Sherry is once again sailing the seas. It is doing so on-board the “Juan Sebastián de Elcano Spanish Navy Training Ship”, which has set off on its 12th round-the-world voyage. As happened with the 90th of the Ship’s training voyages, González Byass has loaded two half-butts of Sherry on board. The move means that the winery is bringing back and maintaining the tradition of sending wines off on a “round trip” as it used to do centuries ago, this time with the exceptional Viña AB “Estrella de los Mares Amontillado.
Loading Viña AB “Estrella de los Mares” Amontillado
Part of the preparations for the voyage, which is a tribute to the first circumnavigation of the globe, was to load two half-butts of Amontillado Viña AB “Estrella de los Mares”. Mauricio González-Gordon, Chairman of González Byass and a member of the fifth generation of the family, signed the cargo manifest jointly with the Captain of the Training Ship, XXXXXXX, attesting to the delivery of the half-butts.
Bringing back past traditions
The Amontillado is off on a year-long voyage across the seas that will preserve the old tradition of loading butts of Sherry on board to produce a unique, higher quality wine. What happens is that during the voyage, elements such as temperature and air pressure and, most of all, the constant rolling of the ocean waves affect the way the wine ages, notably improving its organoleptic properties.
In the old days, these factors enhanced the value of these wines, which were known as “mareados” (literally ‘seasick’) or “de idea y vuelta” (‘there and back’) wines, by up to 500%. As a result, many winery owners would send their wines off on a ‘round trip’ to increase their market value. When steamships appeared, the practice fell into abeyance right up until 2018 when González Byass, in partnership with the Spanish Navy, loaded two butts of XC Palo Cortado onto the Training Ship.
Amontillado Viña AB “Estrella de los Mares”
González Byass winemaker Antonio Flores has selected a unique Amontillado for the Juan Sebastián de Elcano’s 93rd training voyage. The wine’s finesse was the determining factor in it being chosen and it is hoped that as it develops during the voyage its colour will deepen notably, becoming more golden, with coppery hues around the edges. It is also possible that the yeasts will have brief bursts of activity, known as submerged ageing, that will add a special oiliness and a certain creaminess to the texture of the wine.
Sherry and the sea, an age-old relationship
The origins of the link between the sea and the wines of Jerez date back to the Phoenicians, who introduced vitis vinifera along the Gades (modern-day Cadiz) coast. Wine was subsequently taken from this enclave to every corner of the Roman Empire. The crucial moment that links the wines of Jerez and the sea was the Magallanes-Elcano expedition, a journey that provided the means for Sherry to expand around the world and develop the international profile that it retains today. With its wines on-board overseas expeditions, the age of discovery was a hugely important time for Jerez.