If there's a more quintessentially Spanish city than Seville, we haven't visited it yet! This charming, historic city in Andalucia is everything most people dream about when they think of Spain. Baking hot days, with summer temperatures that rarely drop below 35°C (95°F), an eclectic mixture of both Roman and Arabic influences in the architecture and city lay-out, easy-going locals sipping coffee in the shade and beautiful tapas consumed on a daily basis, but never in a rush. Yet, despite the relatively relaxed pace of life here, the city itself is the 4th largest in Spain and the capital of Andalucia, with an enviable history stretching back to the Romans who first created a civilisation here. 800 years of Moorish occupation is still plain to see, with small fountains dotted in beautiful courtyards around the city, blending together with modern day living seamlessly. There's a magnetic energy here that's hard to define and whether you're a foodie, a history buff or a wine lover, there's certainly something here for everyone.
From the perspective of a wine lover, Seville is on the door step of some of Spain's most historically famous wine regions. With the open, gorgeous city of Jerez de la Frontera barely an hour away to the south, what better place to discover all about Sherry, a wine that is finally entering its long awaited renaissance. To the east lies Montilla-Moriles, it's bright, white soils reflecting the sunlight, helping them produce Spain's most unctuously sweet wines. Regardless of the direction you take, Andalucia is home to some of Spain's most famous, family ran wineries, some of which are alive with a brand new energy as the next generation takes the reins and focuses on new, exciting concepts. Whilst we'll be sure to direct you to some of the best wine bars and shops in the city, it'd be a shame not to spend a day walking the grounds of some of the countries most famous producers and, as always, be sure to bring your favourites back with you!
Did you know that we can get a Lazenne Wine Check to you within 24 hours whilst you're on holiday? Really, we'll deliver it straight to your hotel whilst you're visiting the beautiful vineyards of Spain, so that it's ready to safe guard your bottles as a soon you as return! https://lazenne.com/pages/delivery
Seville sits between two of Spain's most historically famous wine regions; Jerez and Montilla-Moriles. Both are renowned for producing fortified, powerful wines ranging from light, tangy Manzanilla to powerful, dark Pedro Ximinez, and a wave of unfortified wines that are capturing the imaginations of wine critics across Spain. Better yet, the layout of these bodegas is utterly unique and makes for a wonderful visiting experience, with most bodegas more than happy to throw open their doors and show curious wine lovers around! Here's our recommendations for three different, high quality wineries to visit and how to get there:
The Region – Montilla-Moriles
150km away from Jerez lies Montilla-Moriles, a region built around two small towns of the same name. Hotter and drier than the Sherry Triangle, the main difference here is that the vineyards are planting with Pedro Ximenez, a small white grape that soaks up the sunshine, building to incredibly high amounts of sugar and ripeness before harvesting. It's unsurprising to discover that sweet wines are the speciality of the region, particularly famous for their longevity.
The Winery – Bodega Alvear
Speaking of longevity, here's a family ran winery that's been in operation since 1729, making it the oldest bodega in the region and one of the very oldest in Spain! Tradition rules the roost here, with hundreds of tinajas ( large earthenware pots used to store liquids) resting under their roof, full of the golden brown Pedro Ximenez that can be stored for as long as 30-40 years before bottling. This is a special place, for both the wine lover and the historian, with wines dating back well over a hundred years. Again, choosing a single wine is difficult but if you want to experience what Pedro Ximenez is all about, keep your eyes out for....
The Wine - Pedro Ximénez Dulce Viejo
If you want to experience what Pedro Ximenez has to offer, you're best off jumping in at the deep end, in this case with one of the older wines produced by Bodega Alvear. This syrupy, unctuous wine isn't released for a minimum of 6 years and it shows in the glass. Dark, concentrated and full of the raisins, figs, prunes and dark chocolate and caramel we want from aged Pedro Ximenez. Whilst it's a little sacrilegious to do it, we absolutely adore this drizzled across good quality vanilla ice-cream adorned with roasted walnuts. Bliss!
For more information and to contact Bodega Alvear for a visit, contact them through their website
To visit Bodega Alvear in Montilla, you'll need transportation in the form of a car. Public transport does exist but isn't reliable and takes between 2-3 years for the trip.
The Region – Sanlucar de Barrameda
Sanlucar de Barrameda is the furthest corner of the Sherry Triangle, sat on the mouth of the Guadalquivir River. Unlike Jerez and El Puerto de Santa Maria, Sanlucar de Barrameda is responsible for a unique style of wine known as Manzanilla, a lighter, fresher and even tangier style of Fino Sherry than those produced elsewhere, made possible by the higher levels of humidity here. If you want to discover what the magical flor yeast is all about, this it the place to do it, as it grows more thickly on top of the wine than anywhere else. Not only that, but with the water within a stones throw, it's a lovely place to cool off and relax after a long days tasting and exploring. To experience Manzanilla Sherry at its best, we recommend you visit...
The Winery – Bodega Hidalgo La Gitana
Bodega Hidalgo La Gitana is Sanlucar royalty. Founded in 1792 and still going strong through 6 successive generations, this is one of the most famous producers of Manzanilla Sherry around. Their bodega is sat right on the waters edge and their vineyards are dotted around some of the very best terrain in the region, which goes a long way to explaining the quality of their wine. Whilst they have a range of different Sherry, we recommend you try their largest production, the wine that's set the standard for Manzanilla...
The Wine – Manzanilla La Gitana
Whilst this can be found across various wine shops in the region, it's emblematic enough that we insist you retry it on the premise, ideally after seeing the incredible solera system it's passed through. A blend of 14 different criaderas (the levels of a solera system), this must surely be one of Spain's greatest value wines, considering the relatively modest price it demands. Salty, tangy and yet with so much depth of flavour, imagine drinking this whilst sitting in the hot Seville sunshine, eating salted almonds, juicy olives and delicious Manchego. Life doesn't get much better!
For more information and to contact Bodega Hidalgo La Gitana for a visit, contact them through their website
To visit Bodega Hidalgo La Gitana in Sanlucar de Barrameda, first take the train from Seville to Jerez (For more information on the train times, check here.) and then either a taxi or a bus from the main station of Jerez to Sanlucar de Barrameda, which is only 20 minutes away.
Whilst a day trip to a Sherry bodega is a great way to spend the day, you don't need to venture too far from the city itself to find a vibrant, wine scene. Seville isn't big on large, modern wine bars but some of the very best spots are quiet, rustic corners of the city with passionate, knowledgeable staff. Below are some of our favourites, whether it's to while away a lazy afternoon, challenge yourself with a structured tasting or pick out some new wines to bring back home with you:
Vineria San Telmo
Paseo de Catalina de Ribera, 4
Vineria San Telmo is less of a bar and more of a restaurant, yet it has one of the finest wine lists in town! Juan Manuel and his wife Reyes imbue this charming, traditional restaurant with knowledge, a warm welcome and plenty of good food to keep you at an even keel. One of the greatest aspects of Vineria San Telmo is its excellent selection of wines by the glass, including a 'wine of the month', chosen by the owners themselves. Unsurprisingly, you'll also find a venerable, older selection of Sherry here as well, so make sure to leave some time in your schedule to visit! Vineria San Telmo
La Azotea Vinos y Mas
Calle Jesús del Gran Poder, 44
Make sure you read the name of the bar correctly, as this can get confusing! In Seville there are 4 Azotea premises, each with its own speciality. For wine lovers, there's nothing better than finding your way to La Azotea Vinos y Mas, a newly opened wine shop across the road from their flagship restaurant. Not only do they have a wonderful selection of wine in stock, but they organise regular, free tastings and even grander events on an almost monthly basis. Be sure to contact them ahead of schedule and see what's going on during your visit!
Flor de Sal
Calle Carlos Cañal, 36
When it comes to charming wine shops in Seville, Flor de Sal makes a strong case for being the very best. Led by resident sommelier André, the shop organises daily tastings and classes, although even if you swing by you're likely to receive a warm welcome and all the advice you could possibly want on Spanish wine. Not only that, but there are 20 different wines to try by the glass, making this shop something of a wine bar in addition! A brilliant spot to discover about Spanish wine in Seville and one of our favourite locations in the city. Flor de Sal
Lama la Uva
Calle Regina, 1, Local 4
For something a little more eclectic and cosy, be sure to pay a visit to Ana at Lama la Uva. The philosophy of Lama la Uva is based around highlighting the lesser known wines of Andalucia to a broader audience, all in a relaxed, calm environment. Ana holds regular tastings at La la Uva, which aren't necessarily purely wine focused, brimming as the shop is with other local delicacies! If you want to experience an example of a modern, energetic approach to Andalucian wine, this is for you! Lama la Uva
When it comes to wine and Seville, Sherry is undoubtedly king, served in almost every bar, restaurant and cafe in the city. Yet Sherry is still so misunderstood on a global level, much to the bemusement of the locals and wine lovers the world over. It's certainly confusing and difficult to get your head around, but understanding a few basics of the region and the styles can make a big difference in having the confidence to order a glass:
Sherry is a fortified wine made from white grapes (mainly Palomino Fino) grown near the city of Jerez de la Frontera in Andalusia, Spain. The chalky, white soils that the region is famous for is known as albariza, which is ideal for producing the neutral, long lived based wines used in Sherry production.
Contrary to popular belief, most Sherry is actually quite dry in style and falls into three different categories.
Biologically Aged Sherry (Dry) – These are Fino and Manzanilla Sherries which have aged under a lay of flor yeast, protecting them from oxygen and retaining their bright, salty vigour. Wines will typically be quite pale in colour and are best served with light tapas and seafood.
Oxidatively Aged Sherry (Dry) – This is mainly Oloroso, although both Amontillado and Pale Cortado have seen some level of oxidative ageing. This is where the flor yeast that protects Fino and Manzanilla Sherry dies off, leaving the wines exposed to oxygen. The subsequent ageing process leaves the wines darker in colour, with aromas of dried fruits, caramel, coffee and walnuts.
Sweet Sherry (Sweet) – These range from the concentrated, sweet wines of Pedro Ximenez and Moscatel to Medium and Cream Sherry. The former are usually produced around Montilla-Moriles, whilst Medium and Cream Sherry is typically an Oxidatively Aged Sherry that has been sweetened.
These wines are produced in a Solera System, which are groups of barrels that make up a single bottling. The youngest wine enters into the top layer, known as a criadera, and ages until it is ready to move into the next barrel. As new wine enters the first barrel, wine from all the other barrels moves on. The final criadera is drawn off as finished wine. As a result, a Sherry made in a criadera is always a mixture of different vintages.
Drinking Sherry is a wonderful experience and one that we recommend you try, particularly with the right food pairing and ideally in Seville itself! Consider a lighter Sherry such as Manzanillo or Fino with fresh seafood, whilst a heavier Oloroso suits heavy, red meat perfectly. It pays to experiment and there's no better place to discover the beauty of Sherry than Seville. Remember as always to bring your Lazenne Wine Check with you, so that you can transport your favourite bottles home to share with your friends. Salud!
For more on our specially designed wine luggage and more detailed information on how to travel with alcohol, check out the links below: