One of the great thrills of working in this business is the chance to get into the cellars and taste wines straight from the barrel with the winemaker. To taste a wine in its most natural, ‘un-mucked-about-with’ state is a great experience. Usually we taste wines that are very young, just finishing their ‘élévage’ in the barrel, before being bottled and intended for further ageing. This is a snapshot at how wines will evolve and it is a fascinating moment to taste.
It is hard to capture this moment, this pure expression, and bring it to wine-drinkers. In an ‘insta’ age of quick fixes, with wine, patience is still needed. Bottling wines can give them quite a jolt and once the fining and filtration has happened it takes a moment for the wine to settle down again and recover from the ‘bottle-shock’.
With ‘en rama’ sherry, however, there is a chance to get this ‘fresh from the barrel’ hit. The whole principal is to get that fresh juice from the barrel in the bodega onto your table and into your glass with as little intervention as possible.
With the trail-blazing Gonzalez Byass Tio Pepe ‘En Rama’ there is no fining nor filtration of the wine before bottling. It comes from the barrel directly into the bottle and then is immediately shipped to London. This brings us exactly the same experience as when the cellar-master tastes in the bodega in Sanlucar and it’s ready to be drunk as soon as it touches down.
Back to the Future
It was with Tio Pepe, 9 years ago, that this old-fashioned way of doing things was re-born. Each year it seems more bodegas are joining in which is great for wine-lovers. In 2018 we have three fantastic releases from different bodegas – each distinct – and each fantastically fresh, intriguing and alive.
‘..it is unquestionably one of the best dry sherries available, and almost certainly the best value, and that you simply must try it…’ www.JancisRobinson.com (May 2018)
The 2018 release of Tio Pepe is their best yet; a very refined, pure style that balances a salty, savoury edge with a gorgeously weighted hit of brighter fruit notes.
Same, Same but Different!
For those looking for more weight, the La Gitana Mazanilla En Rama from Hidalgo is a bolder, beefier style. Full-on and so sleek in the mouth with a hugely satisfying saline tang and umami bite, it is a greatly different style and a total joy to drink, especially with some salted almonds or ‘jamon iberico’.
The third En Rama we have this year is from Valdespino, a fabulous producer who’s sherries we have sold since the start of L&S, 30 years ago. Their en rama is an intense, powerful sherry. It is drawn from just 6 specially selected barrels of their ever popular Deliciosa Manzanilla, bottled ‘en rama’ style with no fussing. A half-bottle of this is a pocket rocket on a summer’s evening and will be the perfect starter, whatever your plans.
These wines are always released in very limited quantities but are well worth seeking out and we are delighted to be offering three of the best. Catch them while you can!