In 1835 in Jerez, Spain, Manuel Maria Gonzalez, an ambitious 23 year old, set up the first manifestation of the company that was ultimately to become Gonzalez Byass. Young Manuel was mentored in this by his uncle, José Angel de la Pena, (affectionately known as Pepe), already a renowned authority on sherry and its production. It was natural therefore that in 1837 Manuel should give the first, tiny bodega (cellar) over to his uncle so that the older man could potter away at his passion to create a delicate sherry to his own, personal taste. (At the time dry, Fino sherries were enjoyed only by a very few locals in Jerez). Later, Manuel sent a couple of barrels of his uncle's new, dry wine over to his London agent, one Robert Byass. The future company partner was sceptical: "We shall see what can be done with the very, very pale wine that you so highly recommend". But the beautifully dry taste of José Angel's wine proved a great success and in 1849 Manuel named what is now the world's best-selling Fino after it's creator, (tio being Spanish for uncle) - Tio Pepe. The Tio Pepe soleras were established in 1844 and have run uninterrupted since that time, fortunate for sherry lovers, as Tio Pepe is the best selling brand in the world.
The Gonzalez Byass collection of Vintage Sherries are amongst the rarest wines in he world. They are also some of the most extraordinary. For many years now the Gonzalez family have kept back a tiny number of barrels - never more than a thousandth part of the annual harvest - and aged them individually as vintage wines. These select vintages are exquisite Oloroso sherries, very elegant very dry and very clean and of exceptional fragrance and long finish. Their strength is usually around 22%, but varies depending on the wine's age because Olorosos grow in alcoholic strength as the years go by. The wines are not clarified or filtered and are bottled by hand direct from the cask. Every label is hand written and each bottle individually numbered and signed. There's rarely more than a few hundred bottles available from any one year.
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