Meet the maker

Jan Pettersen

Bodega Fernando de Castilla - Bodeguero

How long have you been working in Sherry and for how long have you been working at this Bodega?

I have been working with Sherry since I completed my studies in Barcelona in 1983 – 35 years ago, and I have been at Fernando de Castilla since 1999. 2000 was my first complete year there and I have been there ever since, 19 years.

What made you want to become a Sherry winemaker?

Since I was very young I was interested in gastronomy. In my native town, Oslo, I used to work in a delicatessen, the most important one in the country. While at university I was a member of a wine club, and when I finished my studies I went to work with Osborne. When I arrived in the Sherry area I was fascinated by its uniqueness and its history. I think I have been a “Sherry romantic” for the last 30 years.

What wine are you proudest of and why?

The Fino Antique. I have been in the world of Sherry for so long that I can remember that in the old days the Finos used to be more complex, they had more body, longer ageing and a higher strength. Until the end of the 1980s they were fortified for a second time – they were sold at 17 or 18 degrees to give them more time in bottle. So I wanted to revive this type of Fino with its magical ageing under the veil of flor yeast. I decided to separate a few butts from the solera and left them untouched for 4 years. This allowed me to produce small amounts of Fino with an average age of 9 years under flor which we then fortified to 17 degrees and bottled unfiltered

What is your favourite Sherry and why?

In summer, my favourite wine without doubt is Fino since we eat more salads, gazpacho and fish. In winter, when we are eating soups and hot dishes, I love an Amontillado.

What is your favorite Sherry wine pairing?

Glazed quail with honey and wild mushrooms is perfect with Palo Cortado. Smoked eel, either the Nordic or the Japanese version, is spectacular with Fino Antique.

Sherry is so unique to other wines -- what Sherry fact do you find most interesting?

I believe that Sherry, although it is made from white grapes like other wines of the world, is made in a unique way which is due particularly to two factors. One is the biological ageing under a veil of flor, something which is only done here and which gives the wine some of its uniqueness. The other is oxidative ageing; controlled oxidation in used butts over a long time which gives more uniqueness to the wine.

What plans for innovation and development do you have and where do you see the future for Sherry?

For us I see a great future ahead. I am fascinated by the treasures which can still be found in some bodegas, and indeed ours; wines which are no longer part of a solera, which have become relics, forgotten butts and special ones: ancient Olorosos and Amontillados and very old Pedro Ximénez. We want to bring some of these rarities out into the light of day and are working on launching some of these singular wines. The future for Sherry is doing things well, making very good wines with sufficient patience. I don’t believe in shortened periods of aging under flor. The future is making great Finos, Amontillados etc. and selling them for a proper price, making decent volumes of the highest quality, making them indispensable.

What are your earliest memories of Sherry wines?

I remember well when I first started at Osborne in El Puerto de Santa María, I was just over twenty. I did the last interview and then went to lunch with my interviewers, the managing director and the export director. They ordered a bottle of Fino, and while I knew a lot about wines – Rioja etc. – I knew very little about Sherry, and when I tried it I thought “how am I going to sell this?” I didn’t like it at all, yet in no time I loved it. I think it is like when you taste anything for the first time – a cup of coffee or an oyster perhaps – and later on those things which you didn’t like at first become your favourites.

Main Photo and Bodega, Credit: Ralf Bender

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Bodega Fernando de Castilla

Registered name: Bodegas Rey Fernando de Castilla S.L

At Bodegas Rey Fernando de Castilla, located in the historic center of Jerez, many treasures are stored. The company produces their own range of brandies, defined by their smoothness and perfect harmony. They are made from selected white wine distillates, which begin the process of aging in new French and American oak and complete it over a long period in casks that have contained Sherry wines of great quality. The range of wines from Jerez are some the finest wines of the area, from the pale, dry and elegant fino to the most unique antique wines.

Principle Brands

Palo Cortado
Pedro Xímenez
Bodega Fernando de Castilla
Calle Jardinillo 7-11 11404 Jerez de la Frontera Cádiz Spain


Classic, Passionate & Uniquely Spanish