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Cadiz Casa Newsletter 17
Friday, 02 October 2015

 

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Cadiz Casa Newsletter 16
Sunday, 07 June 2015

Newsletter Issue 16 - June 2015

 

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Cadizcasa Newsletter 15
Sunday, 01 March 2015


Newsletter  Issue 15

The buds of spring are starting to come through and the green shoots of recovery are sprouting. All very horticultural but none the less descriptive of our current situation. One surprising things is, that the current pound to euro high has not, as yet, brought in a wave of UK buyers. But across the European markets, we are seeing an upturn in clients looking to view properties. Prices are still not moving up a lot except in some small areas but we are certainly seeing more interest.

Congratulations to Corinna Buerky the non resident tax advisor who is now a Member of the Official Association of Business Graduates. Corinna featured in one of our previous issues and provides a highly professional service on all non resident tax matters.

In the Newsletter this quarter we have an article about the arrival of the Mary Celeste in Gibralatar and the centuries of speculation that followed about what happened to her crew. A nice article on the new Indian Restaurant, the Taj Mahal just opened in Chiclana and an article on the use of Spain as a gateway to the west for drugs, human and animal trafficking and what the Spanish are doing to stem the tide of illegal activity by the gangs who operate these trades.

Our old friend James Baxter of Foremost Currency has kindly given us the low down on the money markets with some good news for sterling and not so good news for the euro.

Also, some new information about the Spanish equivalent of an EEC has come to hand just before we went to press. You now need this document if you own an apartment of 50M2 usable space or less and wish to rent it for more than 4 months of the year or sell it. Only detached properties of 50M2 or less will now be exempt. This information was brought to us by David, the Architect we use for all the EEC´s we do for clients. You may remember David featured in one of our previous editions.

I hope you enjoy the Newsletter

Lesley McEwan, MD, Cadizcasa

 
Cadizcasa.com December Newsletter No. 14
Tuesday, 02 December 2014

When looking back over 2014 we have to say that things have improved dramatically to previous years. Sales are well up, long term rentals are doing well but the holiday market has been a bit slow.

What do I think will happen next year? Well, I am hopeful that we can maintain and build on the bricks of recovery we have laid this year. Whether the upturn for 2015 will be as pronounced as it was for 2014 remains to be seen but hopefully we will see things continue to improve and perhaps even be able to start to raise the prices a little, but that will take a lot of confidence and I am not sure it is yet there. Basically, it is a wait and see scenario.

When looking back over 2014 we have to say that things have improved dramatically to previous years. Sales are well up, long term rentals are doing well but the holiday market has been a bit slow.

What do I think will happen next year? Well, I am hopeful that we can maintain and build on the bricks of recovery we have laid this year. Whether the upturn for 2015 will be as pronounced as it was for 2014 remains to be seen but hopefully we will see things continue to improve and perhaps even be able to start to raise the prices a little, but that will take a lot of confidence and I am not sure it is yet there. Basically, it is a wait and see scenario.

In this month´s issue, we have a great article from James Baxter at Foremost Currency on the money markets, plus a lovely insight to the Bodega ETU at Patria just outside of Vejer. As always we are trying to keep you up to date on new rules and regulations so we have a piece on Inheritance Tax and the newly introduced plans to lower income tax and an article on the discovery of the exact spot where Christopher Columbus left for the New Worlds in 1492.

As we always do at Christmas, we would like to give you the opportunity to sponsor Spanish Stray Dogs. A great charity who do so much to save abandoned dogs, get them off the streets and rehome them all over the world. Have a look at their website, a wristband is only 2.50€ or a calendar 6.50€; both can be bought on line. The donations are vital if they are to keep working so it´s only the price of a coffee or a glass of decent wine, please help them if you can.

All that remains for me to say is have a wonderful Christmas and New Year and we hope to see you here on the Costa de la Luz in 2015.

Lesley McEwan - Managing Director, Cadizcasa

STOP PRESS…STOP PRESS…STOP PRESS

A trendy beach bar in Zahara de los Atunes has been at the centre of a massive drugs ring. The ring included a Guardia Civil officer, a municipal policeman, a former Socialist councillor and three members of the military. In total 56 have been arrested and 716 kilos of cocaine plus 4 tonnes of hashish have been seized.

The ringleader, nicknamed El Longui, owned the bar in the popular resort, frequented during the summer months by both Spanish and international celebrities. He is said to have had contacts in both Morocco and the Zahara area. Recreational vessels were used to transport the drugs under the protection of the Guardia Civil officer and the municipal policeman who were both on his payroll. If there was too much surveillance in the area, the transport would be diverted to Punta Camiral, a military base, where the three servicemen would unload the drugs. In May of 2014 another delivery was attempted at Caños de Meca where investigators were able to take surveillance photos of the group at work.

An investigation began 11 months ago into the ring following drug seizures involving other law enforcement officers. Around 30 homes were searched in Seville, Cadiz and Valencia and firearms, 32,000 euros in cash and over 100 mobiles phones were seized.

Both El Longui and his top aides were said to have lived lavish lifestyles on their illegal wealth.

A COMEUPPANCE FOR THE SPANISH TAXMAN

We all like to have a bit of a moan about government taxation, a necessary evil without which, no country could function, but it has long been known that Spain likes to tax people and tax them heavily. The sums paid in Spain are considerably higher than in many other more prosperous countries but their comeuppance may have arrived regards inheritance tax. That said, they are biting back on second hand property sale tax.

It has been the custom in Spain to charge different rates of inheritance tax for residents and non-residents but the European Court of Justice has ruled against this system and say that non-residents who have been discriminated against by being asked to pay more tax than Spaniards for inheritances or gifts of property are likely to be due a refund on the difference taken from them.

Residents enjoy a very complex set of tax relief options which can in some cases reduce the tax paid to almost nothing but these options have not been available to non residents who may own, for instance, holiday homes and spend less than the required 183 days per year for residency in Spain.

The EU reckon that this disparity in charging goes against the spirit of the EU and they found that Spanish legislation was discriminatory and there was no justification for inheritance tax to be charged at a higher rate to non residents.

The case was originally referred to the court in 2012 after they decided that the legislation was incompatible with the free movement of people and money within the EU. The difference can be substantial, in some cases around 80%. The inheritance and gift tax is called succession tax in Spain and is governed by both the state and the 17 autonomous communities.

Some of the communities have already amended the state rules to make them more beneficial but only for residents, not non residents, and in order to classify as resident for this purpose, you have to have lived in Spain for 5 years.

As an example, in Murcia, Madrid, Valencia and the Balearic Island, up to 99% of the estate assets can be exempt from succession tax if the beneficiaries are children and/or the spouse of the deceased, but in Andalucia, 175,000 euros can be inherited by the spouse or children tax fee. In Catalonia this rises to 650,000 euros for the spouse and 400,000 euros for the child.

The current figures suggest that around 60,000 UK families have been hit for inheritance tax amounting to some 400 million pounds. Meaning that the recent verdict could lead to thousands of claims by ex pats. So far, the Spanish government has kept silent on the ruling but they have 6 months in which to make the changes to their laws, so standby for fireworks.

Claims need to be perfect regards paperwork as the tax authorities will certainly be looking for ways to wriggle out of this one. There will be time limits to making an appeal but the amount outstanding if repaid will be repaid with interest.

But, before we all crack open the bubbly to celebrate the thought of the Spanish Tax Authorities raiding the office petty cash to drum up enough money to replay all the over payments, consider the following:-

A new tax on property about to come in to effect stands to have a significant impact on the property market. Some will gain but some will most definitely lose.

The new law is set to get rid of the restatements and abatement coefficients which were previously applied to the IRPF for the purpose of calculating capital gains generated in the sale of a property. The new law effective from January 2015 will especially affect those who bought the property prior to 1994.

A rough example of the difference this new law makes was produced by Cinco Dias, the Spanish newspaper. A property bought in 1976 for 12,020 euros and sold now for 220,000 euros would, under the current legislation attract a tax of 10,869 euros but under the new laws, this would rise to 43,995 euros, a considerable difference of 33,216 euros.

The new reforms will see the disappearance of inflation and abatement coefficients which effectively meant that a property acquired before 1986 would not pay tax for capital gains and those bought between 1986 and 1994 would benefit from reductions in their tax liability.

With the coefficients and tax reform of 1996, capital gains generated by the sale would be reduced by 11.1% for every year after the second year. This effectively meant that after 11 years, no tax would be due.

The new ruling means that taxes applied to capital gains from 31 December 2014 are indirectly increasing. Another example given is a property acquired in 1980 for 9,000 euros and sold in 2015 for 245,000 euros would attract a tax of 55,520 euros but if the buyer and seller could bring forward the sale date to within 2014, the tax paid would drop to 15,359 euros.

So all those sitting on inherited property which they have owned for many years are about to get a nasty shock when deciding to sell. Even a house bought in the year 2000 for 150,000 euros and sold now for 200,000 euros will be paying 8,220 euros more in 2015 than if sold this year.

Will this help the Spanish property market, NO, I am afraid it is back to the gun and foot days which all agents hoped to leave behind in 2014. What will people with old property most likely do? I suspect they will just hang on to the family inheritance and hope that when the government changes this law might get kicked in to touch.

Feeling a bit depressed? I can´t leave you like that just before Christmas so here is some good news about income and corporate tax. Of course, it only helps you if you work or own a company but we must be thankful for any allowances.

The Economy Minister Luis de Guindos has given his support for plans to lower income tax. That said, his government did say when they came to power that no increases would be made in the first place but then politicians have short memories for such things, as we all know. He says that he aims to make income tax “much more reasonable” in the future and to get the government to remove as he describes them “disincentives” for economic growth. He then went on to say that saving should be encouraged and the tax burden lowered.

In an aim to achieve this, they are looking at reducing corporate tax from 30 to 25% by 2016 and those earning less than 12,450 euros per annum would see their tax reduced from 24.75% to 19% in the same time period. Initial reductions coming in during 2015 with a final reduction in 2016 to take us to these figures.

Tax brackets will reduce from 7 to 5 under the new reforms to simplify matters and make income tax calculation easier and it is thought that 62% of tax payers, i.e. those earning less than 24,000 euros per year will see a tax rebate of 23.5% by 2016.

So a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel.

STOP PRESS…STOP PRESS…STOP PRESS

It has been claimed that inexperienced and newly qualified nurses were recruited to deal with Ebola patients and threatened with the loss of their career if they refused the work.

The report has been made by the Madrid Area North Healthcare Workers Board. It says it was ordered to draft in brand new professionals straight out of college on the nurses jobseekers register.

There are further claims that existing nurses were to be threatened with disciplinary proceedings or sacking if they refused to carry out duties for Ebola patients, even if they insisted that they did not have the required knowledge or experience. It is unclear whether these instructions came from the regional or national ministry of health.

The register is used for newly qualified doctors, nurses and other professionals such as teachers. A points system operates and when, either permanent or temporary jobs arise, they are contracted in order of the highest points first. Anyone refusing to take up the post offered are normally removed permanently from the list, effectively ending their chances of working in their chosen profession.

According to the Madrid Area North Healthcare Workers Board, the medical authorities were relying on these newly qualified professionals desperation not to be delisted to force them to bolster staffing levels to deal with treating Ebola patients.

The need for the extra staff has been due to the mass redundancies at the Carlos III Hospital in Madrid which has Spain´s only specialised tropical and infectious disease unit. The staff cuts were made in May two months after the Ebola outbreak had been identified in West Africa.

Criticism has been damning in Spain about their handling of the outbreak, with claims from one nurse, about to treat Teresa Romero, who contracted the virus while nursing the missionary Manuel Garcia Viejo, that she had not even been taught how to put on and take off the bodysuit supplied to protect her. The bodysuit itself has come under criticism with claims that it falls far short of the World Health Organisation required standards.

EXCHANGE RATE OUTLOOK

It’s been an interesting three months for the GBP/EUR cross, with sterling reaching a near 6-year high against the floundering single currency. In the weeks that preceded the Scottish referendum the pound was sold off as speculation mounted over the future of the United Kingdom, as momentum behind the ‘Yes’ campaign grew. Investors feared the economic impact of a ‘Yes’ vote and the pound dropped as a result. Following the vote, confidence in the pound was restored and the GBP/EUR pair subsequently soared to the mid-1.28’s, a level not seen since August 2012.

Recently, the strength of the pound has been determined by the Bank of England’s ever-changing stance on monetary policy, particularly when the UK will see the much anticipated interest rate rise. Earlier in the year there had been speculation that this may come towards the end of this year. Over the last few months inflation in the UK has slowed significantly, forcing the Bank of England to push back the rate hike, which is now not expected to happen until the last quarter of 2014 at the very earliest. In the Bank of England’s latest quarterly inflation report Mark Carney said he expected inflation to fall below 1% in the next six months, well below the bank’s 2% target.

With inflation slowing, the Bank would be unwise to raise interest rates. In fact, the European Central Bank and the Swedish Riksbank have both just cut their interest rates in an attempt to combat the inflation problems they’re facing. If the Bank were to raise interest rates now, people would be encouraged to save rather than spend. With people spending less, prices will fall as retailers try to encourage spending. Mortgage and other debt repayments would also increase after an interest rate hike. This too would compound the problem of slowing inflation as consumers are left with less real disposable income. All of this would be made worse as real wages continue to fall.

As it now looks as though we won’t see interest rates raised until late 2015, the pound has started losing ground against its major counterparts, dropping from 1.2850 to the high 1.24’s against the euro, and from 1.71 to 1.56 against the US dollar. The potential interest rate hike had been supporting sterling, but the pound has now weakened accordingly.

It’s a rosier picture in Spain at the moment, with figures in October showing the Spanish economy grew for the fifth consecutive quarter, despite economic growth in the rest of the Eurozone remaining subdued. The Spanish economy, the Eurozone’s fourth largest, has been growing modestly since pulling itself out of recession last year and is now one of the fastest growing economies in Europe. The Bank of Spain said that consumer spending has been driving the economic growth, coupled with falling unemployment and an increase in consumer and business confidence. Mariano Rajoy will be breathing a sigh of relief as Spain seems finally to be over the worst of it.

The relatively strong pound and the improvement in economic conditions in Spain, not to mention rock-bottom property prices, should surely be a mouth-watering prospect for Brits looking for that place in the sun, either as an investment, holiday home or a place to retire. For those looking to repatriate funds to the UK after selling in Spain, the recent movement in GBP/EUR should be seen as a good opportunity to make the most of that currency conversion after the pound lost three pence to the euro in November.

STOP PRESS…STOP PRESS…STOP PRESS

Isidoro Alvarez, the Chairman of El Corte Ingles, aged 79, has died following his admission to hospital with breathing difficulties. Isidoro has always kept out of the press and is widely credited with making the brand a household name across Spain. The privately owned company had sales of 14.2 billion euros in 2013 and employs 93,000 staff. Isidoro only turned to the financial markets in 2013 for help, having run the business through the economic down turn in Spain.

His death comes days after Emilio Botin, the Head of the Banco Santander. Both men died while still controlling their companies and it is widely thought that his successor will be his nephew, Dimas Gimeno. Also recently appointed to strengthen the board is Manuel Pizarro the former Chairman of ENDESA.

Isidoro took over the business from his uncle who started it as a tailors in central Madrid in the 1930´s. The company grew to be the darling of Spain in the 1970´s with its ground breaking promise of a no questions asked product return policy. The company operated as a department store but also expanded in to insurance, travel, information technology and ticketing for concerts and theatres.

If any criticism was to be levelled at Isidoro´s running of the empire it was that he had been slow to implement a more professional corporate structure such as Amancio Ortega had done at Zara.

CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS OR CRISTOBAL COLON AS WE LIKE TO CALL HIM HERE

Could archaeologists have found the exact spot where Christopher Columbus or Cristobal Colon, as the Spanish call him, set sail for the New World in 1492? Well, Professor Juan Manuel Campos, of Huelva University who is leading the archaeology team certainly believes that is what they have found in the Huelva town of La Fontanilla de Palos. The excavations have been ongoing for some months and their discovery is hailed as one of the most important and significant relating to the history of the day.

The port did come to light in the last century when Enrique Martínez Iruño, the Argentinian Consul to Spain, settled in the town and his passion for the town lead him to speak of searching for and restoring the historic port as early as 1908 but various factors put the project on hold for nearly 80 years. By 1992, researchers had deduced, through indirect data, that the port was located somewhere in the “vaguada” or trough area but it took another 24 years and Professor Campos to confirm that the hunch was indeed correct.

Columbus set sail to find an all water route to China and India with their lucrative spice trades, with his ships the Niña, the Pinta, and the Santa María from Palos on the river Tinto where they had been fitted out. A slight incentive for the voyage might have been his elevation by the Spanish monarchs to ´Almirante Mayor del Mar Oceano´ and being granted viceroyalty and governorship of any lands he might discover. He also bore a letter address to the Grand Khan of China from the Spanish monarchs, a sort of early day, “hello we are your neighbours why don’t you send us over some of your wealth as a goodwill gesture”.

A consortium put together by a royal treasury official and made up of mainly Florentine and Genoese bankers in Seville provided at least 1,140,000 maravedis, or gold and silver Iberian coins minted between the 11th and 14th centuries, to fit out the expedition and Columbus supplied more than a third of the money contributed by the king and queen. Queen Isabella did not have to pawn her jewels to finance the voyage as was claimed by Bartolome de Las Casas in the 16th century.

Columbus captained the Santa Maria and the Niña and Pinta were captained by the Pizon brothers, both natives of Fontanilla de Palos, who were wealthy and expert ship fitters, sailors and explorers.

The fleet set sail on 3 August and Columbus took the decision to sail southward to the Canaries rather than due west to the islands of the Azores. The westerlies which prevail in the Azores had been the defeating factor in previous attempts at this route but Columbus picked up the northeast trade winds at the Canaries which took him on to the Bahamas and the island of San Salvador. Sailing on, Columbus made it to Cuba and sent two men ashore to investigate, feeling sure that he had now reached China. They were Rodrigo de Jerez and Luis de Torres. Far from finding The Emperor of China as instructed, they encountered a native Taino village where the locals were smoking tobacco, a habit they quickly caught on to. Getting back under sail, Columbus made landfall on Haiti, but on Christmas day the Santa Maria ran aground and had to be abandoned.

Columbus then took over command of the Niña having become separated from the Pinta. The separation was short and the Pinta caught up allowing the two ships to return to Spain together via Portugal. Why Portugal well, unfortunately, he had managed to sail through their waters violating the treaty of Toledo made in 1480. Employing some considerable diplomatic skills, Columbus squared things with the King of Portugal and returned to Palos. Having failed to find China and its great treasures, Columbus said that he thought the natives of the islands he had visited were the greatest treasure he had found and was rather disappointed when Queen Isabella, would not allow him to commence slave trading from the New Worlds. Columbus did bring back a few poor souls on this voyage as a “test sample” but the majority died during the voyage.

The setting off point for such a famous expedition could not lay undiscovered for ever and the archaeologists have located several key areas including, the public fountain from which the ships were filled with fresh water prior to their long voyage. This is one of two ancient fountains in the town, the other lying nearer the centre but this one lies where the estuary of the Rio Tinto comes practically to its base and according to history there was a pier located beside it that provided direct access to the town from the sea. There is little doubt that this pier provided a loading facility for Columbus boats. Also located in this area were storage rooms and a tavern, both vital areas around a harbour, The tavern was where the sailors could meet and spend time before setting off on their long voyage. An area of seven pottery furnaces have been unearthed, with remains of ceramics, bricks, tiles, quicklime and even baked goods. The one place they have so far been unable to pin point is the shipyard itself but the discovered structures collectively identify the area where this would have been.

One of the most important finds has been the reef, as this allows the archaeologists to determine the exact location of the port, of which there has been no material evidence to date. It is thought that the reef was the port´s customs area and the place where Columbus negotiated and made arrangements for the voyage. Professor Campos said that it was “the most satisfying discovery we´ve made”.

Still further excavation is required and many months of lab based work sifting through the thousands of artefacts and material taken from the dig but Palos is already planning on a revival of these landmarks starting with a virtual recreation of the port area.

STOP PRESS…STOP PRESS…STOP PRESS

The UK department of work and pensions have launched a new campaign to tackle “abroad fraud”. This is where people living abroad are still claiming UK benefits and the UK reckon more than 100 million pounds was lost to benefit cheats in this way last year alone.

So now, new and improved methods have been put in place specifically to target Britons who have moved to Spain and are still cheating the benefit system.

Recently Briton Peter Fisher, received a suspended sentence of 15 months after being found guilty of claiming benefits while living in Spain. Mr Fisher was working not only in Spain but also in Britain and owned an undeclared property in Spain.

Likewise, Dennis Troubridge was jailed for 16 months in September of this year for living in Murcia since 2008 but claiming 170,000 euros in benefits from the UK with the assistance of his daughter.

In both cases the fraudsters had been claiming Income Support, Pension Credit and Housing Benefits, none of which can be claimed while living abroad.

APPEAL FOR SPANISH STRAY DOGS

Spanish Stray Dogs is a wonderful charity who rescue and rehome dogs from Spain to all over the world. Their work is life saving for many animals abandoned, sometimes injured, sick or pregnant. There is no financial assistance for this type of work so in order to keep helping abandoned dogs, they need funding. Please give a little if you can. At their facebook page, you can buy wristbands for 2.50€ or calendars for 6.50€. The Spanish Stray Dogs Christmas fundraiser will be held this year in DUSK in the Ocean Village, Gibraltar. Tickets are on sale now, please, please come along and support them. For ticket enquires, raffle and auction prize donations please email This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

Now to the really big way in which you can help them –

Sander is just one of many beautiful dogs that are available for adoption through Spanish Stray Dogs or Spanish Stray Dogs UK.

Please consider giving a stray dog a forever home. Email This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it for more info or check out facebook www.facebook.com/spanishstraydogs or the UK website www.spanishstraydogs.org.uk

So, everything from a whole dog for the rest of your life, to a party night, to a calendar or a wristband. No excuses to say NO, please help them if you can.

STOP PRESS…STOP PRESS…STOP PRESS

Following research by the telecommunications operator Quantis, it is said that at least half a million Spaniards still have no internet because there is no signal in their area. The majority of these citizens live in rural areas with low population density or areas difficult to access resulting in the major suppliers considering them to be uneconomical to provide cover. In the majority of cases only about 10% of coverage is available in these areas.  

The result being that small to medium sized businesses in these areas find it hard to expand their business as they are left behind when it comes to modern day technology with little or no internet access.

These internet black spots are found in every province and include industrial estates, suburban districts and even medium sized towns where broadband connections are poor or do not exist. Galicia currently has the highest number of residents not able to connect to the internet with a total of 126,378 followed by Castilla Leon with 117,167 and Andalucia with 49,436.

It was found that only 60% of Spanish homes were connected to an internet speed of 30MB or above. 95% of Spaniards can enjoy an ADSL speed of 2MB and 82% can access 10MB. The widest cover available is for HSPA, or 3G and UMTS, which is available in 99% of Spain but the service is irregular and patchy, particularly in rural areas.

The General Law of Telecommunications dictates that access to 10MB should be universal by 2017 and 30MB by 2020.The problem is that if things do not change by 2020, then there will still be households which cannot get an internet connection and by 2020 when the “universal” speed is 30MB, the service is likely to be very out of date meaning that much of Spain will still be left behind. The only real solution is satellite technology which can reach everywhere.

UTE WOULD BRING TEARS OF JOY TO THE EYES OF BACCHUS

We all like a bit of the old crushed grape in a glass but do we give much thought to how it got crushed and got in the bottle in the first place? The years of work, planning, love, sweat and tears that go in to making a truly great wine…. ? Not really, generally, we just drink it and enjoy it but in the little village of Patria, there is a truly magical wine maker called Ute Mergner. What that woman can do with a grape would bring tears of joy to the eyes of Bacchus.

Ute Mergner from the ETU Bodega in “Patría” outside of Vejer, hailes from Munich in Germany and was working as an Interior Designer on projects for clients such as IKEA, when the wander lust came upon her and her partner Hans Nerlinger, an Architect. Having searched worldwide for a place to settle, Ute and Hans found themselves in the Andalucian pueblo blanco of Vejer de la Frontera sitting in Plaza San Francisco. It was a eureka moment and the pair settled in Patría where they bought 10 hectares of land.

Ute and Hans came to Andalucia to do something different, not to grow vines and make wine. In fact, it was the last thing on their minds as they settled in to their new environment. But of course, they always loved good food and excellent wines.

Then one day in August, Ute was looking at their surroundings and said to Hans “gosh it’s a bit colourless now the heat of the summer has taken over, we need to get some green out there to look at” She started to think, “what is green but does not need water”? Low and behold, vines came to mind. So, really as a greenery project, Ute started to grow 1 hectare of vines. She knew nothing about it and had never been involved in vine growing before, nor did she come from a wine family, but as she says “I thought let´s try it and at least we will have something pretty to look at and maybe something good to drink”.

Ute started to research. With the land being so close to the Atlantic it has very special properties not seen in the normal wine lands further north and inland. Ute started to experiment with Sauvignon Blanc, Siraz and Tempranillo varieties of grape and then added Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Tintilla de Rota. The latter being the only grape exclusive to the Cadiz area.

The Atlantic influence prevents the grapes getting heavy on sugar and therefore, alcohol, as they do further inland and the resulting wine is light, elegant, fruity and fresh. The wine was a very acceptable by-product of the greenery project but soon those little seeds of invention started to germinate in Ute´s mind and she thought “why not make wine on a small scale, it’s a good project and we have to do something with the grapes”.

The learning curve for Ute was steep to say the least. She does not come from a wine growing family and prior to settling in Patría, wine came in a bottle. She had never planted vines so thought getting a bit of local know how would be useful. She approached some vineyard workers in Chiclana who came to help her but their experience had been with the Palomino sherry grapes rather than wine grapes and the result were initially disappointing. The vines had been trained low down as you would with sherry vines but of course, wine vines need to be higher up. The vines voted with their feet and failed to deliver a bountiful harvest. Over the next four years, Ute took a lot of advice and took over control of the planting, getting the workers to train the vines so they grew higher up. Eureka! The vines did much better and they were off the starting blocks.

Vines are fickle and prone to all sorts of infections. Wine production dates back five or six thousand years to Georgia and Iran but in the late 19th century it was nearly curtains for the wine industry when the phylloxera epidemic destroyed most of the vineyards for wine grapes in Europe. Some estimates say that between two-thirds and nine-tenths of all European vineyards were destroyed.

So it is an industry fraught with dangers from nature. Ute was always firm that she wanted to do everything ecologically. The Cadiz region and particularly the coastal area can be damp during the winter and spring months so Ute uses sulphate and copper to stop fungus and mildew. Other than that, the vines get nothing more. They take all their goodness from the soil. Absolutely no pesticides go near the vines; Ute is very firm on that!

Getting the vines in the ground and the grapes off the vines is really only the first stage in wine making, you then have to press the grapes and that was a slight stumbling block. Their first thought was to take the grape harvest to a cooperative but co-operatives tend not to be very ecological in their approach.

I suspect old Bacchus must have been watching over our Ute though, because she found the “El Rancho de la Merced” and especially Dra. Belén Puertas in Jerez. El Rancho de la Merced is a centre set up by the government to assist and provide technical expertise to the natural industries in this part of Spain. They investigate and research in to improving and disseminating information on new technologies about wine growing and the cultivation of other native crops such as hard and soft wheat and sunflowers, to the local growers and producers. As part of their work, they have an experimental bodega which makes small amounts of wine. They work tirelessly and constantly to improve the wine and their focus is on quality and improving eco friendly wine production techniques. This small and highly specialised unit was just what Ute had been looking for and “El Rancho de Merced”, takes in grapes to press to help supplement their government grants. Where better to produce a quality wine?

Ute has also had a lot of help from Dr. Víctor Palacios, Professor of the University of Cadiz and many of her competitor wine growers. Wine from the Cadiz area is relatively new, only going back about 10/15 years so all the wine growers are new young outfits and are a happy to help each other and learn from their joint experiences.

So now Ute had the vines and the ability to produce wine but what about the bottling? Well, sadly that is mostly down to Ute and when Hans has time off from his day job running the Fly In Spain Flight Training Academy at Jerez airport, he too gets involved in filling, corking and labelling the bottles. No mean feat, as the ETU bodega produces around 3,500 to 4,000 bottles per year of white, rose and red wine.

Many people ask where the Bodega -Etu get its unusual and easily remembered name, well quite simply it is Ute spelled backwards and of course, it means “and you” in Spanish and their most popular wine is called SONRISA, which means “smile”.

Ute and Hans have no desire to be big wine producers, their business growth will come naturally as the years pass and their very select product becomes better known and more sought after.

Currently you can sample ETU´s wines in some of the local restaurants of Patría and a small selection of bars. If you fancy a bottle to take home, it is available from select shops in Tarifa, Conil, Vejer and Benalup, or why not get a group of friends together (minimum 10) and get in touch with Ute to arrange a tour of the bodega and a wine tasting. You are welcome to bring your own tapas and make a day of it and you can of course pick up a couple of bottles to take home. The price of this great product is very reasonable at 7 – 15 euros depending on which of the wines you fancy.

These artisan bodegas are worth their weight in gold, these are the people who bring us new and exciting products. They are not scared to try something different and they are not set in their ways, only looking to produce large quantities of mediocre wine which sells in the local supermarket. Ute and her kind are pioneers and personally, I take my hat off to her. Long may Ute work her magic with those grapes and long may Bacchus watch over her.

All photographs used in this article are by kind permission of Christoph Kern and Miguel Ángel Castaño

To contact Ute at the Bodega ETU

Telephone: +34 696967630

or email for Bodega ETU: This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/etuvino

STOP PRESS…STOP PRESS…STOP PRESS

A 94 year old British acrobat spent 25 minutes strapped to a biplane doing a loop the loop across Gibraltar. Mr Tom Lackey, a retired builder, from the West midlands, first undertook the stunt several years ago for charity following the death of his wife, who´s picture he always carries with him, and it has now become a hobby for Tom.

Tom appeared calm and collected as he was harnessed in a standing position to the wing of a Boeing Stearman as the plane crossed Gibraltan airspace twice and undertook a number of somersaults en route.

Fabian Picardo, the Gibraltarian head minister was waiting on the runway to wish Tom good luck before take off and congratulate him on his return.

Tom appears several times in the Guinness Book of Records for his stunts. At 86, he broke the world record as the oldest person to loop the loop standing on the wings of a plane and last year aged 93, he achieved the record as the oldest person to cross the channel from Dover to Calais and back and the most senior person to cross the Irish Sea while harnessed to the top of an aircraft.

A man of some substance is out Tom, who knows what he will get up to next

Thank you for reading our Newsletter, the next edition will be out on 1 March 2015.

 

 

 
Cadizcasa newsletter 13
Thursday, 04 September 2014

Well, the summer has been a smash on long term rentals and sales but pretty disappointing on holiday rentals. The Spanish press are talking about significant drops in tourism this year and the people who matter and who really know what is happening, the owners, the agents, the bars and the local businesses are also saying that things are poor compared to previous years.

 

 
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