A. R. Valdespino
Valdespino is one of the oldest bodegas in Jerez, if not the oldest. Its history dates back to 1264, when King Alfonso X rewarded the knight Alfonso Valdespino for his help in liberating Jerez from the Moors. Valdespino was given a parcel of vineyards and started making wine.
Commercial activities were said to be started in 1430 and the formal ‘company’ of today was founded in 1875. It quickly gained a lot of fame and became a supplier of the Royal Houses of Spain and Sweden. It has always been known as a traditional house, which stayed in the Valdespino family until 1999.
At the end of the 1990’s, the Valdespino family was losing interest in the sherry trade and in 1999 the company was sold to the Grupo Estévez, owned by José Estévez, who made a fortune out of sand for bottles and who has always been a sherry aficionado. He already bought Bodegas Marqués del Real Tesoro in the 1980’s and was looking for a premium brand to complement it. All of the Valdepino soleras (around 25.000 barrels in total) were moved from the old bodegas (which had fallen into serious disrepair) to a new computer-monitored facility on the outskirts of Jerez. The new bodega includes an on-site fermentation area, bottling lines, laboratory and cooperage. The move took about two and a half years to complete, but the quality of the soleras hasn’t suffered a bit. In 2007, Estévez also acquired Manzanilla La Guita but their soleras are still located in Sanlúcar.
Valdespino is still sticking to old methods and traditions. More than anyone else they are stressing the importance of terroir. Whereas the majority of bodegas don’t own vineyards any more, Valdespino owns 186 hectares of vineyards and controls another 220 hectares, all of them of the Palomino grape. Some of the more important vineyards are located in the pago Macharnudo Alto, a renowned area that is producing grapes for specific sherries like the Fino Inocente and Tio Diego, making them single-vineyard sherries, a concept that has become rare these days. Moreover they are still fermenting wines in wooden barrels, as the last company in the sherry industry.
Valdespino’s enologist and technical director, Eduardo Ojeda, is part of Equipo Navazos, an independent project that sources excellent wines from old soleras.