The art of Production of sherry brandy
Here at Sánchez Romate we pride ourselves on celebrating the Solera & Criadera ageing system that is so characteristic of all our wines and brandies.
Why do we still use this method of ageing? Because it’s unique to this pocket of Andalusia where we are (the Sherry Triangle) and the process is quite spectacular.
How the Cardenal Mendoza Solera Works
The Solera & Criadera system is made of 8 tiers of American Oak barrels. (7 Criaderas & 1 Solera).
Each tier has an average of 400 barrels, previously seasoned with Oloroso & Pedro Ximénez wines,which give Cardenal Mendoza its subtle characterful taste.
The Solera, (bottom-most tier), is where the most mature Brandy is kept. It is from the Solera where the Brandy is extracted to be bottled.
The age of the Brandy decreases as you move from the Solera to the uppermost Criadera (the 7th Criadera with the barrels that sit right at the top of the structure).
A maximum of only one third of the contents is extracted from each barrel that forms the Solera. This process is known as the “saca.”
The brandy taken during the saca is replenished with the same quantity of slightly younger brandy from the 1st Criadera, which in turn is replenished with the same quantity of younger brandy from the 2nd Criadera etc.
The contents of the 7th Criadera (highest tier with youngest Brandy) come straight from the Holandas at 42 degrees. This process is known as the “rocío.” The brandy will have matured for three years prior to entering the Solera & Criadera system, after being distilled from wine from the Airén grape. This is the principal component of classic Cardenal Mendoza Brandy.
Cardenal Mendoza Carta Real:
7th Criadera filled with Cardenal Mendoza Classic.
Cardenal Mendoza Non Plus Ultra:
7th Criadera filled with Cardenal Mendoza Carta Real.
What defines this system is that brandies of different ages are mixed in with each other every time the “saca” and “rocío” take place. Consequently, we are able to achieve a consistency in the style and quality of our wines and brandies.
Meet the Maker
With Masters Degrees in chemistry and oenology from the University of Cádiz, Reyes Gomez is a member of the Andalusian Association of Oenologists and has been the technical director and oenologist at Bodegas Sánchez Romate since 2005 where the treasured recipe for Cardenal Mendoza was passed down to her with great care. Here, she is in charge of all the production processes from the vineyard to the bottle; monitoring fermentation, ageing, blending and quality control.
When I was born, Cardenal Mendoza was already here. Now it's my turn to look after it.