The bull on top of the hill
A TASTE OF LIFE - Heny Sison (The Philippine Star) - November 11, 2015 - 9:00am

Spain has always been linked with the romance of the bullfight, with two of the principal characters in this showdown: the gallant matador and the bull. Both symbolize strength and courage, a devil-may-care attitude in the face of brutal death. The matador flourishes his cape, the bull charges, and the crowd cheers. This is the image of Spain as we may know it.

Today it’s not difficult to spot the black silhouette of a bull standing on a hilltop or along a roadside, around 90 larger-than-life replicas of this mighty beast dotting the Hispanic landscape. With this phenomenon is an interesting backstory. The Osborne bull began as nothing more than an advertisement back in 1956 for Veterano Brandy, a popular drink carried by the wine-producing Osborne family.

In later years, an order issued by the government instructed that all advertisements be removed from the roads (like Michelin, Coke, etc.), but there was a movement in favor of keeping the bull on, so the company didn’t need to take all of their bulls down. It has become such a landmark that people began to defend it as a national symbol. It has transcended  its purpose as an advertisement and due to public clamor to keep it, it’s become part of the Hispanic landscape. Today there are 94 of these Osborne bulls watching over Spain.

I had the fortune of meeting the Osbornes during my recent trip to Spain. This was made possible by my dear friend Juan Carlos de Terry of the famous Terry’s Bistro, whom I personally proclaim King of Spanish cuisine in the Philippines. He hooked me up with the young descendant of the family Javier Ordás de Villota and his mother Ana De Villota Osborne for a privileged visit to the prolific Bodegas Osborne. The family business has flourished over its 200 years of existence, producing and selling to consumers all over the world only the most authentic and prestigious food and drink products and brands. Specifically, the company sells wines from the most prestigious production zones: Jerez, Porto, Rioja, Ribera del Duero, Tierra de Castilla, Tierra de Cádiz — brandy and spirits, anisette, gin, rum, liquor and liqueurs.

To clear the confusion, liquors are spirit drinks obtained by distillation. To become a liqueur, a base liquor (e.g. grains, spirits, brandy, rum) is infused with fruits, flowers or pure juices to achieve a minimum sugar content of 2.5 percent. This infusion of sweetness and flavor is the primary factor that makes the two categories distinct. Cordial is another name for liqueur.

The Osborne group began in 1772, and with over 200 years of experience, it is considered one of the oldest businesses in the world that still remains active today (94th place), and is the second oldest in Spain.

I believe their success comes from their openness to combining tradition and modernity, being faithful to tradition and their authentic origin. Osborne products are an experience for the senses. It transmits emotions of vitality and passion. It carries prestige backed by more than 200 years of history.

Located in part of Spain’s “Sherry Triangle,” the Osborne winery takes pride in their Sacristy wines VOS and VORS, very old sherry and very old and rare sherry lasting over 30 years. Age does make a difference. It develops uniqueness and a wine experience unlike any other. Each wine passes tough blind tastings and analytical tests to determine their exact quality levels.

The Osborne family has branched out into the restaurant business as well with Cinco Jotas. These fine-dining establishments found all over Spain are meant to showcase the 5J jamón ibérico pata negra, among other excellent premium meat products. Their ham is of the Iberian breed and 100-percent acorn-fed. They also have morcón sausage and jabuguitos, a spicy chorizo-style sausage.

Its icon is found in Osborne’s different merchandising products: clothing, accessories, and motorbike helmets. There is a current tie-up with Springfield to design the polo shirts of the Spanish football team at the World Cup in South Africa.

Unafraid, adventurous, bullish and fierce, they have redefined the whole industry of Spain. The Osborne brand continues to look over the ever-changing landscape of this brave new world with confidence and a dedication to passionate excellence, as proven in their world-class products.





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