Given the amount of Manzanilla and Fino shifted in the tapas bars of Andalucia, it might seem natural that the largest sales market for sherry producers would be Spain. Yet until recently, their largest market was the UK largely through its imports of Cream Sherry. Most of this is sold just before Christmas.
The extent of the decline is clear from the graphic produced from the data sets at Sherry.org. Since 2002, sherry sales by volume to the UK are down by 45%. A similar rate of decline is evident in exports to Holland. Total sherry exports were 552,000 hl in 2002 but only 302,000 hl in 2011.
This fall in sales since the sherry boom of the late 1970s is having a dramatic effect in Jerez itself. Vineyards have been abandoned, vines have been uprooted and unemployment has risen sharply. Yet sherry quality remains high and prices have rarely been more competitive. So apart from that Cream sherry, why not pick up a few bottles of Fino or Manzanilla the next time you’re at the wine store? Not only will your wallet and tastebuds be grateful but you’ll be assisting a great wine region as well.