Equipo Navazos, created in 2005 by Jesús Barquín and Eduardo Ojeda goes from strength to strength releasing unique, small lots of old rare Sherries and their regular Fino and Manzanilla that are among the best in their class. On top of that, they have joint-ventures with producers from other regions to produce sparkling wines, table wines and even small lots of very old brandy and rum that are beyond the scope of this article but are well worth pursuing. What started as a hobby with a group of hardcore fans of traditional Andalusian wines has turned into a steady business with around 30,000 bottles of wine being released per year. I keep buying and cellaring their wines as part of the initial hard core of fans for whom the private project was created.
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Critic Scores & reviews
"The Navazos guys are not that keen on ultra sweet wines, but their customers love them, and I must admit, the NV La Bota de Pedro Ximénez Viejísimo 56 "Bota NO" is truly superb. It is thought to be around 70 years old, during which time it aged and concentrated in a solera. It boast 15% alcohol and 400 grams of sugar. It has a very Jerez profile, with aromas of toffee, chocolate, raisins, dates, and a milky hint with a dense palate, quite sweet, keeping the freshness and balance. It's fragrant and open, and develops some aromas of hazelnuts. The single cask of wine was transferred to 750 bottles in October 2014."
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Spain is definitely one of the new-world players to keep an eye on. It is the land of old-vines, american oak and sherry! The main varieties grown in Spain are Tempranillo and Garnacha (Grenache) in the reds, and Airén, Viura/Macabeo, Verdejo and Albarino for the whites. Lesser grown whites include Palomino. Other reds successfully cultivated include Carignan, Mourvedre and Mencia.
Although Spain can be quite a warm country, the vast majority of vineyards are 600m or so above sea level, so the cooler nights allow the grapes to develop full colour and acidity.
Rioja is undoubtedly the long-standing king of all the Spanish wine regions, where Tempranillo and Garnacha are commonly blended. However more recently many more regions have come to the forefront of interest. Ribera Del Duero is producing excellent Tempranillo blends rivalling those coming out of Rioja. Jerez in the South is the home of the fortified wine Sherry.
Spanish wine laws created the Denominación de Origen (DO) system in 1932 and were later revised in 1970. These include:
- Denominación de Origen Calificada (formerly called DOCa) Priorat calls itself DOQ for Denominació d'Origen Qualificada in Catalan and has a track record of consistent quality and is meant to be a step above DO level.
- Denominación de Origen (DO)- Used for mainstream-quality wine regions. Nearly two thirds of the total vineyard area in Spain is within the boundaries of a DO region.
- Vino de Calidad Producido en Región Determinada (VCPRD) - This is somewhat of a stepping stone to DO status.
- Vinos de la Tierra (VdIT) - A level similar to France's vin de pays system, where the regions are much larger.
- Vino de Mesa (VdM)- The equivalent of 'table wines' from France or Italy
The DOC of Jerez-Xérès-Sherry lies between the three cities of Jerez de la Frontera , El Puerto de Santa María and Sanlúcar de Barrameda in the southwest of Spain. The region is known for its Sherries, which are exported worldwide.
The chalky white soils of the region suit the Palomino Fino grape variety, where it thrives. Pedro Ximénez is often added to sweeten up the Palomino Fino Sherry wines, though is also made in single varietal, naturally sweet wines and referred to as PX.
Dry white wine is fermented and a grape spirit is added to make Sherry. Blending through a system of barrels (the solera system) where barrels vary from new to very aged can impart a taste of an ‘old wine’ in quite a young wine. The age that a wine spends in the solera system will vary depending on sweetness and quality levels aimed for by the winemaker, and will affect the final cost of the wine.
The range of Sherry styles available is quite wide from the Dry Fino style, Manzanilla, Amontillado, Oloroso, Palo Cortado to sweeter aged Sherries.
Vinegar and Spirits are also exported from the Jerez region, which in recent years has suffered economically such that in 2012 it was recognised as Spain’s most indebted commune. Producers like Sánchez Romate are certainly worth trying.
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