Gonzalez Byass has brought the traditional production of Pedro Ximénez back to the sherry region, using age-old methods for making sweet wines.
Pedro Ximénez or PX, one of the three white grapes used in the production of sherry, has long been primarily sourced in nearby Montilla, but Gonzalez Byass, has brought the traditional production techniques of this variety back to its heartland. In the famous sherry grape-growing district of Carrascal 30 hectares were planted with Pedro Ximénez in 2006 and 2007.
More recently Gonzalez Byass has finished restoring and refitting the sweet winemaking plant at Viña La Canariera, where sweet wines were made until 1986.
PX production cannot be mechanised and requires a large team of people. After several years of trials, this year 200,000 kilos of bunches of grapes were hand-picked and then laid out to dry in the vineyards on grass esparto mats for 10-12 days to develop concentrations of sugar at 25-27 degrees Baumé, a process called ‘soleo’. The bunches of grapes have to be turned over regularly and they are covered at night to avoid the dew. The 2020 PX harvest began on 24th August.
The resulting wines are destined for the González Byass PX soleras where they age for many years before being released as Néctar and Noé V.O.R.S. PX is also used for sweetening Oloroso or to make Cream sherries such as Solera 1847.
Gonzalez Byass UK’s Managing Director Martin Skelton commented “this significant investment in new plantings of PX, the restoration of the vinification plant for sweet Sherry and in the large labour force required to undertake the ‘soleo’ underlines GB’s belief in a bright future for sherry, and continued sales growth of all Sherry styles post-pandemic. In the UK market, all Sherry brands have posted 20%+ growth since March with Tio Pepe leading the pack with the highest increase.”