Equipo Navazos Nights – La Bota de Manzanilla Pasada Nos. 39 and 40

Equipo Navazos

You probably know the story of Equipo Navazos already. In the mid-noughties, a group of sherry loving friends came across several butts of Amontillado that had been unsold for 20 years in the bodega of Miguel Sánchez Ayala S.A. in Sanlúcar de Barrameda. After tasting several butts of this sherry, they decided to buy the best butt and bottle it for their own consumption. After a couple more iterations of this process, unearthing complex sherries in different bodegas, the group acquired some financial backing and began to distribute their discoveries more widely. The sherries were bottled under the Equipo Navazos name, called La Bota de… and labelled with a number. They probably didn’t realise it at the time, but they had just created what has now become one of the more sought after sherry brands of current times.

That’s what I wrote about Equipo Navazos back in January 2013, a time when I had only just discovered these fantastic sherries. Since then I’ve become a serious devotee, eagerly awaiting the new releases and always keen to compare them to previous editions to see if I could make out any similarities between different butts and sacas. That’s the beauty of how Equipo Navazos has evolved – there is now a library of sherries, which have either been sourced from different butts in the same solera, or perhaps even different sacas from the same butts, and comparing is now an integral part of the fun. If you can get your hands on them of course.

On a recent visit to Bodegas Rey Fernando de Castilla in Jerez, I was increasingly giddy with excitement at every butt I saw adorned with the word ‘Navazos’ (like the one pictured above), and a tasting from the butt that La Bota de Palo Cortado No. 17 was drawn from provided an interesting insight into the contrast between the unique character of sherries in the Equipo Navazos mould and a bodega’s ‘house style’.

La Bota de Manzanilla Pasada No. 40

La Bota de Manzanilla Pasada Nos. 39 and 40 had been sitting in my sherry stash for some time. According to the Equipo Navazos website, these sherries were sourced from two butts that were segregated from the other butts in the solera in Bodega Hijos de Rainera Pérez Marín and had only been sparingly drawn from for release no. 30. One of the butts (No. 39) was a true ‘Bota No’, the third last butt among the fifteen in the solera. No. 40 was a ‘Bota Punta’ that was previously drawn from for La Bota de Manzanilla Pasada No. 20 and as with many other Bota Puntas had been refreshed from the other butts in the solera rather than from the first criadera.

On a recent rainy Friday evening, I decided to take both bottles long to my local Japanese restaurant Michie Sushi to avail of their BYO option. And boy was I glad that I did. Both sherries were truly stunning, and they paired brilliantly with the food. In fact while writing this, I’m getting a umami overload in my mouth just thinking about it.

Both sherries were deep in colour and yielded classic and intense manzanilla pasada noses with a slight, but noticeable, hint of a darker nut character. I initially, erroneously, attributed that to age-related deterioration of flor – it’s a manzanilla pasada after all – but it turns out to be a unique characteristic Equipo Navazos chalk up to the unusually high fill level of the butts in this particular solera, which causes a thinning in the veil of flor (another invaluable piece of info provided by the Equipo Navazos website).

I did have a clear favourite among the two sherries though – La Bota de Manzanilla Pasada No. 40 showed a higher toned streak of focussed salinity at an intensity level that I’d never experienced in a Manzanilla Pasada before. Equipo Navazos highlight the steely salty character of many the releases from this solera, but this one was certainly far more supercharged than the La Bota de Manzanilla Pasada No. 30 that I’d tried previously. As with so many of the biologically aged Equipo Navazos sherries, it was also dangerously drinkable, particularly as it tipped the scales at 16.2% alcohol.

La Bota Nos. 30 and 40 are likely long gone from wine shop shelves, but Irish sherry drinkers are in luck as the next release in this particular series – La Bota de Manzanilla Pasada No. 50 – is part of the latest consignment of Equipo Navazos sherries imported by Celtic Whiskey Shop / Wines On The Green and is well worth seeking out.

UK Stockists: Equipo Navazos sherries are imported into the UK by Rhône to Rioja.