1…2…3 En Rama – Lustau’s 2014 Sherry Release

2013 saw the first release of Lustau’s 3 En Rama sherries. Bottled from the Bodegas Lustau soleras in Sanlúcar de Barrameda (Solera 135 from a bodega facing La Calzada Beach on the river bank), Jerez de la Frontera (Solera 708 from Bodega Los Arcos in the centre of town) and El Puerto de Santa María (Solera 347 from Bodega del Drago located less than a mile from the La Puntilla Beach), they offered sherry drinkers a rare opportunity to directly compare sherries sourced from the three major towns in the sherry triangle.

The problem? Only one cask from each solera had been bottled and they were so scarce that it was tricky to track down all three. My own search led me on a walk around London on a sunny day last autumn – even then, just six months after bottling, I was already pushing the boundaries of the recommended drinking window for these sherries.

Lustau 3 en Rama

Thankfully, my search for the Spring 2014 release (this time two casks from each solera have been selected by Manuel Lozano) involved far less legwork, and for that I have Mitchell & Son wine merchants in Dublin to thank as they were able to secure a small allocation for the Irish market. And even better still, they made it to these shores in time for International Sherry Week so I got to drink and taste these sherries on a few different occasions in early June 2014.

As you would expect with en rama sherries, which undergo minimal filtration or clarification prior to bottling (read Ruben Luyten’s overview of En Rama here, which debunks the myth of no filtration as does Peter Liem in his excellent book Sherry, Manzanilla & Montilla), all three exhibited a deep straw-yellow hue. Surprisingly though, to me at least, the Manzanilla showed the deepest colouring of the three. Its raw nose roared out from the glass, but it still maintained that characteristic Sanlúcar lightness and salinity. A fantastically refreshing aperitif sherry.

Lustau 3 En Rama

The Fino de Jerez Fino and Fino del Puerto also had incredible intensity on the nose but were definitely funkier than the Manzanilla. I actually found both Finos showed an interesting woody smokiness alongside their pungent flor aromas. The full bodied Fino de Jerez was mineral, precise and very elegant in the mouth but perhaps was somewhat overshadowed by the truly stunning Fino del Puerto. This was a fantastically complex and balanced sherry – layered, broad and mouth filling but still with an inherent freshness. It had outstanding length with almond flavours lingering on the palate alongside that persistent smoky character.

Perhaps most surprisingly, the Fino del Puerto was also the most approachable and accessible of these sherries for novices (a decidedly unscientific experiment with a few of my non-sherry drinking guinea pigs friends confirmed as much); a factor not to be overlooked in the effort to introduce even more people to the delights of sherry.

Stock up on these sherries if you can still find them. A wide range of Lustau sherries are available in Ireland via Mitchell and Son, including sherries from the excellent Lustau Almacenista range.

(PS: I drank these sherries a couple of months ago but then promptly lost all my fancy pictures of the 2014 bottlings. I’ve searched in vain for weeks to recover them but alas can delay publication no longer; the eagle eyed amongst will probably have already spotted that the picture above is of the 2013 bottlings.)