End of the reign for Spanish dynasty

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The Independent Online
The reign in Spain of one of the oldest dynasties in Jerez sherry is coming to an end, with nearly 180 years of family control over Pedro Domecq and more than 250 years of sherry history passing into the hands of Allied- Lyons, writes John Shepherd.

The origin of sherry produced by Pedro Domecq in Jerez can be traced to 1730. But it was not until 1816 that the Domecq family bought into the sherry business. The core activity, however, has become just a small part of the burgeoning Domecq drinks empire. Development into the eighth-largest spirits company in the world started in earnest in 1941 through expansion into Mexico. In 1956 Pedro Domecq Mexico became a subsidiary of Pedro Domecq. Since then, several other overseas subsidiaries have been established.

Wine-making has been associated with Jerez in southern Spain for more than 3,000 years. In the Middle Ages the first pure sherry was produced by using an alembic, an Arab-invented pot-still.

Production techniques, and the different varieties of grape used to make sherry, have been further refined over the past 130 years. More than 100 different grape varieties were reportedly once used to make sherry, but just three are used today - Palomino, Pedro Ximenez and Moscatel fino.

Like the Champagne region of France Jerez is unique, owing to the hot climate and type of soil known as albariza. Sherry comes in several forms - ranging from dry and light to sweet and full bodied. The main classifications are Fino and Fino Manzanilla, Amontillado, Oloroso and Cream.

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