Phil Provart, author, wine expert, bon vivant and George server has organized the import of rare sherries from a very limited supply in Spain which will run its course permanently soon. Most are currently available by the glass now at George. Here is his report.
“SHERRY RENAISSANCE! (or ¡VIVAJEREZ!)
Amongst fine wine lovers the reputation of Sherry, or Jerez, is currently rising phoenix-like from the ashes of an unfortunate association with blue bottles and British grandmothers. Fittingly, it is the classic dry styles of Sherry that are the focus of this renewed attention, from the light and fresh Manzanilla and Fino to the hauntingly complex Amontillado, Palo Cortado and Oloroso.
A key spur to this Sherry renaissance has been Equipo Navazos, a group of Sherry afficionados who initially came together for the purpose of buying up barrels of rare Sherry for their own consumption but who came under pressure from wine lovers both in Spain and abroad to share their vinous findings. Their business plan, such as it is, involves buying barrels of older or unusual Sherries that have been left to languish in the bodegas of the Sherry region – usually because it doesn’t make commercial sense for the traditional producers to bottle and release them. They then bottle and release them. With some of Equipo Navazos’s releases being of as few as 200 half-bottles, theirs truly is a labour of love!
For our Sherry feature this summer, we are proud to bring you Sherries from both Equipo Navazos and Barbadillo, a traditional producer that has responded to the renewed interest in Sherry with some exciting offerings. Spanning a range of styles, these wines all share the important attribute of being food-friendly, and are amazingly versatile at the dinner table.
Here is a sample of what we have available at George.
Barbadillo, Manzanilla en Rama, Saca of Spring 2012
Hailing from the coastal city of Sanlúcar de Barrameda, Manzanilla is the lightest, freshest style of Sherry, often having a saline tang. It is best enjoyed as soon after bottling as possible – not always easy here in Toronto, but with this unfiltered example bottled this past spring you get a very good sense of what drinking Manzanilla in Andalusia is like.
Equipo Navazos, La Bota de Manzanilla (No. 32), “Navazos”, Saca of October 2011
In contrast to the above Manzanilla, this Manzanilla has spent more time in solera (a system of stacked barrels used for ageing wines in the Sherry region) and is consequently a bit more powerful, with more saline complexity. Trying them side by side makes for an interesting – and delicious! – comparison.
Equipo Navazos, La Bota de Manzanilla Pasada (No. 30), “Capataz Rivas”, Saca of June 2011
Manzanilla Pasada takes this solera-ageing yet further – a Manzanilla on its way to becoming an Amontillado. In contrast to the Barbadillo Manzanilla, which has an average age of around 6 years, this Manzanilla Pasada has an average age of around 15 years. The result is a wine that balances the incipient oxidative complexity of an Amontillado with the freshness of a Manzanilla.
When you are in George we can talk about these sherries more and suggest food pairings.”
Ask for Phil if you want to have some fun with this.
– Le Patron