The Sherry Triangle: Sanlucar, Cadiz and Jerez

Posted on April 5, 2010

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The ‘sherry triangle’ is in the south-west of Spain, which as the name suggests, is where sherry comes from. Usually a dry region, after this long, wet winter, the 6 hour drive down from Madrid was considerably greener than I expected. The area is also known for olive oil and there are thousands upon thousands of olive tree plantations. We started at the northern tip of the Sherry triangle…

Sanlucar

Sanlucar, although at the tip, is actually just outside the triangle and makes a special wine called Manzilla, not sherry. It is also well-known for access to the national park Donana, and for some of the best shellfish in the world. This is where we spent most of our time.

Eat at Casa Bigote (www.restaurantecasabigote.com; Avenida de Bajo de Guía, 11540 Sanlucar De Barrameda; +34 956 36 26 96). Reserve if you can as it gets busy – almost all tables were full on a Tuesday when we were there. It has rave reviews from everywhere (my favourite is on Guardian.co.uk) I have seen and I understand why – great, simple, tasty seafood.

For another evening’s dinner, go to the main square, Plaza del Cabildo for tapas. Try papas aliñas, jamon, pescaito frito (acedias, pijotas) and tortilla de camarones.

A wonderful place for an aperitif before dinner, and to watch the sunset is at Bajo de Guia, the fishermen’s district by the beach.

After dinner a wonder around the old town and a brandy at the Palacio de la Duquesa is a good option. And of course in sanlucar…drink Manzanilla…

Manzanilla is unique to this town, apparently it has weather conditions like no other and each bodega, despite buying the same grape juice from a co-operative (none of the bodegas grow grapes themselves), each manzanilla tastes different due to the location within the town. We took at tour at La Cigarrera which was fantastic and I highly recommend it. Pop into the tourist office for a list of bodegas that do tours (many do tours in English as well as Spanish but you often need to book ahead). Most tours seem to be around 11am and noon.

We stayed at Hotel Barrameda (www.hotelbarrameda.com; Calle Ancha 10, 11540 Sanlucar de Barrameda; +33 956 385 878) which is a two star, but seems like much better. Double rooms are available from 50euros including the breakfast. The location was superb and they have parking if you need it (although parking on the street is free and safe if you don’t mind a short walk)

Cadiz

Cadiz is at the south-west end of the triangle and on a bar that looks up to Puerta Santa Maria (around 10km as the crow flies or 25km by road, you can also get a ferry and it’s a good place to stop for lunch – delicious seafood and yummy tapas).

The old town of Cadiz is on a peninsular which you can walk around in just over an hour.  It’s worth a wander out to one of the forts to get some good sea air and a lovely view, especially at sunset. The town itself is old style Spanish with small streets that suddenly open up onto pretty squares. The cathedral is well worth a visit too.

Jerez

Jerez is on the south-eastern side of the triangle and the drive in was disappointing with an industrial estate feel. But then I have had that for most of the towns that we have driven into – the outskirts are often not that great but once you reach the centre, yoiu feel like you’re a million miles from it. Jerez is no exception and in fact is one of my favourite Spanish towns. I love the winding streets and the numerous squares with cafes. The crowd is considerably more upmarket here and it’s noticable as you sit and watch people strolling around or at a table sipping  their sherry.

There are many bodegas here and Jerez is home to the famous Tio Pepe Sherry brand – you see many big statues on the way in and out of the region. Again, stop at the tourist office for a comprehensive list of bodega tours in English.

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