Friday 27 January 2012

Puerto de Santa María, Rota and Chipiona, Cadiz Province.

Jayne's birthday and a visit to the Osborne's Bodega de Mora.

We started the day with a very nice breakfast in the hotel before making our way through the town to the Osborne Bodega where we had booked a tour of the Ware houses. We arrived and we were met by Christine who was our guide and as we were the only people there we had our own private visit. We started a cinema where we watched a short film which explained how the company was founded and its climb to the one of the most famous Sherry and Brandy producers. It also told us how the company had expanded into different lines so that it was not just dependent on it most famous brands. The most interesting fact for me is that it was all started by an ENGLISH chap called Thomas Osborne Mann from Exeter in 1772, this made my day!!!
We then moved into the first of the ware houses where the Fino is stored and Christine explained what happen once the grapes have been picked, pressed, distilled / fermented and put into the barrels. The barrels are in stacks three high, but the liquid from only the bottom row is use to produce the Sherry and only 40% of this is drained each year. The lower barrel is then topped up from the row above and then that row is filled from the top most barrels which are filled with the new liquid to complete the process. This means that in theory some of the Fino in the barrels could be over two hundred years old!
We then moved on and we were given lots more information on the different production methods, she explained that in the Fino barrels there is always around a 2cm thick layer of yeast that stops the Sherry coming in contact with the air in the top of the barrel which prevents the oxidation process and keeps the liquid clear and pale. In the other types of Sherry the alcohol level is raised so that the yeast dies and the liquid is in contact with the air and the oxidation process can take place which gives the sherry it darker colour. The other types of Sherry are Oloroso, Cream and Sweet. One of the best advertising hoardings ever seen must have been the Osborne Bull; the bull was created in 1956 by Manolo Prieto. Nowadays only two bulls carry the Osborne logo; the other ninety odd are just painted black but will always be associated with the company.
After what was a very interesting couple of hours we were taken to a very comfortable room and sat down with some nibbles and four bottles of Sherry to taste. Christine explained the best times to drink the different types and the temperature at which each was best served before she left us to it. After sometime we made our way to the gift shop and purchased a couple of bit before heading to the car (I only had a couple of sips) and headed out for a walk around an area know as Sherry-port a little way along the coast.
We parked up and had a stroll around the edge of the harbour, whilst there I saw Common Sandpiper (Andarrios Chico / Actitis hypoleucos), Great Cormorant (Cormorán Grande / Phalacrocorax carbo), Razorbill (Alca Común / Alca torda) and another Whimbrel (Zarapito Trinador / Numenius phaeopus). We then decided to go up the coast to Rota where we drove around for a while and departed heading for Chipiona a little further west. We soon found what is said to be the tallest lighthouse in Spain and then went to have some lunch. Later we headed down to the harbour are where I was hoping to find some of the Little Swifts (Vencejo Moro Culiblanco / Apus affinus) which are reported there regularly. I checked the area around the disused factory building, the beach and over the town but could not find any birds. I did see a couple more Caspian Terns (Pagaza Piquirroja / Sterna caspia), Ruddy Turnstone (Vuelvepiedras Común / Arenaria interpres), Sanderling (Correlimos Tridáctilo / Calidris alba) and a dozen or so Little Egrets (Garceta Común / Egretta garzetta). On the drive back to Puerto we also added a couple of Marsh Harriers (Aguilucho Lagunero Occidental / Circus aeruginosus) and a Booted Eagle (Aguililla Calzada / Hieraaetus pennatus) to the list. On the evening we decided to try one of the well known and highly recommended seafood restaurants in the town but we were left quite disappointed and headed back to the hotel bar where we had a drink and a Whiskey / Brandy Coffee which went down far to well.
Photographs from the top: Entrance to the Osborne ware-houses, Fino Barrels x2, Jayne outside the giftshop and the Chipiona Lighthouse.

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