Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Sampling Jerez

A lot of people don't realize that bears like a nice glass of sherry now & again. Not all bears, of course. Some prefer liqueurs while others like a digestif. Many years ago, when I did my first photo shoot in Madrid for the Spanish version of GQ (I was an international fashion model then), I was introduced to manzanilla - and it's still my favourite tipple.

Manzanilla belongs to the fino sherry family and its name means "chamomile" - like the flower and the tea. In fact, it's called manzanilla because people think it tastes like the tea. I think it tastes like sherry but what do I know? Bears normally drink green tea - not chamomile - because it regulates our body temperature, which is very important during the hibernation season.

Anyway, since I am now in Spain, I decided to do a "sherry tour" and I took a few days off - with my bipedal attendants - to visit two bodegas in Jerez. We started off at the Gonzales Byass Sherry house - the home of Tío Pepe (see me above with Tío ). As a former international fashion model, I really admire Tío 's sense of style. Like me, he's minimalist chic! No wonder he was once painted by Pablo Picasso.

González Byass is the best selling brand in the world. They use palomino grapes to make their sherry which I thought was a bit odd because I always assumed that palominos were horses. I don't think they use horses to make their sherry though. I need to look into this because I am a vegetarian bear.

We also visited the winery of Domecq, whose bodega is called La Mezquita, or "the Mosque", and has Moorish arches and beautiful whitewashed walls. They were very generous with their sampling (as you can see, above-left) and they encouraged us to open and try everything. So we did. I confess that I baulked at having to wear a name badge at Domecq because it just confirms to those who aren't 100% certain that it's me, that it's me. Just to be safe, I took an assumed name but I was still swarmed at the gift shop.

Domecq is also the home of Harvey's Bristol Cream, the favourite sherry of one of my bipedal attendant's mother. She bought a bottle of one of their new products Harvey's Orange - a blend of the Bristol Cream and a twist of natural orange essence. What says Spain better than sherry and oranges? Needless to say, the bottle didn't last too long although no one offered to share it with me. Why do people think that bears are teetotalers?

What was interesting about both bodegas were the signed casks. Over the years, many famous people have visited both Domecq and González Byass and have left their marks on the oak casks. You can see the signatures of the Spanish Royal Family (past & present), Steven Spielburg, Pablo Picasso, Paloma Picasso, Charleton Heston, famous international heads of states, athletes, Hollywood-types and, of course, me! (Once again, my name badge failed me - I was recognized!)

I still have to return to the area and visit the Osborne winery in El Puerto de Santa María - home of excellent wines and sherries and, of course, el toro muy famoso - the Osborne bull. Rumour has it that there is a spot in the town's plaza where witches were once burned and, as a Freelance Goodwill Ambassador, I think it's important that I go to El Puerto de Santa María to acknowledge the people who died there at the hands of ignorance and intolerance. And have a glass of sherry. What a great world it is when you can make a difference in the lives of your fellow planet-dwellers and, at the same time, enjoy a nice glass of Pedro Ximenez Viejo and a handful of olives.


Anonymous said...

While visiting the Osborne winery, watch out for the Osborne bull because he just loves little grey bears. They are his favourite snack.

Grey Bear said...

Aren't bulls vegetarians???