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The new Sherry legislation

Updated: Sep 21, 2023


Sherry is one of the great classics of the wine world. Recently, there has been an extensive update on the legal regulations for this unique product - that's what this blog post is all about!


Let's start at the beginning: Jerez and the surrounding regions have been producing wine even before the Romans occupation. Jerez has one of the oldest protected designations of origin (DO in Spanish) in Europe: the DO Jerez-Xérèz-Sherry has existed since 1933 and the DO Manzanilla de Sanlúcar was added in 1964. Since then, the regulations have hardly changed - until 2021, when the Consejo de Vinos de Jerez made significant changes and more will be added. The idea behind the changes is to adapt the region to current customer demands and to give more visibility to the different grape varieties, soils, diversity and winemaking styles.


Here is an overview of the main changes:


Unfortified wines:

Finos and Manzanillas traditionally were wines made by adding high strength alcohol to an abv of around 15%. With the new changes, Finos and Manzanillas can also be made unfortified as soon as the minimum alcohol requirement is achieved. A natural way to achieve high abv in wine is to harvest riper grapes (more ripeness means more sugar that will mean more alcohol).


Grape varieties:

Besides Palomino Fino, Pedro Ximenes and Moscatel other grape have been now approved, such as Mantúo Castellano, Mantúo de Pillas, Beba, Vigiriega (also known as Vejeriego), Perruno and Cañocazo. These are all indigenous varieties that we planted widely in the area before Phylloxera.


Pagos:

In Spain, "Pago" means single vineyards. These are delimited vineyards with unique microclimates that can produce higher quality wines. There are some notoriously famous "pagos" in Jerez already, Macharnudos being allegedly the most famous one. From 2021 the list of "pagos" expands, and there will be an updated map with the changes.


Manzanilla Passada and Fino Viejo/ Antiguo:

These two styles are now regulated in terms of ageing. The minimum required is seven years for both of them.


Finos vs Manzanillas:

Manzanillas and Finos are pretty similar in terms of style. Both wines undergo biological ageing and have a lemon colour and character of lemon, almonds and bread. The key difference between them is that generally, Manzanilla is a lighter, more saline style of wine. Another difference is that Manzanilla can only be produced in Sanlúcar while Fino could be produced in Jerez, El Puerto and also Sanlúcar. With the new legislation, wines produced through biological ageing in Sanlúcar are only allowed to be called Manzanilla as Fino will now only be allowed in Jerez and El Puerto. There will be, however, a transitional period of 10 years.


Jerez Superior:

From 2021 this labelling term can be used in any area of Jerez. Before it was restricted to wines produced within Jerez, El Puerto, Sanlúcar and Trebujena. This classification is now based on technical criteria rather than one of geographical, which is fair consideration, especially for wines of superior quality coming from the other sub-regions.







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