Exploring the Sherry Triangle: The Heart of Sherry Production in Cádiz

Sherry, the fortified wine from southern Spain, has a rich history and a distinct flavour profile that sets it apart from other wines. The “Sherry Triangle” is a designated area in the province of Cádiz that is considered the heart of Sherry production. The Sherry Triangle is formed by the city of Jerez de la Frontera which is considered the sherry capital together with the historic towns of Sanlúcar de Barrameda and El Puerto de Santa María.

Towns of the Cádiz Sherry Triangle

Jerez de la Frontera

With a population of around 215,000, Jerez de la Frontera is the largest and most well-known of the three towns in the Sherry Triangle. It is considered the capital of sherry production and is home to numerous bodegas (wineries) that produce a wide variety of sherries. Visitors can take tours of these bodegas and learn about the history and production of sherry. The two bodegas which we usually recommend at Spanish Fiestas for winery tours and tastings in Jerez de la Frontera are as follows:

Gonzalez Byass: Gonzalez Byass is one of the most well-known bodegas in Jerez de la Frontera. Founded in 1835, it is known for producing a wide variety of Sherries, including Fino, Manzanilla, and Amontillado. The bodega is also home to the famous Tio Pepe Sherry, which is one of the most popular Finos in the world.

Sandeman: Sandeman was founded in 1790 and is best known for its Amontillado and Oloroso Sherries. The bodega is also famous for its iconic “Don” advertising campaign, which features a man dressed in a cloak and wide-brimmed hat.

The Cadiz Sherry Triangle begins in Jerez de la Frontera
Jerez de la Frontera is the Largest Town in the Cádiz Sherry Triangle

Sanlúcar de Barrameda

Sanlúcar de Barrameda is a small town located some 25km to the north-west of Jerez de la Frontera. Thanks to its location on the Atlantic coast, it enjoys a unique microclimate which allows its bodegas to produce Manzanilla Sherries. These sharp tasting wines are characterised by a distinctive salty, floral flavour. Some of the most famous bodegas in Sanlúcar de Barrameda include Bodegas Hidalgo La Gitana, Bodegas Barbadillo and Bodegas La Cigarrera.

El Puerto de Santa María

Further south, some 20km south-west of Jerez de la Frontera is El Puerto de Santa María which is located at the mouth of the Guadalete River. This historic town is synonymous with the famous Bodegas Osborne which was founded here in 1772. Their tour and tasting programme is well established and very popular with clients of Spanish Fiestas.

Famous Bodegas of the Cádiz Sherry Triangle

The Cádiz Sherry Triangle is home to some of Spain’s most famous wine bodegas. Each town within the Sherry Triangle has its own unique microclimate, soil, and style of Sherry production. The following table lists the best known bodegas of each town with a link to their websites where you can find information about wine tours and tastings.

Bodega NameTown
Bodegas Tío PepeJerez de la Frontera
Bodegas SandemanJerez de la Frontera
Bodegas HarveysJerez de la Frontera
Bodegas Alvaro DomecqJerez de la Frontera
Bodegas Williams and HumbertJerez de la Frontera
Bodegas GarveyJerez de la Frontera
Bodegas La GuitaSanlúcar de Barrameda
Bodegas BarbadilloSanlúcar de Barrameda
Bodegas Hidalgo La GitanaSanlúcar de Barrameda
Bodegas La CigarreraSanlúcar de Barrameda
Bodegas Hijos de Rainera Pérez MarínSanlúcar de Barrameda
Bodegas OsborneEl Puerto de Santa Maria
La GuitaEl Puerto de Santa Maria

D.O. Jerez-Xérès-Sherry Wine Region

A D.O. (Denominación de Origen) is a designation used in the Spanish wine industry to indicate that a wine comes from a specific geographical region and has met certain quality standards. The D.O. system is similar to the Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC) system used in France.

A wine with a D.O. designation must be made from grapes grown in the designated region, and must meet specific standards for grape variety, yields, alcohol content, and aging. The D.O. system is intended to protect the reputation of the region’s wines and ensure that only wines of a certain quality are labeled with the D.O. designation.

Established in 1932, the The D.O. Jerez-Xérès-Sherry was was one of the first Denominaciones de Origen to be created in Spain. It includes the three towns of the Sherry Triangle and protects the reputation of their wines.

Sherry Vineyards Of Jerez de la Frontera
A Typical Sherry Vineyard Near Jerez de la Frontera in the Sherry Triangle

Climate and Soil of the Sherry Climate

The Sherry Triangle enjoys a climate which is characterized by hot summers and mild winters. The region’s proximity to the Atlantic Ocean also provides a cool sea breeze that helps to lower temperatures and increase humidity, making it an ideal climate for Sherry production.

The soil in the Sherry Triangle is predominantly alkaline, with a high content of gypsum. This type of soil is well-suited for the growth of the Palomino grape, which is the primary grape variety used in Sherry production. The soil and climate of the Sherry Triangle work together to create the unique conditions that are necessary for the production of high-quality Sherry.

Wine Making Process

The process of making Sherry wine is unique and complex. It starts with the harvesting of the Palomino grapes, which are then fermented to create a dry wine. The wine is then fortified with brandy, which increases the alcohol content and stops fermentation. The fortified wine is then aged in a system known as the “solera.” The solera is a series of barrels stacked on top of each other, with the youngest wine on top and the oldest on the bottom. As wine is removed from the bottom barrels for bottling, it is replaced with wine from the barrels above, creating a consistent blend of wines of different ages.

Tasting Notes For Jerez Sherry Wines

Sherry comes in a wide variety of styles, each with its unique flavour profile. The most popular styles of Sherry produced in the Sherry Triangle are Fino, Manzanilla, Amontillado, and Oloroso.

Fino and Manzanilla are both light, dry, and tangy wines that are aged under flor. The main difference between the two is that Manzanilla is made in the town of Sanlúcar de Barrameda, which has a unique microclimate that gives the wine a distinct salty and floral flavour.

Amontillado is a style of Sherry that starts off as a Fino or Manzanilla but is then aged without flor, resulting in a wine that has characteristics of both Fino and Oloroso. It has a nutty and caramel flavour with a hint of saltiness.

Oloroso is a full-bodied and rich wine that is aged without flor. It has a nutty and caramel flavour with a hint of sweetness.