sherry regulations

Sherry: New regulations to revolutionise category

26 May, 2022

Spain’s most famous alcoholic export is on the cusp of some major changes. Millie Milliken takes a look at the incoming regulations in sherry and what the future could hold for the category.

Manzanilla-Sanlúcar de Barrameda and Vinagre de Jerez. Saldaña is referring to some large-scale changes to the sherry category that were announced in September 2021 and mooted to come into effect in November last year. 

Nine months later and said changes are still sitting on the fence – not for long though. Saldaña is confident that, come summer 2022, a lot of the regulations put forward by the Consejo Regulador will come into play. Some will offer opportunities for smaller growers; others will provide consumers and trade with greater transparency and a new language to use when talking about sherry; and many will be a welcome return to past practices. 

It’s been a culmination of extensive, sometimes conflicting and years- in-the-making discussions among producers across the sherry-making region, he explains. “These changes are the initiative of the producers themselves – a long and broad consensus which has been achieved after years of negotiations. At the end of the day the changes are a mix of historical aspirations on one side, but also technical updating. Everyone is very positive here.” 

And with the category also going through a change in identity among drinkers outside of Spain, it feels like the famous fortified wine is on the cusp of an exciting new era. So, what changes can we expect to see from the category in the coming months – and how will they shape sherry in the years to come? 


César Saldaña

César Saldaña, president of the Consejo Regulador for the Designations of Origin Jerez-Xérès-Sherry

One of the most exciting changes is the return to forgotten grape varieties. Where previously sherry was made mostly from Palomino, Moscatel and Pedro Ximinez, now the likes of Mantúo Castellano, Vejeriego and Cañocazo are staged to make a comeback under the DO. Perhaps less exciting is the more stringent regulation of the selling of sherry directly from tabancos (sherry bars) and despachos (bodegas) without any labels or technical information (although it is arguably a sensible move). 

When it comes to location, the famous Sherry Triangle is also up for a change in practice. Traditionally, while base wines were allowed to be made across the Jerez production area, the maturation of these wines was only allowed in the three towns of Jerez de la Frontera, Sanlúcar de Barrameda and El Puerto de Santa Maria. Come summer and maturation of sherry will be permitted across the entire Jerez production zone. 

And then there is the question of categorisation. There may be a 10-year transition period but where some aged wines from Sanlúcar (best known for manzanilla production) could be labelled as finos, the new regulations mean that finos can now only be produced in Jerez and El Puerto – and all aged wines from Sanlúcar are to be called manzanilla. 

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