A Look Inside COVIJEREZ ~ Where the Mosto Happens

La Cooperativa VitivinĂ­cola Ntra. Sra. de las Angustias COVIJEREZAs harvest in the sherry region is in full swing and the Vendimia festival is around the corner, I think about my friends at Covijerez.

La Cooperativa Vitivinícola Ntra. Sra. de las Angustias COVIJEREZ was not even on my radar when I came to Jerez. Upon my arrival, I came across a new sherry bar advertising 1€ glasses. I asked the bartender which bodega was on tap. Since the bottles were unmarked growlers, he said he was pretty sure it was Las Angustias. He let me sample them all. They had such a unique citrus finish to them that I really enjoyed.

I went online to seek them out. I found their Facebook page and sent a message explaining I’m a sherry blogger visiting from the US, found their sherry at Bar Camachuelo and would be interested in visiting their winery. The reply came from Salvador Espinosa, the coop’s president, stating he was not familiar with Camachuelo nor was he certain they carried his wines, but would love to invite me to the bodega.

Suddenly I had second thoughts about reaching out to someone I didn’t know. I even dodged his messages a couple times before he finally convinced me that my travels had already taken me to the vineyard and to several bodegas large and small, but I was missing a key piece of the process. I needed to see where they made the mosto.

This wine cooperative was established as a partnership between winemakers and their farmers. Essentially, if you have grapes to press into must, this is the place to have it done! I met with Salvador and Gonzalo Monje, the capataz who led the visit.

They took me through the grounds showing me the huge machinery needed to process truckloads of grapes. They get crushed, filtered, and eventually put in tanks to start fermentation. Thank God I’m not afraid of heights as they took me up to the catwalk to get a bird’s eye view of the empty tanks waiting for this year’s harvest. They have large AC units to keep the rooms cool during process. Off in one wing is the small bottling room and a storage area for casks prepped for whiskey.

After we left the main building, I was led into their wine cellar to sample from their barrels: Fino en Rama, Palo Cortado, Amontillado VORS and Oloroso. Then Salvador led me into their sacristia – the special tasting room full of old photos and memorabilia.

As I was looking around, I turned to see Salvador holding out a piece of chalk to me. To sign a barrel is a total honor for someone like me who still feels like a total nobody in the sherry world! My mind went completely blank. He took a video, as I tried to remember the date or even how to spell correctly. I was overjoyed!

As I left the Coop, Gonzalo handed me a beautiful gift box with three of their sherries to take home: The Sin Pecado Fino en Rama, the Oloroso and their Pedro Ximenez, which is by far my favorite when it comes to PX styles. Unlike others that are too thick and sweet to my liking, this one converted me with its lighter body, pure raisin flavor and orange blossom finish. I’ve been pouring it on all my desserts this summer!

I truly hope I’ll be able to return in the near future to share harvest with this group of the sweetest people who made me feel like royalty!

If you are interested in visiting the vineyards or winery, don’t hesitate to contact them by email at visitasangustias@covijerez.es or by phone at +34 617 229 782. You can also click here for the Turismo Jerez website.

Si eståis interesados en realizar una visita a nuestros viñedos y a nuestra bodega no dudéis en poneros en contacto con nosotros mediante email a visitasangustias@covijerez.es o por teléfono al numero 617 229 782.

Aquí tenéis el enlace de la web municipal de turismo para ampliar información.

gifts from Covijerez


He said it best!

After publishing my experiences with Bodegas Urium, owner and wine master, Alonso RuĂ­z Olivares asked me to help translate them into Spanish. Even though it didn’t take long to do, I was embarrassed that for having my degree in Spanish, I still don’t sound like a native speaker. I didn’t realize he would publish it on his Facebook page with my picture!

I appreciated the feedback from some who called my writing poetic and lovely. One person asked for further clarification. Alonso wrote these words in response:

Pienso que es el reconocimiento a las atenciones recibidas.
Atenciones que ofrecemos a cualquier persona que llama a las puertas, redes sociales o telĂ©fono de bodegas urium, ponemos a su disposiciĂłn, la mejor selecciĂłn de vinos de jerez para catar y brindar con un Jerez de Honor, totalmente gratuito y sin ningĂșn compromiso.
Eso si aĂșn sin tener obligaciĂłn de compra, casi todos compran alguna que otra botella para compensar los gastos.
Esperamos tu visita en bodegas Urium Jerez
Un abrazo
Alonso Ruiz

I think it is the recognition of the care received.
We offer hospitality to anyone who knocks on Urium Winery’s doors, reaches out via social media networks or by phone. We offer the best selection of sherries to taste and toast with the Honor of Jerez, completely free and without obligation.
Even without the obligation to buy, almost everyone buys a bottle of this or that to offset expenses.
We await your visit to Bodegas Urium in Jerez.
Alonso Ruiz

Once again, he understood me completely.


A Visit to Bodegas Urium – pt 2

Bodegas UriumWhile visiting with Rocio, the director at Bodegas Urium, I told her about my goal to have each bodega sign my copy of Sherry, Manzanilla & Montilla. She said her father and winemaker should do the honor, and insisted I return to meet Alonso RuĂ­z Olivares.

me and AlonsoI came back the next afternoon and tapped on the metal door. As it slowly slid open, there stood the smiling face of Santa Claus. He welcomed me in like an old friend.

The American in me wanted to jump right in and have him sign my book so I wouldn’t take too much of his time by interrupting his day. Instead, he started the conversation with, “what would you like to drink?” He was in no hurry, and had me taste through the barrels once again.

Any visitor will note Alonso is passionate about sherry! He commutes from Huelva to Jerez to care for his wines. As soon as he knew I was an aficionado, he quickly took the role of mentor and poured out hours of knowledge on me!

He gently reminded me to hold my glass at the stem so I wouldn’t warm the wine. He showed me how he checks the veil of flor with a mirror and flashlight. He had me smell through a vertical flight of Palo Cortado, which rabbit-trailed our conversation to his computer. He insisted on showing me his PowerPoint presentation that included the science of how aromas last in the memory much stronger than the flavors. He is so proud of Urium’s growing reputation. He excitedly pointed out how they come out on top of a Google search, and even have many YouTube references.

By the time I left the bodega, I not only got an autograph in my book, but I walked away with a new “father” in Jerez. Throughout the rest of my sherry odyssey, Alonso would text me hija, por donde andas to make sure I was safe and sound.

Even my last hours before leaving Jerez were spent in the bodega with Alonso, Rocio and her husband Mario. I felt so at home in this place with these new friends. Right before they took me to the train station bound for Madrid, Alonso sang me my favorite letra from Sevillanas – Algo se muere en el alma, cuando un amigo se va. Something in the soul dies when a friend goes away.

Rest assure, I will be back.

Sherry Odyssey 2015

tabancoAs I slowly write posts on each sherry maker I visited this spring, I realize I wrote about my list of where I hoped to go, but never said where I actually landed this time around. (Trust me, there’s so much more to experience – I’m already planning for my return!)

Here’s what fell into place in April 2015:

So much packed into a little amount of time! I can’t wait to get back to experience even more!

Flamenco + Lustau

Flamenco + Flor FridaysDespite the cloudy skies, the patio was packed once again at Bar Vivant for Flamenco Friday! Tablao de Rosas filled the space with amazing energy, singing and dancing.

On the sherry bar was Margaux Wagenmann, from Lemma Wine Company, pouring a delicious variety of wines from Lustau.

She greeted everyone with a glass of Fino Jarana from Lustau’s Solera Familiar range. Though my personal preference is an aged Fino, I do love this classic style for it’s fresh notes of flor and toasted almonds. Most sherry styles in the Solera Familiar range can be found in high-end grocery stores around Portland.

Next in line was a beautiful Amontillado del Puerto from the Almancenista series. Almacenistas, or stock holders, independently produce and age sherry in their limited soleras of the finest and rarest sherries. This Amontillado del Puerto originates from an exclusive solera of only 10 barrels and certainly tasted like a labor of love. Rich golden color, nutty sharpness with a long dry finish.

Lustau Line UpI was pleased to see Palo Cortado Peninsula on the list. This is a classic Palo Cortado from the Solera Familiar range, combining the delicacy of an Amontillado with the richness of an Oloroso. It’s easy to find around town and the perfect wine to inspire new sherry lovers!

Añada 1997Moving right along, guests had the rare experience from the Specialty range of the Añada 1997 Rich Oloroso. This oloroso was never blended with Pedro Ximenez, but subjected to a special partial fermentation process in order to preserve its natural sugars. It was aged in American oak barrels for 13 years and limited to only 8,000 bottles. A perfect balance of delicate sweetness and dry finish. Naturally, I paid for a full pour!

The sweeter varietals for this flight were the Deluxe Cream Capataz Andrés and Moscatel de Chipiona. The Cream is a classic blend of Oloroso and Pedro Ximenez creating a smooth and sweet flavor with a crisp finish. The Moscatel was light and bright, reminding me of mead with its honey notes.

IMG_20150814_201728Once again, I drank each one too quickly to enjoy them with the delicious tapas and desserts served by Cheryl Wakerhauser. On these nights, the lines can go out the door!

Instead, I enjoyed clapping my palmas, shouting my jaleos of olé que toma, and dancing a little pata at the end of the night with my flamencas. 

There are only two Flamenco Fridays left! Come check it out and try some top-shelf sherry!! Maybe you’ll become a sherry lover too!

A Visit to Bodegas Urium – Pt 1

UriuimI’ve been holding onto a bottle of Oloroso from Bodegas Urium for a special occasion. Sadly, their wines are not currently available in my corner of the world. Yet, this month I’ve had so many reasons to celebrate, I felt it was time to break out the bottle. The aroma alone smacked me with this single thought – It smells like home.

RocioIt all started when I was planning my sherry odyssey back in April. It was highly recommended I visit Bodegas Urium. My schedule was packed and since they are only available by appointment on Tuesdays and Thursdays, I couldn’t squeeze them in. Thank goodness for Whatsapp! I received a last minute text from Rocío Ruiz, daughter and director of the winery. She happened to be in the bodega on a Monday for a special visit, and invited me to join them for the tasting. I had an appointment right before with Grupo Estevez, but was determined to make it work! This decision set the stage for something far greater than just a tasting.

It was wonderful tasting through the wines directly from the barrels and to listen in on the fast paced conversation. I enjoyed sharing how Rocío and I met through Twitter connections and why I’m so passionate about sherry. Rocío coined me the Sherry Missionary; out to tell the world and convert them to drink more sherry!

Each glass of wine came straight from the barrels! RocĂ­o poured Fino from the same solera to demonstrate how each barrel can impact the wine differently. We also tasted a ten-year-old Fino whose flor was dying off and will be blended into Amontillado. The six of us spent the entire afternoon drinking through Fino, Amontillado, Oloroso, Palo Cortado and Pedro Ximenez VORS. Their elegant wine bottles are a beautiful way to showcase these wines. Every little detail represents the passion this family has for its wine!

As everyone was leaving, Rocío took me out for tapas before she had to head back home to Huelva. We parked in a supermarket lot, which used to be a beautiful cathedral style sherry bodega for Garvey’s. (Note: you must make a purchase if you want to exit the lot.) Once in the tapas bar, we talked like old friends. It was amazing how connected we felt for only having met for the first time. She insisted that I come back the next day to meet her father, Alonso. I’ll write about that experience in another post.

Rocio + Mario This visit was meant to be. It was far more than a sherry tasting. I made a new bond of friendship with a kindred spirit! My husband teases me that we’re like two teenage girls when we text each other. That may also be why it took so long to open the bottle. I long to return, and hate how far it is from Portland to Jerez. Urium isn’t just wine, it’s family. Walk through their doors and you’ll see what I mean.

Sherry + Flamenco = the Perfect Pairing

Flamenco + Flor FridaysOnce again, Cheryl Wakerhauser pours out her passion and creativity to bring a little piece of Spain to Portland, Oregon. Bar Vivant kicked off their Flamenco Fridays for the month of August, transforming the patio from 7pm to 9pm into a flamenco tablao and sherry bar!

This is a great opportunity to see local performers from Tablao de Rosas singing and dancing various flamenco styles, as well as, experience weekly sherry selections from the best wine makers in Jerez! Naturally, I plan to be there each week to try it all!

Cheryl + ChristopherThis week Christopher Canale-Parola from Gonzalez Byass was behind the bar. The first glass of Tio Pepe Fino was on the house.

The special flight for the evening was the rare 2012 Finos Palmas series. This series of four aged Finos creates an annual anticipated excitement for Gonzalez Byass lovers!

2012 Finos PalmasThe flight for this evening only included the first three. Una Palma is naturally lighter in color being the youngest around six years old when it was bottled. It’s aroma was not the typical dry almond I was anticipating, but a sweeter, yeasty aroma. I smelled donuts! But as I drank it, I really wanted something salty to eat. Dos Palmas would be considered a Fino Viejo, still yeasty on the nose, but hints of caramel corn. Still dry yet well rounded. This would have gone well with asparagus or artichokes. The Tres Palmas was nearly an Amontillado; pure butterscotch on the nose. It was hard to believe it’s been bottled for three years!

The rest of the line up were the Leonor Palo Cortado and Alfonso Oloroso, two beautiful classic styles, and the very old rare sherry (VORS) of Del Duque Amontillado. By the end of the night, while a few of us still lingered, trying our hand at using a venencia, Cheryl surprised us with a glass of the Cuatro Palmas. This was an excellent conclusion to the flight! It truly tasted like a freshly bottled amontillado.

bailandoEven days later, I’m still reliving this fun evening of sharing my love of flamenco and sherry with friends in my hometown. I cannot wait to go back each Friday to do it again. Please come check it out! I hear Lustau sherry styles will be next on the bar!