tasting, enjoyment and learning more about the World’s Finest Wine. "Sherry is a thoroughbred" as Javier Hidalgo rightly puts it. Included are the amazing local Brandies and the remarkably good table wines also produced in the province of Cádiz.
Established by a young couple from El Puerto de
Santa María, Alejandro Narváez and Rocío Áspera in 2009, this bodega has gone
from strength to strength. It started as a passion, became a dream and later a
reality, and all the more impressive in the depths of an economic crisis. Alejandro
had studied marketing and Rocío had studied business, but their career path
changed when Rocío’s father bought the land known as La Finca del Olivar in
2007 and planted a hectare with vines. They made the first wine in 2009 and
fell in love with the idea. Alejandro then studied viticulture and oenology
gaining further experience in Bordeaux, while Rocío studied viti-viniculture in
hot climates and worked for a while at Bodegas Luis Pérez.
Alejandro & Rocio with their wines standing in front of the tinajas.
The vineyard is in the pago Balbaina Baja near
El Puerto and once belonged to Charles Furlong, British Vice Consul and partner
in the long gone Sherry producer Matthiesen Furlong. They have been farming it
biodynamically and hold a certificate of organic agriculture for which they had
to go through a three year conversion period. Inspectors visit every year to
check that no chemicals are being used, and they are not as these two
passionately believe that the vineyard should be reflected in the wine, and the
better the grapes, the better it is. They now have two further vineyards; in
Balbaina Alta between Jerez and Sanlúcar, and another, La Greduela, located
four kilometres east of Jerez where they grow four hectares of red grapes. The
Balbaina vineyards have albariza soils and La Greduela has more clayey soils
which help to emphasise the fruitiness in the wine. A total of eleven hectares
are currently planted, though they are not all in production yet.
(foto: Cristo Garcia)
Until finance could be raised to construct the
bodega, Alejandro and Rocío made the wine using the facilities at Sancha Pérez
at Conil before the first Forlong wines were released in February 2014; 2,000
bottles of Petit Forlong red and 1,000 of Forlong Blanco. One approaches the
bodega, which is in the middle of the vineyard, down a track lined with mulberry
trees, passing the small olive grove. Here, various winemaking techniques are
employed including fermentation in steel tanks, barrels and eight tinajas (huge clay
jars). Barrel ageing is carried out in a fantastically humid cellar. Innovation and experimentation are bywords here with, for example, Palomino made using the red wine process
and aged in ex Oloroso butts, while they are also fermenting in tinajas and experimenting with different periods of oak ageing, and proportions of grape
varieties in the blends, not to mention sparkling wine.
The vineyards are planted to Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Tintilla, Merlot, Palomino and Pedro Ximenez. Grapes are harvested manually, selected and stored in a cold room at about 4-5 C for 24 hours and destemmed before winemaking commences. Only natural yeasts are used. Crianza takes place in the cellar below the bodega, and is kept to a minimum to allow wines to develop in bottle.
Production has grown from the initial 3,000
bottles to the current 60,000, with seven different wines on the market. A
further two wines are made exclusively for the Michelin starred Aponiente
restaurant in El Puerto run by Ángel León, one of which is sparkling and called
simply Burbujas (Bubbles). Thanks to the
quality and innovative style of not only the wines, but also the lovely labels designed by Victoria Cerezo Doello, they have no trouble selling them
and nearly all are sold locally, but they would like to grow and sell
internationally. Given their varied and proven skills, this should not be a problem, and export success would be well deserved.
El Amigo Imaginario
Address: Carretera Jerez - Rota Km 6, 11500 El Puerto de Santa María, Cadiz.
Telephone: (00 34) 620 211 203 (mobile)
Website: www.bodegadeforlong.com (still in construction)