It was a beautiful day for our tour of Cádiz, Spain. If you look at a map of the country, Cádiz is on the Atlantic coast just north of Gibraltar and just south of the border with Portugal.
Because Cádiz is on the Atlantic, it was an ideal port for dispatching trips to the New World during the 15th and 16th centuries. But this distinction pales with the true heritage of the city. The Phoenicians established a city here many hundreds of years before the birth of Christ. It is considered one of the oldest continually occupied cities on the entire European continent.
We started our tour with a bus ride through the old city that used to be contained within defensive walls typical of these European ports.
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From there the bus continued to our first stop at Gonzalez Byass, the home of Tio Pepe sherries and wines. Here is the gate to the property followed by a picture of their famous Tio Pepe logo.
We had a wonderful tour of the winery, including walking through perhaps a dozen open air bodegas where row upon row of dark barrels were stacked for aging under the sherry and wine. Gonzalez Byass is one of the most famous sherry producers in the world and distributes its products to over 100 countries around the world. Here is a picture of the first set of barrels with country by country designation:
We learned why their sherry does not come with a designated year of harvest. It is because the sherry is a blend of many years from a very unique process. Each barrel is filled to about 80% to leave air for the juice to breath. The yeast creates a thick layer between the sherry and the air in the top of the barrel. Each year, some of the sherry in the bottom row of barrels is drawn off and bottled. Then enough sherry from the next row up is moved into the bottom row to reset to the proper fill level. The third row is then moved down to the second row, and the fourth row (top row) is filled with juice just harvested. This way, there is always a blend of sherry from many years of harvests to be bottled from the bottom row.
We also watched a movie about the creation of the winery with actors taking the parts of the early 19th century Spaniards that collaborated in the venture. As part of our tour we also saw the original tasting room used by the vintner’s in their blending and bottling of the sherry wines. I thought you might enjoy these two pictures of that room:
The sherry barrels are used for many, many years before they are replaced because they are always filled and never dry out. We did learn that the winery has started a new venture with a distillery from Scotland. Blended scotch whiskey is sent to Cadiz where it is barreled in older sherry casks to smooth out the flavor. Sherried scotch whisky is not really a new concept. What is different here is that the scotch is shipped to the barrels instead of the barrels being shipped to the scotch distillery. The latter method allows the barrels to dry out before being filled while the former does not.
This new scotch blend is called Nomad. The winery is attempting to build a new brand for this whiskey, and apparently it is succeeding. I bought a bottle and brought it home to get an opinion from my Scottish neighbor. Here is a link to their new website for this brand if you are at all interested: https://www.masterofmalt.com/whiskies/gonzalez-byass/nomad-outland-whisky/
From the winery we boarded our bus and were taken to the home of Spain’s Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art. The featured image is of the outside of the ring where the horses train and where regular shows are presented to the public. The school bought a Renaissance French mansion and grounds to house the school and the whole place was beautiful. Here are a few pictures from our visit:
From hear we boarded a bus back to our ship. When we got back to the pier, my wife and I decided it was time for an adventure. We walked into the old city and found a Tapas restaurant. Our hosts did not speak much English and we did not speak much Spanish, but they had a menu for us written in English. We ordered some Spanish wine and then four different small tapas dishes, all of which were extremely delicious.
Somehow, we always seem to discover just the right place for local food in all of our travels, and this was no exception. When we finished lunch, we went for a walkabout to see the local streets and shops. Many were closed for siesta, but many were open. It made for a fitting way to spend our last day in Spain.