Gonzalez Byass was founded in Jeres in 1835 by Manuel Maria Gonzalez. At the young age of 23 he decided to dedicate himself to the production of Sherries and spirits. In 1844 the first barrels of Tio Pepe were exported to London. Tio Pepe translates as Uncle Jose, so-called because it was Manuel Gonzalez’s Uncle Jose's favourite! In 1855 the company's UK distributor Robert Blake Byass was made partner in order to strengthen the links with the UK, the number one market for Sherry. Nowadays the company is owned by the Gonzalez family, now in its fifth generation. Antonio Flores has been the Master Blender since 1980. He controls the characteristics of all the wines of the Jerez Cellars and the whole team check each Tio Pepe barrel every three months. Antonio Flores knows the state of each sherry in every single barrel in the bodega, numbering thousands. His father was the winemaker before him and Antonio was even born (and conceived!) in a room upstairs, above the original Tio Pepe cellar.
Gonzalex Byass is situated in the city of Jerez, Andalusia, in the heart of the DO of Jerez. Gonzalez Byass owns over 800 hectares of vineyards, all situated in Jerez Superior, 20-70m above sea level. This area enjoys a warm and humid climate, which helps in the maturation of the grape. Their vineyards – planted with 95% Palomino and 5% Pedro Ximnez – are found on the Albariza soil, which is the best soil for the vines.
As soon as the Palomino grapes reach the winery they are gently pressed using pneumatic presses without crushing the stems, seeds or skins. This must, used for Del Duque, from the lightest pressing is called ‘yema’. After fermentation in stainless steel tanks, classification and fortification to 15.5% the wine enters the Tio Pepe solera where it will age for more than four years in American oak barrels. During this period the wine undergoes biological ageing under a layer of yeast known as ‘flor’. After these four years the flor will begin to fade away and the wine will enter the Vina AB solera. Here the wine is aged in contact with the air to enable oxidisation. After an average of four years the wine enters the Del Duque solera where it will remain for another 22 years in complete contact with the air to allow full oxidisation. In total Del Duque spends an average of 30 years in American oak barrels producing a very old Amontillado.Dark gold in colour, Del Duque gas pungent aromas that reveal its many years ageing under yeast. Hints of dried fruits and mature wood evolve; the palate is dry, with a very long aftertaste. More than 30 years in the barrel have given this Amontillado immense concentration and complexity. It would be delicious served with mature parmesan cheese.