Bodegas César Florido
A fifth generation descendant of his bodegas’ founder, César Florido is one of the world’s few remaining Almacenistas who happens to reside oceanside in Chipiona, a village that was once considered outside of the ‘official’ Sherry triangle. And though Bodegas César Florido is located directly on the Atlantic, and therefore within the D.O. Jerez-Xérès-Sherry, it is not within the zona de crianza or “zone of maturation”, which was established by the Consejo Regulador. Limited to Manzanilla de Sanlucar, Jerez de la Frontera and El Puerto de Santa Maria, the wines of the zona de crianza bear the official stamp of “Sherry-Jerez-Xeres Manzanilla” on their back labels, a privilege that is extended to César’s three Moscatel wines but not to his Fino, Cruz del Mar Oloroso and Peña del Aguila Palo Cortado.
As one of the oldest bodegas in Chipiona, a town that was once home to 83 wineries, César Florido is one of two bodegas that is producing and bottling its own sherries. With three wineries in Chipiona, one of which is just 40m from the Atlantic Ocean, César Florido also buys grapes directly from vineyards, as opposed to buying must, like a majority of the region’s other bodegas. When all of the bodegas started selling their vineyards 70-80 years ago, so that they could focus on the aging of their sherries, César Florido followed suit but had the foresight to sell their plots to family members, to ensure that they could continue to make their wines with ‘estate’ fruit.
And while the Moscatel grapes for his sweet wines come directly from Chipiona–because Moscatel thrives in sandy soils–the vineyards that are planted to Pedro Ximenez (Sherry’s other sweet sister) are located in Montilla-Moriles, which is one of the six D.O.s in Andalusia that is approximately 225km from Jerez. And though Chipiona is dedicated to growing Moscatel, most of its wines are sold in bulk to the region’s sherry houses. As one of the only producers of Moscatel to bottle his own wines, César lobbied the Consejo Regulador to no avail, to allow all six of his wines to be labeled “sherry”.
With three Moscatel cuvées that include Moscatel Dorado, Especial and Pasas, César Florido has single-handedly rescued the latter from extinction.
Moscatel grapes drying in the sand
Fermented with indigenous yeasts, the César Florido Moscatel Dorado is made from grapes that are not air-dried, but crushed and fermented to approximately 1% abv, before spending one year in the Solera. The Moscatel Especial is made the same as the Dorado, but then Arope (unfermented must reduced through cooking) is added after fermentation to add nuance to the wine with rich flavors of caramel and coffee. Never before exported, the César Florido Moscatel Pasas is made from grapes that are hand-selected on the vine and then dried on fields of sand for two to three weeks to better concentrate the effects of the sun. Once the fermentation is halted by the addition of neutral grape spirits, the wine is then aged in the Solera for five to nine years before bottling.
“The rebirth of Jerez is through the strength of its Almacenistas,” says André Tamers of De Maison Selections, “who want to stay independent and who have the willpower to bottle.” César Florido is one such man, who has prevailed through the difficulties to hit Jerez, a wine region that last witnessed the peak its glory nearly 100 years ago.