The Director’s Cut

It’s been quiet on the blogging front in Murphy Towers of late. I’m slap bang in the middle of writing up long-form pieces on recent visits to Juan Piñero and La Guita and find myself in need of some editing inspiration.

I imagine that the need to chop and change to produce a final, and hopefully readable, product is similar to that pursued in a bodega – tasting and blending to produce a wine that captures both the soul of the winery but also consumer appeal. In the mainstream wine press I imagine that the axe is wielded on the most controversial sentiments, much like a capataz might decide to omit the butts displaying the most extreme character from a saca. Broad appeal pays the bills of both the wineries and weeklies after all.

But what if provocative is what we want? In much the same way that an independent wine press has begun to flourish in response to this desire for a niche and more focussed product, the release of limited edition sherry curiosities has garnered widespread, and well deserved, acclaim.

In sherry terms (let’s not even begin to consider the media aspect), my crude analogy is a gross over-simplification of the partnership between these maverick bottlers (although having recently celebrated their 10 year anniversary, I’m not sure it’s fair to call Equipo Navazos maverick any longer) and particular bodegas. The approach can now be thought of as the release of an abridged novel or an extended director’s cut of a film rather than a Indiana Jones style expedition to unearth barrels that time has forgotten, although thankfully this ‘Raiders Of The Lost Butt’ approach continues to yield sublime wines from time to time.

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Whilst all soleras can be interrogated by a keen taster, and perhaps more importantly a generous host, to explore differences between barrel locations, my own recent visit to the Piñero bodega on La Playilla de la Red revealed dramatic variances in the influence of flor between butts in the Maruja Solera. While that topic was explored in a recent Alexander Jules fino release, for the May 2015 Manzanilla release flor takes a backseat role. The selection comes from five of the barrels in the the top row of the solera, which enjoy comparatively warmer and less humid environment than those rows closer to the floor, and as a result the flor growth here is less vigorous. This wine is all about purity and textural appeal – bright, fresh and linear but becoming more mouth-filling and on the back end. Very good indeed.

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Equipo Navazos Amontillado La Bota No. 61 is another release plucked from one of the many soleras siphoned off from Manzanilla La Guita. Although their flagship manzanilla is often feted as being the only wine produced by La Guita, my recent walk around Bodega Misericordia revealed a warren of manzanilla pasada soleras that have been tapped from time to time by Equipo Navazos. This particular wine comes from the larger of La Guita’s two bodegas – Pago Sanlúcar Viejo.

If La Bota 49 (also from Sanlúcar, but from Pedro Romero stocks) was the apogee of amontillado, this is surely its sweet spot. It’s less bracing than many of the other releases in the series but still shows the precision that one expects from a Sanlúcar amontillado. The nose is incredibly inviting – elegant but with the hallmarks of age. Despite its prominent seasoned wood and incense character, there’s not a hint of austerity here – indeed its balance and drinkability are the most appealing aspects. As a committed Equipo Navazos drinker, I can give no higher praise than saying that this might just be my favourite release to date.

Stockists

Alexander Jules wines are available in Spain from Cuatrogatos Wine Club. Equipo Navazos wines are available in Ireland from Celtic Whiskey Shop / Wines On The Green and in the UK from Alliance Wine.

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