“Hidden since 1978 in Sanlúcar’s Barrio Bajo”.
This is Taberna der Guerrita’s catchphrase, but there are actually few sherry enthusiasts who are unaware of its existence. In fact, it is a pilgrimage destination that flor and albariza worshipers must visit at least once in a lifetime, although it usually turns into a permanent love affair with this no-nonsense tavern where wine inspires and moves.
The man responsible for this cult of manzanilla in a country where wine consumption barely reaches 15 liters per capita (much lower if we talk about sherry) is called Armando Guerra. Tall, thin and docile looking, this winemaker had the foresight to expand in 2008 his dad’s —Armando “er Guerrita”— old bar and build an albariza-white tasting room devoted to the study of sherry wines which every summer gathers the who’s who of the Spanish wine world.
Names like Pedro Ballesteros MW, Antonio Flores, Luis Gutiérrez, Ramiro Ibáñez, Envínate or Dani Landi have led tastings this year so Armando has sold out most of the sessions.
The tasting room leads to La Sacristía shop, where Armando stores some 200 references, many of them from across the Sherry Triangle, something unheard of in a region where finding wines from Jerez in Sanlúcar or viceversa is pretty difficult.
His recent move to sherry producer Barbadillo as Winemaking Director in November 2015 means a great coup for the Sanlúcar winery, where he will have the freedom to do special sacas (drawing out wine from a solera for bottling), find forgotten and special casks among the 65,000 which are stored in Barbadillo’s various cellars in Sanlúcar and “showcase the winery’s fantastic wines which are very little known”.
Although Armando will still be able to host his renowned summer tastings, he has had to give up his involvement in new projects, such as those he had with his friends Ramiro Ibáñez, Willy Pérez, La Callejuela, Forlong or Primitivo Collantes, with whom Armando had formed Manifiesto 119, a group aimed at finding new ways to boost the region’s wines.
In the tavern, decorated in a decidedly untrendy way, patrons share counter space with wine nerds who drink manzanillas and amontillados straight from the casks in a proper glass, with no catavinos on sight. Punters wishing to have a bite to eat will find simple homemade dishes based on local products such as tuna and other fried fish specialities or rich plates like cuttlefish with chick peas or fish stew. On top of it all, prices are very reasonable in a place where wine is very well taken care of. Y.O.A.