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Bodegas 501 was founded in 1783 in El Puerto de Santa Maria. Their unusual and charming cream sherry — Zurbaran — does not date back that far, but no one seems to know how old it is! The solera had not been tapped for 20 years (and maybe more) before this wine was bottled and the results are fascinating. Aromas are rich and botanical, with halvah, ginseng, cocoa powder, fennel seed, pencil shavings, peanut skins, and cracker jacks. The sweet palate is not cloying like some cream sherries, but clear and bright: pretty fresh figs and chewy raisins, salty roasted peanuts, gentian root, milk chocolate, and more of those beguiling halvah and ginseng notes. This gets a rare rating of "Yummy!" and is highly recommended as a fresh alternative to port for cheese plates, desserts, or simply for drinking in repose. Ariana Rolich
From Equipo Navazos: 'The very thin skin of the Pedro Ximénez variety favors the fast dehydration of the berries during the asoleo (sundrying) process, which makes it ideal for the production of raisiny sweet wines. The Montilla-Moriles region (especially in Montalbán, Montemayor, and Puente Genil) concentrates today virtually all the production of sweet PX musts that will later be aged in the different Andalusian winemaking areas. Casa del Inca, in Montilla, is the former residence of the Inca Garcilaso de la Vega, where he wrote most of his literary production. Its present functions—after restoration—are related to the city’s winemaking tradition. Late-harvested grapes, several full turns of exposure to the late summer sun, and careful extraction at different pressure levels by means of powerful hydraulic presses are the key to the musts’ original quality. Another key element is the subsequent fortification with top-quality wine-based spirits. Third and last as far as vintage PXs not undergoing barrel ageing are concerned is time: one and a half years resting in tinajas or conos, the traditional cone-shaped vessels used in Montilla-Moriles for centuries now.'
From Equipo Navazos: 'Gaspar Florido used to market two very old wines sourced from their soleras at their old cellaring facility at calle Rubiños, in the heart of the “Barrio” in Sanlúcar de Barrameda. When they decided to seize the real estate fever and sell their urban bodegas they had to move those butts to a shabby facility on the road from Sanlúcar to Trebujena. There is where we had the opportunity to sample them for the first time, on a visit with Álvaro Girón to already old Gaspar in June 2006. We were very positively impressed by their quality and consistency, especially in contrast with the lack of distinction–to put it mildly–of the context there and then. There were quite a few butts of the outstanding GF-25 and only a few of GF-30, a very old and absolutely spectacular wine. It is precisely from the latter that this La Bota de Palo Cortado nº 48 “Bota Punta” is sourced. In fact it comes from a sister cask of the one from which we extracted our La Bota de Palo Cortado nº 41 “Bota NO” ten months before. Only a few months later, early in 2007, Bodegas Pedro Romero purchased Gaspar Florido, and since then they have remained marketing GF-25 under the usual label “Jerez Viejísimo”. In Gaspar’s opinion–perhaps questionable but not lacking solid ground–such wines see how the distinctive features of amontillado, palo cortado and oloroso are blurred by their very age. That is why he used to label it simply “Jerez”, which after all merely honors the sanluqueña tradition of referring to the local palo cortado as “jerez cortado”. It is indeed a very old palo cortado, and so we have labeled it as such.'
From Equipo Navazos: 'By the end of 2010, on occasion of the fifth birthday of our adventure at Equipo Navazos, we were lucky enough that our friends of Pérez Barquero allowed us to celebrate it with a super limited release: a racy Amontillado from Montilla. An extremely old “NO” wine of exceptional intensity and concentration, and spectacular complexity, sourced from one of the row-end butts that rest in Pérez Barquero’s Los Amigos cellar for many decades. Very few bottles with which we wanted to thank the support and acknowledge the contribution of the friends who walk with us on this fascinating trip. For La Bota de Amontillado Viejísimo 73 “Bota Aniversario” we have revisited the same tonel de cañón number 8 of the bodega Los Amigos, together with its sister the tonel number 3, in order to complete the contents of a whole bota without emptying any of them. It is one of those truly impressive amontillados from Montilla, at the level of the greatest traditional wines from Andalucía. Its average age is difficult to establish, but certainly older than fifty years old. In any event this wine has been sourced from from some of the oldest casks of this producer, belonging to the set of primitive soleras of the house.'
From Equipo Navazos: 'With this release number 74 we are revisiting the same solera in Montilla from where our release number 46 was sourced. Again Pérez Barquero, where Rafael Cordoba, co-owner of Pérez Barquero, has been controlling with exceptional care the vineyards and vintages for decades. He is a master in obtaining truly outstanding musts, both yema (first press) and color (second press). With these second press musts, locally called “vino de color”, the expert winemaker Juan Márquez produces their Olorosos. Very fragrant and strongly bodied wines, wines that very noticeably show the rotundity of the pedro ximénez grape. La Bota de Oloroso #74 “Montilla” comes from a selection of casks from the Solera Diógenes, located in third row at the Bodega El Puente. The main difference is that, this time, all the casks selected belong to the solera itself, while for the release number 46 we picked some vessels from younger criaderas as well. This fact, together with the elapsed time and with the fact that the withdrawals from these casks have been small, explain why this wine is almost five years older than its predecessor, La Bota de Oloroso nº 46. Its estimated average age is therefore close to 30 years.'
From Equipo Navazos: 'In the wine cellars owned by La Guita on the road to Jerez outside Sanlúcar de Barrameda there are several Amontillado soleras identified by the number of butts that exist of each one, and by the legends “Manzanilla Pasada”, “Manzanilla Pasada Vieja” or “Manzanilla Pasada Viejísima”. All those soleras have survived practically untouched since La Guita rearranged its stocks in 1980 and moved most to the cellars on the road to Jerez. Among them, the Solera 1/10 of “Manzanilla Pasada Vieja” which actually is an exceptional Amontillado, very old and elegant, that shows the typical character of Sanlúcar. It is precisely from that solera that we have sourced the present release: La Bota de Amontillado 61 “Bota NO”. It is the second time we come to it, since in 2011 there was a release with the same name and source numbered as La Bota no. 31. Due to its evident age and depth it can be sipped as a midmorning drop on quiet leisurely days, or after a meal. It also displays a harmonious palate that makes it especially appropriate for intense dishes such as a hearty stew, arròs de muntanya, or lobster bisque, and also of delicate pieces of sushi with a dash of wasabi. Come to think of it, at a lower than usual temperature, this amontillado can be sipped successfully side by side to a refreshing ajoblanco or gazpacho.'
From Equipo Navazos: 'Gaspar Florido used to market two very old wines sourced from their soleras at their old cellaring facility at calle Rubiños, in the heart of the "Barrio" in Sanlúcar de Barrameda. When they decided to seize the real estate fever and sell their urban bodegas they had to move those butts to a shabby facility on the road from Sanlúcar to Trebujena. There is where I had the opportunity to sample them for the first time, on a visit with Álvaro Girón to already old Gaspar in June 2006. We were very positively impressed by their quality and consistency, especially in contrast with the lack of distinction--to put it mildly--of the context there and then. There were quite a few butts of the outstanding GF-25 and only a few of GF-30, a very old and absolutely spectacular wine. It is precisely from the latter that this La Bota de Palo Cortado nº 41 "Bota NO" is sourced. Only a few months later, early in 2007, Bodegas Pedro Romero purchased Gaspar Florido, and since then they have remained marketing GF-25 under the usual label "Jerez Viejísimo". In Gaspar's opinion--perhaps questionable but not lacking solid ground--such wines see how the distinctive features of amontillado, palo cortado and oloroso are blurred by their very age. That is why he used to label it simply "Jerez", which after all merely honors the sanluqueña tradition of referring to the local palo cortado as "jerez cortado". It is indeed a very old palo cortado and so we have labeled it as such. Today these butts are stored at the Sacristía of Pedro Romero, back to the heart of the "Barrio" and actually very near their original location. There is where we had the opportunity to revisit them and sample them exhaustively and, ahem, exhaustingly, in order to select our favorites for this edition of "La Bota": it is a truly extraordinary wine for its unlikely balance between sheer authenticity, concentration, and finesse; genuinely amazing, with so much character and personality.'
This is the 2017 release of what is perennially one of my favorite sherries, Gonzales Byass's Tio Pepe En Rama. "En Rama" translates to "from the cask", and this is one of the purest expressions of fino sherry, bottled without fining or filtration in the springtime, when the influence of flor (the veil of yeast that protects the wine from oxidization and imparts a very particular flavor) is at its strongest.The 2017 displays beautiful aromas of green apple, lemon peel, white blossom, almonds, that yeasty flor character, a touch of smoke and a briney, olive note. The palate is vibrant and lovely, marrying all the complexity of the nose with a great minerality and salinity. Such a complex and food-friendly wine! One of my favorite pairings with fino sherry is grilled fish, but this would also be lovely with seared scallops, calamari, or monkfish liver. Oskar Kostecki