One of the most important producers in Sanlúcar de Barrameda, Barbadillo’s presence is notably felt in the town’s Barrio Alto district, overlooking the Guadalquivir riverbank, where the company owns 17 cellars plus its headquarters. La Arboledilla, built in 1876, is one of the most beautiful examples of cathedral-like wineries in the Sherry Triangle.
The company was founded in 1821 by Benigno Barbadillo, an entrepreneur from Burgos who earned his wealth in Mexico. Upon his return to Spain, he settled in Sanlúcar and set up his wine business. In 1827, when the DO Manzanilla first appeared, Benigno was the first to ship a bottle of Manzanilla. It beared the name Divina Pastora.
Since then, this Sanlúcar producer —one of Spain’s oldest family businesses— has grown exponentially to become a a large wine group with 500 hectares under vine and facilities to produce up to 10 million liters of wine in the Sherry Triangle, as well as two additional wineries in Somontano (Bodega Pirineos, 950 Ha) and in Ribera del Duero (Vega Real, 80 Ha), whose turnover stood at 35.6m euros in 2015.
Barbadillo are the creators of Castillo de San Diego, one of Spain’s major commercial successes. Launched by Antonio Pedro “Toto” Barbadillo, this white wine was first made in the Gibalgín vinification plant, boasting the first stainless steel temperature-controlled tanks in Spain. Nowadays, and despite increasing competition, this aromatic and fruity Palomino is still the king of whites: 391 bottles of Castillo San Diego are sold each hour in Spain. Classified as Vino de la Tierra de Cádiz, this wine is widely known as Barbadillo.
With the seventh generation of the family in charge of the business, plus Montse Molina taking care of the wine making, Barbadillo has managed to move with the times and renew the interest for sherry wines.
Solear en Rama (37.5cl bottle, €17) was the first unfiltered Manzanilla in the market released several times a year and it set the way for all the en rama wines that followed in the Sherry Triangle. Just as it was done on the first saca in 1999, 12 butts are selected every three months to fill 2,500 half bottles and 100 magnums.
To meet the increasing interest towards this style of Manzanilla but without perverting the wine, Barbadillo launched in 2016 Pastora (10,000 bottles, €14), a Manzanilla pasada en rama which is the natural evolution of Solear en Rama. Pastora resembles Solear en Rama but it has a wider, more powerful style with almost nine years of biological ageing. As the en rama version, it is fed from the Solear (40,000 bottles, €8) solera.
The arrival of Armando Guerra to Barbadillo as director of premium winemaking has meant that some experimental projects led by Montse Molina have seen the light. Mirabrás, launched in the spring of 2016 (2,000 bottles, €14), is a white Palomino which has been fermented in used casks with flor. The fact that it has no added alcohol means a return to the traditional asoleo practice of letting grapes dry on the sun. It is a deep and flavorful wine, dismantling the extended belief that Palomino is a boring neutral grape.
Nude is “punk Tintilla”, says Armando Guerra. A vin de soil , fresh and unfiltered, with a style that brings echoes of carbonic maceration styles from Rioja and Beaujolais rather than other riper Tintilla wines from the area. Production of Nude stands at 2,000 bottles and each of them costs €14 in Spain.
There is a traditional range of sherries which includes Amontillado Príncipe, sourced from the Solear solera and aged for some 15 years (€18), the excellent Obispo Gascón Palo Cortado (€36), Cuco Oloroso (€18) and La Cilla Pedro Ximénez (€12,10). The VORS range is a step up in terms of quality, coming from the oldest soleras; the most premium bottles are Reliquias, a collection of very old and exclusive wines which belonged to the family. They are released in tiny amounts, like Versos 1891. One hundred bottles were released on the first saca in 2016; with a price tag of €10,000 announced during the presentation in London, Versos 1891 is the most expensive sherry in the world.
The winery in Sanlúcar and it Manzanilla museum are open for visitors throughout the year.