Published on July 18th, 2013 | by Ruben0
La Bota de Manzanilla n°32 (Equipo Navazos)
Equipo Navazos is probably the most significant thing that happened to the sherry industry in the last ten years. Founded by Jesús Barquín, it is the first independent bottler of sherry wines. You could say it is closely related to the concept of the almacenistas (who are ageing stocks in their warehouses to sell them afterwards to larger bodegas), but with the exception of Emilio Lustau who copyrighted the name and unites several smaller almacenistas under the Lustau label, they remained rather anonymous and their products were usually blended away into other brands.
Equipo Navazos takes this a bit further, they don’t produce nor mature wines, they go out and hand-pick single casks or very small batches. Each of them is bottled in the La Bota… series which challenges conventions by bottling them with minimal filtration (en rama style). They’ve taken the practice of selecting and bottling sherry to the next level (similar to the whisky world where the idea of independent high-end bottlers has been very common for decades).
Unfortunately sherry wines as a whole, and Fino and Manzanilla in particular, have been excessively heavily filtered by active carbon. This is the result of the consumer’s preference for pale, light wines that go well with food, and the producer’s quest for more stable and consistent wines, taking out flor residues and impurities, but a lot of colour and flavour as well.
It comes from a batch of 20 barrels, part of the best Manzanilla solera (12 scales) at Bodegas Sánchez Ayala in Sanlúcar de Barrameda.
This Manzanilla n°32 was bottled in October 2011 with the average age of the wine around 6 years. The Guía Peñín, more or less the Michelin guide of Spanish wines, has given it 96/100. Of this wine, 600 bottles were put aside in the cellars of Equipo Navazos, with the idea to let them age in the bottle for three years and bring to the market late 2014. This is one of the big differences between commercial sherry and authentic sherry: Equipo Navazos is convinced that their wines are better after a few years of bottle ageing, whereas traditionally manzanilla is said to be consumed preferably within three to six months after bottling.
By the way, don’t get me wrong. I have a few bottles of La Guita and Solear (two of my favourite commercial Manzanillas) available at all times. Well-chilled they form a delicious combination with different types of food. But these are daily wines, easy and refreshing, whereas the Equipo Navazos releases are meant to be savoured and treasured.
La Bota de Manzanilla n°32
(15%, Equipo Navazos 2011, 75 cl)
Nose: big notes of chamomile and wild yellow flowers. Over time it evolves towards hazelnuts. A much bigger salinity than you’ll get from commercial manzanillas too. Green olives. Slight yeasty notes, with hints of wet bodega floors and oak. A touch of (dried) fruitiness as well.
Mouth: surprisingly full-bodied. Dry with traces of dried fruits but also a good degree of acidity (lemon). Cashew nuts. Quite some salt. A hint of iodine but very much in the background. Quite a long finish, with the same sweet / sour / salty balance.
Availability: still available in some stores, e.g. BBR and Gauntleys in the UK or Dreier in Germany. I don’t think it will last much longer though. New releases are being distributed. Around € 30 (a bit less in Spain).
Summary: A much bigger wine than your regular commercial Manzanilla, with a heavier body and a wider array of flavours. A must-have for serious Manzanilla lovers. Be sure to hold back one bottle and compare it with the 2014 release.