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González Byass UK MD says first Tio Pepe En Rama was “a risk”

Published:  02 May, 2019

Tio Pepe is celebrating ten years of shaking up moribund sherry sales with its en rama or ‘raw’ sherries, which established a new category in the UK.

However, González Byass UK’s managing director Martin Skelton said that at the time, the team had no idea if it would even sell, let alone sell out, which the first allocation did, in three hours.

“Fino manzanillas were getting paler and they were being used in refreshing styles of aperitif. This was partly driven by the lifestyle in the south of Europe and Andalusia at the time, and the styles being made in Jerez. It was a bit edgy to leave the yeast cells in the sherry. But it gives a fantastic lemony, zesty character with savoury notes of fresh bread.”

González Byass UK’s head honcho reflected on En Rama’s success at tasting earlier this week, which drew a crowd of industry heavyweights to taste the new 2019 release.

First released in 2009, En Rama was a UK-driven initiative, with backing from The Wine Society and Lea & Sandeman who had the first ever allocation.

Skelton told Harpers GBUK wasn't looking to create a new category of en rama sherries: “This was something we intended for real sherry fans and sophisticated wine lovers who would love a one-production-a-year release. We also choose a different label every year from our old archives, which has also caught people’s imagination. But the most important thing without a doubt is the quality.”

Also at the tasting, the GBUK team said they were encouraged by the wine’s potential for ageing.

En Rama is bottled in April when the flor is at its thickest and is meant to be drunk young.

But González Byass said the earlier releases have evolved “with nutty, tertiary characteristics” over time.

Since 2009, initial first run from a “couple of casks” has grown to 18,000 bottles drawn from 67 casks in 2019.

For the full break down on En Rama’s success, see this month’s print and digital edition of Harpers.