Published on October 2nd, 2014 | by Ruben1
Osborne is one of the oldest firms of wine and spirits in Spain. It was founded in 1772 by the young English entrepreneur Thomas Osborne Mann, who started shipping his own sherries in 1804. Initially he was using the bodegas of James Duff (from the legendary Duff Gordon company) to store his wines. In 1833 Thomas Osborne became a partner in the Duff Gordon business and in 1872 the Osborne family acquired all the shares.
At first the Osborne name was used exclusively for the Spanish market – Duff Gordon was the export brand, but Duff Gordon stopped to exist in 1890. Osborne took over both brands and the original bodegas and soleras. Some products were still called Duff Gordon up to the 1980’s when they disappeared altogether and everything was branded Osborne.
Osborne owns a large bodega complex in the outskirts of El Puerto de Santa maría, as well as an older bodega in the centre, a cathedral-type bodega which used to belong to the family Moreno Mora. They used to own over 200 hectares of vineyards in the Pago Balbaina (Viña Atalaya) near Jerez but all of these were sold off in 2010. It’s a clear indication of the fact that sherry is increasingly becoming a secondary business for Osborne – the sales of brandy, hams and cheap types of alcohol are much more profitable.
Osborne bull logo
Who doesn’t know Osborne’s iconic logo and the silhouettes of the Toro Negro that are spread over the Spanish countryside? Originally the black bull was used as a logo for their popular brandy Veterano and it grew to become a symbol for the entire company.
The first bull was placed in 1957 next to the A1 highway Madrid – Burgos, 7 metres high. Current examples are 14 metres high and weigh 40 tons. They used to carry the name Osborne, but in 1988 a law prohibited all kinds of billboards next to roads. In 1997 a compromise was reached: the slogans had to disappear but most of the bulls could stay. Nowadays 90 toros can be seen across Spain, the website of Osborne has a Google Map.
It shows that the bulls became much more than just a marketing element. It’s shown on T-shirts, flags and car stickers, Keith Haring decorated it as one of his artworks… It’s an important part of the Spanish heritage.
Osborne sherry range
Osborne’s sherries can be divided in four large ranges: supermarket sherry, ‘premium’ sherry, former Domecq V.O.R.S. wines and the old Osborne wines.
- Osborne Manzanilla Fina, Osborne Amontillado Medium, Osborne Fino Pale Dry, Osborne Amoroso Rich Golden and Osborne Sweet Oloroso Cream. The actual names may change a little depending on the market. All very cheap, usually between € 4 and € 8.
- Manzanilla Fina Cara de Gallo
- Fino Quinta, the house’s flagship Fino of around 4,5 years of age. A wine matured in El Puerto which means it displays some characteristic petrol-like aromas.
- Fino Coquinero: a Fino Amontillado of around 6,5 years old.
- Oloroso Bailén, a dry Oloroso that’s 10 years old
- Oloroso Abocado 10RF, a sweetened Oloroso Medium, around 6 years old
- Cream Santa Maria, around 6 years of age
- Pedro Ximénez 1824, around 6 years old
- a range of sherries from four soleras taken over from the Bodegas Domecq in the late 2000’s:
Palo Cortado Capuchino
Pedro Ximénez Venerable
Their prices are on the rise now that they are officially classified as VORS sherry.
- a range of very old sherries from Osborne’s own soleras in the Bodegas La Honda:
Amontillado Solera AOS (25yo from a 1903 solera, dry)
Palo Cortado Solera PΔP (30yo from a 1911 solera, 8% PX)
Oloroso BC 200 (40yo from a 1864 solera, 12% PX)
Oloroso Solera India (25yo from a 1922 solera, 20% PX)
Pedro Ximénez Viejo VORS (30yo from a 1905 solera)
The Amontillado AOS is the only wine in this series that’s completely dry, the other ones are sweetened with a bit of P.X. to round off the woody edge that comes from the long ageing. These wines are released occasionally, in 50cl bottles and always in very limited amounts. Each of these bottles costs around € 200. In this series there is also the famous Amontillado El Cid, which comes from the old bodegas Duff Gordon and which is only bottled for the owners and relations of the company.
Osborne also produces Portuguese port wines, Spanish local wines (D.O. Rioja and D.O. Ribero del Duero, among others), brandy (Veterano, Magno, Carlos I, Conde de Osborne…) and all kinds of other drinks (Seagram’s gin, Santa Teresa rum, Ponche, Markham tonic, Monster and Toro XL energy drinks). They also produce the TORO olive oil and own the excellent brands of Ibérico hams Cinco Jotas and Sanchez Romero Carvajal, as well as a restaurant chain. It’s a big brand and sherry only plays a minor role.
Osborne also has a tapas restaurant in El Puerto, check out my list of the best places to eat in the sherry region.
Bodega del Tiro
Ctra. Nacional IV, km. 651
Bodega de Mora
C/ Los Moros
El Puerto de Santa maría