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 Navzos: "This is an extremely old, powerful and superconcentrated wine that belongs to the same cathegory as the noblest and oldest reliquias and sacristías of the Sherry District, including our releases no. 5 “NPI”, no. 14 Oloroso, no. 47 Palo Cortado or no. 49 Amontillado, among others. Barely 900 units bottled from a combination of two half-emptied casks (one the number one or “bota punta”, and the other the number 5 in the row) selected from an ancient small solera of Oloroso very carefully looked after by Chano Aragón in his bodega located at Calle Olivo in downtown Chiclana. The age of La Bota de Palo Cortado 63 “Bota NO” is extreme, surely close to 80 or 90 years old, one of those very dry and concentrated, highly acidic wines, with notable bitterness and remarkable dry extract, which sometimes is not precisely the cup of tea of certain wine lovers, while others simply love them. We are of course of the latter, although we reckon this is not a wine to drink in a careless way but one to revere. Enjoy it as an awesome perfume as well as reflectively sip it with utmost temperance and, hopefully, immoderate delectation."
From Equipo Navazos: "Since the 1980s and until very recently, the amontillado soleras of Rainera P. Marín were made of very different soleras labeled within the cellar as “Manzanilla Pasada”: from the third criadera of Amontillado “M. Pda.” all the way to the little shrine of 1/3 “M. Pda. Viejísima”, including solera 1/10 “M. Pda. Vieja” (from where we have sourced our editions number 31 & 61 “Bota NO” of La Bota de Amontillado). After its purchase by the Estévez Group, the greater part of these confusingly labeled stocks was strictly restructured. The finest and deepest butts were selected, their contents refreshed with true (and unfortified) manzanilla pasada (this is a natural amontillado), in order to create an amontillado solera that was slightly over 100-butt strong and located at third and fourth in one same row. This time we have selected fifteen of these butts which shine for their superior freshness as well as intense notes of aromatic herbs, baked sweet potato, and caramel. The resulting blend is a perfect amontillado, extremely dry, long, serious, complex, and still deliciously drinkable. The additional three years of age-compared with the previous release of this wine (La Bota de Amontillado 37)-can be appreciated in terms of additional complexity and maturity. The estimate average age of this wine is around 22 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."
The sherries of Rey Fernando de Castilla are unlike any others. Despite a strong family resemblance among the various bottlings exemplified by elegant herbal depth, precise structure, and intense yet beautifully integrated acidity, each sherry is utterly unique. The 20+-year-old Antique Oloroso is enticing and memorable for its vibrant, velvety texture and seamlessly integrated notes of burnt toast, bitter nut skins, savory cocoa, dark spicy cinnamon, clove, mace, Guiness Beer, warm citrus zest, earthy marigolds, and the longest finish going on the sherry shelf. -AR
The annual release of González Byass' Tío Pepe Fino En Rama sherry is an eagerly anticipated event here at Chambers Street. (Especially this year... Having downed copious amounts of the newly-bottled En Rama at the rollicking Feria de Jerez festival this past spring, the countdown to the delicious 2016 release began earlier than usual!) Bone-dry, bright and lemony, delicate and buttery, layered with flavors of creamy, slightly bitter yeasts, buttered nuts, golden bread crusts, and brine of the salty sea - "Pure Flor Juice!" in the words of winemaker and master blender, Antonio Flores - this is the most potent yet nuanced expression of En Rama to date. Ariana Rolich
Gonzalez Byass' Palmas series is an exploration of the most extreme and elegant expressions of the soleras that feed Tio Pepe - arguably the world's most consistent, classic, and popular fino sherry. Tres Palmas 2015 is a selection of a single cask in a ten year-old (average) solera, which stood out as the only cask among 150 where a small amount of flor had survived. A dramatic and drop-dead delicious pairing for rich smoked fishes, duck, and roes, Tres Palmas exhibits immense complexity from spicy aromas hinting at cinnamon oil and bark, to the intensely savory, shape-shifting, palate that showcases autolytic flavors and textures, umami and rancio, as Gonzalez Byass puts it: "the limit between life and death, the agony of the flor." Ariana Rolich
I visited Bodegas Grant this past March, and I was struck with the accessibility of the sherries here. This bodega is located in the center of town in El Puerto de Santa Maria. Attached to the bodega is a fabulous bar to quaff these delicious sherries. The Amontillado is soft, floral, and gently spicy. The aging process is not especially lengthy with this wine; which makes it somewhat fruitier and appealing. This is a sherry to drink! — cb
A beautiful small bodega/almacenista and tavern in the barrio bajo section of San Lucar de Barrameda. This solera has 8 criaderas which results in a wine with a real edge to its very saline and crunchy herbal flavors. A favorite at the shop and an astounding pairing with boquerones. cb