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- Wednesday, 18 September 2013 11:00 | Written by Valeska Idarraga
Four generations ageing wine: a vintage experience
A narrow street at Puerto de Santa María (10 minutes from Cadix city in Andalousia), not very centric, neither one of the best restored, would have gone unnoticed if it wasn´t for the pack of people and buzz perceived, something is going on. As we approach we can read on a fuchsia vertical banner: Bodegas Obregón. Here we are.
Bodegas Obregón is quite an institution at Marco de Jerez. Manuel González Verano leads the wine cellar founded by his great-uncle Don José Luis González Obregón in 1935. Now the fourth generation has landed and Manuel’s sons, Jaime and Álvaro, have joined up the family business and they keep side by side a mysterious tradition.
It smells wine quite before reaching the establishment, and crossing the double door of this indiano building in need of some fixing works is buying a passage for a fascinating trip back in time. In fact, it wasn´t for those cans of Coke Zero, all would indicate we have moved half a century back. Nothing here is artificial, nothing is made from cardboard, walls, flooring and ceiling ooze history like the centuries-old wooden barrels stacked on top of each other. Disarray, knick knacks, walls covered with vintage photographs and folklore, and an intense and penetrating saline aroma are all mixed together in potpourri of sensations. This bizarre and magic combination of authenticity is, without doubt, what grants to sherry wines from Jerez its world-famous celebrity.
It is not surprising therefore that columnist Geoffrey Gray from The New York Times described it as a "treasure" after a screening the noblest towns of Cádiz in his last visit.
Bodega, tavern and and wine dispatch
Bodegas Obregón is a three-in-one. It is a bodega in the most strict sense because in their facilities they produce and age the oldest worldwide wines. If you Ask Manuel or one his sons to show you the wine cellar , you will be drived to the backstage walking over a white chalky soil (named albariza, the most valuable soil where palomino grape variety grows up) and you will be crossing a patio covered with vine leaves up to an ironed doorway with the acronym G. O. Behind, casks packed togeteher in harmony in a mystical atmosphere, kingdom of peace, humidity and temperature being permanently constant. This is where the art of complex sherries ageing takes place, and Manuel delighted us with with a masterful venencia wine pouring.
In addition, it is a tavern, because at Zarza Street you come to drink a glass of Wine and only on Saturdays at Spanish lunch time you can try its famous chicken in Pedro Ximénez, its popular cabbage or the Andalousian papas aliñás (seasoning potatoes with egg, tuna and extra virgin olive oil). At any other time you can ask for picos (bread sticks), chips or buy some nuts for 1 euro from the vending machine standing on a corner. And you can always buy some ham, sausage or boiled seafood and bring your own food, it is totally allowed.
Thirdly Bodegas González Obregón is a wine-dispatch where you can buy bulk or bottled wine. You can bring your own carafe and refill it with fino “en rama” (directly poured from the barrel without filtration) or with his envied and great demanded fino La Draga.
From almacenista to shipper bodega
As set by the Consejo Regulador de las DD. OO. Jerez-Xérès-Sherry, Bodegas Obregón iswithin the accepted geographical ageing and maturing area, the triangle formed by the cities of Jerez de la Frontera, Puerto de Santa María and Sanlúcar de Barrameda. It is a sine qua non requirement to be officially classified as almacenista.
But, what is exactly an almacenista? With the strong rise of international trade early in the 19th century the big bodegas were overwhelmed by exports and started to entrust the long and time-consuming ageing process to third-party and independent small wine cellars from liberal professionals passionate for wine who spent their free time taking care of the solera system. Without authorization to sell, the only destination of the almacenista wines were the shipping bodegas, legitimated for ageing wines, making blends and commercialize.
With the passing of time and the good work, anonymity of almacenistas has acquired significant prominence and now they have become a main player. Important producers such as Bodegas Lustau proudly identify on the labels which almecenista the wine comes from in its specific “almacenista range of wine”.
Bodegas Obregón went a step further. Having more than 200 casks and being located in the triangle Marco de Jerez, he is also a shipping bodega and not does he procure with wines the big bodegas but he also produces his own range, bottles and sales amontillados, palo cortado (very limited and internationally recognised), fino, cream, olorosos, Pedro Ximénez and “viejos”.
Undoubtedly, a treasure.
Bodegas González Obregón: c/ Zarza, 51 - Puerto de Santa María (Cádiz) Teléfono: 956 856 329 07 @BodObregon
Saturday is the only day they serve food, you cannot miss ” pollo al Pedro Ximénez”. No bookings.