These were very generously sent to me by Lustau but be not afraid: this largesse will not affect the low standards of professionalism and objectivity for which the blog is barely known.
It is a terrific gift to receive. The 3 en rama set is a great idea by Lustau: three selected en rama wines from each of the three centres of el marco: Sanlucar (manzanilla), Jerez de la Frontera (Fino), and El Puerto de Santa Maria (Fino del Puerto). The wines are distinct and, in my limited experience, a good introduction to the characteristics of biological wines from the three centres.
The Manzanilla de Sanlucar de Barremeda is all fresh green slightly salty apples on the nose and the start of the palate, a nice bite of zing then again a fresh, apply finish. Very inviting indeed.
The Fino de Jerez de la Frontera is slightly more serious, more tangy vegetable than apple and a more intense, peppery zing. It seems to have more metals in the minerals more weight and a metallic tang on the finish.
The Fino del Puerto de Santa Maria is my favourite every year and yet again it stands out. It has a brilliant nose of sweet rockpools and is as complex on the palate – with sweet and herbal touches and a zingy, fresh finish. Really a top, top class fino.
Had a cracking lunch in “El del Medio” this weekend. Not a sherry destination by a long way – just two on the list – and they seem to view sherry as an aperitif, with just this and the Macarena on the list, but the food was high quality and high fun and this is a terrific fino with lots of personality.
Has that aroma of rockpools that for me really characterizes the finos del puerto: not super aromatic but a punchy noseful. Then has a heavy saline body, plenty of juice and a really fresh finish.
Perfectly decent stuff and went beautifully with artichokes and scallops. The job, as they say, is a good one.
Cask is a word that isn’t used enough in general. Has a nice ring to it and avoids the snigger potential of butt. Sounds particularly good in combination with the word “single” or “sherry”, although I will admit that the liquid that springs to mind is more Scottish than Spanish.
Be that as it may this liquid is Spanish and it is a little beauty. I have always been partial to the fino del puerto releases by Lustau – particularly the tres en rama – but this one, which is a special bottling for the chaps at Vila Viniteca, seems to be a step up in dimensions.
Beautifully clear and bright and a very slightly orange gold in colour. It has a wonderfully aromatic nose with really sharp sea air and seaweed/rockpool aromas. Then sharp salinity and a powerful, juicy, spicy spike of flavour, leaving a salty burn on the tongue and a long and lingering flavour of bitter, peppery salad. It has been a while but it seems tighter and more intense than the other examples I have had.
One of only 480 dinky bottles – which are well worth hunting out. (Or just get down to Territorio Era where they have it by the glass.)
Not a sherry this one, but a palomino fino aged in solera under flor at the mouth of the Guadalete, a trib of the Guadalquivir that meets the sea at Puerto de Santa Maria. Not clear to me why this isn’t under the DO – the bodega’s address is in el Puerto as well.
There is a little bit of reduction/farmyard on the nose which is a bit off putting and you don’t get much pungency, then again on the palate the salinity is restrained, there is a little bit of fruit to it but not much punch, bite or power.
File this one under interesting I think.
I am partial to a Fino del Puerto and this is a classic example. Pavon is the famous fino brand of Caballero and the name is plastered over the wall of a bodega in the heart of Puerto de Santa Maria (I walked past it a couple of times when I was down there in March). Although it is now under the same ownership as Lustau (also part of the Caballero group), this comes from a different solera to the stunning Lustau 3 en rama Fino del Puerto and to that of the also brilliant Fino del Puerto from the almacenistas range.
It must be said the ficha isn’t all that informative but according to this typically excellent note on Sherrynotes this has around four years under flor. As Sherrynotes points out, you don’t see it around all that often but to my surprise I found it in the supermarket this morning and, with no sherry on the horizon for the next couple of days, thought I ought to seize the chance.
It is a pale gold in colour. On the nose it is all seawater and minerals, maybe a bit of almond in there too. On the palate it is bulky and voluminous: seawater like saltiness, although not really sharp or zingy on the tongue. Mineral, pebbly flavours to it and bitter almonds, getting more bitter as it finishes. Very tasty, just quite challenging and a bit heavy: just lacking a bit of definition and lightness.
Muscular, strong stuff.
The third of the 3 en rama Spring 2016 by Lustau, and this one really is cracking good. Again a fino with five years under flor, but this time aged in El Puerto De Santa Maria, which is said to have a slightly more moderate climate – perhaps better conditions for the flor year round -, more humidity and the benefit of sea air.
I was looking forward to this since it was so good last year, and its almacenista cousin is also brilliant stuff, and this has comfortably lived up to the hype.
The colour is a rich gold with just a hint of green to it. The nose is yeasty and has apples – not green but old yellow ones. In addition, and most distinctively, it has an amazing sea air component. Not just salty air and iodine but “rock pools”: wet seaweed left behind at the water’s edge.
On the palate too it has a lovely full flavour to it. Nuts, granary bread, and vegetables, celery and rocket, then a salty fresh finish.
A really class fino. Can’t decide if it is better six weeks or nine months old – either way I don’t think I would have it on the rack for nine months!
You have to say that is a fantastic presentation – and there is a little bottle shaped memory stick in there with promotional videos, tasting notes, press release, photos and pamphlet – a proper blogger could go to town with all this stuff. All I can try to do is express my gratitude to the chaps at Lustau who very generously sent this to me and congratulate them once again on three cracking wines.
The 3 en rama collection is, like the Almacenista collection, another great idea by Lustau and a concept with a lot of personality. They are selected en rama wines that have been aged in bodegas located in each of the three centres of el marco: Sanlucar (manzanilla), Jerez de la Frontera (Fino), and El Puerto de Santa Maria (Fino del Puerto). The wines are distinct and, in my limited experience, a good example of the characteristics of the three centres. As such they are a great introduction to the concept of the “other terroir”.
I couldn’t wait to get at them and they didn’t disappoint. All three are clean, fresh and defined. However good these wines may get with time in the bottle they certainly sing in these first few weeks (these were only bottled and released in April so we are a maximum of five weeks from the saca) and they all seem to have a brilliant curve of sweet notes to spicey saltiness.
- The Manzanilla de Sanlucar de Barremeda starts highest and sweetest – the freshness of the green apples on the nose and at the beginning are really quite something, then there is a real zing and almost drying saltiness in the middle and at the end a fresh, tasty sweet finish with a residual tang of that green apple.
- The Fino de Jerez de la Frontera has more of a vegetable, fresh celery semi-sweetness and a more intense, peppery zing. It seems to have more umami, more volume and a lower register, with an earthier nose and finish.
- The Fino del Puerto de Santa Maria was my favourite of the three last year and yet again it stands out. It has a fascinating ozone, sea weed and sweet herb nose and is just as complex on the palate – with sweetness, herbal menace and a really salty bite at the end, but then the freshest finish. Really a top, top class fino.
In summary three cracking good wines – and covering all bases. A light approachable manzanilla, a heftier but still elegant fino and a really top class fino del puerto.
The wines are also a poignant testament to the great skill of the late, lamented Manuel Lozano. He was some winemaker and will be greatly missed.