Until very recently, they only talked about the wineries in the Marco de Jerez. The uniqueness of the criaderas and soleras system, and the complexity of the biological (under flower veil) and oxidative breeding methods, allowed it. The Marco de Jerez wineries have known how to safeguard an artisanal system, which works boot by boot, jug by jug, and which has enormous value. To such an extent that it is legitimate to speak of the “terroir” of the winery, the importance of the location of the buildings and the design of their natural ventilation.
In recent years, the importance of Pagos and the different types of albariza soils has begun to be recognized, and their connection with the different sensations that we can perceive in wines, be they fortified or white wines. It is the second dimension of the Marco wines. It was necessary to return to earth. We had forgotten.
After the crises of the 80s and 90s, most of the wineries sold their vineyards that were bought by small and medium-sized winegrowers. These were organized into cooperatives, in order to better negotiate prices and conditions within the Framework. And to democratize the operation, the cooperatives began to mix all the grapes from the different types of land, and give them all the same value. The wineries began to feed on these base wines, which were blends and no longer gave the specificity of a soil or a Pago, but rather showed a general idea of the area.
Thus, it is a wonder to rediscover the uniqueness of each pago, where its geographical position, its proximity or distance to the ocean or river, its orientation, or the characteristics of its soil define its identity. The palomino grape is so subtle that it is capable of transmitting all these peculiarities.
However, for us, there is a missing dimension to be aware of, and that is viticulture. We can be in any of the large pagos of the Marco, with old palomino vines, and one half of the plot, work it in conventional agriculture (that is: use of herbicides and pesticides; use of chemical fertilizers; use of deep and rotating work of soils, etc.), and the other half, work in organic and biodynamic agriculture (that is: without the use of herbicides or pesticides, neither systemic nor penetrating; with the use of natural compost in small quantities, tilling on the surface, and without rotating land, managing green roofs, etc.); the resulting grapes in each part of the plot will be completely different.
Thus, viticulture is necessarily the third dimension in the search for excellence of the Marco de Jerez wines. In vineyard management there are a large number of decisions to be made: when, how much and how to till the soils; the amount of compost and the type to apply; the types and modes of treatment; pruning management; the decision of the moment of harvest of the grape, etc.
And if you hurry me, I would say that viticulture is the most important dimension, since the greatest mystery does not reside in the winery, but in the work carried out by the vineyards to transform light and cosmic energies into fruits that we can eat. What we then do to create the wine has no merit compared to the work they do.
Having the best raw material: the best palomino grape, the job lies in not spoiling that product, in maintaining its quality and its uniqueness in the winery.