Wine Culture Connection
Sherry on the Rise
Sherry has been exported for centuries, notably to England and north Europe, and has gone through many ups and downs over the centuries. A precursor of today's Sherry was a staple of Christopher Columbus and other explorers, and was likely the first wine to reach the new world.
The sweet "sherris sack" of Elizabethan times was celebrated as a preferred tipple for good times in the works of Shakespeare through the voice of his jovial and life-loving character Falstaff.
There have been many ups and downs for Sherry on a global level over the centuries. Mostly due to wars. For instance, when England and Spain were at war trade between the two countries ceased. Or when King Henry VIII of England broke with the Catholic Church and divorced his Spanish wife, Catherine of Aragon, ties between the two countries broke.
More recently, in the late 20th century, Sherry became associated with grandmothers, and lost some of its luster due to being seen as a drink for elderly ladies. However, in Spain, Manzanilla in particular has seen an uptick in popularity even amongst the young, especially during the summer. Simply because it is such a great, refreshing, warm weather drink and never got the same unfashionable stigma as in more Anglo influenced countries.
Here in the USA, there has been a parallel surge in interest among wine professionals and the cognoscenti. On one track as creative mixologists and cocktail mavens have created exciting new cocktail recipes employing various Sherries.
And on the other track interest has increased due to the tremendous quality and character of the Equipo Navazos La Bota series of Sherries, which have opened a lot of eyes among wine trend setters and opinion makers, like nationally awarded sommelier and restauranteur Paul Grieco of Restaurant Hearth and his Terroir wine bars, Eric Asimov, wine critic for the New York Times and as seen through numerous very high and some near perfect scores bestowed by major wine press reviewers in the US and internationally.
The uptake is gradual and primarily in top wine markets like New York and San Francisco. However, we envision interest slowly spreading between these two trend setting food and wine cities to more and more of the larger urban markets throughout the country.
Meanwhile, grab yourself a glass and toast yourself and your Sherry loving friends for being the lucky ones enjoying these fabulous wines now!
Equipo Navazos "I Think" Manzanilla
"I Think" Manzanilla is a limited production, very fresh and complex, golden pale dry white, and a singular example of one of wine's most distinctive and greatest regions, Sherry (DOCs Jerez-Xérès-Sherry and Manzanilla de Sanlúcar de Barrameda). It was carefully selected for bottling by Equipo Navazos, the team that produces the very highly praised and beloved series of single lot Sherry rarities known as La Bota, along with some other tiny special releases.
Wine has been made in the Jerez area of Andalusia for millennia, and sweet versions of what we today call Sherry since Shakespeare's time. Sherry "Sac" as it was rhapsodized over by Shakespeare's Falstaff. The dry "modern" styles that we know today from Sherry's great houses, as celebrated in Edgar Allen Poe's "A Cask of Amontillado," date back to the 18th and 19th centuries--some houses running continuously in some form since the 1700s. So the heritage and evolution of winemaking skill to bring you I Think literally goes back centuries.
Equipo Navazos (Team Navazos in English) began as a way for a small circle of impassioned Sherry lovers to bottle and privately distribute among themselves some amazing casks of Sherry that they discovered languishing untapped for 20+ years in an antique Sherry winery. The casks, of Amontillado by the way, did not fit in the winery's commercial line-up and were too few to be launched as a brand in their own right. And so began the La Bota series of rare Sherries, which eventually received highly limited commercial distribution in the US and elsewhere, and ringing praise from top critics around the world.
María Alvarez, co-founder of Spanish-Wine-Exclusives, and her husband (well, especially her husband) were among the original supporters of Equipo Navazos. Being lucky enough to follow Equipo Navazos from early on, Spanish-Wine-Exclusives from its inception has always hoped to one day work with Equipo Navazos. So we are extremely proud to offer "I Think" Manzanilla.
The "I Think" project began in 2010 at the behest of a British wine merchant that loved the La Bota wines, but was in search of a special Sherry for his customers with a different profile. Rather than the typically more mature, profoundly complex, challenging and more expensive La Bota series of Manzanillas and Finos, he sought something with a younger and fresher character that reflected the vibrancy of Sherry as tasted in barrel samples in Sherry country. Something close to Sherry in its raw state, known as "En Rama" in the Sherry world.
With the outstanding quality and a success of the first and second sacas, a third limited run was created and that is the "I Think" Manzanilla En Rama February 2013 saca we offer today. It was bottled after only the slightest filtration process, and retains the intense golden color and striking character it exhibits straight from the butts where it ages under flor for approximately four and a half years.
The name "I Think" is an homage to Charles Darwin as a symbol of the triumph of reason. It raises the question of what is true and untamed Manzanilla. In this case it is, we think. While the "in the raw" nature of I Think is part of its intrinsic appeal, it will mature slowly like other fine wines when properly stored (in cool temperature controlled conditions), trading part of its freshness for elegant complexity; and evolve more toward the character of its La Bota brethren.
Equipo Navazos "I Think" Manzanilla (drawn February 2013) 375ml, SRP $17
7500 375ml bottles produced. Blend: 100% Palomino.
Aged approximately 4.5 years in barrel under flor in the solera method.
The following restaurants feature "I Think" Manzanilla on their wine list:
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