fino

The no1 reason off-trade sherry sales are declining

The sales of sherry are notoriously poor on Systembolaget, the Swedish alcohol monopoly, and have been in decline for years. I believe that there is a way to counter this evolution, but it would take a huge effort from an industry that is already struggling for its existance.

The reason for sherry’s poor performance on the Swedish off-trade is probably the same as for all export markets. It has nothing to do with the wine itself but on the physical location of its bottles in the wine stores and supermarkets.

Signs on a barrel of manzanilla in a dark Bodega San Luís (La Gitana). Copyright: Cruz Liljegren 

Signs on a barrel of manzanilla in a dark Bodega San Luís (La Gitana). Copyright: Cruz Liljegren 

Most bodegas and wine experts agree on the fact that biologically aged sherry, such as fino and manzanilla, should be treated and consumed as a white wine, and not as something ”different”. Yet, the fact that sherry is fortified makes Systembolaget and other off-trade outlets place the wine ”tucked away" from its brothers and sisters, the white wines. Resulting in that the consumer must actively search for sherry in a different part of the store. Guess what, the consumer will just get a bottle of white Rueda as usual and think nothing more of it. 

I believe that if biologically aged sherry was placed on the same shelf as Spanish white wine the sales would instantly multiply. In Spain fino (and sherry) is after all known as ”vino de Jerez” or, wine from Jerez, nothing ells. 

So what can we do? 

We have to accept that the fortification of biologically aged sherry is a production detail, and not part of the essence of the style. If finos and manzanillas where not fortified but produced from properly ripe grapes the Consejo Regulador could lobby for the inclusion of biologically aged sherry in the shelfs of white wine.   

If you think it's technically impossible to get a potential alcohol of 15 percent in Palomino-grapes I suggest you to have a chat with Willy Peréz on Bodegas Perez Vega. He will be releasing his first unfortified fino in 2015, after two years of barrel ageing. A wine made from ripe organic grapes sourced from the single vineyard El Corregidor in the pago of Carrascal. 

What is your thoughts on this topic, have you thought about it before? 

Intrested? Read more: An interesting interview with Ramiro Ibañez Espinar and In search of lost Sherry. Both by Paula MacLean. And Back to the Future: Ramiro Ibañez and Willy Peréz translated by Ruben Luyten.