Bodegas La Cigarrera
Ignacio Hildago of Bodegas La Cigarrera
“I belong to the ninth generation,” said Ignacio Hildago, of Bodegas La Cigarrera–the oldest winery in Sanlucar to remain in its original location. Operating since 1758, La Cigarrera ideally resides in the barrio bajo, the lower part of the Sanlucar plateau, which has long been considered the preferable portion since bodegas began clustering in the area during the 18th and 19th centuries. With such close proximity to two bodies of water–the Atlantic to the west and the Guadalquivir River to the north–Sanlucar bears the effects of the poniente, a wet wind that blows in directly from the ocean, cooling the area while increasing its humidity. Creating two different microclimates–the barrio bajo and the barrio alto–this convergence results in two different micro-climates. And while the conditions in the barrio alto might yield lighter sherries, the positioning of La Cigarrera yields sherries with greater complexity.
Situated at the cross section of two winds, the poniente from the east and the levante, a warm and dry wind from the west, La Cigarrera is best situated for the creation of flor. In the barrio alto, the levante ends up cancelling the effects of the poniente, which results in the reduction of the humidity that cheapens the quality of the flor.
The cousin of César Florido, Ignacio comes from a long line of Sherry producers. With 500 barrels, some of the oldest in Sanlucar, La Cigarrera produces 90% manzanilla fina. And though Ignacio was the family’s first to bottle his own sherry (beginning in 1997), for generations, La Cigarrera sold its wines to famous sherry houses, including Lustau, for bottling.
Manzanilla in the solera
Just as the varying parts of Sanlucar are home to a variety of micro-climates, so are the nooks and corners of each Bodegas–where one might say that terroir resides in Jerez. In the Bodegas’ Sacrista, which holds the oldest of the family’s wines that have been passed down through generations, sits three barrels of Manzanilla Pasada, the solera from which Ignacio’s father and grandfather once drank. Untapped for 22 years and first bottled in 2011, these barrels are over 150 years old, however, “We have no idea how old it is,” said Ignacio, of the barrels’ contents.
Also in the Sacrista of the bodega, sits a barrel of Amontillado Viejo, from Ignacio’s grandmother’s dowery. Never tapped, this single barrel of Amontillado is at minimum 30 years old. And though Ignacio had to receive the family’s permission to bottle it, both the Manzanilla Pasada and the Amontillado Viejo will be available next month, while the Manzanilla just arrived this week.