Published on June 17th, 2014 | by Ruben0
Manzanilla Maruja (Juan Piñero)
Until recently, Juan Piñero was an almacenista. Most of his wines were bought by La Gitana and Argüeso to enrich and widen their soleras. In June 2013, the company started its own label and a first Manzanilla was bottled: Manzanilla Maruja.
This brand already existed and was owned by the Bodegas De Terry and later Pedro Romero. About 25 years ago, Juan Piñero bought a bodega La Playilla de la Red (in a prime location of Sanlúcar near the Guadalquivir), including the Soleras and the rights to the brand Maruja. More recently they also acquired a bodega in Jerez to mature their Fino Camborio and Oloroso wines.
Manzanilla Maruja is around seven and a half years old
The Maruja solera is not so old, it was started in 1980. Until 2005 it was refreshed with wines from La Gitana, in the Viña El Cuadrado (Pago Balbaina). Since then fermented musts are bought from Viña Callejuela, from the 25 year old vines in the albariza Tosca Cerrada soils of Pago del Hornillo. The enologist Ramiro Ibañez Espinar is working with the bodegas, trying to get the most out of the casks and keeping the soleras in optimal form.
Juan Piñero tries to replicate the profile of Manzanilla of 40 years ago, before excessive clarification and decolouring led to light, flavourless wines. To get this old-school profile, their solera contains 10 criaderas, they perform 10 sacas a year, and the wines are very lightly filtered at the time of bottling. At the end of the line there is also an older Manzanilla Pasada Maruja.
The Manzanilla Maruja is supposed to be followed by other types of sherry in the future.
Manzanilla Maruja (15%, Juan Piñero)
Nose: medium intensity, with balanced aromas. Some sea air and soft herbs. Almond roundness and lime peel. A subdued hint of flor. Quite light and fresh.
Mouth: still some fruity (apple) roundness, although there’s a louder herbal bitterness now. Tangy notes. Bread dough. Evolves on an intense maritime salinity, with lots of green olive juice.
Availability: very low at the moment. Around € 11. I found mine at Xpertvinum.
Summary: A nice, clean Manzanilla, indeed with an old-style intensity and an above-average bitterness. We can only applaud almacenistas who start releasing their own wines. Let's keep an eye open for the other wines from Juan Piñero.