Beltrán Domecq and César Saldaña together make up the heart and head of the Sherry world. Who is which is too hard to say – both house a bodega’s worth of knowledge in their heads, a lifetime’s worth of Jerezano lore in their hearts.
Of Domecq – the man who literally wrote the book on Sherry – Saldaña wrote that there is no more “perfect guide for those who wish to undertake a journey of knowledge about Sherry; a journey which is never-ending, because we are talking about a wine with infinite possibilities, arousing many emotions. Sherry is a wine that wins your love.” With such a man to guide you, he continues, “one falls in love as the secrets of its extraordinary diversity and centuries-old nobility are slowly discovered.” And both of them are deeply in love with the wines of Jerez. Beltrán at the age of eight was taught by his grandfather to recite by heart the lines of another helpless Xérès romantic – Shakespeare – who described the effects of Sherry ‘on the organism’ in his Henry IV:
“A good sherries sack hath a twofold operation in it. It ascends you into the brain, dries you there all the foolish and dull and curdy vapours which environ it; makes it apprehensive, quick, forgetive, full of nimble fiery and delectable shapes, which, delivered o’er to the voice, the tounge, which is the birth, becomes excellent wit. The second property of your excellent sherries is, the warming of the blood…the sherries warms it and makes it course from the inwards to the parts extreme: it illuminate the face, which as a beacon gives warning to all the rest of this little kingdom…”
Beltrán was thus instilled in sherry from a young age: “I would say that when I was a young man..” he told me when asked what type of wine he would be if he were a sherry, “..I was a vintage fino, and then I passed through the solera systems of the finos, I became a teenager and then I was turning from a fino into an amontillado, losing the flor yeast… Then I would become a palo cortado, which is a good stage.. And now, what I am is a VRS, a very old rare sherry, certified over forty years.” Asked the same question, César muses that he’d be an amontillado; deeper and more complex than the younger finos, wisened with age, perhaps.
Listen to these two caballeros and learn about the spectacular array of wines that define Jerez; their history, their character, their making, and, of course, their enjoyment, because “there is nothing better than drinking sherry to communicate between people, and that brings attraction”, as Beltrán said. I’m sure millions would toast to that.