"The inland town of Jerez de la Frontera experiences long, intensely hot summers and mild, wet winters. The Finos that mature here show a rounder, fuller character than those matured in either of the two coastal towns. This Fino was matured at Bodega Los Arcos, Lustau’s main facility. The building, constructed in 1862, sits at N° 53 Calle de los Arcos in the geographic center of town. The wine was drawn from one butt out of a solera of 708 and was bottled without filtration.It is our distinct pleasure to announce the release of the first ever En Rama offer from Bodegas Emilio Lustau. Some of you may have had the privilege of tasting some preview samples of these wines at the January tasting. For those of you who didn’t, believe me when I say that these are some of the most captivating sherries I have ever tasted (and I drink a LOT of sherry).
Bodegas Emilio Lustau is, without question, one of the finest shippers in the region, and there is a strong case to be made that the remarkable consistency of their output puts them at the very top of the list. In addition to their own world-renowned brands such as the ‘Los Arcos’ Amontillado, Lustau also bottles and ships wines from small producers around the sherry triangle under the aegis of their Almacenista series.
For those who are unaware, En Rama is a descriptor used for sherry wines that are bottled without filtration. Some brilliant examples have recently appeared in the market, including the seasonal Saca de… series from Barbadillo and the La Gitana En Rama from Bodegas Hidalgo-La Gitana. Most sherries are aggressively filtered before being bottled, and anyone who has ever tasted sherry from barrel can tell you that it is a sensory experience that is basically impossible to re-create outside of the region. These wines are as close as one can get without leaving home.
Across the board, the wines are long, finely textured and kaleidoscopic in their complexity. The Manzanilla is a snappy, lissome wine that is almost overwhelmingly saline and positively begs for seafood fritters. The Puerto is perhaps the most nuanced of the three, with pronounced mineral and toasted almond notes that lead into a tautly drawn, lingering finish. The Fino de Jerez follows a slow, mutable arc across the palate with resin and bitter orange notes and a nice, sappy tang on the finish.
This is the first time that a bodega has offered an en rama wine from each of the towns in the sherry triangle. Tasting the three wines side by side provides a fascinating illustration of the different aromas and flavors offered by wines from Jerez, El Puerto and Sanlúcar. Lustau’s capataz, Manuel Lozano, has been named the Best Fortified Winemaker of the Year at the International Wine Challenge in London for the past four consecutive years. For this release, Manuel has selected one butt from each of the three towns to be bottled unfiltered and sold as an En Rama wine. That means that there are a little under one thousand 500ml bottles of each wine in existence. That is less than the volume it would take to fill two standard-sized bathtubs, and that is all that is available for the world.
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"Simply staggering in quality... Sherries such as these remain among the last great unknown wine bargains of the world. They must be tasted to be believed!"
Emilio Lustau SA was founded in 1896 by Don José Ruiz-Berdejo. In the beginning, Lustau was essentially an Almacenista, a modest estate with small holdings that sold most of its wine to large exporting Bodegas. It was not until the 1950s that Lustau became Emilio Lustau SA, and it joined the prestigious ranks of a select group of exporters of Sherry. In the early 1980s, Emilio Lustau SA, then under the management of the late Rafael Balao, became one of the most innovative companies in Jerez, launching the "Almacenista" line and creating the distinctive bottle that we know today. Lustau is now widely considered one of the finest producers of Sherry, with their Almacenista line breaking new ground in hand-crafted, boutique wines. These Sherries, drawing on rare and marvelous wines held by small producers, are some of the finest Sherries made today.
Lustau offers a wide array of Sherries; bone-dry Finos are wonderful matches with garlic-y shrimp and langostinos. Racy Amontillados balance power with finesse and are wonderful with nuts, olives, cheeses, and jamon Serrano. Powerful Olorosos can be served during a meal and match well with traditional soups and stews. Of course, the wide range of dessert wines from Lustau are unparalleled; the elegant East India Cream Sherry is as soft as silk, the Moscatels offers a delightful citrus edge that keeps the wines lively on the palate while the dark Pedro Ximenez is best served as a "syrup" over vanilla ice cream, pancakes or waffles.