Story of a Bottle ...
Since its foundation and well into the twentieth century, this house sold its Pedro Ximénez raisin wines in "Jerez export cask", or what is the same: 500 oak barrels liters. In Jerez there were many chestnut barrels of 700 or 750 liters, which always remained in the cellars. The chestnut is much more fragile than the oak and the latter resisted better the blows and inclemencies of the trip to England - our market par excellence. But the chestnut tree ran out as a recurring wood after the deforestation caused in Spain during the war and post-civil war and today it is almost non-existent in cooperage.
The producers who made this type of supply "Without bottling" were called in Jerez "warehousemen". The fame of the quality of their wines was due to the fact that instead of "making a brand" and convincing the end consumer with advertising and promotion, they only counted on the quality of their elaborations, to get purchases from wine importers trained in the strict Vintners´ Company of London, who were the ones who, to be honest, decided roughly the “sherry” that we know today.
That is why, by not having labeled bottles, Neither our winery -which was a warehouseman-, nor many others of the same nature, even considered having a brand, nor did they pretend to be known under any nomenclature that went beyond their own company name. Jerez was the land of winegrowers, coopers, packers, foremen and enterprising people who were proud of their past. In our case being "Successors of Phelipe Antonio Zarzana Spínola", who carried the blood in his veins the hero of Breda and had founded the primitive Maestranza de Caballería de Jerez, was more than enough so that it was not eliminated from the social denomination, the second surname of the “initiator of our winery activity”, who is the one who really had the merit of starting in this trade.
During the summer of 1894 and with the phylloxera devastating the vineyards of Central Europe, the French businessman Antoine Vergier Jane, representative of the Lyon glassmaker André Bocouze, presented at the Grand Hotel in Paris the idea of manufacturing bottles in the city of sherry before a commission of British importers, who, with their orders to the warehousemen in the area, would make this viable draft. That same year the plague had begun to wreak havoc in Jerez, but the soleras system created by the producers of the area guaranteed a stability in the qualities that was unthinkable in other wine-growing regions.
The bottle factory started up the following year, it was called “La Jerezana” and it was in production for 114 years. Our house received orders for labeled wine in which it was “invited” to adopt a commercial brand model, where at most the qualities of the product were expressed with two words that were easy for a British to pronounce. Thus was born the first "Ximénez-Spínola" elaborated by the Successors of Phelipe Antonio Zarzana Spínola, who only made Pedro Ximénez. As simple as practical ... Perhaps few words for something so romantic. On the label -printed only in black ink-, the brand stood out in thick letters that clearly differed from the rest of the text, but its outline was filled with history, procedures and assessments - still disputed - as the authorship of Peter Siemens in the first plantations, which despite being the subject of ampelographic debate, we have refused to supplant over the years. The most paradoxical thing is that this label, written in Spanish for an English-language market, wanted to summarize a whole family tradition in two easy-to-remember words. Two words for a Spaniard are just the prelude to something, but they will never be able to summarize everything behind what they mean.
The black bottles made in Jerez, gave way to the transparent glass of wide base blown in France. However, with some changes and improvements, today our label remains essentially the same. Its content has not changed and although unfortunately the glass factory that motivated it has ceased to exist, our bottle will not undergo further modifications, as long as we have the strength and resources to prevent it. At this point in history, if we didn't value these little things, what would the point of time go by?
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