Interview: César Espinosa
Javier Hidalgo, owner of Bodegas Hidalgo, the producer behind one of the most famous sherry brands “La Gitana”, says that since he started in the wine business more than 40 years ago the consumption of Sherry wines has been declining year after year.
This is caused by trends in consumption, consumers trying to cut down alcohol and looking for “healthier” options or simply because the Sherry craze of the 70s is long gone. Fortified wines from Cádiz are now trying to find a new meaning, new ways of being marketed as a real connoisseur wine, going through a "premium-isation" of its products.
However, at the same time, the production of still wines in the region has rocketed and every year more and more producers (including the classic Sherry brands) have decided to produce still wines, from sparkling to red wines, with great acceptance from the general public.
In anticipation of the tasting of the wines from these two Bodegas by the Spanish Sommelier Association, based in Edinburgh, we have decided to chat with César Espinosa, sommelier and Director of Vinos360, a wine merchant based in that region and distributor of these two Bodegas in Cádiz, who really knows the people behind these two projects.
Víctor Ruiz: Good morning César and thank you for taking your time to chat with us.
César Espinosa: The pleasure is mine.
VR: So César you know really well what’s going on in the wine industry in Cádiz, Do you think that there is space for both styles of wine, fortified and still wines?
CE: Of course there is. There is plenty of space for both styles. The only issue I see is how and where the still wines are introduced. These wines need to be consumed and understood by a specific market.
VR: What grapes have the greatest potential to show what this region is about?
CE: There are three indigenous grapes without a doubt. Tintilla de Rota for red wines, and Palomino and Perruno for white wines. This last one, less known than the other two, shows its great potential in high altitude vineyards from the Sierra de Cádiz. A pure delight.
VR: So do you see potential in the production of still wines for the future?
CE: Yes of course. I am 100% sure that the production of still wines will surpass the production of fortified wines before 2030.
VR: I heard recently about some producers claiming the creation of a DO (Denominación de Origen) for still wines in Cádiz. Do you think this would benefit the industry and producers?
CE: I believe so. But I also believe the Sherry DO is being slow and stubborn about accepting that these wines are part of the future of Cádiz as a wine region. It is just a matter of time before the Sherry DO regulates the production but, if they take much longer, there will be a movement outside this DO by producers to create a new and parallel DO for still wines.
VR: How would you define the wines from Bodegas Vinifícate?
CE: They are fresh, full of ripe fruit flavors. These wines, due to the extreme vinification process, behave in a different way of the ones that we are used to. The wines are alive and they develop differently. Very interesting wines. Well made natural wines.
VR: And the wines from Bodega de Forlong?
CE: Excellent wines that are vehicles of the terroir where the grapes are grown. They were some of the first Bodegas to show to the world how good still wines from Cádiz can be.
VR: To finish with, What do you think makes the still wines from Cádiz so different from the ones made in other parts of Spain?
CE: I think it is quite difficult to generalize the region as one. There are plenty of producers in the region and they all have their own philosophy. It’s still looking for its identity. What I really think that they have in common is the potential of the region and the willingness to learn and show everyone how good their wines can be. Having the fantastic indigenous grapes that we have in Cádiz would make much easier the job.