Rocío Benítez warmly welcomes us at Bodegas Fundador and we go straight to the heart of the eldest winery in Jerez. What once was the Domecq winery opens up to us. Today, this cellar is owned by the multinational company Beam Global, which has respected every inch of it. We walk to the bust of Pedro Domecq y Loustau, or quoting the researcher and historian José Luis Jiménez in his blog Jerez Siempre, “Don Pedro Jacinto de Domecq y Loustau de Montauban y Lossy”… not exactly a nickname.
We stand in front of it, probably an unknown monument to the people of Jerez. Through these lines, we’ll try to share with the readers our interest in the rich heritage of our city. The monument is formed by a base with four lion heads, one on each of the decorative planes. These heads pour water to a kind of spring. The lion represents protection, but also strength; and in the political literature of the 19th century, it was used as a national symbol. In this pilaster, we can clearly see 2 different styles. First, we notice the Rococo style because of the stones, the spring and the greenery… the little cascades express a bucolic feeling.
Then, after staring at it for a while, we come to a hypothetic conclusion that between the lion heads used to hang garlands, a recurrent symbol in Renaissance, in this case Neo-Renaissance. It looks like they have been removed o have just disappeared with the time.
On the front side of the base, we can read “Don Pedro Domecq Loustau, creator of new horizons in the national industry of wine in Jerez”. On the left, we see the figure 1824: his date of birth; on the right we read, although not very clearly, 1894: the date of his death. And finally, on the rear side, 1962: the date the monument was inaugurated. The location of the bust is unique and, when in front of it, you can feel the fascinating aroma of the Molino winery, a total pleasure for the senses.
After going around the sculpture, we notice the signature of who we think is the artist; in the left shoulder of the bust it reads “His grandchild Manuel de Jesús 1962”. We initially thought the sculpture was a piece made by Ramón Chaveli Carreres because he’s got another piece in the same winery: a sacred heart made of bronze. However, we notice the date of his death (1947) doesn’t match the inauguration date (1962) so we get to the conclusion that the author must be Manuel de Jesús Domecq González. Born in 1912, he was the 8th out of 14 children that Manuel Domecq y Núñez de Villavicencio and María Mercedes González y Gordon had. We were actually aware that Manuel de Jesús was a good restorer because of his work on Vicente Terra’s Ecce Homo in 1950. The surprise comes when you find out such an important (and quite unknown) piece made by him. It is always rewarding to re-discover a great sculptor, especially if he’s from Jerez.
In order to know who the person represented by this bust is, we’ll give just some facts: around the year 1867, Pedro Domecq Loustau received an order for producing 500 hogsheads of premium quality alcohol. Some readers might think this was usual at that time, but a big surprise was still to come by luck. After two years of aging that huge amount of alcohol, his client changed his mind and cancelled the order. Our friend Pedro, knowing the high quality of the product, commanded to store it in American oak wine barrels that had previously been used with Sherry wine. After 5 years, during a simple tasting, he recovered the barrels with the liqueur. He tasted it and found the butterfly this high quality alcohol had become: a golden and auburn liqueur with an intense aroma. This was named Sherry Brandy. In 1874, after the acquisition of new alembics and with new market expectations, Brandy Fundador was born.