From the moment you observe the Blanco brothers in their natural habitat, roaming the chalky backroad vineyards of Sanlúcar de Barrameda, you realize that you’ve just entered into a humble and deep rooted rincóncillo of the Marco de Jerez. And as the dusty Albariza swirls in the summer heat of the Levante, the term “Salt of the Earth” quickly permeates the mind.
There are no men in suits or English speaking guides. No video to watch, or gift shop to visit. In fact, the very humble, charmingly decrepit bodega just expanded beyond the small cellar as they slowly added new space for more fermentation tanks and even…a…bathroom. The adjoined side of the old building remains still, dark, dank and dusty, stacked high with cobwebbed laced botas.
José “Pepe” Blanco and his brother Francisco “Paco” Blanco started the Callejuela winery with their father and “dos botas viejas” in the year 1980 within the family home in town, where their offices still remain. They were OG Almacenistas making base wine from their own Palomino vineyards that they sold to the local bodegas of Sanlúcar.
Throughout decades, their father Francisco Blanco became a prominent local viticulturist who increased his hectares by slowly buying small parcels throughout the Marco de Jerez, all within three very important pagos: Añina, Marcharnudo and Callejuela.
The Blanco family philosophy has always been to carefully orchestrate a later harvest, beginning around the 2 of September, while many of their neighbors start around the 14th or 15th of August. This enables them to pick grapes with higher brix, needing less degrees of alcohol dilution when fortifying with the grape spirts used to make Manzanillas and Sherries. Also, and maybe most importantly, they strive to maintain the purest Palomino grape expression as possible, and the longer the hang time on vine, the more influence of the albariza soil is transmitted. Here, their thirsty roots can often stretch down approximately 6-7 meters in search of the retained moistures captured below the dry, hot albariza crusted land.
Early on, the Blancos began to barter a portion of their coveted mosto each harvest in exchange for used botas from their winery clients, rather than be compensated in their normal peseta per kilo rate. Like this, bota por bota, they slowly built the family’s various soleras –reaching nearly 750 botas in use today.
In 1998 they created the brand Viña Callejuela, and in 2015 they expanded the brand by releasing their Blanquito Manzanilla Pasada, La Casilla Amontillado y El Cerro Oloroso, their extensively aged generoso wines, as well as single vineyard, single vintage, "vinos estáticos" Manzanillas.
Today they hold a class of their own as an 100% estate bottled, grower Sherry. They also make single vineyard, single vintage, non-fortified Palomino wines that naturally form clouds of flor at 12%-13.5%, that they refer to as, “vinos tranquilos”.
Farming: sustainable, dry farmed