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Soil, climate, geographical location…. there are many factors that characterize our vineyards and are determining factors in the production of such special wines as Sherry. The locations where the grapes are grown and conditions in which viticulture takes place have a powerful influence to play on these unique wines.
Añina and Carrascal are the pagos, the vineyard zones, where the 250 hectares of vineyard grown by Bodegas Williams & Humbert are located. These two pagos are both historic and emblematic in the Jerez Region and where the Las Conchas and Dos Mercedes vineyards are both to be found. Located in the Jerez Superior vineyard zone, Añina and Carrascal, each with their own individual characteristics, provide the perfect combination for growing the different grape varieties of the Jerez Region.
Each of these pagos possesses its own characteristics determined by its geographical location, Pago Carrascal in the interior, to the north-east, and Pago Añina to the west, closer to the Atlantic Ocean. With the intention of identifying the particular characteristics of these two pagos, Williams & Humbert separately vinify part of the grapes from each during the harvest
The Albariza soil is the white soil typical of the rolling hills of the Jerez Region. Not in vain is this whiteness reflected in the very etymology of the word Albariza, whose origins lay in the Latin word “albus”, meaning “white”.
This Albariza is a soft rock formed by sediments amongst which can be found remains of diatomaceous earth, of organisms belonging to the siliceous plankton type and others of the calcareous skeletal type. In order to understand the saline character of this soil we have to go back 60 million years, to a time when the whole of Andalucía was submerged under water. The current area of the Jerez vineyards was in those times the Tethys Sea. In fact, it is not uncommon to find the remains of marine fossils in the vineyards of the Jerez Region. After the clashing of the African and European tectonic plates the sea withdrew completely and, once the waters had receded, the height of the Albariza pagos of the Jerez Region was fixed at 45m above sea level.
We must also highlight the magnificent capacity of this Albariza soil to retain humidity, with 19,000 hectares of Albariza in the province of which 7,000 are destined to wine- growing. It is a soil of great porosity and lightness, something of great importance for the root system of the vine and for the accumulation of water in the form of humidity as would a sponge, without waterlogging or saturation. This Albariza soil has a high limestone content, a characteristic associated with very alcoholic wines of great quality. Another factor indicating quality is its low level of organic material, which means that full development of the vine is achieved simply by the correct application of fertilizer.
The climate of the Jerez Region is warm as a consequence of its low latitude, given that it is one of the most southern winegrowing regions in Europe. Dry summers and high temperatures are characteristic of the region, whilst its closeness to the Atlantic Ocean moistens the atmosphere, especially at night. Spring and summer, months during which the life-cycle of the vineyard takes place, are subject to the fresh, humid poniente westerly wind and the hot, dry easterly Levante wind. The average annual temperature is of 17.3ºC, with mild winters and very hot summers. The region enjoys a very high annual average of 3,000 to 3,200 hours of sunshine. Rainfall is relatively high, with an average of 600 litres per square metres of rain per year, registered mainly in autumn and winter. Except in occasional years this quantity of water is sufficient for the correct development of the vines, supplemented by heavy nocturnal dew formation provided by the nearby Atlantic Ocean.
This most traditional variety has been used here for centuries and unquestionably predominates in the Jerez Region, where it arrived in the sixteenth century at the hands of Flemish troops. The close compatibility of this grape with Albariza soil and the local climate has made it into a variety of key importance in the production of our unique sherry wines. It is a very resistant variety and goes by many names, the most common being “Listan”. The sub-variety “Palomino fino”, the most commonly used in the region, sprouts during the final two weeks in March and ripens in early September. It is well adapted to chalky soils and resistant to parasites when cultivated correctly.
Se trata de una variedad muy resistente y cuenta con numerosas sinonimias, destacando la de “Listán”. La sub-variedad “Palomino fino” -la más común en la zona- brota en las dos últimas semanas de marzo y madura a principios de septiembre. Está muy bien adaptada a los suelos calizos, siendo poco vulnerable a los distintos parásitos si se cultiva adecuadamente.
Another traditional variety of the Jerez Region, originating from the Canary Islands according to certain authors whilst place its origins in Andalusia. Due to its greater sugar content (on average 12.8º Baumé) and higher levels of acidity, it produces sweet wines of great quality. It is generally submitted to the “asoleo” sunning process prior to vinification with the aim of intensely concentrating the sugar content of the grape, its fine leafage facilitating the process.
A variety used in the Jerez Region for the production of wines of the same name. The Moscatel grown in the Region is known as “Moscatel de Chipiona”. Other synonyms are Moscatel de Alejandría, Moscatel gordo and Moscatel de España, amongst others. It is a variety originating from Africa, though extending throughout many winegrowing regions around the world. In the Jerez region it produces the special sweet wines that bear its name, generally produced from grapes of the highest quality that have previously been dried under the sun.
WILLIAMS & HUMBERT
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